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Big Oil Braces for Profit Pain as Refining Safety Net Slips

  • Global oil-processing margins shrank 42% last quarter: BP data
  • Oil majors enjoyed one of the best years for refining in 2015
An oil pumpjack.
Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
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The world’s biggest oil companies, supported during crude’s collapse by a buoyant refining business, have lost that buffer as brimming fuel stockpiles swamp demand.

Profits from turning oil into gasoline and diesel contracted 42 percent last quarter from a year earlier to an average $11.60 a barrel, the weakest for the time of year since 2010, industry data from BP Plc show. The impact of that will be apparent as earnings for the period roll in over the coming weeks.