Explosion, fire rocks Exxon refinery in California

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Large fire explosion’ rocks ExxonMobil’s Torrance Refinery in California, reported The Washington Post.

Workers evacuated an ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, Calif., after an explosion, which occurred near a fluid catalytic cracking unit, according to the United Steelworkers union that represents operators at the plant.

There was a "large fire explosion" at the ExxonMobil Torrance Refinery in Southern California on Wednesday morning, according to the Torrance Police Department. The explosion, which happened shortly before 9 a.m. local time, prompted a shelter-in-place order for nearby residents, according to police, though fire officials said there was "no chemical release."

According to police, everyone was accounted for after the incident. The fire was "quickly extinguished" by both Torrance Fire and ExxonMobil crews, the department added.

Although police reported three minor injuries, ExxonMobil said in an emailed statement Wednesday afternoon that four of its contractors went to the hospital with minor injuries.

Police said that air quality readings were "within normal range," adding: "Air Quality Management is on site to evaluate this situation."

ExxonMobil promised to conduct a "thorough investigation of the cause of this event."

According to the company, approximately 650 employees and 550 contractors work at the 750-acre refinery, which "processes an average of 155,000 barrels of crude oil per day and produces 1.8 billion gallons of gasoline per year."

As MRC wrote before, in late September 2014, ExxonMobil restarted impacted units at its refinery and petrochemical complex in Singapore. They had been shut on September 10, 2014 owing to a power failure. Located at Jurong Island in Singapore, the refinery has a crude processing capacity of 605,000 bpd.

ExxonMobil is the largest non-government owned company in the energy industry and produces about 3% of the world's oil and about 2% of the world's energy.

Eni: fourth Quarter and full year 2014 results

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Italy's Eni raised its dividend on Wednesday despite a slump in fourth-quarter profits and like its rivals pledged to cut investment this year in the face of lower oil prices, said Reuters.

Eni posted a 64 percent drop in fourth quarter adjusted net profit and said it would cut investment in 2015 by about 14 percent, mainly at its exploration and production business. Oil companies across the globe have announced spending cuts and asset sales worth billions of dollars to strengthen their balance sheets and offset falling crude prices.

Larger energy firms such as BP and Total have said they do not intend to cut dividends, a key attraction for investors, even if oil prices remain low. Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi said 100,000 square kilometers of new acreage had been discovered in 2014 and he confirmed the firms's oil and gas output would grow by 3 percent a year.

While analysts welcomed the forecast, some were concerned the reduction in capital expenditure may curb expansion further out, and others sounded a note of caution on Libya. "I'm a bit worried cutting capex might mean curtailing future growth," Ifigest fund manager Roberto Lottici said.

Eni, which has had a reserves replacement ratio of 127 percent in the last five years, has one of the best discovery records amongst large oil firms and analysts said it had scope to ease back on some of its activity. The company is the biggest foreign oil producer in Libya where escalating violence has seriously hit production.

As MRC wrote before, Italian Eni had put on hold an assessment of its options regarding its stake in oil field services company Saipem because of difficult market conditions. In July Eni laid out plans to sell assets, including its multi-billion dollar stake Saipem to help fund its transformation into a leaner oil and gas outfit.

Eni is an Italian multinational oil and gas company headquartered in Rome. It has operations in in 79 countries, and is currently Italy's largest industrial company with a market capitalization of 68 billion euros (USD 90 billion), as of August 14, 2013. The Italian government owns a 30.3% golden share in the company, 3.93% held through the state Treasury and 26.37% held through the Cassa depositi e prestiti. Another 39.40% of the shares are held by BNP Paribas.

Huntsman posts loss In Q4 2014

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Huntsman's fourth-quarter earnings fell, missing analyst estimates, as sales at its textiles and polyurethanes divisions dropped, said Investor's Business Daily.

The chemical company's Q4 earnings declined 31.3% to 33 cents per share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting 37 cents. Revenue climbed 9% to USD2.95 billion, slightly under views for USD2.96 billion.

Revenue rose at its pigments and additives unit, thanks to the businesses acquired from Rockwood Holdings late last year.

Revenues rose slightly for the quarter to USD2.95bn. 2014 net income more than doubled year on year to USD323m, while adjusted EBITDA for the period stood at USD1.34bn compared to USD1.21bn in 2013, and full-year revenues rose by almost USD500m over the same period to USD11.58bn.

