US ethylene margins fell in the first week of September

(ICIS) -- US ethylene margins fell in the first week of September, pressured by softer spot prices and slightly higher production costs, the ICIS margin report showed on Monday. Ethylene margins were at 31.61 cents/lb (USD 697/tonne, EUR 509/tonne) for the week ended 9 September, down from 34.34 cents/lb a week earlier, using ethane as a feedstock.

The drop took margins to their lowest level since early August, the report said, attributing the decline last week to a nearly 4% drop in ethylene spot prices.

Ethylene for September traded at 60.000-62.000 cents/lb, down from 63.000-63.875 cents/lb a week earlier, pressured by adequate supply, a slowdown in derivative demand and talk of a delay in a cracker turnaround.

Talk circulated in the market last week that Dow Chemical will push back maintenance at a cracker in Louisiana, delaying a turnaround that was originally scheduled for next month and putting pressure on ethylene. Dow was expected to shut down the 610 KTa cracker in St Charles on 10 October for 30 days.


International Energy Agency revised down its global oil demand forecast for 2011

(ICIS) -- The International Energy Agency (IEA) on Tuesday revised down its global oil demand forecast for 2011 by 200,000 bbl/day to 89.3m bbl/day on reduced economic growth expectations, particularly in North America and Europe.

The IEA, a Paris-headquartered international agency that is run by members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in its most recent oil market report also cut its demand forecast for 2012 by 400,000 bbl/day to 90.7m bbl/day.

Amid recent negative economic developments, the report has lowered its global GDP growth assumptions for 2011 and 2012 to 3.9% and 4.2%, respectively, down from 4.2% and 4.4% previously, the agency added.

The agency also attributed its decision to cut the forecast to lower-than-expected oil demand readings in the third quarter of the year in non-OECD member countries, particularly in Asia and Latin America.


Genel eyes opportunities for USD 2.2 bn cash pile

(Arabian Oil and Gas) -- Genel Energy, the company to be formed following the completion of Vallares's USD 2.1 billion reverse takeover of Turkey's GeneEnerji, will be looking to spend big on Kurdish assets, according to ex-BP CEO Tony Hayward.

Hayward - who will become CEO of Genel once the takeover is complete - told reporters in Instanbul yesterday that Kurdistan is ripe for mergers and acquisitions activity, and Genel will be looking to apply part of Vallares's USD 2.2 billion cash pile to work.

The bold approach taken by Valares - and the clear appetite for their model from investors - raises questions about whether investors prefer Kurdistan to oil projects in the South, despite the legal and economic uncertainties arising from the fractious relationship between Erbil and Baghdad.

Hayward said one third of the USD 2.2 billion cash will be spent on consolidation, one third on ⌠new focus areas and the rest on accelerating the developments of new discoveries. One focus for Genel will be to establish a second exploration and production base in the region, a startegy that may mean that Vallares's disclosed interest in Dana Gas may be continuing.


US chlor-alkali producer Olin shut down its plant in Tennessee

(ICIS) -- US chlor-alkali producer Olin has shut down its Charleston, Tennessee, plant after reporting a mercury spill into a river, the company said on Friday. ⌠The production process at the plant remains shut down until this situation is resolved, according to a statement released by Olin.

About 50lb (23kg) of mercury was released into the Hiwassee river after ⌠unprecedented rainfall overflowed the plant's treatment lagoons, said Meg Lockhart, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the state's environmental regulator. The region had been hit by rainfall caused by Tropical Storm Lee. Olin first reported the mercury release to the agency on Tuesday, and the release ceased to flow into the river on Friday.

Olin's Charleston facility has a listed caustic soda capacity of 260 KTa, according to ICIS. The plant also produces chlorine.


Iraq plans to construct five new refineries at a total estimated cost of USD 30 billion

(Arabian Oil and Gas) -- In a bid to curb imports of refined oil products, the Iraqi government is progressing with plans to construct five new refineries at a total estimated cost of USD 30 billion, according to a Bloomberg report.

Deputy Oil Minister Ahmed al-Shamma, speaking at the Iraq Mining 2011 conference in London, said he hoped the investment would increased domestic refining capacity to 900,000 barrels per day.

Four refineries planned for Kirkuk, Maysan, Nassiriyah and Karbala are in design and engineering stages and would together add 750,000 barrels a day of capacity. In addition, a proposed 150,000 barrel-a-day facility at Nineveh is at a provisional phase and would refine heavy crude once production starts at nearby oil fields.

The government also wants to add 70,000 barrels a day of capacity the Basra refinery through refurbishments and upgrades by the first half of next year.