US Refineries Processing Crude At Highest Level In 6 Years

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View of the Exxon Mobil refinery in Baytown, Texas
The Exxon Mobil refinery in Baytown, Texas (photo from September 2008)

U.S. refineries are running at the highest level for any week since 2007 due to capacity expansions and refineries coming back online after being repaired, according to a report released Wednesday by the U.S. Energy Information Agency, or EIA.

Crude oil running through refineries has increased steadily since early March, reaching 16.1 million barrels per day for the week ending July 5, according to EIA’s “Refinery Capacity Report.”

The increase in capacity has been helped by Gulf Coast refiners coming back online after being repaired. The Gulf Coast refiners represent more than 50 percent of U.S. refining capacity and are a key determinant of U.S. refining trends, according to the report. Gulf Coast refineries are also running at very high levels of utilization, nearly 94 percent on average for the four weeks ending July 5.

While the Midwest crude runs are not at record levels like they are on the Gulf Coast, there have still been sizable increases in recent weeks. This is attributed to refineries coming back online after a series of outages in the second quarter, lowering crude oil runs to levels not seen since late 2010.

Finally returning from the outages through June, the Midwest is now steadily ramping up capacity.

Increased refining capacity has also contributed to the increased use of rail, truck and barge to deliver crude oil to refineries, the EIA stated in another recent report.

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