Three dead, dozens injured in explosion at Pemex petrochemical complex

MOSCOW (MRC) -- A massive explosion rocked a major petrochemical facility of Mexican national oil company Pemex in the Gulf state of Veracruz on Wednesday, killing at least three people, injuring dozens more, and pumping a cloud of noxious chemicals into the sky, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Luis Felipe Puente, head of federal emergency services, told Reuters that three people had died in the blast and as many as 45 were injured. The governor of Veracruz state, Javier Duarte, told local television that more than 60 people were injured.

Pemex said the explosion, which sent a huge, dark plume of smoke billowing upwards, occurred just after 3 p.m. (2000 GMT) at the facility's chlorinate 3 plant near the port of Coatzacoalcos, one of the company's top oil export hubs.

Local emergency officials said hundreds of people had been evacuated from the site. Television footage showed an initial burst of flames followed by a tower of thick smoke. A company official said local oil exports were not affected.

Petroquimica Mexicana de Vinilo, or PMV, a vinyl petrochemical plant that is a joint venture between Pemex's petrochemical unit and Mexican plastic pipe maker Mexichem, was the facility hit by the blast.

Operated by Mexichem, the plant lies within Pemex's larger Pajaritos petrochemical complex. Mexichem said in a statement the explosion occurred in an ethylene unit at the plant. The company could not be immediately reached for further comment.

In February, a fire killed a worker at the PMV plant, which makes vinyl chloride monomer, also known as chloroethene, an industrial chemical used to produce plastic piping. The incident occurred just weeks after three workers were killed and seven injured when a fire broke out on a Pemex oil-processing platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

Pemex, which enjoyed a decades-long monopoly over Mexico's oil and gas sector until an energy reform opened up the sector in 2014, has experienced a series of high-profile accidents.

In 2013, at least 37 people were killed by a blast at its Mexico City headquarters, and 26 people died in a fire at a Pemex natural gas facility in northern Mexico in September 2012. A 2015 fire at its Abkatun Permanente platform in the oil-rich Bay of Campeche affected oil output and cost the company up to USD780 million.

Pemex said last year it had reduced its annual accident rate in 2014 by more than 33%. But a Reuters investigation found that Pemex was reducing its accident rate by including hours worked by office staff in its calculations.

Pemex, Mexican Petroleum, is a Mexican state-owned petroleum company. Pemex has a total asset worth of USD415.75 billion, and is the world's second largest non-publicly listed company by total market value, and Latin America's second largest enterprise by annual revenue as of 2009. Company produces such polymers, as polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene.

Saudi Aramco awards contract for asphalt facility

MOSCOW (MRC) -- SNC-Lavalin affiliate, Saudi Arabian Kentz has been awarded a contract to expand asphalt production facilities at Saudi Aramco’s Ras Tanura Refinery, said Arabianindustry.

The engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) deal will see Kentz increase the facility’s asphalt production facility from 22,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 42,000 bpd.

SNC-Lavalin will provide the engineering, design, procurement, installation, construction, pre-commissioning, and commissioning services necessary for the development and start-up of the plant.

Commenting on the EPC contract, Christian Brown, president of oil and gas at SNC-Lavalin, said: “We are delighted to build further on our recent experience of executing major EPC projects with Saudi Aramco.

"Saudi Aramco is a key client for us and we have one of the largest dedicated engineering and construction teams in Saudi Arabia," he added.

As MRC informed earlier, Saudi Aramco is considering proposals to buy stakes in Indian oil refining and petrochemical projects, India's oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Monday, as the world's biggest oil exporter seeks outlets for its oil.

Saudi Aramco, officially the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, is a Saudi Arabian national oil and natural gas company based in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Aramco's value has been estimated at up to USD10 trillion in the Financial Times, making it the world's most valuable company. Saudi Aramco has both the largest proven crude oil reserves, at more than 260 billion barrels, and largest daily oil production.

PKN Orlen misses net profit forecasts on weak oil price, currency

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Poland's top refiner PKN Orlen has reported a 55% fall in first-quarter net profit that missed forecasts, hurt by the oil price slump and a stronger Polish currency, as per Reuters.

The state-run company reported a bottom line of 337 million zlotys (USD89 million) compared with 795 million zlotys net profit expected in a Reuters poll. The oil price has fallen from peaks above USD100 per barrel in mid-2014 to around USD43 now.

Adjusted operating profit, or EBIT LIFO which removes the impact of crude oil price changes, fell 2 percent to 1.4 billion zlotys versus 1.35 billion zlotys expected by analysts.

Polish refineries' main assets include oil inventories. The difference between the price they paid for the oil and the current price has a significant effect on financial results.

The refineries use the LIFO method - last in first out - to show the current value of inventories and to evaluate current production at the current price of oil.

In the first quarter PKN's negative LIFO effect was 900 million zlotys due to weak oil prices and a strengthening of the Polish zloty against dollar.

