Indian state oil refiners see strong margins for 2018

Above, the Bharat Petroleum refinery complex in Mumbai. Indian refiners hope global prices will remain sub-$70 per barrel as world oil production rises while new refining capacity does not keep the pace. (Reuters)
Updated 22 February 2018
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Indian state oil refiners see strong margins for 2018

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: India state refiners expect their profit margins to hold their strength this year as demand growth accelerates for fuel products amid a record $93 billion spent on infrastructure and stable crude oil prices, company executives and analysts said.
India’s sales of cars and especially motorbikes are forecast to rise rapidly, even as the development of a Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor drives consumption of the country’s primary fuel products, diesel and gasoline.
The infrastructure program for fiscal 2018/19 calls for more than 80,000 kilometers in new highways to better connect rural areas with urban hubs. Roads and other construction require oil-based products such as tar and plastic piping, and fuel to move materials by truck and rail.
“They (these projects) will have a cascading effect on fuel demand,” said R. Ramachandran, director of refineries at Bharat Petroleum, adding that this would be reflected directly in strong refining margins.
India’s annual fuel demand, made up mainly of diesel and gasoline, is expected to grow 7.5 percent in 2018, according to a report by BMI Research, a unit of Fitch. That compares with 5.4 percent last year, according to government data.
“Strong fundamentals and rising demand in India indicate that refining margins will remain strong in the near term, for at least six months,” Ramachandran said.
Refining margins also rely heavily on global crude oil prices, currently around $65 a barrel, and on the status of world inventories of refined products.
Indian refiners hope global prices will remain sub-$70 per barrel as world oil production rises while new refining capacity doesn’t keep the pace.
The International Energy Agency said this month it expects oil production to slightly outpace demand this year, especially thanks to still rising output in the United States.
M. K. Surana, head of Hindustan Petroleum Corp, said he expected international crude prices between $62 and $68 a barrel this year, as long as there are no geopolitical crises or technical disturbances like damage to the Forties pipeline.
Based on that expectation, India’s refiners should see refining margins, also known as cracks, in the range of $7-$8 per barrel for all three state-owned refiners.
“Products demand continues to rally on better industrial performance and weather-related support ... Rising oil prices have done little to dampen the growth so far,” said Sri Paravaikkarasu, head of East of Suez Oil, at consultancy FGE.
FGE expects Singapore margins to hold around $6-$7 a barrels due to upcoming refinery maintenance and summer demand.
“The margins for Indian refiners will be slightly better ... as India prices its products on import parity basis,” she said.
Asia’s benchmark margins in the oil trading hub of Singapore currently stand around $7.20 per barrel.
Better refining margins for the state-owned refiners — and improved profit from selling retail fuel — will pump more cash into government coffers ahead of key elections this year and next for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who needs money for his ambitious health care and infrastructure programs.
The cash inflow would come just ahead of eight state elections this year and national elections in 2019.
Healthy profits will also help the state-owned refiners to continue spending on expansion plans.
India aims to increase its refining capacity by 77 percent to about 8.8 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2030, which will cost dozens of billions of dollars.
State-run refiners Indian Oil, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum, that sell most of their output locally at prices linked to global rates, largely reported strong profits and margins for the October-December quarter.
While Indian gasoline and diesel prices are linked to global rates, during state or central elections private rivals say state-owned firms often do not increase retail selling rates — a risk to margins, analysts point out, only if crude prices suddenly spike.
“We expect margins to improve ... Cracks appear to be good,” said B. V. Rama Gopal, head of refineries at IOC.


OPEC will balance oil markets, but spare capacity limited — Nigerian official

Updated 26 September 2018
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OPEC will balance oil markets, but spare capacity limited — Nigerian official

  • ‘OPEC will do everything to stabilize, to balance the market’
  • Nigeria’s current crude oil production is about 1.7 million bpd

SINGAPORE: The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will act to balance the market after oil prices hit their highest in four years, but its options may be limited by available spare capacity, a Nigerian oil industry official said on Wednesday.
“It’s obvious that if you have high prices it’ll affect demand, so you have to do some market balance,” Malam Mele Kyari, head of crude oil marketing at Nigeria’s state oil firm NNPC and also the country’s OPEC representative, said.
“OPEC will do everything to stabilize, to balance the market but I’m sure you’re also aware that there’s a limit to what they can do. You must have the spare capacity,” Kyari said.
Oil prices surged this week on uncertainty over the global supply outlook following US sanctions on Iran’s oil exports and also as Saudi Arabia and Russia ruled out any immediate boost to output.
Kyari said Nigeria planned to increase its crude oil, condensate output by 100,000 barrels per day by the end of the year, up from about 2 million bpd currently.
The country’s current crude oil production is about 1.7 million bpd, he said.
In 2019, the African producer is aiming for an average output of 2.3 million bpd by boosting output from existing fields as well as starting new production from an ultra-deepwater field, Kyari said.
Located some 130 kilometers off Nigeria’s coast at water depths of more than 1,500 meters, the Egina oilfield is expected to start production in December and its output could peak at 200,000 bpd.
Kyari was in Singapore to launch the new Egina crude grade with field operator French oil major Total at APPEC.
The crude has an API gravity of 27.3 degrees and has a sulfur content of 0.165 percent, a provisional crude assay from Total showed.
The grade has a higher yield of gasoil and vacuum distillates compared with other products, according to the assay.