(Bloomberg) — Crude oil is the world’s most important commodity, but it’s worthless without a refinery turning it into the products that people actually use: gasoline, diesel, jet-fuel and petrochemicals for plastics. And the world’s refining industry today is in pain like never before.
“Refining margins are absolutely catastrophic,” Patrick Pouyanne, the head of Europe’s top oil refining group Total SA, told investors last month, echoing a widely held view among executives, traders and analysts.
What happens to the oil refining industry at this juncture will have ripple effects across the rest of the energy industry. The multi-billion-dollar plants employ