Indian refiner Reliance seeks more Iranian oil

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Reliance Industries, India's biggest oil refiner, said it is looking to buy more crude from Iran as the company seeks to rebuild ties to benefit from shorter shipping distances, said Reuters.

The company had made small purchases from Iran in the current quarter and was currently engaged in talks for bigger supplies, indicating that it could also get into a long-term supply contract, said V Srikanth, Reliance's joint chief financial officer.

India is set to import at least 400,000 bpd of Iranian oil in the year from April 1, with refiners looking to ramp up purchases after the sanctions targeting Tehran ended in January, sources had told Reuters.

Iran was India's second biggest oil supplier before economic sanctions aimed at Iran's nuclear program hampered its trade relations. Now, Indian buyers are being drawn back to Iran in part by freight discounts that increase as more barrels are purchased.

The comments came as Reliance posted its biggest quarterly profit in over eight years on better margins in the company's core refining and petrochemical business. Reliance, controlled by India's richest man, Mukesh Ambani, reported an estimate-topping net profit of 73.98 billion rupees (USD1.11 billion) for the Jan-March period -- its highest quarterly profit since December 2007.

The gross refining margin on each barrel of crude processed was USD10.80/bbl, up from USD10.1/bbl a year ago, Reliance said. Srikanth said the company will be able to sustain margins at above USD10 -- one of the highest among global refiners -- in the current financial year.

As MRC informed earlier, Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has resumed operations at its polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant in Dahej. A 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.

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.

Shell to close three UK offices post BG acquisition

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell has unveiled plans to close three of it's offices in the UK, a move which will affect approximately 1,600 employees, it was reported on 25 April, said Ibtimes.

The first of the three offices set to be shut is BG's headquarters in Reading, which will close by the end of 2016. The 800 employees at the Reading-based site will be offered the chance to move to Shell's headquarters in central London. The Anglo-Dutch company, which acquired sector peer BG in February for GBP35bn (EUR45bn, USD50.6bn), will also close BG's offices based at Albyn Place in Aberdeen this year and move BG's 300-strong force into its offices in the city.

The FTSE 100-listed company also said its Brabazon House office in Manchester, which houses 500 people, will be closed by the end of 2017. Meanwhile, Shell added it has begun a voluntary redundancy programme as it seeks to cut 10,300 jobs across the two merged companies, in a bid to cut costs and fight the decline in oil prices that saw crude oil plunged to multi-year lows earlier this year.

Of the planned job cuts, 7,500 positions will go within Shell, with the remaining 2,800 to be axed from BG's operations. "This [voluntary redundancy programme] is in the context of the reality of a lower for longer oil price environment, and is not exclusively related to the Shell-BG combination," the company said in a statement.

"A similar proposal was communicated to Shell staff in the Netherlands earlier this month."

Shell said the programme will be offered to employees unwilling to relocate. However, only employees across its upstream – exploration and production – and technology businesses will be able to be included in the scheme, which will not be offered to workers in Shell's fuel sales operations.

As mRC informed earlier, Shell Chemical has suffered a second process upset in as many days at its 835,000 mt/year steam cracker in Deer Park, Texas.

Royal Dutch Shell plc is an Anglo-Dutch multinational oil and gas company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands and with its registered office in London, United Kingdom. It is the biggest company in the world in terms of revenue and one of the six oil and gas "supermajors". Shell is vertically integrated and is active in every area of the oil and gas industry, including exploration and production, refining, distribution and marketing, petrochemicals, power generation and trading.

Asahi Kasei launches new business plan

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Japan’s Asahi Kasei has announced the launch of a new medium-term strategic management initiative covering the next three years, as per ChemWeek.

The plan, Cs for tomorrow 2018, envisages the Asahi Kasei group adopting an operating holding company structure and its business portfolio is being reorganized into three sectors: material, homes, and healthcare.

The strategies under the new initiative are pursuing growth and profitability, creating businesses, and accelerating globalization.

Asahi Kasei announced that it would invest about yen (Y) 700bn (USD6.3bn) to restructure its operations over three years.

As MRC reported earlier, on 12 February 2016, Asahi Kasei Chemicals shut its cracker in Mizushima permanently. The cracker had an ethylene capacity of 504,000 mt/year and a propylene capacity of 300,000 mt/year. Feedstock ethylene for its 390,000 mt/year of styrene monomer (SM) plant will come from a new 750,000 mt/year steamcracker which is a joint venture between Asahi Kasei and Mitsubishi Chemical. The new unified cracker was expected to start up on April 1.

Asahi Kasei Corporation is a global Japanese chemical company. Its main products are chemicals and materials science.

Invista successfully starts up facility for production of HMD in Shanghai

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Invista, a world leader in fibers, resins and chemical intermediates, has successfully started up a new 215,000-t/y hexamethylene diamine (HMD) facility at the Shanghai Chemical Industry Park in China, reported Apic-online.

"Asia-and China in particular-remains a region with long-term potential for demand growth in nylon 6,6, and the new HMD facility enables us to better support our customers," noted Bill Greenfield, president of Invista Intermediates.

The HMD facility is part of an approximately USD1-billion project that includes a new 150,000-t/y nylon 6,6 plant and 300,000-t/y adiponitrile unit. All the plants are based on Invista's advanced technologies. Expected start-up of the remaining plants was not given.

As MRC informed previously, in April 2015, Invista brought production of its TERRIN polyols to Europe via its facility in Vlissingen, The Netherlands. The site produced its first commercial TERRIN polyols in late 2014 and completed the requirements for REACH registration in Europe.

TERRIN aliphatic polyester polyols contain a minimum of 50% recycled content - with some containing renewable content, as well. Formulators can use TERRIN polyols in lieu of or in combination with conventional polyether or polyester polyols to formulate a variety of polyurethane products.

Invista is one of the world's largest integrated producers of polymers and fibers, primarily for nylon, spandex and polyester applications. With a business presence in over 20 countries, Invista's global businesses deliver exceptional value for their customers through technology innovations, market insights and a powerful portfolio of global trademarks.

Mitsubishi Chem to shut MIBK plant in Japan for maintenance

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Mitsubishi Chemicals is likely to shut its methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK) plant for a maintenance turnaround, as per Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in Japan informed that the plant is expected to be taken off-stream in May 2016. It is planned to remain shut for around 4-5 weeks.

Located in Mizushima, Japan, the plant has a production capacity of 20,000 mt/year.

We remind that, as MRC wrote previously, in October 2015, Mitsubishi Polyester Film, Inc., an affilicate company of Mitsubishi Chemicals, announced an investment of USD100 million to increase its capacity for biaxially oriented polyester (BOPET) film at its plant in Greer, SC. The investment will include a new film production line scheduled to start up mid-year 2017.

Mitsubishi Chemical with headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, is a diversified chemical company involved in petrochemicals, polymers, agrochemicals, speciality chemicals and pharmaceuticals. The company's main focus is on three business pillars: petrochemicals, performance and functional products, and health care.