Japan refiners likely to reduce April production with maintenance shutdowns
By MARI IWATA
TOKYO -- Japanese refiners' April output is set to fall as several refineries close for seasonal maintenance, but many of them are confident of meeting demand during the shutdown as stockpiles of refined products are ample.
"We have plenty of gasoil and kerosene," Tsutomu Sugimori, Senior Vice President of JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp, said.
The country's top oil refiner by capacity plans to cut crude runs by 8% to 1.11 million bpd, while closing two crude distillation units at its Mizushima B refinery in western Japan from late March to late July.
"If the stockpiles still remain high, we'd lower operation rates at other refineries," Mr. Sugimori said. JX Energy is a unit of JX Holdings.
Idemitsu Kosan is planning a 4% cut in crude throughput in the April-June quarter in line with Japan's declining oil demand. It is also planning a maintenance shutdown at its Chiba refinery, east of Tokyo.
The company said in a statement that it can meet customers' demand with ample stockpiles built in the January-March quarter.
Showa Shell Sekiyu hasn't yet announced production plans for the April-June quarter. "As we plan a refinery maintenance in the coming quarter, we'll process less," a spokesman said. "We have prepared for it" by building stocks, he added.
Cosmo Oil declined to comment on its production plans. The company's Chiba refinery is under maintenance.
As of March 23, gasoil stockpiles held by Japanese refiners were up 22% from a year earlier at 1.92 million kiloliters, or 12.1 million bbl, according to latest data from the Petroleum Association of Japan.
Similarly, kerosene stocks were at 1.89 million kiloliters, up 15%.
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