Pandemic resurgence blunts refined fuel demand recovery, says Imperial Oil CEO

CALGARY — The CEO of Imperial Oil Ltd. says rising COVID-19 infection numbers have stalled a recovery in demand for vehicle fuels produced in its Canadian refineries from the depths of the pandemic lockdowns in March and April.

Brad Corson, speaking at the company's investor day, says demand for Imperial's gasoline and diesel have recovered to between 85 and 95 per cent of normal levels but jet fuel demand is still only at about 40 per cent and it is expected to remain at low ebb into early 2021.

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Downstream vice-president Jon Wetmore says the company is calling for refinery utilization of 89 per cent and throughput of 375,000 barrels of oil per day in 2021, up from 80 per cent and 340,000 bpd this year.

But he concedes those forecast numbers represent a best estimate that will greatly depend on whether the pandemic advances or retreats over the next few months.

Imperial says it expects capital spending of $1.2 billion in 2021, up from total capital spending of about $900 million this year.

Production is expected to rise to 415,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day from 395,000 boe/d this year, mainly due to output increasing to an average of 255,000 barrels per day from 220,000 bpd this year at the Kearl oilsands mine.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 19, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:IMO)

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