|SBefore looking at what U.S. refiners did in
2004, we need to illustrate a point that is misunderstood by many outside of
the refining industry. The
conversion capacity constraint argument implies a world where refining
capacity is divided into two types, heavy sour crude oil processors and light
sweet crude oil processors.
|SRefiners are not as constrained as to what
type of crude oil they can run as this over-simplification implies. It is generally true that more light sweet
crude oils such as Brent, WTI and Louisiana Light Sweet are run in less
complex refineries, and most of the heavier sour crude oils such as Mars,
Saudi Heavy and Maya are run in more complex refineries.
|–Note that the U.S. “less complex refineries”
running light sweet crude oils are considered “complex” by world standards.
|–These U.S. refineries virtually all have FCC
units and some even have coking units, albeit small units relative to
distillation when compared to refiners using heavy sour crude oils.
|SBut, as illustrated in this slide, many
refiners in the U.S. run a wide range of crude oils from light sweet to heavy
sour in their refineries. These
refiners will shift the crude oil feed mix as crude oil and product prices
|SAlso note that much of the sweet crude oil
is run in refineries that also process heavy and medium sour crude oils.
|SThese exact mixes will change somewhat as
economics change, which is illustrated on the next slides with some specific
examples. We will see that refiners
were interested in more than just light sweet crude oils.