Pemex petrochemical plant explosion kills at least 24, injures hundreds

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Twenty-four people died after a leak caused a deadly petrochemical plant blast, and the death toll could still rise, Mexican oil giant Pemex said on Thursday, the latest in a series of fatal accidents to batter the company, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Pemex CEO Jose Antonio Gonzalez Anaya, who traveled to the site of Wednesday's blast near the port of Coatzacoalcos, one of Pemex's top oil export hubs, told local television it was unclear what caused the accident.

The massive explosion at the facility's chlorinate 3 plant in the Gulf state of Veracruz also injured 136 people, 13 of them seriously. Another 18 people were unaccounted for, and one badly damaged part of the plant had yet to be scoured.

"We know there was a leak, what we don't know is why, but everything points to an accident," Gonzalez Anaya said.

He shared an updated death toll at a press conference late on Thursday, adding that remediation of the site could take up to a year. He denied the blast was tied to the economic problems of Pemex, which is trying to stem sliding output and slash costs as it creaks under the pressure of low crude prices.

Calling it a "tragic accident", President Enrique Pena Nieto headed to the region late Thursday to tour the facility with local officials and speak with victims and their families.

As MRC reported earlier, the blast occurred at a vinyl petrochemical plant that is a joint venture between Pemex's petrochemical unit and majority owner Mexican plastic pipe maker Mexichem. Pemex operates the larger petrochemical complex where the plant was located, known as Pajaritos.

The plant produces some 900 tpd of vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), also known as chloroethene, an industrial chemical used to produce plastic piping. The joint venture had forecast sales of USD260 million this year.

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.

BASF to divest global Polyolefin Catalysts business to WR Grace & Co

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BASF has signed an agreement to sell its global Polyolefin Catalysts business to W.R. Grace & Co., said the producer on its site.

Currently, the Polyolefin Catalysts business is part of BASF’s Catalysts division.

BASF and Grace intend to complete the transaction in the third quarter of 2016.

The targeted transaction includes technologies, patents, trademarks and the transfer of BASF’s production plants in Pasadena, Texas, and Tarragona, Spain. It is intended that approximately 170 employees globally will also transfer to Grace.

The planned divestiture remains subject to the required consultation with employee representatives and certain regulatory approvals.

"This sale was the best course of action for both the Catalysts division and for the long-term interests of the Polyolefin Catalysts business and its employees," said Kenneth Lane, President, Catalysts division, BASF.

"With this divestiture, we will continue to sharpen our focus on key growth areas, including our Chemical Catalysts and Refinery Catalysts businesses," said Lane.

As MRC informed earlier, BASF Chemcat (Thailand) Ltd. is investing to expand its regional production capacity and enhance its local manufacturing capabilities for mobile emissions catalysts in Rayong, Thailand. The company is planning to construct a new 35,000-square-meter facility to replace its existing plant in Rayong, providing increased operating space and upgraded manufacturing capabilities comparable to BASF’s other automotive catalysts manufacturing sites around the world.

BASF is the world’s leading chemical company. Its portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics, performance products and crop protection products to oil and gas. BASF generated sales of more than EUR70 billion in 2015.

Repsol sells LPG business in Peru, Ecuador

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Spain’s Repsol has agreed to sell its LPG business in Peru and Ecuador to Chile’s Abastible for a total of USD 335 million at the current exchange rate, subject to the usual adjustments for this type of transaction. Both transactions will be closed in the coming months, once the necessary conditions and regulatory approvals have been obtained, said Fuelsandlubes.

The richness and diversity of the portfolio of assets of Repsol, especially after the integration of Talisman Energy, has allowed the company to deepen the management of its portfolio and the sale of assets considered non-strategic. In recent months, the company has already divested about EUR 3.1 billion (USD 3.48 billion) in assets, which was in line with the objectives set out in its Strategic Plan 2016-2020.

Repsol continues to play a key role as an energy operator in Latin America.

It has a 10% stake in the consortium that operates Peru’s Camisea natural gas fields. It also operates Block 57 in the southern Peruvian region of Cuzco, the location of the Kinteroni field, which entered into production in March 2014. Repsol also owns a 51% stake in the La Pampilla refinery in Peru and has invested USD 740 million to modernize that facility and improve the fuel quality it produces there. The company also has a network of more than 410 service stations in Peru.

