Market conditions had been mostly kind to U.S. refiners over the past five years, but current oversupply of refined products, excess downstream capacity, and tight spreads between the two major benchmarks have considerably changed the outlook.
The oil majors reported very dismal numbers for the first quarter, but earnings exceeded market expectations largely because of earnings from their downstream units: Refining operations have allowed the large integrated oil companies to weather low oil prices much better than upstream E&P companies.
The refining sector is the one part of the oil & gas industry that is actually making money in the current low price environment. The good times are slowing down, with demand growth weakening and refined product inventories ballooning, but U.S. refiners are still set to have a strong year in 2016
Saudi Arabia is mulling selling shares in Aramco, but the announcement of a possible IPO has prompted a number of questions, particularly the overall value of the company.