New York — Par Pacific Holdings, operator of Hawaii's sole refining assets, has yet to see any impact on operations at its two island plants from the coronavirus, the company's CEO William Pate said Wednesday.
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"In all our markets, we've not seen any impact on demand associated with the coronavirus. We're watching these factors closely as we near significant planned downtime in Hawaii this summer," Pate said on the fourth quarter results call.
Par's legacy Hawaii refinery known as the East Plant has a 94,000 b/d capacity, while the refinery Par bought from Island Energy has a 54,000 b/d capacity, giving the company a total capacity of 148,000 b/d.
Targeted Hawaiian throughput for the first quarter is 100,000 b/d to 104,000 b/d, with planned work scheduled late in the second quarter on the East Plant.
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About 32% of Hawaii's refined product demand comes from jet and air transportation, but possible impacts from coronavirus on commercial jet demand have been muted by strong military demand for jet.
Also, unless the coronavirus starts to spread into Hawaii, Par Pacific does not expect any change in demand.
"To date we really haven't seen any declines," said Par Pacific's CFO William Monteleone on the call. "The Hawaii market, Chinese tourists are less than 1%, so that when the epidemic was largely contained in China, it didn't really have a significant impact."
On the crude side, run cuts by Chinese refiners due to lack of local demand have been beneficial to Par's Hawaiian operations.
Par Pacific estimated Chinese run cuts at 2.3 million b/d and Chinese demand reduction between 2.6 million b/d and 2.7 million b/d.
"So you've obviously got a little bit of a refined product build, but a much bigger build is on the crude side where you've got 2.3 million b/d or 60 million barrels a month," Pate said.
Pate said there has been a "pretty significant" decline in crude prices, between $3/b and $5/b.
While Q2 planned turnaround at the Hawaiian refiner will cut back on crude demand, the differentials are too profitable to pass up.
Joseph Israel, Par Pacific's head of refining, said that the rise in crude differentials "are giving [the company] some motivation to increase imports rather optimizing refinery throughput" in Q1. "This is definitely the optimized mode of operation for the first quarter," he added.