US refining margin strength to persist into 2004

US refiners are enjoying a bull run right now, and the outlook for 2004 is for more of the same.Tight products stocks, strong import levels for both crude and products, and robust demand paint a picture of attractive margins. A cold winter and consequent spike in natural gas prices will only improve that view.Throughput key driverIn fact, says London-based Centre for Global Energy Studies, the current level of US refinery throughput is the key factor driving crude oil prices today. This is because refinery runs dictate inventory changes both directly and indirectly (the latter via imports of crude oil ).CGES notes that US refinery throughput this year has remained mostly above the average...

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