June 12, 2020 / 8:03 PM / 24 days ago

Petrobras refineries running near pre-pandemic levels amid strong demand

SAO PAULO, June 12 (Reuters) - Utilization rates at refineries owned by Brazil’s Petrobras are nearing pre-pandemic levels, as lower fuel imports by competitors and resilient international demand for bunker fuel provide a boost, the state-run company told Reuters on Friday.

According to public data from last week, refineries owned by Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the firm is formally known, were operating at 75% capacity as of last week, close to the 77% recorded on March 15, before the pandemic really took hold in Brazil.

In a statement, the firm credited increased exports of bunker fuel, which is used by ships. The company has previously said demand for the product, which Petrobras is well suited to produce given the low sulfur content of its principal crudes, has been particularly strong in China.

The company added that demand for some fuels is growing rapidly in Brazil, particularly diesel, while the import of fuels by rivals has remained depressed. (Reporting by Roberto Samora; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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