In Ecuador, Repsol has service provision contracts for Blocks 16 and 67 that run until 2022 and also holds a stake in Ecuador’s privately owned OCP heavy crude oil pipeline.

As MRC informed earlier, in the first quarter of 2016 (Q1 2016), Repsol completed the construction work of its new metallocene polyethelene plant at its Tarragona site. Repsol plans to start up the plant and begin production and marketing of this new product during Q2 2016

Repsol, which is headquartered in Madrid, Spain, operates in more than 40 countries, with 25,000 employees worldwide.

RIL restarts PVC plant at Dahej

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Private Indian energy major Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has resumed operations at its polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant in Dahej, reported Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in India informed that the plant was brought on-stream yesterday. It was shut in last week owing to a shortage of water.

Located at Dahej in the western India state of Gujarat, the plant has a production capacity of 315,000 mt/year.

As MRC wrote previously, in April 2015, RIL successfully put into operation two plants in Dahej, Gujarat, India. The first is a polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resin plant, which consists of two lines with a combined manufacturing capacity of 650 KTA. This is one of the largest bottle-grade PET resin capacity at a single location globally, and consolidates Reliance’s position as a leading PET resin producer with a global capacity of 1.15 MMTPA, the company said. PET resin from the new capacity would find application in packaging for water, carbonated soft drinks, pharmaceuticals and other food and beverages.

The second facility is a new purified terephthalic acid (PTA) plant that provides a capacity of 1,150 KTA. With the commissioning of this plant, also built with Invista technology, Reliance’s total PTA capacity will increase to 3.2 MMTPA, and its global capacity share will rise to 4%.

Reliance Industries is one of the world's largest producers of polymers. The company's polymer production in 2010-11 (polypropylene, polyethylene and polyvinyl chloride) made 4,094 kilo tonnes.

LyondellBasell reports Q1 2016 earnings

MOSCOW (MRC) -- LyondellBasell Industries announced earnings from continuing operations for the first quarter 2016 of USD1.0 billion, said the company in its press release.

First quarter 2016 EBITDA was USD1.8 billion. The quarter included a USD68 million non-cash, pre-tax charge for the impact of a lower of cost or market (LCM) inventory adjustment (USD47 million after-tax). Excluding the LCM adjustment, earnings from continuing operations during the first quarter totaled USD1.1 billion. EBITDA was USD1.9 billion. In February, the Argentine wholly owned subsidiary Petroken Petroquimica Ensenada S.A. (Petroken) was sold for an after tax gain of USD78 million that impacted earnings by USD0.18 per share.

"The first quarter of 2016 developed as we anticipated. LyondellBasell's operations were strong and we completed planned maintenance as expected. The value of our global footprint and integrated businesses was evident in the excellent results from the Olefins & Polyolefins, Europe, Asia and International segment and our global polypropylene businesses. Markets for our products were generally tight with prices responding quickly to supply and demand dynamics," said Bob Patel, LyondellBasell chief executive officer.

"As we look forward to the remainder of the second quarter, a significant amount of industry capacity will be offline in both the U.S. and Asia for scheduled maintenance. We believe this is tightening global olefin and polyolefin markets. Within our system, we have begun the maintenance turnaround and 800 million pound ethylene expansion at Corpus Christi and expect to ramp up toward full utilization of the expanded capacity during the third quarter. During the second quarter our refinery will operate at reduced rates as we repair damage from an April fire. At the same time, the refining and oxyfuels businesses have started to benefit from seasonal margin improvements," Patel said.

As MRC informed earlier, LyondellBasell, one of the world's largest plastics, chemical and refining companies, has announced that it has completed the previously announced acquisition of the polypropylene (PP) compounding assets of Zylog Plastalloys Pvt. Ltd. (Zylog) in India. The company entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Zylog's PP compounding assets in November 2015.

LyondellBasell is one of the world's largest plastics, chemical and refining companies and a member of the S&P 500. LyondellBasell manufactures products at 57 sites in 18 countries. LyondellBasell products and technologies are used to make items that improve the quality of life for people around the world including packaging, electronics, automotive parts, home furnishings, construction materials and biofuels. Hostacom and Hifax are trademarks owned by LyondellBasell. The manufacturing facilities in India are owned and operated by Basell Polyolefins India Pvt. Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of LyondellBasell.