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Suncor’s Refineries Configured to Process Oil Sands Feedstock

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Overview of SU’s refineries

Suncor Energy (SU) has 462 Mbpd (thousand barrels per day) of refining capacity spread over Canada and the United States. The refineries are well-configured to consume oil sands feedstock.

Suncor (SU) has three refineries located in Canada—the Edmonton refinery, the Sarnia refinery, and the Montreal refinery—with capacities standing at 142 Mbpd, 85 Mbpd, and 137 Mbpd, respectively. Plus, SU has a refinery in the United States—the Commerce City refinery with a refining capacity of 98 Mbpd.

The Edmonton refinery can consume around 100% of oil sands feedstock. The Sarnia refinery, the Commerce City refinery, and the Montreal refinery can consume ~75%, ~20%, and ~30% of oil sands feedstock, respectively.

Suncor’s peers ExxonMobil (XOM), Chevron (CVX), and BP Plc (BP) have refining capacities standing at 5.2 million barrels per day (or bpd), 1.9 million bpd, and 2.0 million bpd, respectively. The PowerShares Dynamic Large Cap Value ETF (PWV) has ~10% exposure to energy sector stocks.

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Suncor’s refining throughput fell in 4Q15

In 4Q15, Suncor’s throughput fell by 2% over 4Q14 to 430 Mbpd. This was due to lower crude processing volumes at the Edmonton and Montreal refineries due to planned and unplanned maintenance activities.

Refinery utilization rates fell to 93% in 4Q15 compared to 95% in 4Q14. On a sequential basis, throughput fell by 3%.

Suncor’s refining margin indicators

Suncor closely tracks New York Harbor 321 Crack, Chicago 321 Crack, Portland 321 Crack, and Gulf Coast 321 Crack, which points toward the regional refining environment. In 4Q15, cracks have shown a mixed trend compared to 4Q14. The New York Harbor and Chicago cracks have declined by $3 per barrel and $1 per barrel, respectively, over 4Q14 to $13.60 per barrel and $13.90 per barrel, respectively, in 4Q15.

However, Portland and Gulf Coast cracks have risen by $5 per barrel and $1 per barrel, respectively, over 4Q14 to $18 per barrel and $11 per barrel, respectively, in 4Q15. Thus, tracking these indicators can point toward the likely refining margin of the company in the near term.

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