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Oil refiners shut plants fearing lost demand may never come back

Consumption has not returned to pre-pandemic levels and lower travel may be here to stay, leading to the possibility plants may shut permanently

oil firms | Coronavirus


Crude oil

Oil refiners are permanently closing processing plants in Asia and North America, and facilities in Europe could be next because of the uncertain prospects for a recovery in fuel demand after the pandemic cut consumption.

The pandemic initially cut global fuel demand 30 per cent and refiners temporarily idled plants. But consumption has not returned to pre-pandemic levels and lower travel may be here to stay, leading to the possibility plants may shut permanently.

Here are some of the companies/refineries involved:

l Australia has proposed offering incentives worth A$2.3 billion ($1.68 billion) over 10 years to keep the country’s four remaining oil refineries open and said it would invest in building fuel storage as part of a long-term fuel security plan. The four refiners — BP, Exxon Mobil, Viva Energy, and Ampol — all welcomed the proposals but made no commitment to keep their plants open.

l Viva Energy said that a full shutdown of its refinery in Victoria was on the cards given the dire long-term outlook for the industry.

l Eneos Holdings, Japan’s biggest oil refiner, said it plans to close the 115,000-barrel per day (bpd) Osaka refinery that it owns with PetroChina in October.

l Royal Dutch Shell will permanently shut its 110,000-barrel-per-day Tabangao facility in the Philippines’ Batangas province, one of only two oil refineries in the country.

l Marathon Petroleum, the largest US refiner by volume, plans to permanently halt processing at refineries in Martinez, California, and Gallup, New Mexico.

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First Published: Wed, September 16 2020. 22:15 IST