UK Oil Imports Exceed Exports for First Time in 30 Years

Posted by Michelle Howard
Thursday, July 31, 2014

Britain imported more oil products than it exported last year for the first time in 30 years, an official report shows, and analysts say the country is likely to stay dependent on overseas oil as its refineries close.

Britain exported 26.2 million tonnes of products such as diesel, kerosene and jet fuel from its refineries last year, but imported 28.2 million tonnes, due to the closure of two major oil processing plants.

"The U.K. was a net importer of petroleum products in 2013 for the first time since 1984, the year of the miners' strike," the UK's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said in its annual report.

Coryton oil refinery in Essex closed for good in the second half of 2012 while Scotland's Grangemouth refinery on the Firth of Forth shut for several weeks from October 2013.

The loss of these plants contributed to a 6 percent decrease in refinery production, the DECC said.

Industry analysts expect U.K. imports of oil products to rise as more refineries shut due to competition from other regions.

"The U.K. could become a bigger net importer of petroleum products because there are a lot of refineries at risk of shutting down as refining margins have been very weak," said Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects.

Murco Petroleum agreed on Thursday to sell its Milford Haven refinery and terminal in Wales to Anglo-American entrepreneur Gary Klesch after a long search for a buyer.

Around 2 million barrels per day of Europe's oil refining capacity, or roughly 15 percent, must close by 2018 to balance the market, oil consultancy JBC Energy says.

(By Rowena Caine, Additional reporting by Ron Bousso; Editing by Christopher Johnson)

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