Japanese refinery on schedule to close by end-March

JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp., a wholly owned refining and marketing company of JX Holdings Inc. and Japan’s largest refiner, said it is on track to stop crude oil processing altogether at its 180,000-b/d Muroran refinery, on the northern island of Hokkaido (OGJ, Dec. 3, 2012, p. 28).

Petroleum refining operations at the Muroran refinery will cease by the end of March, the company said in its latest earnings presentation, released on Feb. 6.

While Muroran’s entire crude refining capacity will be shuttered, the refinery itself will be restructured into a petrochemical plant by June, JX Holdings said.

The decision to stop crude processing at Muroran comes as part of the company’s overall refinery capacity reduction plan designed to contend with Japan’s steadily declining domestic demand, which has resulted in unfavorable refinery utilization rates, according to JX Holdings’s 2013 annual report.

The restructuring of the Muroran refinery will increase the company’s refining capacity utilization ratio on a group-wide basis as well as enhance the efficiency and competitiveness of its downstream business, JX Holdings said.

By April, following the 180,000-b/d capacity cut at Muroran, JX Holdings’s total crude oil processing capacity for its remaining Japanese refineries will stand at just over 1.2 million b/d, according to the presentation.

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