Coronavirus and refining profitsOil companies across the world extract over 95 million barrels of crude oil per day. Oil production was at an all-time high in 2019, largely due to greater demand by the mobility sector and industrial growth. As the gasoline and diesel retail market is one of the most important customers for refineries, the coronavirus pandemic and resulting mobility restrictions greatly affected profit margins of refiners around the world. The Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp refining hub recorded an average loss of 1.28 U.S. dollars per barrel for WTI MEH cracking in the second quarter of 2020. However, by 2021, profit margins had largely returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Capacities and throughputThe total global refinery capacity for crude oil is over 100 million barrels per day. In recent years, China has notably increased its refinery capacities and today the China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (or Sinopec in short) has one of the largest atmospheric distillation capacities in the world. However, despite the great strides made by China, as of 2020 the United States remains the largest oil refining country. That year, U.S. oil throughput stood at 14.2 million barrels per day, a slight increase compared to 1990.
In 2020, the refinery throughput of ExxonMobil, the largest U.S. oil company, was roughly 3.8 million barrels per day. Daily processing volumes have declined by over one million barrels since 2012.