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China’s independent refiners could get regulated away: Fuel for Thought

  • Monday, February 13, 2017
  • Posted By Meagan Wildfong

Source: The Barrel Blog | Oceana Zhou, Senior Writer | February 13, 2017

China’s regulatory pendulum has swung from supporting independent refiners by encouraging competition and deregulation to favoring state-owned oil companies, which could have the impact of regulating many of the independents out of business.

In early 2015 China’s independent refiners, or teapots, were set to soar. Beijing’s policy makers gave teapots permission to import crude and export refined products.


Regulators are now reminding independents that they really are not independent. In 2017, rather than giving teapots full year import quotas, regulators will allot the quotas in several rounds, and the first round was delayed by half a month.


If the allocation had been further delayed, “we would not have enough feedstock to sustain normal runs in the refinery in addition to having to pay a high demurrage,” said a source at a Shandong-based independent refiner.


The government has also yet to award refined product export permits to independents, which under what is called the “processing trade route,” allows refiners to not pay taxes on the exports.


Without the export permits, independents would end up paying taxes on refined products exports, forcing them on the domestic retail market, where they lack a competitive edge.


Fueling stations, which supply about 80% the road transportation fuel in China, are owned by state-owned companies Sinopec and CNPC’s PetroChina. To be competitive, independents have to sell gasoline at about Yuan 1,000-Yuan 2,000/mt lower than their state-run competitors, an amount they can ill afford to charge and stay profitable.


Read more from the Platts Barrel Blog here.




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