US shale gas arrives in Europe for the first time on board the INEOS Intrepid

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Ineos today confirmed that its vessel, the INEOS Intrepid, has arrived at the INEOS petrochemicals plant at Rafnes in Norway, carrying 27.500m3 of US shale gas ethane, said the producer on its site.

This is the very first time that ethane from US shale gas has ever been exported from the USA and the first time it has been imported into Europe. It gives the continent the chance to benefit from US shale gas economics which did so much to revitalise manufacturing in the USA.

Jim Ratcliffe, chairman and founder of Ineos, says, "This is a strategically important day for INEOS and Europe. We know that shale gas economics revitalised US manufacturing and for the first time ever Europe can access this essential energy and raw material source too."

The INEOS Intrepid is currently one of four specially designed Dragon class ships that will form part of a fleet of eight of the world’s largest ethane capable carriers.

The project has included the design and long term charter of all eight Dragon class ships which will collectively create a virtual pipeline across the Atlantic; connection to the new 300 mile Mariner East pipeline from the Marcellus shale in Western Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook deep water terminal near Philadelphia, together with new export facilities and storage tanks.

Ineos has invested USD2 billion bringing US shale gas to Europe.

To receive the gas, Ineos has built the largest two ethane gas storage tanks in Europe at Rafnes in Norway and Grangemouth in Scotland.

Ineos will use the ethane from US shale gas in its two gas crackers at Rafnes and Grangemouth, both as a fuel and as a feedstock. It is expected that shipments to Grangemouth will start later this year.

Jim Ratcliffe adds, "We are nearing the end of a hugely ambitious project that has taken us five years and cost USD2 billion, as we begin supply of ethane from shale to our sites in Europe. This is a world first and I am incredibly proud of everyone involved in it. I believe that Ineos is one of very companies in the world who could have successfully pulled this off. "

As MRC wrote before, Ineos Group Ltd. is considering expansion of its plants in USA to take advantage of low-cost natural-gas liquids as feedstock for ethylene production. The company is likely to add 250 mln-1 bln lbs of annual ethylene production at its Chocolate Bayou site south of Houston, Dennis Seith, chief executive officer of the company’s U.S. olefins and polymers unit, said. Additional polypropylene and alpha-olefins capacity may be added at the site. Decisions on all three investments will be made within a year, with the expanded ethylene output available early next decade, he said in an interview.

INEOS Group Limited is a privately owned multinational chemicals company consisting of 15 standalone business units, headquartered in Rolle, Switzerland and with its registered office in Lyndhurst, United Kingdom. It is the fourth largest chemicals company in the world measured by revenues (after BASF, Dow Chemical and LyondellBasell) and the largest privately owned company in the United Kingdom.

Toray subsidiary Carbon Magic opens new carbon fiber reinforced plastic parts plant in Thailand

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Toray Industries Inc. has announced that it and Toray Carbon Magic Co., Ltd. (TCM) held the inauguration ceremony for a new plant of Carbon Magic (Thailand) Co. Ltd. (CMTH), a subsidiary manufacturing carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) parts. The ceremony was held at the Saha Group industrial park in Sriracha, Chonburi, Thailand, reported GV.

The establishment of the new CMTH plant is part of the move to enhance production capacity of TCM and CMTH announced in May 2014. In addition to the enhancement of functions with the new TCM office building completed in December 2014, CMTH newly established integrated mass production plant covers the processes from molding to coating in the about 22,000 m2 premise newly leased from Saha Group. Since coming under the Toray Group from Dome Group in April 2013, TCM and its Thai production base of CMTH have been adding the competitive edge of Toray’s high quality materials to TCM’s outstanding design technology and CMTH’s mass production cost competitiveness, which has led to even higher rating and expectations from the market.

The current enhancement of TCM and CMTH is in response to the market needs for their products, which are not only for premium vehicles and motorbikes, the company’s specialty for long, but also for new fields such as aircraft and trains as well as wheel chairs and prosthetic limbs, for which the companies are seeing rapid increase in inquiries for design, development of prototype and mass production.

