Technip venture to provide technology for new China styrene, EB plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Badger Licensing has announced that Qingdao Soda Ash Industrial New Material & Technology Co. has selected Badger’s proprietary technology for a 500,000-tpy grassroots ethylbenzene/styrene monomer (EB/SM) plant being built in Dongjiakou Port Industrial Zone Park, in Qingdao City, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The technology license is being contracted through Badger’s affiliate, Technip Stone & Webster Process Technology, which is also supplying engineering, technical services and selected critical equipment for the plant.

The new plant, one of the largest EB/SM plants in China, will utilize Badger’s proprietary EBMax technology integrated with Badger’s styrene technology.

Basic engineering design work has begun and the plant is scheduled for mechanical completion and startup in 2017.

"Qingdao Soda Ash is an important new styrene producer in China," said Stuart Agler, president of Badger. "We are proud that they have selected Badger’s technologies and we look forward to working with them on this significant project to ensure the successful design, startup and operation of the plant."

Styrene monomer, with a worldwide capacity of over 30 million tpy, is a precursor to the production of a variety of polymer derivatives, including polystyrene (PS), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), and styrene butadiene rubber (SBR).

Badger’s EBMax and styrene technologies have been licensed more than 30 and 50 times, respectively, for plants around the world.

As MRC informed previously, in November 2014, Technip was awarded a contract by Westlake Chemical to provide detailed engineering and procurement services to expand the recovery section of Westlake’s Petro 1 ethylene plant at its complex in Sulphur, Louisiana, USA.

Badger Licensing, headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, is a venture of affiliates of Technip and ExxonMobil Chemical. Badger Licensing is principally engaged in marketing, licensing, and developing technologies for ethylbenzene, styrene monomer, cumene, and bisphenol A.

Williams Partners to start ethylene production for sale at Geismar olefins plant in February

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Williams Partners has announced its expanded Geismar plant is expected to begin manufacturing ethylene for sale in February after experiencing an unexpected delay in the final stages of commissioning, said the producer in its press release.

The plant was taken down from its final ramp-up procedure after it was determined that a brazed aluminum heat exchanger became plugged requiring cleaning and maintenance. This additional and unanticipated work is complete, and the plant will be turned back over to operations today to resume start-up.

"We are focused on safely bringing the plant into sustainable operations, restoring the reliable supply of olefins to our customers," said John Dearborn, senior vice president, Williams’ NGL & Petchem Services.

Capacity at the expanded Geismar plant is 1.95 billion pounds of ethylene per year. Williams Partners’ share of the total capacity of the expanded plant is approximately 1.7 billion pounds per year. Williams owns controlling interest in and is the general partner of Williams Partners. The partnership said it will provide an additional update on the status of the plant’s operations on or before a scheduled Feb. 19 investor conference call.

As MRC wrote before, in late November 2014, Williams Olefins extended its October ethylene force majeure allocation at its Geismar, Louisiana plant, keeping its sales allocation for November at 0%.

Williams, headquartered in Tulsa, Okla., is one of the leading energy infrastructure companies in North America. It owns controlling interests in both Williams Partners L.P. and Access Midstream Partners, L.P. through its ownership of 100% of the general partner of each partnership. Additionally, Williams owns approximately 66% and 50% of the limited partner units of Williams Partners L.P. and Access Midstream Partners, L.P., respectively. On June 15, 2014 Williams proposed the merger of Williams Partners and Access Midstream Partners. The proposed merger has been approved by boards of each partnership and is expected to close in early 2015.

Total preparing for sale or listing of USD4.6 bln rubber unit Hutchinson

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Europe's second-biggest oil company Total is preparing for the sale or listing of its rubber and insulation unit Hutchinson that could be worth up to 4 billion euros (USD4.6 billion), sources told Reuters.

Total has asked potential advisers to pitch for the business with a mandate to be awarded soon, four sources familiar with the matter said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the matter is private. A Total spokeswoman denied all rumours of a sale or listing of Hutchinson and denied having mandated any advisor.

Hutchinson, which began its days as a rubber manufacturer for shoes in 1853, now makes sealing systems and insulation for cars, trains and planes. It had turnover of 3.28 billion euros as of the year ended December 31, 2013 according to its website , with over 32,000 employees worldwide.

There are scant financial details about the business but bankers estimate it has EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) of around 450 million euros and could fetch a multiple of between 8 and 9 times that figure or 3.6-4 billion euros.

Total could either launch an initial public offering (IPO) of the unit or could attract strategic or private equity bidders, said the sources. Total is under pressure from shareholders to improve its cash flow and protect dividends as it counts the cost of the collapse in oil prices.

