(Reuters) - Refineries from India to South Korea are expected to increase output from June, joining their Chinese counterparts as the easing of lockdown measures boosts demand for oil products, industry executives said.
Below is the latest on major refining centres in Asia:
China’s state and independent refiners saw a rise in their average operating rates - the percentage of their designed capacity that is being utilised - towards the end of the second quarter and the higher rates are expected to persist, analysts said.
The higher operating rate of 71.27% for state refineries and of 76.12% for independent refineries in May would be maintained in June, said China-based consultancy Sublime Information Group.
State refiners were operating at below 70% in March, according to JLC consultancy.
Two of the country’s private refiners - Hengli Petrochemical and Zhejiang Petrochemical - will operate their plants at 110% and 120% of designed capacity respectively in June, company officials said. Their operating rate was at about 110% in April.
Indian Oil Corp, the country’s top refiner, could see the average operating rate of its plants reach 85% in June, up from 80% in May and 39% in April, a company source said.
State-run Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd said it has been steadily ramping up operations at its refineries which are now at 83% of capacity from about 63% in April.
Private refiners Reliance Industries Ltd and Nayara Energy have resumed normal operating rates of close to 100% after cutting output in April, sources with knowledge of the matter said.
Run rates at the largest South Korean refiner, SK Energy, would likely rise in June from May because the company is expected to increase output from a gasoline-making unit, a source familiar with the matter said.
The company’s No.5 crude distillation unit (CDU) could restart around June 22 after being shut for about a month, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
The country’s smallest refiner Hyundai Oilbank Corp also planned to raise output in July to about 90% from 80% currently while South Korea’s third largest refiner S-Oil Corp has said it will operate its crude units at 100% in the second quarter.
South Korean refiners had average operating rates of 76.4% in April down from 91.4% a year earlier, according to data from Korea National Oil Corp. That was the lowest since July 2013 when South Korean refiners operated at 75.6% on average.
Japanese refineries are expected to gradually increase operating rates in June and July from depressed levels as more CDU units which were shut for maintenance restart, industry officials said.
The country’s largest refiner JXTG Holdings expects to reopen two out of three of its CDUs in the June-July period. Its president said last month JXTG’s run rate would stay largely depressed between April and September due to weak fuel demand.
Japanese oil refiner Idemitsu Kosan plans to increase operating rates in June from May, one of the officials said.
Cosmo Oil expects to restart two CDUs at its Chiba refinery in mid-June as planned and to keep full operating rates through March 2021, company officials said.
Japan’s refineries operated at only 51.8% of their capacity in the week ending on May 30, data from the Petroleum Association of Japan (PAJ) showed on Monday - the lowest levels since at least 2005.
Thai refiners are ramping up output after reducing their run rates by 10% to 20% in March.
PTT Global Chemical’s 280,000-bpd (barrels per day) plant is back at 100% in June and it expects operating rates of up to 103% for the full year on petrochemical demand.
IRPC will raise the volume of crude it processes in June to between 88% and 93% of its 215,000-bpd capacity, company officials said, up from 87% in first quarter.
But Thai Oil Pcl said it will be running its 275,000-bpd refinery at 95% to 100% in the second quarter, down from 111% in first quarter.
All of these refiners are units of state energy company PTT Pcl.
State oil and gas company PT Pertamina resumed operations at its Balikpapan refinery in June.
The refinery started shutting down in April and fully shut in May as the coronavirus pandemic hit demand for fuel.
Vietnam’s Dung Quat refinery has resumed full output since late May after a cut in April.
Reporting by Jane Chung in Seoul, Chayut Settboonsarng in Bangkok, Xu Muyu in Beijing, Yuka Obayashi in Tokyo, Nidhi Verma and Sudarshan Varadhan in New Delhi, Wilda Asmarini in Jakarta, Enrico dela Cruz in Manila, Seng Li Peng, Chen Aizhu, Shu Zhang and Florence Tan in Singapore; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa