Petroleum refining showed a downward trend over the past five years, but saw a sharp recovery in production in the past quarter.
The industry contributed 7,9% of total manufacturing production in the third quarter of 2015, down from 10,7% in the third quarter of 2013. It accounted for 7,6% in the third quarter of 2010. In volume terms, production fell by 10% from third quarter 2013 to the third quarter of 2015, compared to a decrease of 2,6% from the third quarter of 2010 to the third quarter of 2013. From the second to the third quarter, however, production rose by 5,2%.
The industry was notoriously capital intensive, with limited direct employment despite its considerable weight within manufacturing. Low levels of employment meant that changes reported in the Quarterly Labour Force Survey were not very reliable. Total employment was reported at 54 000 in the third quarter of 2015, having reportedly climbed steadily from around 40 000 five years earlier.
Capacity utilisation fell in the past quarter, from 75,2% in the second quarter of 2015 to 74,1% in the third quarter. It had been 83,6% two years earlier, in the third quarter of 2013.
Separate data are only available through 2014 on exports and imports of refined petroleum. They show a rapid increase in refined petroleum imports from around a million tonnes at the start of the ‘aughties to around five million tonnes today. In contrast, imports of crude oil have remained fairly stable at around 20 million tonnes. As a result, the cost of refined oil rose from 1% of total imports to 6% over the decade to 2014, while crude increased from 12% to 16%.