(EnergyAsia, October 26 2016, Wednesday) — Asia’s crude oil demand and refinery throughput will grow at a slower rate through 2018 from 2015 and 2016, predicts US consultant ESAI Energy.

The Boston, Massachusetts firm expects the region’s crude demand and refinery throughput to rise by 400,000 b/d over the next two years, compared with 700,000 b/d the last two.

In its latest Global Fuels Outlook report, ESAI Energy said Asia’s net outflow of gasoline and middle distillate has peaked.

“In the next two years, the combination of lower exports of these products and modestly growing imports of other products will negatively impact the increase in Asian refinery throughput,” said principal consultant Andrew Reed.

According to ESAI projections, Asia’s middle distillate surplus, which exceeded 1.2 million b/d in 2015-2016, will decline by 180,000 b/d in the next two years. The region’s gasoline exports will fall by 75,000 b/d from its current historical high of 260,000 b/d.

“Until now, higher Asian exports of gasoline and middle distillate roughly offset increases in the region’s imports of other refined products,” explains Mr. Reed.

Citing India as an example, he said its expanded refining capacity and operations have enabled to boost gasoline and middle distillate exports to record levels.

“In the next couple years, however, refineries will not increase output as much as in the past, and more of those products will be supplied to the domestic market,” he said.