ECONOMY

In Brief

Motor Oil profits to increase by end of year Motor Oil Hellas SA, the second-largest Greek refiner, expects that profits from processing a barrel of oil into fuels such as diesel will increase as early as the end of this year, as demand recovers. «We’ll have some recovery in demand» around the end of the year, Petros Tzannetakis, Motor Oil’s chief financial officer, said in an interview in London yesterday. The refiner is currently making $6 to $7 a barrel from processing oil into fuels, higher than the industry benchmark, he said. Weak demand this year for fuels, especially diesel, had cut refiner margins leading to run cuts, temporary closures and plants being put up for sale. Margins dropped to $3.52 a barrel from July 1 to September 24, according to data by BP Plc. That compares with $8 a barrel in the third quarter of last year. Motor Oil’s 120,000-barrel-a-day refinery in the province of Corinth, 70 kilometers (44 miles) outside Athens, is running at full operating rates, Tzannetakis said. The Athens-based company is building a 60,000-barrel-a-day crude unit which is due to start operations next year. (Bloomberg) E.ON plans to start 19 new gas plants E.ON AG, Centrica Plc and other European utilities plan to start at least 19 new gas-fired power plants this quarter from Greece to Ireland, potentially cutting power and emissions prices and boosting demand for gas. Electricity producers plan to add 9,364 megawatts of gas-fired capacity in the three months through December, compared with five facilities, or 1,300 megawatts, this year through August, data from energy information provider Platts, a division of McGraw-Hill, showed. A 1,000-megawatt plant can supply about 2 million average European homes. Generators favor natural gas plants because they are cheaper to build and emit about half the carbon dioxide of coal plants, the most commonly used fossil fuel in power generation. European Union consumption of natural gas may increase 1 percent next year as the economy strengthens after an expected 7 percent decline this year, lobby group Eurogas said yesterday. (Bloomberg) Sarantis earnings Sarantis SA, a Greek distributor of cosmetics and household goods, expects earnings after tax this year to come to 15 million euros, a 41 percent drop from a year earlier, the company stated yesterday in a presentation. (Bloomberg) Romanian goals The head of Romania’s forecasting commission said yesterday he believed the country could still meet the fiscal targets agreed to with the International Monetary Fund after the dissolution of the coalition government. Romania’s Social Democrats quit the coalition government on Thursday in protest at the sacking of a minister ahead of a November presidential election, jolting markets and raising the risk of failure to meet IMF aid terms. «The government of Romania is able to meet the targets established with the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund,» Ion Ghizdeanu told Reuters in an interview. «For now, there is no element that would worry us that Romania would not be able to reach the targets established with the IMF. Let me tell you that the measures meant to mitigate the financial crisis have started bearing fruit.» (Reuters)