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The refining industry is undergoing transition due to new International Maritime Organisation (IMO) low-sulphur shipping fuel specification that came into effect in January 2020.

Offshore Technology lists the ten largest refining companies in the world, based on their crude refining capacities per day in 2019.

World’s largest refining companies: Top ten by capacity

1. Sinopec – 5,909kb/d

2. CNPC – 4,832kb/d

3. Exxonmobil – 3,981kb/d

4. Saudi Aramco – 3,600kb/d

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5. Valero – 3,150kb/d

6. Marathon – 3,067kb/d

7. Rosneft – 2,900kb/d

8. PDVSA – 2,859kb/d

9. Shell – 2,564kb/d

10. Petrobras – 2,317kb/d

1. China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) – 5,909kb/d

Largest refining companies in the world
New Renown, Crude Oil Tanker (VLCC), located at Sinopec Zhongke Refinery Port, is a part of Zhanjiang Integrated Refinery and Petrochemical Complex. Credit: China Petrochemical Corporation.

Sinopec Group’s refining capacity increased by 1.8% to 248.52 million tonnes in 2019 compared to the previous year.

The company produced 160 million tonnes of refined oil products in 2019. Oil products export increased moderately to maintain a relatively high utilisation rate. New formulations for low sulphur fuel oil passed the engine and endurance tests, which will reduce the refining cost of the company.

The company spent CNY31.4bn ($4.4bn) on the refinery business segment in 2019, primarily covering Zhongke Refining and Petrochemical project, Zhenhai, Tianjin, Maoming and Luoyang refinery upgrade projects.

The refining capacity of the company declined by 6.3% in the first nine months of 2020 over the same period in 2019, due to reduced demand during the Covid-19 crisis. However, the refinery throughput increased by 11% in the third quarter of 2020, attributed to recovery in domestic demand.

Sinopec is a subsidiary of China Petrochemical Corporation. The integrated energy and chemical company owns 30 refineries and employs 402,206 people. Key products of the company include asphalt, chemical feedstock, diesel, fuel oil, gasoline, LPG, jet fuel, solvent oil, naphtha, kerosene, petroleum coke and paraffin.

2. China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) – 4,832kb/d

Largest refining companies in the world
CNPC had 11 10mta refineries and seven integrated refining-petrochemical complexes by the end of 2019. Credit: Alexey Rezvykh / Shutterstock.

The refinery throughput of CNPC was 168.44 million metric tonnes (Mmt) in 2019, which was up by 3.6% over the previous year.

The company had 11 refineries with a 10mtpa capacity and seven integrated refining-petrochemical complexes by the end of 2019.

Based in China, CNPC holds assets in 35 countries, including Africa, Central Asia-Russia, Americas, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, and other regions. The company operates 26 refineries and petrochemical units, primarily in the north-east and north-west China and employs 1,448,400 people worldwide.

Key products of the company include crude oil, natural gas, ammonia, diesel, kerosene, gasoline, fuel oil, lube oil, petroleum coke, and LPG.

3. ExxonMobil – 3,981kb/d

Largest refining companies in the world
Exxonmobil’s average refinery utilisation increased by approximately 6% in the third quarter of 2020 compared with the prior quarter due to demand recovery. Credit: Exxon Mobil Corporation.

The crude oil refining capacity of ExxonMobil was 3,981,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2019. The combined distillation capacity of its 21 refineries is approximately 5Mbpd. The company produces approximately four million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd).

The production at the Permian Basin will provide approximately 75% of the light crude feedstock to the company’s refineries by 2022, and the investments in the Beaumont refinery will improve the light crude oil refining capacity from the Permian Basin by 250,000bpd.

The refinery throughput of the company declined to 1,601kb/d in the third quarter of 2020 from 1,647kb/d in the third quarter of 2019. However, average refinery utilisation increased by approximately 6% from the second quarter of 2020 due to demand recovery.

The company is increasing its commercial sales and expanding activities in the Asia-Pacific by improving its integrated refining complex in Singapore.

ExxonMobil operates across the Americas, Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East regions. The key offerings of the company include gasoline, naphtha, heating oil, kerosene, diesel, aviation fuel, heavy fuel, and speciality petroleum products.

4. Saudi Aramco – 3,600kb/d

Largest refining companies in the world
Saudi Aramco’s gross refining capacity was 6,400kb/d in December 2019. Credit: Saudi Arabian Oil Co.

The net refining capacity of Saudi Aramco was 3,600kb/d while the company’s gross refining capacity was 6,400kb/d in 2019.

The company acquired a 17% interest in Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings’ (HHIH) Hyundai Oilbank in 2019. Hyundai Oilbank’s major facilities are located in Daesan Complex, a refining plant with 650kb/d processing capacity.

The Covid-19 crisis resulted in a 33% decrease in revenues in the first nine months of 2020 over the same period in 2019, driven by lower crude oil prices and sales volumes, as well as reduced refining and chemicals margins. The company, however, showed recovery in global energy markets due to eased Covid-19 restrictions in multiple locations worldwide.

Headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, the company has its presence in Asia, North America and Europe regions and employs 79,000 people.

5. Valero Energy Corporation – 3,150kb/d

Largest refining companies in the world
Valero’s key brands include Valero®, Diamond Shamrock®, Shamrock®, Ultramar®, Beacon ®, and Texaco®. Credit: Klod/Shutterstock.

