Wednesday, March 23, 2005

How refined.

Jeff Dietert from Simmons and Company on CNBC earlier, he's their Director of Integrated & Refining Research.

His basic case:

The refiners are doing very well due to the historically high spread between heavy, sour vrs light crude. Historically the discount was $8, and now, as an example, Mexican Mayan trades at a $17 discount to light crude. The operating cost of the extra refining needed is approximately $1 a barrel, so the margin is big.

Because of the increase in demand for various refined products, increases in stringent fuel requirements around the world, the increase in supply of heavy crude, and the lack of complex refining capacity for the heavy crudes, certain refiners should continue to do well. When capacity is tight, they have significant ability to pass through their costs.

Thus, he suggests an overweight of the independent refiners, in this order of interest:


Sunoco - more conservative pick


He believes there's a 30% upside over the next 12 months, based on an average $15 spread between heavy and light crude.

As an aside, there was a discussion of a refinery that is in the planning stages in Arizona. The costs of building this are put at 2x the cost the market currently values the average public refinery co.

William Greehey, the CEO of Valero, was on later and quoted an $18 spread on Mexican crude and $1.50 in extra processing costs. He said he also expected to see oil prices stay higher for a long time.