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US refining makes a comeback

The sector struggled to offset crushing demand losses in 2020, but recent M&A shows momentum change

Returning demand is welcome news for US refiners. Demand for refined products was hit hard by the pandemic, only to be dealt a further blow in February as Storm Uri caused widespread outages on the US Gulf Coast. However, the outlook is brighter in the short term—even as the energy transition implies more uncertainty longer term. According to the EIA, US refinery runs declined by 2.7mn bl/d—or 18pc—in the week up to 19 February. Over the whole of February, US refinery utilisation was down to 70.8pc—a level not seen since April 2020—from 82.5pc recorded in January 2021. This was also reflected in US refiners’ quarterly results. Phillips 66 and Valero Energy were among those to report first-

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