Valero has 15 refineries across the US, Canada and the UK with the total refining capacity of 3,150kb/d for crude oil, intermediates, and other feedstocks.

The company earned $103.7bn in revenue from the refining operations in 2019, an 8.7% decline compared to the previous year, due to a fall in sales of the company’s refining segment.

The revenues of the refining segment declined by approximately 41% in the first nine months of 2020 versus the same period in 2019, due to the impact of Covid-19.

Valero has approximately 10,222 employees and its refineries produce conventional gasoline, premium gasoline, diesel, low-sulphur diesel, ultra-low sulphur diesel, CARB diesel, other distillates, jet fuel, asphalt, petrochemicals, lubricants, gasoline meeting the California Air Resources Board (CARB) specifications, and other refined petroleum products.

The key brands of the company include Valero®, Diamond Shamrock®, Shamrock®, Ultramar®, Beacon®, and Texaco®.

6. Marathon Petroleum – 3,067kb/d

Largest refining companies in the world
Marathon Petroleum has 16 refineries with a total refining capacity of 3,067kb/d. Credit: Daniel J. Macy / Shutterstock.

Marathon’s 16 refineries across the US has a total refining capacity of 3,067kb/d with 96% system utilisation.

The company optimised its refining system according to the potential changes in the market related to the IMO’s low-sulphur marine fuel rule. The ongoing conversion of the existing Dickinson, North Dakota, refinery to a biorefinery will enable it to convert corn oil and soybean oil into 100% renewable diesel.

The company reported a loss of $1bn in the third quarter of 2020 due to the Covid-19 crisis. The global demand for the company’s products and services remained low in the third quarter despite some recovery.

Marathon Petroleum operates through Refining & Marketing, Retail, and Midstream business segments. Its refineries are located in the Gulf Coast, Mid-Continent and West Coast regions of the US. The company primarily refines crude oil, and other charge and blend-stocks and employs approximately 60,000 people. It has three strong brands, Marathon®, Speedway® and ARCO®.

7. Rosneft – 2,900kb/d

Largest refining companies in the world
Rosneft operates 13 refineries with the oil processing capacity of 110Mmt. Credit: Rosneft.

Rosneft’s crude oil refining capacity was 110Mmt with a 74.4% refining depth in 2019. The company expanded its environment-friendly fuels with the launch of AI-95-K5 Euro-6 gasoline in the Ryazan Refinery and production of RMLS, a low-sulphur marine fuel in Komsomolsk and Ufa refineries.

Rosneft Deutschland, the company’s German subsidiary, controls more than 12% of the country’s oil refining capacities. It indirectly holds a 21% interest in the Mozyr Refinery in Belarus through Slavneft while holding a 49% interest in India’s Vadinar refinery.

Rosneft is a Russian state-owned oil and gas company that operates 13 refineries. The company employs 334,600 people worldwide.

8. PDVSA – 2,859kb/d

Largest refining companies in the world
PDVSA has six refineries in Venezuela namely, Amuay, Cardon, Bajo Grande, El Palito, Puerto La Cruz and San Roque. Credit: PDVSA – Petróleos de Venezuela, SA.

PDVSA has 15 refineries with a total processing capacity of 2,859,000kb/d. It operates six refineries in Venezuela, namely Amuay, Cardon, Bajo Grande, El Palito, Puerto La Cruz and San Roque. The remaining nine facilities are located in other parts of the world.

PDVSA is a Venezuelan state-owned oil and gas company. It operates across South America, Americas and Europe regions and primarily manufactures gas, motor gasoline, aviation gasoline, kerosene, diesel, solvents, lubricating bases, paraffin, fuel oil and asphalt.

The refined petroleum products are marketed under the PDV brand in Venezuela and CITGO brand across Eastern and Mid-western regions of the US.

9. Royal Dutch Shell – 2,564kb/d

Largest refining companies in the world
Rheinland refinery in Germany has increased Shell’s bitumen production capacities. Credit: Photographic Services, Shell International Limited.

Shell operates 15 refineries worldwide, offering a total refining capacity of approximately 2,564kb/d.

The company’s refining and trading revenues were down by $279m in 2019 compared to 2018, driven by lower global demand and an increase in refining capacity globally as well as higher maintenance costs.

The company has 42% refining capacity in Europe and Africa, 41% in the Americas and 17% in Asia and Oceania. The additional new refinery capacity, especially in the Middle East and Asia, along with lower demand, reduced the refinery utilisations in 2019 while the Covid-19 pandemic further weakened the margins 2020. The company sold its California-based Martinez refinery in February 2020.

Based in the Netherlands, the company employs approximately 83,000 people in more than 70 countries. The key products of the company include gasoline, kerosene, gas and diesel oil, fuel oil, ethylene, propylene, aromatics, detergent alcohols, ethylene glycol, styrene monomer, propylene oxide, solvents and ethylene oxide.

10. Petrobras – 2,176kb/d

Largest refining companies in the world
Petrobras operates in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia with more than 46,000 employees. Credit: A.PAES / Shutterstock.

Petrobras had a total crude distillation capacity of 2,176kb/d and the production volume of approximately 1,779kb/d in 2019.

The refining segment’s revenue grew 10.6% year-on-year, due to higher volumes and margins in the fuel oil and petroleum exports in 2019.

The gross profit of the company was $780m higher in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the second quarter of 2020, driven by increased Brent oil price.