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EIA: US petroleum refinery capacity on the up

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that operable atmospheric crude distillation capacity in the US has reached 18.6 million barrels per calendar day (bpcd) as of 1 January 2017, up 1.6% on the start of 2016.

The EIA’s ‘Refinery Capacity Report’ suggests that this increase in operable capacity was slightly down on last year’s increase of 2%.

The report claims that capacities of secondary units that support heavy crude oil processing and production of ultra-low sulfur diesel and gasoline also increased, with catalytic hydrocracking (+4.5%) and deasphalting units (+6.1%) experiencing the largest capacity increases over the past year.

The refinery capacity reported for the start of 2017 includes one new unit, the 42 500 bpcd Magellan Midstream Partners LP condensate splitter in Corpus Christi, Texas. The Magellan Midstream Partners LP unit, which began operating in 2017, was operable but not running at the start of the year, so its capacity was listed as idle in the report. Overall, the percent of idle distillation capacity as of January 1 was 1.6%, a slight increase from last year’s 0.8%.

Gross inputs to refineries (refinery runs) stood at 16.5 million bpd in 2016. Crude oil production was 0.5 million bpd lower in 2016 than in 2015, the first annual decline since 2008. To offset the decline in production, net imports of crude oil increased by a similar amount. The EIA notes that despite the increase in refinery runs, atmospheric crude distillation capacity increased even more, lowering refinery utilisation in 2016 compared with 2015.

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