Shanxi Coking licenses UNIPOL technology from Dow for PP production

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Shanxi Coking Co. Ltd., has signed a license agreement for UNIPOL polypropylene (PP) process technology with Union Carbide Chemicals & Plastics Technology LLC, a wholly owned Subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company, reported Dow on its site.

Shanxi Coking is the 14th UNIPOL PP technology licensee to sign in China since 2006. The 400,000 tpa plant is expected to start up in 2015 and will produce homopolymers, random copolymers and impact copolymers. The plant will be located in Hongdong City in the Shanxi Province.

Based in Hongdong County, Shanxi Province, China, Shanxi Coking is a subsidiary of Shanxi Coking Coal Group (SCCG), one of the largest coal coking enterprises in the Shanxi province.

As MRC informed previously, Dow UNIPOL polypropylene technology is gaining popularity in China. Thus, last year another Chinese chemical producer Jiutai Energy signed a license agreement with Union Carbide Chemicals & Plastics Technology, a wholly owned Subsidiary of Dow for a 350,000 tpa methanol-to-olefin based PP plant. Jiutai licensed UNIPOL PP process technology to produce homopolymers, random copolymers and impact copolymers.

Polypropylene is a versatile plastic used in packaging, durable goods, automotive parts, non-wovens, fibers and consumer applications.

The UNIPOL PP process for polypropylene is a comprehensive technology and services package with established worldwide success. It combines product and catalyst know-how with leading gas-phase process technology and technology transfer expertise. Resins produced by UNIPOL polypropylene technology from Dow account for 17% of global polypropylene output.

Shell names Ben van Beurden as new chief

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The Board of Royal Dutch Shell plc, Europe’s biggest oil company, has announced that Ben van Beurden will succeed Peter Voser as Chief Executive Officer, effective 1 January 2014, reported the company on its site.

Peter Voser will leave Shell at the end of March 2014, marking the end of 29 years with the company.

Van Beurden, 55, has been Downstream Director since January 2013.

"I am delighted to announce Ben van Beurden as the next Chief Executive Officer of Royal Dutch Shell," said Chairman Jorma Ollila. "Ben has deep knowledge of the industry and proven executive experience across a range of Shell businesses. Ben will continue to drive and further develop the strategic agenda that we have set out, to generate competitive returns for our shareholders."

"Van Beurden’s selection came after a comprehensive assessment and review of internal and external candidates led by the Board Nomination and Succession Committee," Chairman Jorma OllilaOllila added.

Van Beurden joined the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of companies in 1983 and has held a number of technical and commercial roles in both the upstream and downstream businesses. He has worked in The Netherlands, Africa, Malaysia, USA and, most recently, the UK.

We remind that, as MRC wrote previously, Royal Dutch Shell Plc increased its first-quarter earnings on new projects and refining. Earnings excluding one-time items and inventory changes rose 3% to USD7.5 billion from a year ago.

Royal Dutch Shell plc is an Anglo-Dutch multinational oil and gas company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands and with its registered office in London, United Kingdom. It is the biggest company in the world in terms of revenue and one of the six oil and gas "supermajors". Shell is vertically integrated and is active in every area of the oil and gas industry, including exploration and production, refining, distribution and marketing, petrochemicals, power generation and trading.

BP to pull staff from Egypt amid unrest

MOSCOW (MRC) -- UK supermajor BP said it will start pulling some staff from Egypt as unrest in the North African nation escalated following the military's ousting of president Mohammed Mursi, said Upstreamonline.

In a statement, BP said that "as a precautionary measure, we will be withdrawing a number of non-essential expatriate staff, contractors and families on a temporary basis".

It added that all staff were safe and that its local oil and gas production had not been affected. "This decision was taken after reviewing guidance from governments and our own monitoring of the situation on the ground," the statement said. It added: "Around 40 essential expatriate staff remain and our office in Cairo is open."

BP is the first major operator to reduce its ranks in the strife-hit country, a sign of the broader impact of the political crisis.

A Shell spokesman told Dow Jones that it does not comment on specific security issues but that it is "following the situation in Egypt closely" and that "the safety and security of our staff is our top priority". As MRC wrote before, Chevron is in advanced talks to sell most of its downstream assets in Egypt and Pakistan in a sale that could be valued at around USD300 million. The company is conducting separate sale processes for its assets in both countries, the sources said in the report.

Houston-based Apache, one of the top operator's in Egypt, also said it does not comment on security measures but stressed that "nothing has materially changed" due to the unrest. Drilling and production activities "continue unabated", a spokesman told Upstream, adding that Apache's Egypt operations are located in remote areas away from the centres of unrest.

