By KONSTANTIN ROZHNOV
LONDON -- The expected acceleration of annual growth in global oil products demand, from the weak levels seen for a year, will boost growth in refinery runs over the coming months, the International Energy Agency said Thursday.
"Growth in demand and also refinery runs will be stronger in the second quarter, and in particular in the second half of 2012, under the assumption that economic growth and demand will recover," said Toril Bosoni, a senior oil market analyst on refining at the Paris-based energy watchdog.
This will present beleaguered European refiners, struggling from lackluster regional consumer demand, with some export opportunities - in particular, gasoline exports to the US Northeast, said Roy Jordan, downstream consultant at Facts Global Energy.
At the same time, US Gulf refiners will be likely to capitalize on refined products exports to Latin America, while West Africa will also draw oil products from other parts of the world, Jordan said.
Annual growth in global refinery crude runs will accelerate to over 500,000 bpd in the second quarter 2012, from less than 100,000 bpd on average over the last four quarters, the IEA said Thursday in its monthly oil market report.
Global throughputs in the second quarter are expected at 74.4 million bpd, some 400,000 bpd lower than in the first quarter due to seasonal maintenance, notably in developed Asian economies.
But seasonally higher US runs and new capacity in India, China and on the US Gulf Coast are seen providing an offset, the IEA said.
"All told, the seasonal dip in throughputs for 2012 looks less pronounced than last year, albeit the summer ramp-up is also assumed to be less steep," the IEA said.
Bosoni said that the seasonal rise in demand due to the summer driving season is expected to be largely in-line with historical patterns.
The IEA left its 2012 global oil demand forecast largely unchanged from last month, at 89.9 million barrels a day, up 0.9% from 2011.
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