PetroChina cuts crude runs as coronavirus hits demand

Chinese state-run energy giant Sinopec, Asia’s largest refiner, is cutting its throughput by 600,000 bpd, or 12 percent of its average crude runs, its deepest reduction in more than a decade. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 11 February 2020

PetroChina cuts crude runs as coronavirus hits demand

  • State refiner in talks with suppliers such as Saudi Arabia and UAE about deferring cargo loadings

SINGAPORE: PetroChina, China’s second-biggest state refiner, plans to reduce its crude throughput by 320,000 barrels per day (bpd) this month versus its original plan as the coronavirus hits fuel demand, a company official told Reuters on Monday.

PetroChina’s planned February cut is equivalent to about 10 percent of the refiner’s average production rate of about 3.32 million bpd.
This would bring total production scalebacks by state refiners, include Sinopec Corp. and China National Offshore Oil Company, to about 940,000 bpd for this month.

The cuts from PetroChina are likely to be deepened to 377,000 bpd in March, said the senior company official with direct knowledge of the matter. He declined to be named as he is not authorized to speak to the press.

Reuters reported last week that Sinopec Corp, Asia’s largest refiner, is cutting its throughput this month by 600,000 bpd, or 12 percent of its average crude runs, its deepest reduction in morer than a decade. Independent Chinese refiners in Shandong, meanwhile, have slashed output to below half their capacity.

“The production cuts are mostly on refineries in northeast and north China, where demand is hit harder than in the western parts of the country,” said the PetroChina official.

PetroChina started the production cuts at the beginning of the month, but deepened them on Monday, the official said.

PetroChina did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

PetroChina is talking with its key long-term suppliers such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE about possibly deferring cargo loadings or trimming loading volumes, the official said, without giving further details.

“We’re monitoring the market on a daily basis. But from what we’ve observed now, there seems little chance for a fuel demand recovery in March,” the official said.


Ski resorts out in the cold as France eases lockdown

Updated 45 min 18 sec ago

Ski resorts out in the cold as France eases lockdown

  • Frustrated resort operators count the cost of holiday season restrictions

MEGEVE, France:  Megeve, in the foothills of Mont Blanc, was gearing up to welcome back skiers before Christmas after a COVID-19 lockdown was eased.

But France’s government — while allowing cinemas, museums and theaters to reopen from Dec. 15 — says its ski slopes must stay off limits until 2021, leaving those who make their living in the Alpine village frustrated and, in some cases, perplexed.

“When you’re outside, when you’re doing sport outdoors, that’s not the moment when you’re going to give COVID-19 to someone. COVID-19 is passed on in enclosed places,” said Pierre de Monvallier, director of ski school Oxygene, which operates in several resorts including Megeve.

Announcing a phased easing of the lockdown on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron said it was “impossible to envisage” re-opening ski slopes for Christmas and New Year, and that he preferred instead to do so during January.

“It felt like the door had been slammed in our face,” said Catherine Jullien-Breches, the mayor of Megeve, whose green slopes are generally covered with snow by mid-December.

“Unfortunately it’s a real drama for the economies of the villages and the winter sports resorts.”

People who live within 20 km of France’s Alpine resorts will able to visit from this weekend, but with the lifts staying shut, the main draw is missing.

“It’s like going on holiday on the Cote d’Azur and being told the sea is off limits,” said David Le Scouarnec, co-owner of Megeve’s Cafe 2 la Poste.

The problem for the resorts — and the hotels, restaurants, and workers who depend on them for their livelihood — is that their season is short, and they will have little time after the New Year to claw back lost revenue.

Other European authorities are wrestling with the same problem. Italy’s resorts regions are seeking approval for restricted skiing, but Austria, whose biggest cluster of the first wave of the pandemic was at the ski resort of Ischgl — where thousands were infected — is skeptical.

Prevarication cuts little ice, however, with Mathieu Dechavanne, Chairman and CEO of Compagnie du Mont-Blanc, which operates cable cars at Megeve and other resorts.

He said who could not understand why the government allowed trains and metros to operate, but barred him from re-opening. “It’s like we’re being punished. We don’t deserve this. We’re ready.”