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Closures, conversions to partially offset new refining capacity: IEA

Announced refinery closures or conversions to biorefineries will partially offset new capacity coming online in this year and in 2022, the International Energy Agency said in its latest monthly report.

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New capacity coming onstream in 2021-22 is expected to amount to 3.8 million b/d, against announced refinery closures or conversions amounting to 2.3 million b/d, the IEA said.

China is leading the net additions, followed by the Middle East and Africa, whereas in the rest of the world capacity is declining, particularly in Europe, the US and Asia.

New capacity additions in China include the second phase of the Zhejiang Petroleum & Chemical complex and expansion of the Zhenhai refinery, and commissioning of the Yulong Petrochemical and Guandong Petrochemical and Shenghong Petrochemical complexes.

Elsewhere, the Jazan, Al-Zour and Duqm refineries in the Middle East and the Dangote refinery in Africa are due for commissioning in the next two years, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.

Across Asia, a number of refineries in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the Philippines are set to close.

And in Europe, several refineries have stopped processing crude oil, including Gunvor's Antwerp and Rotterdam, Finland's Naantali, Portugal's Porto, Norway's Slagen, as well as France's Grandpuits, which will be converted.

In the US, refineries that have closed include Martinez, Gallup and Convent. Others are planning conversions, or have announced temporary closures, according to Platts data.

"Refiners that have braved the pandemic impact so far by cutting run rates and shutting down parts of their sites will eventually have to decide on whether they can return to normal operations or not," the IEA said.

With global utilization rates forecast to reach "only" 78% of capacity in 2022, there remains a "high likelihood" of further closures, it said.

The IEA said it expects global throughput in 2021 to "recover half" of the 7.4 million b/d fall seen in 2020. However, that increase will lag behind the demand growth for refined products "as surplus inventories are drawn down," it said. However, in 2022 the increase in refinery runs "closely matches demand growth for refined products."

The IEA said it expects refinery throughput in 2021 to increase by 3.6 million b/d to 77.8 million b/d and in 2022 a further 2.4 million b/d to 80.4 million b/d.