The margin is the difference between the total value of petroleum products coming out of an oil refinery and the cost of crude and related services, including transportation.
Usually, a Korean refiner can generate profits if the refining margin exceeds US$4-5 per barrel.
But the benchmark Singapore complex gross refining margin was below US$3 per barrel in January, compared with US$4.6 in November and US$5.2 in October.
Last week, the margin reached some US$4 per barrel, rising for the fifth consecutive week.
“The refining margin rebounded to an average level seen in the past, from a sharp drop,” said Lee Hee-chol, an analyst at KB Securities. “The margin will further rise down the road after March as oil demand remains firm.”
The analyst said maintenance works at refining facilities in other nations are also cutting oil supplies, which in turn jacks up oil prices.
By Ram Garikipati and newswires (firstname.lastname@example.org)