Dow, Reynolds partner to convert recycled plastic into energy

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Hefty Energy Bag, a unique program designed to convert previously non-recycled plastics into energy, recently launched in the Omaha area, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Plastics collected through the program will be sorted at a local recycling facility and converted into energy used in cement production. The program’s initial phase could divert an estimated 36 tons of previously non-recycled plastic from Omaha area landfills, equivalent to the use of 50 tons of coal. The program is a collaborative effort between The Dow Chemical Company, Reynolds Consumer Products, Recyclebank, First Star Recycling, Conagra Foods and Systech Environmental Corporation.

Based on the success of a 2014 Energy Bag Pilot in Citrus Heights, Calif., the Hefty Energy Bag program launches its first phase for 6,000 existing Recyclebank members in the Omaha area. The program will deliver the Hefty Energy Bags to participating households the week of September 19th with collection beginning with customers’ next regularly scheduled recycling pick-up.

"The Energy Bag Pilot demonstrated resource recovery of non-recycled plastics is a viable municipal process and serves as the foundation of the Omaha area program," said Jeff Wooster, global sustainability leader, Dow. "As the largest resin provider to the packaging industry, we view plastic as a valuable resource and are excited to have the Omaha area collect plastics and recover the embedded energy."

Using Hefty Energy Bags – bright orange bags produced by Reynolds Consumer Products – Recyclebank’s members in the Omaha area can collect previously non-recycled plastics, including chip bags, candy bar wraps and drink pouches. Instead of putting these items in a landfill, consumers will now be able to toss these plastics into the Hefty Energy Bags, which local haulers will collect from regular recycling bins and carts. From there, the bags are sent to, and sorted at a local First Star Recycling facility and passed along to Systech Environmental Corporation where the bags and all their contents will be converted into energy to make cement.

The Omaha area was selected to host the Hefty Energy Bag program because of the committed participants that exist in the area. First Star Recycling provides the program with a seamless sorting process, Recyclebank offers its existing member base of Omaha area residents and Conagra Foods supports viable options for recovering value from used packaging. These local collaborators serve as great advocates for the program.

As MRC informed earlier, Dow Chemical's polyethylene (PE) expansion at its Freeport, Texas, complex is on track for a mid-2017 startup. Dow's construction of its world-scale steam cracker is 50% complete, with startup expected in mid-2017. The Freeport complex currently has a 640,000 mt/year of polyethylene capacity and is expected to add 1,050,000 mt/year of LDPE and LLDPE, S&P Global Platts data showed.

The Dow Chemical Company is an American multinational chemical corporation. Dow is a large producer of plastics, including polystyrene, polyurethane, polyethylene, polypropylene, and synthetic rubber.

Kuraray to absorb its subsidiary Kuraray Chemical

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Kuraray Co., Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan) intends to merge and absorb its wholly-owned subsidiary, Kuraray Chemical Co., Ltd, in a bid to expand in the carbon materials business, as per the company's press release.

With the merger, due effective on 1 January 2017, Kuraray Co. Ltd, as the surviving company, will absorb Kuraray Chemical, which will be dissolved.

Kuraray is working to commercialise a plant-based hard carbon anode material for use in components of lithium ion batteries (LiBs), targeting the energy field.

Meanwhile, Kuraray Chemical is engaged in the global activated carbon business, producing functional carbon materials used in applications such as energy, water resource and air purification fields.

The markets both parent and subsidiary are expected to see "burgeoning growth" from automotive LiB components, as well as 7%/year growth in activated carbon, due to tightening regulations against water and air pollution and demand growth in emerging countries.

"Given this operating environment, Kuraray has decided to execute a merger aimed at absorbing Kuraray Chemical to aim for earlier expanding of the carbon material business," it said.

We remind that, as MRC informed previously, Kuraray Co. plans to increase the production capacity of ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer, EVAL within its subsidiary, Kuraray America, Inc. (Houston). The Kuraray EVAL plant located in Pasadena, Texas will increase their capacity by 11,000 ton/yr with planned operations to commence in the summer of 2018.

Kuraray produces specialty chemicals, fibres and other materials, including functional resins and films, synthetic isoprene chemical products, synthetic leather, vinylon fibre and polyester fibre.

Propane exports drove 2016 US petroleum product export growth

МОSCOW (MRC) -- In the first half of 2016, the US exported 4.7 MMbpd of petroleum products, almost 10 times the crude oil export volume, an increase of 500 Mbpd over the first half of 2015, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

While US exports of distillate and gasoline increased by 50 Mpbd and nearly 140 Mbpd, respectively, propane exports increased by more than 230 Mbpd. Propane is now the second-largest US petroleum product export, surpassing motor gasoline. While total US petroleum product exports grew, export destinations remained largely unchanged.

Mexico, Canada, and the Netherlands received the greatest volumes of US petroleum products in the first half of 2016, importing 775 Mbpd, 579 Mbpd, and 271 Mbpd, respectively. Exports to these nations were, respectively, 129 Mbpd, 67 Mbpd, and 66 Mbpd above their level in first half of 2015.

Distillate exports, the largest component of US petroleum product exports for many years, averaged 1.2 MMbpd in the first half 2016, an increase of 50 Mbpd from the first half 2015. Central and South America accounted for the largest share of US distillate exports, averaging over 620 Mbpd in the first half of 2016, up more than 30 Mbpd from the first half of 2015. Chile remained the region's largest importer of US distillate in the first half 2016, averaging over 106 Mbpd. The largest single destination overall for US distillate exports was Mexico, which averaged 147 Mbpd in the first half of 2016, an increase of 3 Mbpd over the first half of 2015. Despite a well-supplied distillate market in Asia, US exports to Singapore increased to 15 Mbpd in the first half of 2016, up from 11 Mbpd in the first half of 2015.

