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US Refiners Kick Russian Fuel Habit and Run Units Even Harder

·1 min read

(Bloomberg) -- US fuelmakers have managed to kick their Russian fuel habit, running distillate-making units once favoring Putin’s oil even harder with feedstock from other suppliers.

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Downstream inputs into coking units, which used to run lightly processed oil from Russia, rose in May by 2% from April and 4% from the same period last year, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Coking units turn feedstocks such as fuel oil into lighter distillates that can be processed into gasoline and diesel. US refiners bought fuel oil from Mexico, Algeria, and Saudi Arabia, among others, instead of Russia, according to Vortexa data compiled by Bloomberg.

US refiners began seeking alternatives to Russian imports as early as February after President Joe Biden warned that the Kremlin was likely to invade Ukraine and would face crippling sanctions as a consequence. Soaring fuel prices have elevated refining margins to all-time highs earlier this summer, giving fuelmakers every incentive to operate as hard as they can.

US refiners were also able to replace lost Russian vaccum gasoil, or VGO, with imports form Saudi Arabia in May. VGO is a main feedstock for gasoline-producing fluid catalytic crackers, which saw inputs rise in May from the previous month.

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