Oil and gas companies around the world have put more than USD110 billion worth of assets on the block as oil prices have halved to less than USD50 a barrel since last June.

Total, which bought a majority stake in Hutchinson in 1974, has pledged to achieve free cash flow before dividends of USD7 billion in 2015 and USD15 billion in 2017, versus USD2.6 billion in 2013.

The firm has taken a more active approach to managing its business in recent years, buying and selling assets more frequently. It plans to sell USD10 billion of assets in 2015-2017, having hit a target of USD15-20 billion of sales in 2012-2014.

In September, it agreed to sell its adhesives business Bostik, to French chemicals group Arkema for 1.74 billion euros.
The French oil company also launched a process in September to sell its 17 percent stake in the Gulf of Mexico's Tahiti oil field, which could fetch between USD1.5 USD1.5 billion and USD2 billion, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Asacco to shut down VAM plant in South Korea

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Asia Acetyls Co (Asacco) is in plans to shut its vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) plant for catalyst change, as per Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in South Korea informed that the plant is likely to be shut in March 2015. It is likely to remain off-stream for around one month.

Located in Ulsan, South Korea, the plant has a production capacity of 210,000 mt/year.

We remind that, as MRC informed earlier, Dairen Chemical Corporation is likely to shut its No.2 VAM plant in Taiwan for maintenance turnaround on March 1, 2015. It is likely to remain off-stream for around one month. Located in Mailiao, Taiwan, the plant has a production capacity of 300,000 mt/year.

Dairen Chemical Corporation (DCC) is a joint venture between Chang Chun Group (Chang Chun Petrochemical and Chang Chun Plastics) and Nan Pao Resins in 1979. The main function of DCC is to manufacture and supply VAM, a main raw material for production of PVA and PVAc, to parent companies. The first VAM plant with an annual capacity of 85,000 MTY was licensed by Bayer AG (Germany).

BP may shut US, Asia chemical units as profit falls

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BP expects to cut spending to USD20 billion this year, compared with previous guidance of USD24 billion to USD26 billion. It spent about USD23 billion in 2014. Some upstream projects such as Mad Dog in the Gulf of Mexico may be deferred, and chemical capacity in the US and Asia may be closed, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

BP reported better-than-forecast fourth- quarter profit even as oil prices slumped, forcing Europe’s third-largest oil company to cut spending.

Profit adjusted for one-time items and inventory changes dropped to USD2.2 billion from USD2.8 billion a year earlier, the London-based company said in a statement. That beat the USD1.6 billion average forecast of 13 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. The results were bolstered by income from BP’s 20% holding in Russia’s state-run oil producer OAO Rosneft.

A slump in oil prices to less than USD50/bbl from more than USD100 seven months ago has forced producers to review projects, slash spending and sell assets as they try to safeguard returns to investors. BP's CEO Bob Dudley told staff last week their pay will be frozen this year, while the company cut jobs in the North Sea, Azerbaijan and Trinidad and Tobago.

Even so, the producer reported a USD4.4 billion net loss in the quarter after writing down the value of oil and gas fields because of lower oil prices.

BP expects to cut spending to USD20 billion this year, compared with previous guidance of USD24 billion to USD26 billion. It spent about USD23 billion in 2014. Some upstream projects such as Mad Dog in the Gulf of Mexico may be deferred, and chemical capacity in the US and Asia may be closed, BP said.

BP had a contribution of $470 million from its shareholding in Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer. That compares with USD1 billion a year ago and was higher than analysts had expected. BP’s CEO, who’s been in the role since 2010, expects Rosneft to pay out its annual dividend this year.

Dudley was cautious on prospects for a rebound in the oil price. It could be three years before oil comes out of a USD40 to USD60 price range and a "long time" before oil returns to USD100/bbl, he said.

Overall production that includes Russia was 3.214 million bpd of oil equivalent with 3.231 million bbl for the last quarter in 2013. BG Group, the UK’s third-largest oil and gas company, posted a net loss of USD5.03 billion today after reporting impairments of its Australian gas assets.

Royal Dutch Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, last week said fourth-quarter adjusted profit rose to USD3.3 billion from USD2.9 billion and the company cut its budget by USD15 billion over the next three years.

BP is one of the world's leading international oil and gas companies, providing its customers with fuel for transportation, energy for heat and light, retail services and petrochemicals products for everyday items. BP Zhuhai is in plans to start a new purified terephthalic acid (PTA) plant in China. The exact start-up schedule of the plant could not be ascertained. To be located in Zhuhai province, China, the plant will have a production capacity of 1.25 million mt/year.