Global Refining Capacity Set To Increase By 2015

The construction of new oil refineries around the world will increase global refining capacity by about eight million barrels per day by 2015, according to a study published Feb. 14 by British energy research group Wood Mackenzie. The building of 66 new refineries and the expansion of 70 existing sites across the globe had been announced by the end of January 2006. If all those facilities came online, it would provide extra worldwide refining capacity of around 18 million bpd according to the report.

"Our analysis suggests that less than half of the announced projects will actually come to fruition," the report said. "The 'realistic' global crude capacity additions (amounting to around eight million bpd) are significantly less than that needed to meet the growth in global demand," it warned.

Wood Mackenzie's oil demand growth forecast over the next ten years stands at around 15.7 million bpd. Spare global capacity in 2005, meanwhile, was estimated at just below three million bpd -- an "unprecedented" level.

President George W. Bush called earlier this month for a 75% cut in U.S. oil imports from the Middle East by 2025 in a bid to wean the country off its "addiction" to energy from the region. "However, it remains very difficult to build a new refinery in the U.S. due to current legislative and environmental regulations. "In fact, no new refineries have been built in the U.S. since the 1970s (and) the U.S. is highly dependent on imports of oil products, particularly gasoline."

North America should increase its refining capacity by around one million barrels per day over the next ten years, the report said, mostly through the expansion of existing sites.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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