Vietnam’s crude and oil product import volumes slid 12.1% year on year in 2018, government data showed last week.
In 2018, Vietnam imported 11.4 million tonnes of oil and petroleum products, Ministry of Industry and Trade figures showed on January 3. Higher oil prices, however, meant that its import bill for oil and petroleum products jumped 7.8% to US$7.6 billion.
One product for which Vietnam is experiencing unprecedented demand growth is jet fuel, driven by a surge in the number of international tourist arrivals and an expansion of the country’s airlines. This should help stabilise or even increase the country’s fuel imports in coming years.
During the first nine months of 2018, Vietnam imported 1.87 million tonnes of jet fuel, up 18% from the same period of 2017, according to customs data.
Vietnam’s total demand for jet fuel was on track last month to expand around 20-25% year on year for the whole of 2018, mostly owing to an increase in international flights, an unnamed trader at a Vietnamese jet fuel supplier told Reuters in December 2018.
“Aviation demand in Vietnam is booming,” the vice president of Vietnam’s biggest private airline Vietjet, Tran Hoai Nam, told the newswire last month. “Fuel consumption in Vietnam will reach a record higher this year and will keep rising for the years to come.”
According to figures from the CAPA Centre for Aviation, Vietnam welcomed an estimated 38 million international passengers in 2018, more than double the 18 million passengers it received just three years previously.
And although Vietnam started a second refinery last year – the Nghi Son plant in Thanh Hoa Province – both this and the existing Dung Quat facility are mostly producing gasoline and diesel, meaning domestic production of jet fuel will struggle to keep pace with airlines’ growing demand. Much of the necessary imports will likely come from existing top suppliers Singapore, Thailand and China.
Vietnam’s LPG imports, meanwhile, expanded 4.9% by volume to 1.4 million tonnes and leaped 18.3% by value, last week’s government figures showed.
At the same time, the country’s exports of crude slumped 39.5% by volume to 4.12 million tonnes (82,000 bpd). In value terms, they declined 21.2% to US$2.3 billion.