Tensions mounted in Egypt on Friday as security forces opened fire and launched tear gas at Mursi supporters, reportedly killing at least one person and injuring several others.

The US State Department has advised all Americans living in Egypt to leave the country, and has reportedly advised non-essential US diplomats to leave as well.

Mursi, Egypt's first democratically elected leader, and his top aides were placed under house arrest on Wednesday. Egypt's army also declared a state of emergency in areas bordering the Suez shipping route following an airport attack by Islamists.

The unrest has pushed oil prices higher.

Hopes for Poland shale 'fading away'

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Hopes that Poland could lead a US-style shale gas boom in Europe are fading fast as energy companies say red tape is delaying commercial output and Warsaw's draft proposals to cut bureaucracy do not go nearly far enough, according to Upstreamonline.

The firms say there is plenty of gas but its exploitation is frustrated by difficult geology and onerous, unclear regulation.

Prospects darkened this year after Marathon Oil and Talisman Energy followed ExxonMobil in pulling out of Poland, which was once seen as Europe's best shale prospect with substantial reserves and a friendly government.

The government, hoping shale gas will deliver Poland from reliance on energy imports from Russia, is proposing new legislation to ease conditions for investors. Global players remaining in Poland's shale sector include Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Eni.

Under pressure to retain investors, the deputy environment minister and chief geologist, Piotr Wozniak, has drafted proposals for new rules that are awaiting cabinet approval. These include allowing firms to extend exploration licenses by two years if needed, instead of the previous proposal of one year; letting them convert exploration permits into production permits without having to bid again; and making it easier to lease state-owned land on and around drilling sites.

Asked about its plans, a Chevron spokeswoman said the company was committed to Poland. An Eni spokesman declined to comment. A ConocoPhillips media representative in Warsaw did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

If shale gas fails to live up to the government's ambitions, the chief beneficiary will be Russia's Gazprom, which will continue to be Poland's biggest gas supplier.

As MRC wrote earlier, Dow Chemical is interested in shale gas exploration in Poland along with its perspectives and, therefore, is analyzing the chemical industry in Poland at present. As a major chemical manufacturer, Dow is both a potential consumer and contributor to the production of shale gas and its associated products, notably natural gas liquids. Many of Dow's businesses are already developing chemical and technology solutions for shale gas exploration and development, such as advanced microbial control technologies, which help to protect water supplies.


Arkema announces a worldwide expansion of its bis-peroxide capacity

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Arkema has announced a 15% debottlenecking of its bis-peroxide capacity in both its Spinetta (Italy) and Franklin (Virginia) factories, according to the company's press release.

This new capacity will allow Arkema to respond immediately to strong demand in the synthetic rubber crosslinking industry, in particular in Asia, and to support recent developments in fast-growing markets.

This increase capacity, already effective, is the first stage of a multi-step plan which intends to grow the global bis-peroxide capacity by 30% by end 2014.

With its two brands Luperox and Vulcup, Arkema is the world leader in the production of bis-peroxide (Bis-Isopropylbenzene-Peroxide), an organic peroxide largely used in the crosslinking of rubber in various sectors such as wire & cable, automotive and footwear. The bis-peroxide market is expected to grow by some 6%/year in the 3 main regions of Asia, Americas and Europe.

Arkema has recently developed the Luperox FreeO grade which provides an alternative to current crosslinking technologies used extensively today in the foamed EVA industry, as it has the advantage of producing no strong smelling and persistent VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), a characteristic which has become a major expectation especially for footwear manufacturers.

"This new capacity will further strengthen our leadership position in bis-peroxide. But above all, it will allow Arkema to follow the growth of our clients, which is expected to be strong especially in Asia. Arkema will also be able to serve new customers that make the choice to replace traditional crosslinking agents with more eco-friendly bis-peroxide," indicated Manny Katz, Global Group President, Organic Peroxides.

As MRC informed previously, last year Arkema announced its 2016 ambition to become a world leader in specialty chemicals and advanced materials. With a selective and profitable growth strategy, the Group targets sales of EUR8 billion and an EBITDA margin of 16% in 2016 while maintaining gearing below 40%. The Group also intends to maintain its pace of development and aims to achieve sales of Eur10 billion with an EBITDA margin close to 17% in 2020.

Arkema is a leading European supplier of chlorochemicals and PVC. The Fonds Strategique de Participation (FSP), a mutual fund created by four major French insurance companies - BNP Paribas Cardif, CNP Assurances, Credit Agricole Assurances through its subsidiary Predica and Sogecap (Groupe Societe Generale) - in order to support long-term investments in listed companies, has recently announced that it now owns 6% of Arkema's share capital.