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February 17, 2009

Singapore refiner to shut crude unit March-May
Singapore Refining Co (SRC) will take a 135,000 barrels per day (bpd) crude unit offline from mid-March to mid-May for regular maintenance, Reuters quoted industry sources as saying Monday.

During this period, SRC will upgrade a 20,000-bpd desulphuriser to make 0.001 percent sulphur, or 10 ppm, diesel, they said.

A company spokesperson says it is SRC's policy not to comment on the day-to-day operations or utilisation rate of the refinery.

"The premiums are much better for 10 ppm diesel because the demand is there," said one source, referring to demand for such clean diesel grades in Europe.

Gas oil traded in Singapore strengthened to a discount of $1.40 a barrel for the March/April swaps spread from minus $2.00 last week, on signs of strong outflows to Europe and a supply drawdown in the city-state next month when the maintenance kicks in.

SRC, a joint venture between Singapore Petroleum Co and Chevron Corp, operates a 285,000-290,000 bpd refining complex on Jurong Island.

There are two other crude units of about 60,000 bpd and 90,000-bpd each.

Complex refiners in Asia processing Dubai crude yielded a profit of $10.14 a barrel, from an average of $7.27 in the last five days, thanks to robust gasoline demand and voluminous diesel shipments to Europe.

Asian gasoline crack spread surged to $16.75 a barrel, the highest in over a year, as demand outpaced supplies.

The market was buoyed by news that Balongan's 83,000-bpd residual fluid catalytic cracker (RFCC), or gasoline-making unit, has stalled on some technical and crude offloading problems last week.

Asia is shipping a four-month high volume of 635,000 tonnes of 10 ppm diesel to Europe in February, as traders capitalised on the cold weather in the West to absorb excess supplies in this region where industrial diesel demand is poor.

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