Changes in store for France's refining sector

Despite a record year-to-year drop in profits in 1999, from 6.1 billion francs to 0.8 billion, France's refiner-marketers maintained their investments, which, at 5.1 billion francs, were comparable to the 1998 level. Soaring crude prices compounded by the dollar appreciation led to high energy costs in refineries and to squeezed margins, while the scheduled shutdown for maintenance of eight of France's refineries did not improve matters, as volumes processed fell 9.2% to 83.4 million tonnes despite a refinery utilization rate of 87%.In the retail sector, high prices pushed motorists to supermarket service stations, which increased their market share sales to 53.3%. Meanwhile, dies...

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