Why is America dropping oil refining capability?

The lack of US refining capability because the begin of the Covid-19 pandemic is without doubt one of the lesser components behind the present diesel scarcity. At present I’ll talk about the components that led to this loss.

Based on the Power Info Administration (EIA), US refiners had 19.0 million barrels per day (BPD) of operable refining capability at first of the pandemic.Proof) is the very best quantity ever reported by the EIA.

By December 2021, that quantity had dropped to 17.9 million BPD — a capability lack of 1.1 million BPD in lower than two years.

Right here is one thing that many individuals need assistance understanding about cleaning. It is a increase and bust enterprise, and these purists do not have crystal balls. That is extensively reported after they make big income, however they proceed to maintain big losses.

US vitality coverage is obvious about its goal of phasing out fossil fuels. When you’re a refiner forecasting billions in losses — and requiring huge investments to maintain your refinery working safely and in compliance with legal guidelines — you can very simply make the choice to shut.

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There are two glorious sources of data detailing which refineries have been closed and why. The primary is EIA.

Through the summer time, the EIA reported US refining capability declines for second straight yr in 2021In it they mentioned one of many main shutdowns in 2021. In addition they confirmed this nice graphic of how refining capability has advanced lately:

However I just lately stumbled upon a complete view. In a Twitter thread, Laura Sanicola, an oil and vitality reporter for Reuters, highlighted particular person refinery shutdowns from the beginning of the pandemic via June 2022:

He studies 9 refinery closures, however the theme is constant. Many of the refineries have been closed as a consequence of lack of demand on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However aren’t these firms making billions of {dollars}? Is not there an argument for maintaining these refineries open? There are two factors to that argument.

First, an organization could make billions of {dollars}, however a person refinery can always lose cash. We have seen this occur so much in East Coast refineries that do not have entry to low cost oil from the US shale increase. They needed to proceed to obtain crude oil from worldwide markets, which put them at an uncompetitive drawback.

Second, present refining income are a snapshot in time. At present, US demand for petroleum has largely recovered. In reality, demand for distilled spirits has returned to pre-pandemic ranges.

However these firms are projecting the long run. They take a look at long-term demand projections for petroleum merchandise. These projections point out declining gasoline demand over time. Due to this fact, they do not wish to make investments billions of {dollars} which will take a decade or extra to repay.

Think about you run a series of shops. General, your organization is extremely worthwhile, however you’ve gotten shops which are persistently unprofitable. Additionally, these shops are outdated, the demand outlook in these areas is weak, and upgrading them will price some huge cash. Perhaps you possibly can shut these locations.

In brief, why are we dropping refining capability in America, and are we going to make some modifications in our vitality coverage to deal with this?

By Robert Rapier

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