24 Aug 2012

Refineries struggling to stay afloat - Refining NZ

10:15 am on 24 August 2012

The country's only refinery says the global industry is going through a structural change and companies are struggling to stay afloat in volatile conditions that aren't expected to ease.

Refining NZ posted a loss of $1.5 million in the six months to June, compared with $31.2 million for the same period last year.

The company says it has sustained weak refiners' margins following poor global economic growth, particularly in China and India, which has curbed a demand for oil products.

Chief executive Ken Rivers expects these conditions to continue, and to sort out the stronger players from the weaker ones.

He says several refineries have been closed in Australia and the United States, and the situation for British refineries is bleak.

"If you're a good performing refinery, like Refining NZ is, you actually can keep edging out of the competition, and they start falling away. So whilst it's very painful for shareholders, in the long term it's a sort-out of the market which is what's required."

But Mr Rivers says it's not all doom and gloom for the industry: some analysts are starting to provide better forecast projections.

He says Refining NZ is set up to live in a very volatile world that can include unfavourable exchange rates and refiners' margins.