The stronger US dollar against major European currencies impacted earnings before interest taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) by USD11m compared to the previous year. Adjusted EBITDA was USD292m for the quarter compared to USD313m during the closing quarter of 2013

Huntsman is restructuring the company. In December, it announced plans to cut 900 jobs after the Rockwood deal.

Huntsman Corporation is a publicly traded global manufacturer and marketer of differentiated chemicals with 2013 revenues of over USD11 billion. Huntsman is a global manufacturer and marketer of differentiated chemicals. The company's operating companies manufacture products for a variety of global industries, including chemicals, plastics, automotive, aviation, textiles, footwear, paints and coatings, construction, technology, agriculture, health care, detergent, personal care, furniture, appliances and packaging.

Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved the introduction of a 5% duty

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The Cabinet of Ministers has decided to introduce an additional 5% import duty on polymers and plastic products. An additional fee of 10% will also be introduced on food and a 5% duty - on the rest of imports, said at the briefing Finance Minister Natalia Yaresko.

She said the decision to impose the additional fee would come into force in the coming days, after the government's preparation of a list of critical imports, which will not be covered by this duty.

As reported earlier, the draft law on import duties, adopted in late 2014, will come into force after the agreement with the commission of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

At the beginning of this year, Deputy Finance Minister Denis Fudashkin said the additional import duties of 5% and 10% could be implemented only after a decision of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, which will be issued after the completion of appropriate consultations. They were carried out by the government with relevant international organizations and, primarily, with the IMF, starting from 8 January, when the commission arrived in the country. IMF's commission finished its work on 12 February.

Earlier, 31 December 2014, President of Ukraine Petr Poroshenko signed the law 73-VIII "On measures to stabilize the balance of payments of Ukraine in accordance with Article XII of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994", involving the introduction of the additional import duty on 1 January 2014 for a 12-month period.

As MRC reported earlier, the bill provides that the additional import duties should be levied on goods imported into the customs territory of Ukraine in the import regime, regardless of their country of origin. According to the draft law, the import of food products (product groups 1-24, according UKTVED) will be imposed by an additional duty of 10%, the rest goods (group 25-97) - at the rate of 5%. Polymers and products made of them belong to the group 39.

In addition, the rate of 10% government introduces for the goods imported into the territory by Ukraine nationals.
The duties will be introduced during 12 months, "regardless of the country of origin of the goods and trade agreements concluded by Ukraine."

In addition, the rate of 10% is introduced for goods that are imported by citizens on the territory of Ukraine. Under the category of essential commodities for which the fee does not apply, get natural gas, thermal coal, the fuel for nuclear power plants, oil and petroleum products, gold and precious metals, humanitarian aid.

Oman seeks USD3.6bn funding for petrochemical project

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Oman is seeking loans to help finance its USD3.6bn petrochemical project, from banks and export credit agencies, said Researchviews.

The National cited the state-owned Oman Oil Refineries and Petrochemical Industries (Orpic) official as saying that the government plans to develop the 1.1 million ton per year petrochemical plant in the Sohar industrial zone.

Liwa Plastics, an Orpic project, general manager Henk Pauw said that a total of USD600m will be contributed by the government for the USD1bn project.

Pauw said: "We are still talking to banks. We have engaged with export credit agencies." Planned to begin operations in the fourth quarter of 2018, the facility is expected to improve Orpic's petrochemical output to 1.4 million tons annually.

Currently, Orpic is tendering for engineering, procurement and construction contracts, reported the publication. Contracts signing and investment approval are scheduled by October 2015 with construction planned to commence in 2016.

We remind that in late 2012 Orpic announced that its production of world class high quality polypropylene homopolymer at Sohar plant has crossed 1 million tonnes. This was a significant milestone for the polypropylene (PP) plant in Sohar, which began production in October 2006.

Created from the integration of three companies - Oman Refineries and Petrochemicals Company LLC (ORPC), Aromatics Oman LLC (AOL) and Oman Polypropylene (OPP) - Orpic is one of Oman's largest companies and is one of the rapidly growing businesses in the Middle East's oil industry. The refineries at Sohar and Muscat, as well as our aromatics and polypropylene production plants in the Sohar complex, provide fuels, chemicals and feedstock to Oman and to the world.