Total's UK refinery offline for 8 weeks

(Reuters) -- Total's 223,000 barrel per day Lindsey refinery in the UK will go offline for eight weeks' maintenance on September 7, traders said on Tuesday. The company previously said in July it was hoping to secure a deal for the sale of the plant by the end of 2011.


European Union to adopt an embargo against imports of Syrian oil

(Arabian Oil and Gas) -- The Assad regime's response to demonstrations has prompted additional sanctions from the US and EU. European Union governments are likely to adopt an embargo against imports of Syrian oil "by the end of next week" to ratchet up pressure on President Bashar al-Assad, an unnamed EU diplomat told the Reuters news agency on Wednesday.

The bloc's 27 governments agreed last Friday to explore new sanctions against Assad in response to his five-month crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators, in which the United Nations says 2,200 civilians have been killed. Earlier this month the US urged the EU to stop importing Syrian oil after introducing its own oil sanctions. A round of discussions was held in Brussels on Monday, the diplomat said, and EU capitals raised no objections.

An oil embargo would constitute a major step for the EU, where several governments have been reluctant so far to target Assad's oil industry because of concerns over potential damage to their commercial interests when the Eurozone teeters on recession.

Syria produces about 400,000 barrels of oil a day, exporting most of about 150,000 barrels per day to European countries, particularly the Netherlands, Italy, France and Spain. Oil accounts for around 30% of government revenues and it vital to the financial health of the Assad regime.


External suppliers reduced PVC prices for the Russian market

(MRC) -- By late August PVC prices in foreign markets have reduced slightly. However, dollar's rate growth and lower prices of the Russian resin resulted in a significant reduction of suspension purchases in foreign markets, according to ICIS-MRC Price report.

In early August, Chinese suppliers of acetylene PVC decreased export prices to USD 1.050 - 1.070/mt, DAP Dostyk. Russian companies attempts to bargain for even lower prices on Chinese PVC are still of no effect. According to Chinese suppliers, a further price reduction is unprofitable.

Serious decline in suspension prices in August from some Russian producers, as well as dollar growth against ruble made Chinese PVC uncompetitive. As a result, in August Russian companies significantly reduced their resin purchases in China.

PVC producers in the U.S. reduced export prices for September cargoes to USD 1.060 - 1.080/mt, CFR St. Petersburg and Novorossiysk. Despite this, many Russian companies lost their interest in purchasing North American PVC.

Soon a further decline in PVC imports from the USA and China is expected. However, there won't be a sharp price fall due to debts for July and August contract obligations.


Bayer received inquiries regarding the use of its West Virginia sites for an ethane cracker

(ICIS) -- Bayer has received several inquiries regarding the use of its West Virginia sites for an ethane cracker, a top company executive said on Thursday. Bayer said in December it was exploring the idea of potential investors using one of its two sites in West Virginia for a cracker using ethane derived from Marcellus shale.

⌠We have had several inquiries, said Greg Babe, head of Bayer MaterialScience and CEO of Bayer Corp in the US. Bayer Corp, headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is the US subsidiary of the Bayer group. ⌠Starting in December of last year, when our offers have hit the news waves, we have had several inquiries, ongoing discussions, since then, Babe said.

Shell announced in June it was developing plans for a world-scale cracker in the Appalachian region of the US, but it has not made a site decision. Babe said he was open to either leasing or selling land on one of the Bayer sites for a cracker. An ⌠outspoken supporter of reinvigorating manufacturing in the United States, Babe said the rich ethane content of the Marcellus shale gas reserves makes West Virginia a logical place for an ethane cracker.


Asia's naphtha backwardation is likely to strengthen

(ICIS) -- Asia's naphtha backwardation is likely to strengthen on expectations that Taiwanese Formosa Petrochemical Corp (FPCC) would restart its long overdue 700 KTa No 1 naphtha cracker at Mailiao sometime in September, traders said on Friday. The expectations of a restart have raised hopes of higher demand for naphtha in a market already quite short of molecules, traders said on Friday.

The time spread between the first-half October and first-half November contracts was assessed at USD 6/tonne (EUR 4.20/tonne) on Thursday, the strongest since 16 May when the inter-month spread was at USD 7/tonne, according to ICIS.

The naphtha crack spread versus October Brent crude futures was valued at USD 135.60/tonne, up by USD 6.35/tonne on the previous week.