Positive signs returning to U.S. refining sector

Positive indicators are proliferating for the downstream side of the petroleum business, belatedly catching up to the good news that oil and gas producers have been experiencing in recent months.U.S. third quarter refining margins are, on average, 27% higher than those in the second quarter, outside the West Coast, according to Bear Stearns. On the West Coast, a series of refinery outages and resulting product shortages have pushed margins 70% higher this quarter vs. the previous quarter.Strong products demand and the downtime for a number of refineries have caused utilization rates to rocket to record levels. During July, U.S. refinery utilization averaged 99.1%, the highest level ever...

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