"The LIFO (negative) effect is much higher than in the consensus and this is the major difference. Looking at the clean operational results, they are solid," said analyst at Haitong Bank Lukasz Janczak, who expected a negative LIFO effect of 400 million zlotys.

As MRC wrote before, PKN Orlen may review its strategy and long-term financial targets to adjust to market conditions, the company said in early February 2016. PKN's 2014-2017 strategy assumed its average annual EBITDA LIFO - or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, excluding the impact of oil prices changes - would be 5.1 billion zlotys (USD1.2 billion).

Polski Koncern Naftowy ORLEN S.A. (PKN Orlen) is a Polish oil and gas coSolvents plant shut bympany. It has a lot of petrol stations in Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, Lithuania and Slovakia. It is the biggest company in Poland and one of the biggest oil and gas companies in Europe. Polish group PKN Orlen PKNA is a majority owner - 63% of czech polyolefins manufacturer Unipetrol.

LG Chem Q1 operating profit rises by 26%

MOSCOW (MRC) -- LG Chem posted 457.7 billion won (USD402.97 million) in first-quarter operating profit, up 26.5 percent from a year ago, with its earnings lifted by robust sales in its basic materials sector, said Koreatimes.

Sales came in at 4.87 trillion won, down 0.8 percent from the previous year, the company said in a regulatory filing, Thursday. Net profit was 338.1 billion won, up 37.3 percent from a year ago, a 63 percent increase on a quarterly basis.

LG Chem said the profit growth was driven by high profitability from diversified premium lineups in its basic materials division.

"We achieved a healthy first-quarter performance, largely due to improved profitability from diversified business portfolios focusing on premium products lineup in the basic materials sector," LG Chem said in a statement.

The division was the company's major profit booster, posting 466.2 billion won in operating profit, up 45.1 percent from a year ago.

But the company recorded operating losses in its battery and electronics materials sectors.

As MRC informed earlier, LG Chem has completed the acquisition of Dongbu Farm Hannong, the country’s largest agricultural products provider. Following a series of negotiations since September 2015, LG Chem has finally acquired 100% equity stake in Dongbu Farm Hannong’s shares worth USD426.49 million (KRW 515.20 billion).

LG Chem Ltd., often referred to as LG Chemical, is the largest Korean chemical company and is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. According to ICIS report, it is 15th biggest chemical company in the world in 2011. It has eight domestic factories and global network of 29 business locations in 15 countries. LG Chem is a manufacturer, supplier, and exporter of petrochemical goods, IT&E Materials and Energy Solutions.


Carmel Olefins developed new PP grade for transparent injection molded applications

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Carmel Olefins Ltd (BAZAN Group) has announced the launch of new polypropylene (PP) grade Capilene CT 80A offering both excellent transparency and high impact performance to injection molded applications said the producer in its press release.

Its advanced features are complemented with good resistance to stress whitening, high gloss and excellent organoleptic performance.

Capilene CT 80A is a clarified and antistatic modified PP grade with a melt flow rate (MFR) 25, produced with Milliken’s clarifier technology Millad NX 8000. It is the first in a new series under development by Carmel to enhance its existing portfolio of PP copolymers based on Millad NX 8000.

Capilene CT 80A combines excellent flow with many of the typical advantages of PP random and heterophasic copolymers to achieve outstanding transparency plus very high gloss with a good stiffness/impact balance. Its ability to maintain such high transparency with good impact performance at 0 C is of particular significance for refrigerated applications.

The overall performance advantages and superior impact characteristics of the new grade create a step forward for converters looking to reduce breakage potential and avoid stress whitening of highly-transparent packaging and container solutions. For example, for thin wall packaging, clear containers for food packaging, caps & closures, and clear pails. It is also suitable for large storage boxes, crates, heavy duty transparent toolboxes, appliances and toys.

The new grade initiates viable opportunities for customers to replace regular random copolymers in applications where optical property and impact resistance are required, and to replace heterophasic impact copolymers in applications where transparency should be combined with high impact or high impact without stress whitening.

Anita Vaxman, R&D and Technical Service Manager at Carmel Olefins, comments: "Capilene CT 80A takes the impact performance of our existing transparent PP grades to a new level. The innovation opens up new prospects for customers serving the food and non-food containers and houseware segments to produce attractive transparent articles that are less prone to breakage during shipment and handling, while also benefitting from energy savings during processing. It is a drop-in solution that we are looking forward to introducing to the market."

We remind that, as MRC wrote previously, in February 2016, Borealis presented new PP carbon fibre reinforced solutions for lightweight automotive construction. Borealis' leading-edge Fibremod technology portfolio has a proven track record in realising weight reduction in many automotive applications and is now expanded with Fibremod Carbon, a carbon fibre reinforced polypropylene. This innovative portfolio extension will help the automotive industry to reap the benefits of carbon fibre reinforced plastics, such as outstanding density to weight ratio, significant weight reduction potential, and increased functionalisation and modularisation of components. The excellent economic efficiency of the Fibremod Carbon portfolio will also promote the more widespread use of this potentially revolutionary material in the mass production of automobiles.