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Finnish refiner Neste sees 2015 profit probably lower than 2014

Finland's Neste Oil posted on Wednesday a fourth-quarter comparable operating profit of 254 million euros ($291 million), in line with expectations, but said profit this year would probably be lower than last year.

The state-owned refinery earned 583 million euros last year, against the 400 million or more it said in October it expected, although the full-year number was also in line with market expectations.

"Neste Oil expects the group's full-year 2015 comparable operating profit to be robust, although probably lower than that reached in 2014," the company said in a statement.

It expects to take a 70 million euro hit next year due to a planned eight-week shut-down for maintenance at its 206,000 barrel per day (bpd) Porvoo refinery in April, in which it will invest 100 million euros.

Neste has two conventional refineries in Finland as well as renewable diesel refineries in Singapore and Rotterdam. It says its renewable diesel capacity is enough to fuel around 2.6 million vehicles a year.

Neste said it intended to change its name from Neste Oil to Neste Corporation, due to its increasing focus on businesses other than conventional oil processing.

European refineries have had a tough few years, suffering from stagnant to lower demand and relatively high prices of Brent-priced oil. By contrast, U.S. refiners have flourished thanks to the shale oil boom which provided much cheaper locally-sourced oil and led to the export of fuels to Europe.