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Oil Refining

Volume 929: debated on Monday 4 April 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the total refinery distillation capacity in each of the EEC countries and his estimate of the existing over-capacity in the terms of EEC requirements.

At the end of 1975 total refinery distillation capacities in Community countries, as notified to the OECD, were as follows:

million tonnes a year
Germany (F.R.)153·9
United Kingdom147·2
In the recent EEC Commission document "Community Approach to Refining Problems within the Community" [R/684/77] it was estimated that there were some 220 million tonnes a year spare capacity in the Community in 1975, after allowing for normal under-utilisation.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) of the total United Kingdom refinery capacity, what is the present over-capacity bearing in mind the present yield and current market demand;(2) what is his estimate of the number of new refineries and/or modified existing plants required to produce the volume of light and medium distillates required to meet immediate and prospective demand in the United Kingdom.

In 1976 the utilisation of gross United Kingdom annual refining capacity of about 146 million tonnes was approximately 67 per cent. After allowance for factors such as maintenance and seasonal variations in demand, this corresponds to a utilisation level of about 79 per cent. of achievable capacity. It is not possible to judge overall capacity needs by reference to the demand for particular refined products. Existing capacity is, however, sufficient to meet United Kingdom demand for middle distillates for the present and in the foreseeable future. The United Kingdom does not at present have enough secondary upgrading capacity to produce the yield pattern needed to meet national demand for light distillates, but the refining industry has put forward a number of schemes for new upgrading plants.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) considering the growing numbers of export refineries on stream, under construction or planned in the Middle East and on the Mediterranean literal, whether he proposes in collaboration with the Community to protect the EEC market;(2) whether he has recommended to or discussed with the Commission the prospect of an EEC approach to product imports involving either quantitative restrictions or additional import duties.

These problems are amongst those examined in the Commission's recent communication to the Council about the Community approach to refining problems within the Community which was briefly discussed at the Energy Council on 29th March and will be further considered by the Council in due course.