Toray Group positions TCM as the core base of the advanced composite business and aims to develop new markets and increase applications for CFRP parts, in addition to the existing automobile field, in cooperation with other composite bases outside japan such as Euro Advanced Carbon Fiber Composites GmbH (EACC) in Germany and Plasan Carbon Composites, Inc. (PCC) in the U.S. Moreover, the Group will enhance the supply chain starting from carbon fibers in upstream to base materials in middle stream and to CFRP composite in downstream by including large tow carbon fibers of Zoltek Companies, Inc., which joined the Group in February 2014, and Composite Materials (Italy) s.r.l (CIT) and Delta Tech S.p.A with its subsidiary Delta Preg S.p.A, two Italian prepreg manufacturing bases which became Toray subsidiaries one after another in 2015.

Under the medium-term management program Project AP-G 2016, which was launched in fiscal year 2014 and is scheduled to be accomplished in fiscal year 2016, the Toray Group is driving forward the Green Innovation Business Expansion (GR) Project in a group-wide endeavor to expand the business that contributes to solving environmental problems and resource and energy issues. The carbon fiber composite material business, which improves mileage through weight reduction of automobiles and aircraft and contributes to reduction of CO2 emissions, is at the center of this GR Project, and the Toray Group is determined to continue contributing to the realization of a sustainable society through expansion of this business.

As MRC wrote previously, in December 2014, Toray Industries, Inc. announced that the company and its subsidiary Toray Advanced Materials Korea, Inc. would expand the production facility for high-performance polypropylene (PP) spunbond at P.T. Toray Polytech Jakarta (TPJ) by 18,000 tons per year. After the enhancement, the production capacity of TPJ will be about 37,000 tons per year, boosting the Toray Group-wide PP spunbond production capacity to about 153,000 tons per year. The added production facility at TPJ is expected to start operating in September 2016.

Toray Industries is a multinational corporation headquartered in Japan that specializes in industrial products centered around technologies in organic synthetic chemistry, polymer chemistry, and biochemistry. Its founding business areas were fibers and textiles, as well as plastics and chemicals. Toray Group Malaysia companies are involved in four main businesses -- polyester fibres, textiles, plastic resins and polyester films.

Saudi Kayan taps CTCI for EPC work on new cracking furnace in Jubail

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Co. has awarded CTCI a contract for the engineering, procurement and construction of an additional ethylene cracking furnace in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, as per TPS.

Last year, the Saudi Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources agreed to increase Saudi Kayan’s allocations of ethane, enabling the company to increase ethylene and ethylene oxide production capacity. Saudi Kayan said it would add 93,000 t/y of ethylene capacity.

CTCI said the contract covers front-end engineering design, detailed engineering design, procurement, construction, pre-commissioning, commissioning assistance, training of Saudi Kayan personnel and start-up of the furnace.

The project, with an estimated value of USD94.5-million, is expected to be completed during the second half of 2017, Saudi Kayan disclosed in a filing with Tadawul (stock exchange).

Saudi Basic Industries Corp. earlier this year awarded CTCI a front-end engineering design contract for affiliate Saudi Kayan’s ethylene oxide and ethylene glycol project in Jubail.

As MRC wrote before, in mid-February 2015, Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Co brought forward by one month maintenance plans for some units at its complex in Jubail. The Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) affiliate started the shutdown on March 1. The shutdown had been postponed from Oct. 31, 2015.

Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Company is a manufacturing affiliate of the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic).

PetroChina’s chemicals business swings to profit on improved margins

MOSCOW (MRC) -- PetroChina’s refining and chemicals business segment recorded an operating profit of 4.88 billion renminbi (USD751.2 million) in 2015 compared with an operating loss of Rmb23.5 billion in 2014, said Chemweek.

PetroChina’s chemicals business alone had an operating profit of Rmb193 million in 2015 compared with an operating loss of about Rmb16.4 billion in 2014, as a result of optimization of the product structure and efforts to control costs, the company says. The refining business recorded an operating profit of Rmb4.69 billion in 2015 compared with an operating loss of about Rmb7.15 billion in 2014. Sales in the refining and chemicals segment decreased 24.1% in 2015, however, compared with 2014, to Rmb642.4 billion mainly because of a fall in prices of refined and chemical products, PetroChina says. Sales for the chemicals business alone have not been disclosed.

