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Back To Diesel Products> OPEC Predicts Continued Weak Refining Margins in 2010

Refining margins, or the profit from turning oil into fuels such as gasoline and diesel, will remain weak in 2010 as demand stays subdued and new capacity starts, according to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

“The product market in 2010 is expected to remain weak due to the excessive overhang in product inventories and slow recovery in industrial sector demand, especially middle distillates,” OPEC said today in a monthly report. “Current low utilization rates may be exacerbated in the coming year due to around 1 million barrels a day of new capacity expected to come onstream.”

The global recession cut demand for middle distillates, fuels such as diesel used to power factories and trucks, leading to lower operating rates at refineries, temporary closures, and sites being put up for sale as refiners tried to stem losses.

Worldwide margins fell to an average of $1.18 a barrel in this quarter up to Dec. 10, according to data by BP Plc. That compares to $5.19 in the last three months of 2008. BP's Global Indicator Margin is a broad measure of refining profitability.

Gasoil stockpiles in independent storage in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp area, Europe's oil-trading hub, are 54 percent higher than this time last year, according to consultant PJK International BV. Inventories of the fuel used in heating rose 7.3 percent to 2.84 million metric tons in the week to Dec. 10.

Oil-products stored at sea rose 18 percent in November because of rising futures prices and are expected to increase this month and next, the International Energy Agency said on Dec. 11. Floating storage of distillates rose to 98 million barrels at the end of last month from 83 million barrels in October, the Paris-based agency said.

www.bloomberg.com

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