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Idemitsu shifts gears in Singapore amid bullish refinery outlook for Southeast Asia

Bloomberg

Refiner Idemitsu Kosan Co., which has shut down 23 percent of processing capacity since 2003, will boost crude and oil products trading in Singapore as it expands its business overseas.

The company plans to invest $9 billion with its partners to build a 200,000 barrel-a-day refinery in Vietnam to capture increasing local demand amid falling consumption in Japan. The Nghi Son plant is scheduled to begin operation in 2017.

“We have to enhance the function of the Singapore office because we will have a new refinery in Vietnam,” Takashi Tsukioka, president-designate of the firm, said in a May 31 interview. “Countries such as Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia are also expected to develop further.”

Japan’s gasoline demand will shrink 31 percent by 2020 from 2010 levels and 60 percent by 2030 due to improving fuel efficiency, according to forecasts by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Idemitsu’s Singapore unit, which consists of three traders, will be responsible for arranging crude shipments to Vietnam from Kuwait, Tsukioka said.

Idemitsu and Kuwait Petroleum International each have a 35.1 percent stake in the project. The refinery is designed to process heavy crude with 30.2 degrees of gravity as defined by the American Petroleum Institute, according to a statement posted on Idemitsu’s website.

The Singapore team will also be responsible for buying oil products for Freedom Energy Holdings Pty, Idemitsu’s Australian oil distribution unit, and finding customers for products exported from Japan, he said.

The refiner in December bought 100 percent of Freedom Energy, which owns an import terminal in Brisbane, Queensland, and sells wholesale fuel and operates about 40 gas stations on Australia’s east coast.

Idemitsu plans to boost fuel exports by 19 percent to 1.3 million kiloliters in the fiscal year that began April 1, its earnings statement said.

The company closed its 80,000 barrel-a-day Hyogo refinery and 110,000 barrel-a-day Okinawa plant in 2003 to reduce refining capacity because of slowing oil product consumption in the domestic market. It also plans to halt refining operations at the 120,000 barrel-a-day refinery in Tokuyama, Yamaguchi Prefecture, next March to meet METI requirements.