Pandemic pulls down 1H oil imports, refinery output

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Lockdowns, refinery shutdowns, and travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic knocked down crude oil import volumes in the first half of 2020 with 28% year-on-year, while refined petroleum import volumes dropped 35%.

Based on data from the Department of Energy, inbound shipments of crude oil slipped from 4.8 billion liters to 3.5 billion liters. Refinery throughput also went down from 4.98 billion liters to 3.5 billion liters in the same period.

Until a few months ago, the Philippines had two refiners — Petron and Shell — producing a total of 285,200 barrels of oil daily. However, the closure of Shell’s refinery in Batangas in August and the suspension of Petron’s Bataan refinery operations in May for maintenance works significantly contributed to slump in overall production

Since the lifting of the lockdowns, only Petron resumed operations, but is considering the closure of its own facility. Shell, meanwhile, will repurpose its former refinery it to an import facility.

Imported petroleum products that entered the country from January to June also pummelled by 35% to 5.96 billion liters from 9.2 billion liters in the same period last year.

Domestic demand for refined products likewise shrank by 23 percent from 14 billion liters to just 10.8 billion liters previously, while demand for aviation fuel declined by 41%.

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