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Weekly Bitumen News February,15,2023


February 15, 2023

Indian state refiners hold runs at maximum in Jan, Feb


Indian state-controlled refiners continued to operate their refineries at maximum nameplate capacity on the back of strong domestic fuel demand, market participants close to the refiners told Argus.

BPCL’s 310,000 b/d Kochi, 240,000 b/d Mumbai and 156,000 b/d Bina refineries, MRPL’s 300,000 b/d refinery in Mangalore, and HPCL’s 190,000 b/d Mumbai and 166,000 b/d Visakhapatnam refineries operated at maximum or over 100pc of their nameplate capacities in January and have maintained this utilisation rate in February.

Refineries owned by India’s biggest state-controlled refiner IOC also operated at maximum, but a market participant said that a crude distillation unit (CDU) at the Haldia refinery underwent a scheduled turnaround for a very short period in January. But the turnaround did not have any major impact on the utilisation rate, the unit is back to operating at normal levels, the participant said.

No maintenance or turnaround related shutdowns are planned in February, but BPCL’s Bina refinery is scheduled to take a major turnaround-related shutdown over May-June.

The 60,000 b/d Numaligarh refinery in northeast India’s Assam state will undergo a once-in-five years complete shutdown over March-April. The refinery is owned by a consortium consisting of state-controlled explorer Oil India, state-controlled engineering and construction firm Engineers India and the Assam government.

Indian state-controlled refiners are currently focused on maximising the output of motor fuels owing to firm domestic demand, potentially indicating that output of other oil products would be restricted to nameplate capacity. IOC, BPCL and HPCL together account for around 90pc of India’s fuel sales and are committed to fulfill domestic needs before exporting.

This suggests that imports of some other products like bitumen would likely be increased. Refineries also tend to operate higher than their nameplate capacity through technical adjustment to increase the output of the products under focus.

Meanwhile, the country’s consumption of motor fuels — gasoline and diesel — grew at the fastest pace in five years in January on the back of firm domestic economic activity, oil ministry data show. The solid economic growth was reflected in India’s purchasing managers’ index, which expanded for a 19th consecutive month in January to 55.4.

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Weekly Bitumen News February,15,2023