Friday, November 02, 2007

11% cut in UK fuel production after fire

Petrol prices rose sharply this week, partly as a reaction to a fire at the Petroplus depot on Wednesday [31/10/2007]. Oil refining operations at Petroplus Holdings AG's plant outside London have been halved because of the fire, the Swiss-based company said Friday. And there were already signs or shortages on Essex forecourts.

The fire damaged a key production unit, the company said, meaning the plant will produce less than half its 220,000 barrel-per-day output for the next month. The Swiss oil company Petroplus, which bought the Coryton Refinery from BP in May 2007, is responsible for loading about 700 tankers a day to meet 22% of the UK's forecourt demand. As a result petrol supplies will have dropped by 11% for Britain as a whole [IHT].

"This might be what virtually guarantees £1-a-litre," said Paul Watters, spokesman for the Automobile Association said earlier this week. "It's absolutely the last thing we need at the moment and it's bound to increase the price of petrol."

Bloomberg yesterday reported fuel rises across northern Europe. Spot gasoline for immediate loading in Amsterdam-Rotterdam- Antwerp jumped $45 to $842 a metric ton at 12:26 p.m. Thursday in London, the highest since September, 2005, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The cause for the blast which has affected markets is still under investigation. However, a manager at the plant said it started after a leak of petroleum gas ignited.

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