(Bloomberg) -- The start of the third section of Kuwait’s Al-Zour refinery was pushed back to the end of the summer after a technical glitch forced the facility to halt last month, the chief executive officer of Kuwait Petroleum Corp. said in an interview.
Comprising three mini refineries, Al-Zour is one of the biggest oil-processing facilities being added across the Middle East and, once completed, will add 615,000 barrels a day to Kuwait’s refining capacity. The third line was penciled in to be up and running by June.
The state-owned company is currently operating the first two of three sections at Al-Zour, which were brought back online after a glitch hit power to the units and forced a two-week stoppage, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Sabah, said. With the incident affecting crude intake to the refinery, KPC decided to instead diverted it to exports.
He added the timing change isn’t uncommon. “We expect this in the early phases of operation, especially for a world scale refinery of this size.”
China Demand Growing
OPEC-member Kuwait is optimistic about oil consumption in China, the world’s biggest importer, where it says there’s a sustainable and stable growth pattern for the longer term.
“While there’s lots of changing headwinds, long-term growth patterns are all encouraging,” Sheikh Nawaf said, adding that “customers remain eager for supply.” In the immediate term, due to conflicting economic news, there’s a lot of uncertainty, he said.
Read: China’s Rising Oil Demand Is No Dead-Cat Bounce, Says Kuwait
Questions about China’s economic growth have plagued markets since the start of the year, after hopes of a strong post-Covid revival failed to materialize. A key gauge for Chinese stocks flirted with bear-market territory Tuesday, as equity investors took the pessimistic view.
The majority of Kuwait’s sales are to Asian clients and the Gulf nation says that it’s yet to lose any market share to other suppliers.
Oil is still around 10% lower this year as China’s lackluster recovery and the US Federal Reserve’s aggressive monetary tightening weigh on demand outlook. Russian supply has also been resilient, even after the nation said it would cut output.
Traders will be on the lookout for further signals about supply from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, before the group meets in June. OPEC+ last month announced a surprise oil production cut of more than 1 million barrels a day. Kuwait’s reduction was 128,000 barrels per day.
“The fundamentals are still OK, it takes time to see the voluntary cuts play out, and we haven’t see main numbers yet,” Sheikh Nawaf said. “Countries who went through with the voluntary cuts are taking it seriously.”
(Adds details on diversion of crude to exports in third paragraph.)
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