Abdollah Esmaeili is the Senior Petroleum Engineer for National Iranian South Oil Company (NISOC).
Q1. How do you feel that Asia’s refining sector has evolved over the last 12 months?
We are living in interesting times. Not just in developing countries in Asia which is seeing slowing growth, currency devaluation and stock market plunges; the rest of the energy world is also experiencing volatile times. The oil price crash in the past years, makes this ever more so. While cheaper crude can help Asian refiners revive emaciated margins amid a regional glut, Asia developing countries upstream giants are recalibrating their staggering global assets acquired when oil was expensive. The supply boom is offering Asian consumers wider and cheaper options. Global shipments, as well as weaker oil prices – which prompted traders to use vessels as storage – extend a lifeline to the tanker market that had floundered on oversupply in recent years.
Q2. What do you see as the single biggest challenge facing Asia’s refining sector today?
Key changes faced by the refining industry have come with challenges alongside. First is the increase in demand for light petroleum products – gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and kerosene. Regulations on product specifications are also stricter. Specifications on sulphur, aroma and olefin for gasoline and sulphur and poly-aroma for diesel are strengthening. The changes and challenges of Asia’s refining industry revealed that sharp increases in demand for light petroleum products as a result of advances in the transport sector has been recorded over the years.
Q3. What do you see as the biggest opportunity for Asia’s energy market in the next 12 months?
Asia is moving to the centre of the global energy arena, a trend that is underpinned by economic and demographic drivers, and that is set to continue for the foreseeable future. As the region’s importance grows, so to do the challenges and opportunities that is linked to its development. Chief among those are meeting its increasing energy needs in a secure and sustainable manner; continuing to expand modern energy services for those that lack access; encouraging the adoption of energy-efficient practices; and limiting the rise of greenhouse-gas emissions, especially given the expanding role of coal in its energy mix.
Q4. You will be joining a panel at ARTC 2017 on the topic of ‘Outlook on declining margins and future direction for Asia’s refining sector.’ Can you give us a brief insight your initial thoughts on this topic?
In recent years, oil refining margins in Asia have been extremely volatile. Unknowns about the future growth rate of the world economy, the price of crude oil, government regulations, as well as the economics of alternative transportation fuels are causing many uncertainties for the industry in Asia. It is difficult to reach a consensus about where profitability is headed over the next five to ten years. Some companies are selling assets and disintegrating their refining businesses—or even splitting upstream and downstream businesses while others are planning significant expansion. In predicting the outlook for the industry and attempting to maximize refinery profitability, companies need to be aware of the mix of global and local drivers.
Q5. Why do you think events such as ARTC 2017 are important? What do you find most beneficial about attending?
ARTC is one of the forums which enable experts, manufacturers, and suppliers to discuss together and to exchange their knowledge and experiences with each other.
Abdollah Esmaeili will be speaking on Refiner panel: Outlook on declining margins and future direction for Asia’s refining sector taking place on 29th March (Day 1) of ARTC and Technologies for removing sulfur from heavy crude oil, taking place on 30th March (Day 2) of ARTC.
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