European refineries in developed nations are running at 78 percent capacity this month, down from 80 percent in February, according to estimates from Singapore-based researcher Facts Global Energy Inc.
European plants in members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development are processing about 12.7 million barrels of crude a day, versus 12.9 million barrels a day in February and 13.2 million barrels a day in January, Facts said.
“The reduction is mostly from maintenance and also some run cuts,” Roy Jordan, a London-based analyst at Facts, said by telephone today. The continent’s refiners typically carry out work during spring and fall, when seasonal demand is lower.
“It’s been the middle distillates that have been keeping refiners afloat” amid poor economics for processing other fuels, Jordan said, referring to a category of products that includes diesel, heating oil and jet fuel.
Gasoil’s crack spread, or premium to Brent, fell 7.3 percent to $16.42 a barrel at 2:32 p.m. on London’s ICE Futures Europe exchange today. The crack, a measure of refining profit, rose about 21 percent in the past month, according to ICE data.
The European naphtha crack, which is at a discount to Brent, widened to $8.25 a barrel, according to data from London-based brokerage PVM Oil Associates Ltd. The gap expanded to a two-year low at $8.32 a barrel on March 15. Gasoline cracks shrank for the fourth day to $4.01 a barrel more than Brent, PVM data show. That’s the lowest in three weeks.