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Rotterdam refinery fires boost US diesel fuel exports

Rotterdam

Exxon Mobil Corp said on Tuesday that operations at its 190,000b/d Botlek refinery have been mostly unaffected by Monday night’s fire at a power reformer at the Rotterdam refinery, but failed to disclose, however, when production at full capacity would resume. The company initiated last year an expansion of the Rotterdam refinery that would increase its hydrocracking capacity by 40% to around 70,000 barrels per day.

The fire came the same day a blaze broke out at Shell’s 404,000b/d Pernis refinery while the company was preparing to restore production after an earlier 30 July fire. Shell says the latest fire had “no impact on previously announced plans for restart” and that “most units” should be operating again as normal by the end of the month. The shutdown of Shell’s refinery in late July has contributed to a tighter fuel market in Northern Europe with fuel prices in Europe and US jumping when Shell was forced to halt most of its units at Pernis.

These refinery fires and the falling stocks have aggravated the situation for EU producers and made Europe a target destination for US exports of diesel fuel, which hit their record above 1.6mn barrels per day in July after peaking last year at 1.74mn t, according to data from the EIA. With Pernis restarting and Greece’s 100,000b/d Elefsina refinery still closed since July, incoming shipments of US diesel are expected to be a record as traders re-direct extra cargoes from other parts of the world anticipating a supply shortfall in northern Europe.

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