PetroChina now the world's No 1 publicly traded oil major

(news.flanders-china) -- PetroChina has overtaken Exxon Mobil as the world's biggest publicly traded producer of oil. The company announced it pumped 2.4 million barrels a day last year, surpassing Exxon by 100,000 barrels.

PetroChina's production increased 3.3% in 2011 while Exxon's fell 5%. Exxon's oil output also fell behind Rosneft, the Russian energy company. However, PetroChina posted a disappointing 26% drop in fourth-quarter net earnings as rising refining losses offset gains in the lucrative upstream business.

China's largest oil producer earned CNY29.55 billion in the final quarter of last year, down from CNY39.9 billion a year earlier. For the full year, net profit fell 5% to CNY133 billion. PetroChina's refining business posted an operating loss of CNY60.1 billion last year. Government control on fuel prices means refiners cannot freely pass on increasing crude rates to customers.

Naphtha price and cracks rise: market unlikely to sustain the uptrend

(Reuters) -- Naphtha prices in Asia was at a three-session high on Tuesday in line with firm Brent crude, while cracks and timespreads recovered from a two-month low amid slow moving cargoes from Europe to the East. Naphtha exports have slowed down from Europe due to strong demand for gasoline.

Open-spec naphtha for front-month H2-May was at USD1075/ton, while cracks were at a two-session high of USD139.75/ton, up USD3.67.

However, despite this uptrend, market players are unconvinced that the strength could last, especially when Asian demand is slower than before, as a result of cracker outages in the region. Concurrently, India's exports are being restored following refinery and port maintenance.

Westlake declares force majeure for PVC from Geismar

(plasteurope) -- In a letter recently sent out to its customers, Westlake Chemical (Houston, Texas / USA) said that as a result of a fire that broke out at its complex in Geismar, Louisiana / USA on 22 March, it was forced to declare force majeure for PVC from the site.

The blaze, which Westlake said was extinguished after a few hours and did not result in any injuries, damaged the site's production lines for vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) - a key PVC feedstock.

The group said an investigation into the cause of the fire was underway, adding that it is already repairing the affected lines and expects the entire vinyls operation to resume in mid-May. "Sections of the site's operations, including the PVC plant, may be operable earlier," Westlake added.

Russia's Acron may sell some potash areas in Canada

(reuters) -- Russian fertiliser maker Acron may sell some permits to extract potash in Canada through its subsidiary North Atlantic Potash Inc, Acron's chairman Alexander Popov told reporters at a media briefing.

"We have two projects (in Canada) where we would like to stay... and there are several other areas which are up for sale," Popov said in the Russian town of Velikiy Novgorod in remarks cleared for publication on Monday.

North Atlantic sold eight potash licences to the Yankuang Group Corporation Limited of China for USD110 million last October.

It still holds 18 permits in the Prairie Evaporite potash deposit in Saskatchewan province in Canada, of which 9 permits are included into a joint venture agreement with mining giant Rio Tinto.

Popov did not specify whether Acron wants to sell permits, which are a part of the agreement with Rio Tinto.

Chairman added that Acron may boost its output in the first quarter despite production cuts at rivals' assets as it expects the demand for mineral fertilisers to revive in the second half of 2012.

The market had been braced for a gloomy outlook after larger rivals Uralkali of Russia and P otash Corp of Canada warned of weak demand.

Popov expects the demand for nitrogen fertilisers to rise by 1.5 percent per year during the next several years and believes that high prices for food products will support global fertiliser prices in the second half of this year.

Bharat Petroleum to expand Kochi refinery by end of 2015

(hydrocarbonprocessing) -- India's second-largest state-run refiner and fuel retailer will raise the Kochi refinery's output by 120,000 bpd to 310,000 bpd, seeking to keep up with higher sales volumes.

Bharat Petroleum said Friday it will spend INR142.25 billion (USD2.8 billion) by December 2015 to expand its Kochi refinery in southern India by 63%, as it seeks to keep its capacity in line with its refined fuel products sales volume.

India's second-largest state-run refiner and fuel retailer by capacity will increase the Kochi refinery's capacity by 120,000 bpd to 310,000 bpd, it said in a statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Weakness in demand for refined petroleum products amid the global economic slowdown has led several European and US refiners to shut capacity.

However, state-run refiners in India and other emerging markets are ramping up capacities as the expanding economies drive demand for products.

The South Asian nation's state-run refiners and retailers also have an advantage over their private-sector peers as the government partly subsidizes them for selling diesel and cooking fuels at controlled rates.