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UPDATE 1-Citgo Petroleum posts $245 mln first quarter profit on higher volumes, margins

·1 min read

(adds details, background)

HOUSTON, May 17 (Reuters) - U.S. oil refiner Citgo Petroleum on Tuesday reported its first quarter profit rose more than 10 times the year-ago level to $245 million on higher crude processing volumes and stronger margins, the company said.

Refinery utilization rates rose to 95% in the quarter from 83% in the same period a year ago. Its three plants processed 731,000 barrels of oil per day, up from 693,000 bpd a year earlier, it said.

"We have worked hard to position Citgo operationally and commercially to benefit from improved refining margins," Chief Executive Carlos Jorda said in a statement. "Through reliable and safe operations we can continue providing a consistent supply of fuel products to our customers," he added.

The company has expanded customers in Latin America with exports and domestic marine sales rising 61% over the year-earlier quarter to 214,000 bpd. Its lubricants and light oils business also contributed to the stronger first quarter results.

Citgo invested $205 million during the quarter, including $133 million in turnarounds and catalyst changes and $72 million in capital expenditures. That compared with a $49 million expenditure in the previous quarter without any turnaround activity, the company said.

(Reporting by Marianna Parraga)