US propane exports increased from 562 Mbpd in the first half of 2015 to 793 Mbpd in the first half 2016. Exports to Asia and Oceania accounted for 94% of this growth. Japan imported the most US propane at 159 Mbpd in the first half of 2016, an increase of 111 Mbpd from 48 Mbpd in the first half 2015. Exports to Panama, however, fell from 41 Mbpd in the first half 2015 to 7 Mbpd in the first half 2016.

The large increases in exports to Japan and decreases in exports to Panama could be a result of reduced ship-to-ship transfer activity, following narrower price differentials between the US and Asia. Some of the propane exports from the US that undergo ship-to-ship transfers will cite the location of the transfer and not the final destination of the propane. This often results in larger-than-actual export numbers for the countries where the ship-to-ship transfers take place and in less-than-actual numbers for some final destinations. For example, export data involving ship-to-ship transfers may show Panama as the destination of a propane export cargo eventually destined for Japan or other countries in Asia.

Propane inventories gain. US propane stocks increased by 1.5 MMbbl last week to 103.3 MMbbl as of September 23, 2016, 4.5 MMbbl (4.6%) higher than a year ago. Gulf Coast and East Coast inventories increased by 1.7 MMbbl and 0.2 MMbbl, respectively, while Midwest and Rocky Mountain/West Coast inventories decreased by 0.3 and 0.1 MMbbl, respectively. Propylene non-fuel-use inventories represented 2.7% of total propane inventories.

Iowa State, Chevron team up to develop pilot plant, advance biofuel technology

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The latest pilot plant at Iowa State’s BioCentury Research Farm is a joint project with Chevron. University engineers are using the pilot plant to develop and demonstrate an advanced biorenewables technology called solvent liquefaction, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The technology converts biomass such as quarter-inch wood chips into a bio-oil that can be processed into fuels or chemicals and a biochar that can enrich soils. The project is supported by a four-year, USD3.5 MM grant from the US Department of Energy’s Biomass Research and Development Initiative, obtained by Iowa State.

The Chevron-Iowa State collaboration began in 2013 when the company moved its USD1.4 MM Small Continuous Liquefaction Unit from Houston to the research farm just west of Ames. The company was looking for a research partner to develop the plant for continuous production and to build a system for recycling solvent back into the production process.

As part of the agreement, Chevron has donated the pilot plant to Iowa State. The solvent liquefaction technology used in the pilot plant was initially developed by Chevron. The process begins with a proprietary solvent that’s mixed with wood chips or other solid biomass. The mixture is processed under moderate temperatures and pressures and the resulting slurry is extruded into a reactor.

After heating in the reactor, production is split into two processing streams: The upper handles gases and vapors, the lower handles liquids and small amounts of solids. A series of filters and separators along both streams recovers bio-oil, small amounts of biochar and solvent for recycling.

The process produces a bio-oil that is low in oxygen and therefore more stable than other bio-oils. Lysle Whitmer, Sr. Research Engineer at Iowa State University, said the engineers have now demonstrated the viability of every one of the pilot plant’s operations. They’re still working to efficiently and simultaneously run all the operations.

The pilot plant operates about once a week, Whitmer said. It can process about a pound of biomass every hour and typically runs for 15 to 18 hours at a time.

As MRC informed earlier, Amec Foster Wheeler announces it has been awarded a contract by Singapore Refining Company (SRC), a joint venture between Singapore Petroleum Company and Chevron, to undertake Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) and Detailed Engineering Services for upgrade of its Crude and Vacuum heater efficiency which includes revamp of burners, air preheater and a common new chimney stack, in Jurong Island, Singapore.

Chevron Phillips Chemical, headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas (north of Houston), US,l is one of the world’s top producers of olefins and polyolefins and a leading supplier of aromatics, alpha olefins, styrenics, specialty chemicals, piping, and proprietary plastics. Chevron and Phillips 66 each own 50% of Chevron Phillips Chemical.

PKN Orlen to sign Zl 7bn-plus gas supplies deal with PGNiG

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Poland's biggest refiner PKN Orlen to sign a contract worth 7 billion zlotys (USD1.83 billion) with state-run gas firm PGNiG on gas purchases, starting from Oct 2016 to Sept 2021, said Reuters.

The contract will replace an existing long-term deal signed in 1997 that was supposed to be binding till 2017. Source text: Further company coverage (USD1 = 3.8260 zlotys)

PGNiG largely distributes Russian gas imported via pipeline. However, it is under pressure from the Polish government to diversify away from Russian supplies as much as possible. The company has started buying in Qatari gas via Poland’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) regasification terminal, built in the Baltic port of Swinoujscie near the German border and opened in mid-June.

As MRC informed earlier, PKN Orlen signed a contract with Saudi Aramco for the supply of ca. 200 thousand tonnes of crude oil monthly to its refineries. The contract will be effective from May 1st to December 31st 2016, with an option of automatic renewal for successive years. The oil will be processed by all PKN ORLEN's refineries in Poland, the Czech Republic and Lithuania.

PKN Orlen is a major Polish oil refiner and petrol retailer. The company is a significant European publicly traded firm with major operations in Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, and the Baltic States. It currently (2015) ranks 353, with a revenue of over USD33.8 billion.