Socar Quits Russian Refinery

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Azerbaijan's state oil company Socar said last week it would pull out of managing Russia's insolvent Antipinsk refinery almost two years after entering a deal to run the plant jointly with Russia's Sberbank. In a joint statement, Socar and Sberbank said that the Azeri company "is successfully completing its run as a participant in the management project regarding Antipinsky refinery ... while also divesting Socar Energoresurs, a [joint venture (JV)] with Sberbank." Socar said it would not participate in the refinery's bankruptcy sale "as this deal does not align" with the company's development strategy. In mid-2019, Socar emerged as a surprise minority shareholder in Socar Energoresurs, a Moscow-based company that acquired an 80% interest in the 180,000 b/d Antipinsk refinery. Socar has used the plant for processing crude (NC Nov.7'19). The JV with Sberbank also had a license to develop three oil fields with proven reserves of 45 million metric tons in Russia's Orenburg region. Sberbank took control of the mothballed Antipinsk refinery as its key creditor. Debt-ridden and deprived of working capital, the technologically advanced refinery in West Siberia had no choice but to file for bankruptcy in 2019. With Socar bowing out, the market is rife with speculation as to who might be interested in the asset. Majors such as Lukoil and Gazprom Neft are reportedly not interested, especially because of Antipinsk's gargantuan debts. In March, Antipinsk processed 525,800 tons (124,200 b/d), while first-quarter throughput amounted to 128,400 b/d. This indicates that the refinery has been operating at 71% of capacity. Overall, Russia's refining sector processed 24 million tons in March, down 4.3% year-on-year. For the first quarter, runs amounted to 68.3 million tons (5.55 million b/d), a 7.3% decline compared to the same period in 2020 (table).

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Oil prices settled modestly lower after rising $1/bbl and falling $1/bbl earlier in the session as the market weighed divergent developments.
Thu, Sep 21, 2023