Oil refiners shut plants as demand losses may never return

(Reuters) - Oil refiners are permanently closing processing plants in Asia and North America and facilities in Europe could be next because of the uncertain prospects for a recovery in fuel demand after the coronavirus pandemic cut consumption.

The pandemic initially cut global fuel demand by 30% and refiners temporarily idled plants. But consumption has not returned to pre-pandemic levels and less travel may be here to stay, leading to the possibility plants may shut permanently.

Here are some of the companies/refineries involved:


* Royal Dutch Shell RDSa.L said it was closing its refinery in Convent, Louisiana, the largest such U.S. facility. The shutdown will occur in November after Shell failed to find a buyer. Shell expects to sell all but six refineries and chemical plants globally and is considering closing facilities it cannot sell.

* Marathon Petroleum MPC.N, the largest U.S. refiner by volume, plans to permanently halt processing at refineries in Martinez, California, and Gallup, New Mexico.


* Shell will halve crude processing capacity and cut jobs at its Pulau Bukom oil refinery in Singapore as part of an overhaul to reduce the company’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to net zero by 2050.


* Japan’s biggest refiner, Eneos Corp, permanently shut the 115,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) crude distillation unit at its Osaka refinery on Sept. 30 as planned.


* Exxon Mobil Corp XOM.N is urging the Australian government to start releasing aid to the country's oil refineries by January after a decision by BP early in November to shut the nation's biggest refinery.

* BP plc BP.L plans to stop producing fuel in Australia and will convert its loss-making Kwinana oil refinery, the biggest of the country's four, into a fuel import terminal because of tough competition in Asia.

* Australia has proposed offering incentives worth A$2.3 billion ($1.68 billion) over 10 years to keep the country’s four remaining oil refineries open and said it would invest in building fuel storage as part of a long-term fuel security plan.

* Viva Energy has said a full shutdown of its refinery in Victoria was on the cards given the dire long-term outlook for the industry.

* Refining NZ NZR.NZ said in late June it was considering shutting New Zealand's only oil refinery and turning it into a fuel import terminal, but first would reduce its operations to cut costs and break even into 2021.


* Royal Dutch Shell RDSa.L will permanently shut its 110,000-barrel-per-day Tabangao facility in the Philippines' Batangas province, one of only two oil refineries in the country.


* Gunvor Group said in June it was considering mothballing its 110,000 bpd refinery in Antwerp as COVID-19 hurt the plant’s economic viability.

* Petroineos said on Nov. 10 it plans to mothball nearly half of its 200,000 barrel-per-day refinery at Grangemouth in Scotland.

* French oil major Total TOTF.PA said in September it was investing more than 500 million euros ($583 million) to convert its Grandpuits, France, refinery into a zero-crude platform for biofuels and bioplastics.

* Energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie put plants in Netherlands, France, and Scotland on a list of potential closures.

Reporting by Florence Tan, Ahmad Ghaddar, Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, Enrico Dela Cruz, Seng Li Peng, Erwin Seba, Sonali Paul and Koustav Samanta; editing by Subhranshu Sahu, David Evans, Kirsten Donovan and Bernadette Baum