Get used to the sludgier stuff

The long term inexorable march toward poorer quality crudes will be interrupted by better grades coming from expansions in Saudi Arabia and West Africa, but won’t save refiners the cost and bother of retooling their equipment to deal with the ever sludgier stuff coming from newer fields (and our ongoing thirst for petrol and diesel - the lighter half of the barrel). It’s a tough conclusion by Sanford Bernstein and will affect refiners already bracing themselves for the changes they forced on them by Washington’s green revolution. Best positioned are the majors and sophisticated refiners such as Valero. US refiners, who have been more fastidious about upgrading their kit, have the edge over their European counterparts. The Indians, however, are a step ahead with the giant Jamnagar complex.

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