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OECD refineries ramp up throughputs as product prices rise

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Surge increases OECD crude oil use, but virtually all future demand growth is seen coming from the non-OECD region

15 September 2012

OECD refineries significantly increased their throughputs last month amid rising product prices, drawing down crude supplies, according to the International Energy Agency’s Oil Market Report (OMR) published this week.

The increase was a reaction to low product inventories and higher margins in the OECD, the September OMR reported. Global throughputs are expected to remain at those elevated levels for the remainder of the year, as increases in refining capacity in non-member countries offset the onset of seasonal refinery maintenance in the OECD, it added.

The refining surge came as second-quarter maintenance wound down at refineries in Western countries, and it increased the use of oil, or crude throughput, worldwide by 450 000 barrels per day from a year earlier, to 75.7 million barrels per day (mb/d).

According to preliminary data, global crude oil runs – the amount processed in refineries to produce finished oil products such as gasoline and diesel – rose 1 mb/d in June and another 1 mb/d in July.

The unexpected increase helped lift global oil use 1.3 mb/d from the seasonal low seen in the second quarter of this year, as gains in the OECD offset a lower outlook for non-OECD countries.

The OMR – which in September re-introduced estimates of refinery margins – said companies took advantage of better profit margins associated with processing specific crude oils to meet strong internal and export demand.

While non-OECD crude refinery saw smaller increases month-on-month recently compared with those for the OECD, the OMR added, “Looking forward, the non-OECD region accounts for virtually all projected growth.”

The Oil Market Report (OMR) is a monthly International Energy Agency publication which provides a view of the state of the international oil market and projections for oil supply and demand 12-18 months ahead. To subscribe, click here.

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