In 2015, the slow global economic recovery resulted in lower consumption of chemicals, PetroChina says. As a result, there was excess capacity and supply exceeded demand in the chemical products market. With the substantial fall in crude oil price and the fierce competition in the chemicals market, the prices of chemical products kept dropping after a rise in the middle of 2015; but overall, the fall in product prices was less than the fall in crude oil price, leading to an overall improvement of results in the chemical industry, PetroChina says. PetroChina, in 2015, allocated more resources to its chemicals business, and increased the production of products with merchantability, high profitability, and high added value, the company says.

PetroChina produced 5.03 million m.t. of ethylene in 2015, up 1.1% compared with 2014. PetroChina’s production of plastics increased 3.3% in 2015 compared with 2014, to 8.21 million m.t.; production of fiber intermediates increased 4.3%, to 1.34 million m.t.; but output of synthetic rubber decreased by 4.3%, to 713,000 m.t.; and production of urea decreased by 3.6%, to 2.56 million m.t.

Capital expenditure (capex) in PetroChina’s refining and chemicals business was Rmb15.7 billion in 2015 compared with Rmb30.9 billion in 2014. PetroChina expects capex in the company’s refining and chemicals business will be about Rmb18.7 billion in 2016.

PetroChina Company Limited, is a Chinese oil and gas company and is the listed arm of state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation, headquartered in Dongcheng District, Beijing. It is China's biggest oil producer.

MEGlobal to build new MEG plant by 2019 at Texas hub of Dow Chemical

MOSCOW (MRC) -- MEGlobal, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Equate Petrochemical Co., plans to construct a new world-scale monoethylene glycol (MEG) manufacturing facility at Dow’s Oyster Creek site in Freeport, Texas, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The new Oyster Creek MEG facility will be owned by MEGlobal and is the company’s first manufacturing unit in the US. The new MEGlobal plant will create 1,400 construction jobs at the project’s peak, and the company will employ approximately 50 new workers when it goes on stream in mid-2019.

"The Oyster Creek site provides MEGlobal with greater flexibility to satisfy our customers’ needs for consistent and reliable delivery of ethylene glycol products, especially in the growing US and Asian markets," said Ramesh Ramachandran, president of MEGlobal International FZE.

Additionally, the new site will benefit through a long-term ethylene supply agreement with Dow from its new ethylene cracker.

"Establishing MEG production in the US Gulf Coast is an important investment for us as it greatly enhances our global footprint and is directly aligned to our growth strategy to maximize value as a leading ethylene glycol producer and supplier," said Mohammad Husain, president and CEO of Equate Petrochemical Co., an international joint venture between Petrochemical Industries Co. (PIC), Dow Chemical, Boubyan Petrochemical Co. (BPC) and Qurain Petrochemical Industries Co. (QPIC).

"Additionally, ethylene producer economics through a long-term supply agreement with Dow provide a unique competitiveness for the production plant," he added.

"The MEGlobal investment in the US Gulf Coast fits the diversification and growth strategy of PIC," said Mohammed Abdullatif Al-Farhoud, CEO of PIC. "We continue to look for opportunities in the petrochemical area across the globe to expand our footprint and diversify our portfolio. We are very pleased that our US Gulf Coast investment strategy is moving towards implementation."

MEG is used in a number of market applications, including polyester fibers, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles and packaging, antifreeze and coolants, paints, resins, deicing fluids, heat transfer fluids and construction materials.

As MRC wrote before, global MEG production is likely cross 28.74 mln tons by 2017. In 2011, the world production of MEG grew by over 1 mln tons, crossing the 20.65 mln ton mark, as per Merchant Research & Consulting.

Established in 1995, Equate Petrochemical Company is an international joint venture between Petrochemical Industries Company (PIC), The Dow Chemical Company (Dow), Boubyan Petrochemical Company (BPC) and Qurain Petrochemical Industries Company (QPIC). Commencing production in 1997, Equate is the single operator of a fully integrated world-scale manufacturing facility producing over 5 million tons annually of high-quality petrochemical products which are marketed throughout the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe.