Petrobras Approaching Pre-Crisis Refinery Runs

(Argus, 21.May.2020) — Brazil’s state-controlled Petrobras has further boosted refinery throughput in response to a pick-up in fuel demand, with utilization rates approaching the average pre-crisis level.

Petrobras downstream director Anelise Lara said this week that utilization at the company’s refineries is at 77pc, up from a mid-April low of around 52pc and just slightly off the 79pc first quarter average. The company expects a complete return to pre-crisis demand levels in the fourth quarter.

As in most other countries, Brazilian fuel demand has been hit by pandemic restrictions, but these are now beginning to ease.

The uptick in refinery runs is also driven by export demand for low-sulfur marine fuel and high-octane gasoline.

Petrobras is not planning additional cuts to its 2.26mn b/d of domestic oil production, but China-focused exports—a record 1mn b/d in April—should taper down in the coming months as the company directs more pre-salt crude to its 13 domestic refineries.

Lara said local and international firms remain interested in eight downstream assets with a total of around 1.1mn b/d capacity that Petrobras plans to sell by the end of 2021.

— By Nathan Walters

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