|SFocusing on the Europe and the U.S., refining capacity was
at very low utilization in 1985.†
Utilization increased from the mid 1980ís to peak in 1997 as a result
of refined product demand growth, refinery closures, and even some refinery
capacity reductions.† However, refinery
investments were still occurring to meet changing product specifications
(e.g., low sulfur diesel, oxygenated gasoline, reformulated gasoline) and
some changes in mix from gasoline to more diesel.
|SFor the decade from 1997 to 2007, capacity utilization in
the U.S. and Europe ran at fairly high levels.† Although demand continued to increase, so
did refining capacity, keeping utilizations at about the same level.† During that time, product price spikes
occurred from time to time when low inventory levels met unexpected demand
increases.† These price surges raised
concerns that refinery capacity might be†
inadequate to meet demand.
|SDuring the 2005-2007 time period, refiners worldwide
planned many expansions to meet the seemingly relentless demand increases.