Refiners step up hedging activity

Hedging activity by European refiners has increased in recent months on the back of improved margins, say market participants. Margins in Europe have rebounded for a variety of reasons, including the bankruptcy of Petroplus, the continent's largest refiner, and an unusually cold winter that has stoked demand for heating oil. The northwest Europe Brent crack spread widened from an average –$0.21 a barrel (/bbl) in December to $4.31/bbl by the last week of January, according to the Intern