Marathon Oil Climbs Higher On Early Refinery Upgrades

Equities Manager |

Shares for Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) climbed higher on Monday’s late announcement that the company would be completing the final phase of a hydrocracker optimization project at its Louisiana refinery one full year ahead of schedule.

The Energy Information Administration defines hydrocracking as a process by which the heavy molecules in gas oil are broken down, or cracked, into distillate and gasoline using hydrogen. Hydrocracking turns low-quality heavy gas oil into high-quality jet fuel, diesel and gasoline.

Marathon, the third-largest oil and gas refiner in the US, will be taking advantage of an already-scheduled maintenance shut-down of its Garyville refinery in Louisiana to complete the renovation early. The upgrade will expand the capacity of its hydrocracker from 90,000 barrels per day to 110,000.

While a great deal of oil refiners have yet to invest heavily in hydrocracking, Marathon CFO Donald Templin explained the plan to upgrade its Garyville unit at a Raymond James conference in March as an investment the company very much wanted to get in on early. The Louisiana refinery can process up to 522,000 barrels a day, the vast majority of which comes from heavy and sour crude oils.

Furthermore, demand for distillates such as jet fuel, diesel, and even kerosene are on the rise in the US and throughout the world, particularly South America and Europe. The enlarged hydrocracker will also allow the company to up its production of platformate, a high-octane gasoline blending component, to 5,300 barrels per day.

The work is scheduled to be complete by January, with processing to resume by February at latest. The third largest US oil and gas refining company saw shares bump up over 1.6 percent to as high as $73.43 heading into midday trading. 

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