July 12, 2018 / 1:23 AM / 5 months ago

Brazil's Petrobras ups refinery output, leading to crude export slump

RIO DE JANEIRO, July 11 (Reuters) - Brazilian state-owned oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA hiked its refinery output in June to supply more fuel to the domestic market, leading to a drop in crude oil exports for the month, the company told Reuters.

Petrobras’ shift to supply the domestic market comes amid falling imports of diesel, the most consumed fuel in the country, following the government’s announcement in May that it would subsidize diesel prices in a deal to end a truckers’ strike that crippled the country’s logistics for 11 days.

In an emailed statement to Reuters, the company did not give its exact utilization levels, but its Brazil refineries have the capacity to process 2.176 million barrels per day.

Reuters previously reported, citing a source familiar with the matter, that Petrobras’ utilization rate had already risen to 83 to 85 percent in April and May, up from 67 percent at the end of 2017.

As Petrobras directed more to refineries, Brazil’s crude oil exports fell 53.8 percent year on year to 2.86 million tonnes in June, according to government data.

Petrobras’ move puts more pressure on fuel importers, which already have to grapple with lower domestic demand as diesel sales by distributors fell 0.6 percent and gasoline sales declined 11.1 percent in the first five months of the year, according to industry regulator ANP.

Reporting by Marta Nogueira; Writing by Jake Spring; Editing by Peter Cooney

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