* Crude in surplus as peak refinery maintenance
* US oil heading to China; being stored in tanks in Shandong
* Gasoline and naphtha demand growth to continue
By Jessica Jaganathan
SINGAPORE, April 25 Oil prices will likely range
between the low $50s and low $60s a barrel in 2017 and are
unlikely to hit $70 a barrel due to excess supply, the Asian
head of energy and commodities trader Vitol said on Tuesday.
March was a particularly tough trading period as it falls
between peak winter and summer demand and many Asian refineries
conducted maintenance, said Dato' Kho Hui Meng, president and
managing director of Vitol Asia, a unit of Rotterdam-based Vitol
, the world's largest independent energy trader.
"The crude market tends to be a bit more in surplus than
usual because of a lack of refining capacity," Kho told
reporters on the sidelines of a shipping conference.
But he said it was still not clear if the market would pick
up once refineries came back on stream.
While demand is growing globally, especially in Europe,
China, India and the United States, it is still being outpaced
by supply, he said.
The volume of crude oil shipped from the United States to
Asia has also spiked, especially to the Shandong area in China
from late last year to early this year, Kho said.
Lower production costs in the United States as producers
improve efficiency, a 2020 global cap on sulphur emissions that
will favour lighter U.S. crudes and cheaper freight rates may
mean even more U.S. crude flowing east.
Kho said light distillates, which include naphtha and
gasoline, and liquefied petroleum gas will continue to grow in
"The growth in Asia tends to be more cars, more cooking and
petrochemical industries (are) still quite good," he said.
Residual fuel demand growth may slow.
(Reporting by Jessica Jaganathan; Editing by Richard Pullin)