Restrictions on US crude exports may disappear. That doesn’t mean the sky is falling for refiners. A Bloomberg index of 11 US independent refiners rose 2.3 percent in New York Wednesday, after congressional leaders agreed on a deal to lift a 40-year ban on most oil exports. Some refiners, which process crude into gasoline and diesel, would get a tax break on the cost of transporting oil as part of the deal. The break is expected to be $119 million in 2016, or about 0.5 percent of next year’s combined pre-tax profits of the refiners in the index, according to government and analyst estimates.
Refiners in South Korea, the world's fifth-largest crude oil importer, have stepped up spot purchases this year, buying at prices depressed by an oil glut as they run their plants at high rates to catch strong processing margins. With the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers keeping crude taps open in spite of soft global demand growth, tens of millions of unbought barrels have built up in floating storage sites and dragged down international oil markets. Still, the profit earned on turning a barrel of Dubai crude into fuel have held at $7.50-$9 a barrel this year - well above annual averages since at least 1997 - as crude benchmarks dipped to multi-year lows, sparking consumer demand for gasoline and naphtha.