Phillips 66 adjusting NJ crude slates due to Bakken cost rise

HOUSTON, July 31 Wed Jul 31, 2013 12:06pm EDT

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HOUSTON, July 31 (Reuters) - U.S. independent refiner and chemical company Phillips 66 has increased runs of light crude imports at its New Jersey refinery as costs of North Dakota Bakken crude increased in recent weeks, executives told analysts on Wednesday.

"We have reduced our take on the Bakken to the East Coast as we've adjusted our crude slates and (are) replacing that with more competitive barrels from imports," said executive vice president for commercial, marketing, transportation and business development, during the company's second-quarter earnings call.

Discounts of U.S. inland crude like that produced in the Bakken shale oil play have narrowed to less than $3 a barrel from more than $23 a barrel in February, squeezing profits for refiners who have sought to process more of those crudes and fewer imports.

Executives said the company still sees North American crude as cost-advantaged over imports, but they can adjust crude slates to optimize crude costs as differentials move.

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