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Refinery Capacity Additions by National Oil Companies in the Emerging Refining Markets Are Helping in the Revival of the Global Refining Industry

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Global Top 10 Emerging Refining Markets - Analysis of Capacity, Demand, Supply, Margin and Competitive Scenario to 2015


Some of the emerging, high growth refinery markets cover Brazil, China, India, Iran and Saudi Arabia. The cumulative refining capacity of these countries accounted for total 18.3% of global refining capacity in 2008 but the refining capacity expansion in these countries is around 44% of global refining capacity addition during 2009 to 2013. The refining industry in all these countries is dominated by state owned companies. Regions like Asia Pacific and Middle East and Africa are posied to emerge as new refining hubs globally.

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Refinery Capacity Additions by National Oil Companies in the Emerging Refining Markets Are Helping in the Revival of the Global Refining Industry

Rapid decline in petroleum product demand in the US and major developed nations has led to declining refinery margins, which has discouraged refinery expansions by major oil and gas companies globally. The global refining industry, hit by the economic crisis, has been supported in its revival by national oil companies from different regions. Prospective increase in demand of refined products post-recession in emerging geographies has prompted the national oil companies to invest in refineries by capitalizing on low refinery asset prices. Further, national oil companies in the Middle East, Asia Pacific and South and Central America are committed to increase their refinery infrastructure to transform these regions into oil and gas trading hubs. National Oil Companies in China and India have invested in complex refineries to cater to the developed export markets in the US and Europe.

Declining or Stabilizing Refinery Utilization Post Global Economic Crisis Challenges Refining Companies Worldwide

The global financial slowdown, which led to decline in demand for petroleum product demand has forced major integrated oil and gas companies to either defer or stall planned refinery projects. Global refinery utilization has also experienced significant dip due to declining product demand and the utilization stood


at 85% in 2008, a decrease of 1% over the previous year. In 2009, refinery utilization in all the emerging refining markets either declined or stabilized. Recently commissioned refineries in India, China, Vietnam, Algeria and Qatar have added to the global supply glut of refined petroleum products and this, in turn, has hit the refining companies globally by reducing refinery utilization even further. However, the top 10 emerging refining markets are likely to be insulated from this trend.

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High Capacity but Low Complexity Hamper Processing Flexibility of Refineries in Emerging Refining Markets

In 2009, the top ten emerging refining markets accounted for 24.3% of the global refining capacity. The average size of refineries in these markets was 8.27 Million Metric Tons per Annum (MMTPA) against a global average of 6.85 MMTPA. However, refinery complexity in most of these markets is lower than average global refining complexity. Lower complexity of refineries in these markets hampers refinery processing flexibility, which is essential to meet the variable demand for different petroleum products.

Since 2008, demand for the light and middle distillates has shown varying trends. While light distillates have witnessed a decreasing trend, middle distillates have experienced an increase. Refineries that produce more of light distillates and don’t have the flexibility to switch to middle distillates production have been hit by the upsurge in demand for middle distillates in 2008. Simple refineries with high capacity of production of fuel oil have also been hit due to declining demand for fuel oil in power generation where it has been replaced by natural gas.

Need for Upgrading Heavy Oil Drives Refinery Investments in Venezuela

Venezuela accounted for 172,323 million barrels of crude oil reserves in 2008.Venezuela contains billions of barrels of extra-heavy crude oil and bitumen deposits majority of which is situated in the Orinoco Belt in central Venezuela - estimated at approximately 100 to 270 billion barrels of heavy crude oil.


Initiatives by National Oil Companies in Asia Pacific and the Middle East to Transform these Regions into Global Refining Hubs Have Boosted Refinery Investments

For long, developing countries in the Asia Pacific and crude oil exporting countries in the Middle East have imported refined products from Europe and the US. However, China, India and Countries in the Middle East have increased their participation in the global refining industry to meet their domestic demand and enhance their presence in the global refining market.

China and India have witnessed a refinery capacity growth since 2008. The capacity addition in India was from the newly commissioned Reliance Industry Refinery at Jamnagar (Indian State of Gujarat) with capacity of 580,036 barrels per day (bpd) capacity. This addition along with an existing refinery with a capacity of 662,783.7 bpd makes it the largest refinery complex in the world. The new refineries are equipped to produce light and middle distillates, which meet US and European specifications, helping in increasing market penetration in these markets.

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Rajesh Gunnam