MOL to focus on refining efficiency, petrochemical diversification

MOSCOW (MRC) -- MOL Group’s integrated business model will continue to provide stable and robust profitability for the next 10-15 years, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

In addition, MOL has earmarked a total of at least around $2 B as strategic capex for 2017-2021 related to the implementation of the new long-term strategy. This is above the annual organic capex expected at approximately USD1 B.

Efficient and flexible refining assets. In refining MOL will continue to focus on improving efficiency and implementing the initiatives of the Next Downstream Program (2015-2017), which is set to deliver USD500-MM EBITDA improvement. As part of its long term strategy MOL targets a gradual increase of the share of valuable non-motor fuel products to above 50% by 2030 from below 30% currently. MOL intends to increase the feedstock for its petrochemical plants, whilst also taking advantage of the growing demand for such profitable products as jet fuel, lubricants and base oils. MOL will also expand its market share in LPG. MOL plans to invest around USD80 MM -USD130 MM into its refineries in Hungary and Slovakia to increase the flexibility of propylene and lubricants production. In order to process the most profitable crude and to match the demand for its products, MOL intends to increase the seaborne crude intake to its landlocked refineries from the current 10% to 33% by 2030, whilst also increasing the crude basket to above 50 grades.

Transforming petrochemicals. MOL has earmarked up to USD1.9 B until 2021 to develop its petrochemicals business. The yield improvement of propylene and investment into attractive propylene derivatives will be the main direction for the next five years. In order to allow further diversification in the propylene value chain MOL Group will invest more than USD500 MM into its steam crackers in Hungary and Slovakia. MOL Group will also invest in propylene oxide based polyols, a high-value product applied in the automotive industry, packaging and furniture manufacturing. MOL Group would become the sole fully integrated supplier in CEE, the region which is driving the European supply growth. Moreover additional investments are being planned for another possible product entry.

As MRC informed earlier, MOL's third-quarter net income fell 24% year-on-year to HUF 68.8 billion as higher tax payments countered the impact of a wider margin.

MOL Hungarian Oil and Gas PLC is an integrated oil and gas company. The Company produces crude oil, petroleum products, bitumens, lubricants and natural gas. MOL owns and operates refineries, oil and gas pipelines, service stations, and natural gas storage facilities.

Zhongtian Hechuang runs 350kta PP plant at 50%

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Zhongtian Hechuang (Zhongtian Synergetic) is currently running its 350kta PP new plant, which has started up in end-Oct at 50% of its capacity, said Ccfgroup.

The plant is now yielding trial production of homo PP injection-grade S1003, with a daily output around 500mt.

All the products will be sold through Sinopec Sales company.

The new coal-based petrochemical complex is located in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, started on October 20, including a 120kta low density polyethylene (LDPE) plant, a 250kta pipe grade LDPE unit, a 300kta linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) unit and two 350kta polypropylene plants. The olefins will be sourced from Zhongtian Hechuang’s methanol, based on coal-chemical technology.

As MRC informed before, in late June 2016, Rosneft and China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec Group) signed a Framework Agreement on joint pre-feasibility study of the project related to the construction and operation of a gas processing and petrochemical complex in East Siberia. The agreement signed in furtherance of the Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in petrochemical projects, provides to select a technology for natural gas processing from its components to polymers. Besides, Russian petrochemical company Sibur is in talks with shareholder Sinopec about investing in a planned gas chemical plant in Russia's Far East.

Zhongtian Hechuang Energy is a joint venture between Sinopec (38.75%), China Coal Group (38.75%), Shenergy Group Co., Ltd. (12.5%), and Inner Mongolia Manshi Coal Group (10%).

Global masterbatch market to reach USD12.61 bln by 2020

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The global masterbatch market is estimated to have accounted for USD8.35 bln in 2014 and is projected to reach USD12.61 bln by 2020, registering a CAGR of 7% between 2015 and 2020, as per Plastemart with reference to Research and Markets.

The market is largely driven by the increased demand from the end-use industries such as packaging, consumer goods, and others.

Color masterbatch is the most popular type of masterbatch. The demand of color masterbatch is mainly driven by the need of end-use industries such as packaging, consumer goods, textiles, and automotive to differentiate their products in the market. These end-use industries rely heavily on color for their marketing and branding strategies. Color masterbatch offers these companies the option of using customized colors. It is the largest segment of the masterbatch market, in terms of volume and value. The demand of color masterbatch can be attributed to the growing need of end-use industries to make their products visually appealing for customers.

The increase in movement of goods owing to globalization, liberalization, changing consumer lifestyles, and economic development has led to the increase in demand for better protection and handling of goods. The availability of wide variety of plastics and their adherence to regulatory standards make plastics the most extensively used material in packaging. Plastics also help provide better aesthetics to packaging as they offer ease in providing the required color, shape, size, utility, printing, weight, protection, and others.

The growth of plastics in the packing industry is driving the demand of masterbatch. It is widely used in the plastics industry for coloring. The growing importance of color in marketing and branding activities is further fueling growth of the masterbatch market.

As MRC informed earlier, the size of the global colour masterbatch market is projected to reach USD4.75 bln by 2021, registering a CAGR of 5.6% between 2016 and 2021, as per MarketsandMarkets. The growth of the colour masterbatch market is triggered by the rising demand from the packaging segment. It is widely used for industrial and household purposes. Change in lifestyle and globalization have triggered the demand from the packaging industry, which drives the market of color masterbatch. Colour masterbatch for standard color to account for the major share of the market till 2021.

Clariant unveils its most efficient styrene catalyst for ultra-low steam-to-oil ratio conditions

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Clariant, a world supplier of specialty chemicals, has launched its new high-performance ethyl benzene dehydrogenation catalyst StyroMax UL3, said the producer on its site.

The catalyst achieves outstanding activity and selectivity at conditions of ultra-low steam-to-oil ratio (also known as steam-to-hydrocarbon ratio, SHR), producing styrene monomer far more efficiently than many other catalysts. StyroMax UL3 was officially launched at the Clariant Styrene Seminar 2016, which was held from October 12 to 14 in Xi’an, China.

StyroMax UL3 solves a critical problem in styrene monomer production. Styrene monomer is manufactured from ethyl benzene using superheated steam as energy source, and relies on catalysts to facilitate the dehydrogenation reaction. As generating steam consumes considerable energy, the latest plant process designs rely on ultra-low SHR conditions in order to reduce costs. However, previous generations of styrene catalysts have performed suboptimally at such low SHR conditions, demonstrating either favorable activity or selectivity, but not both.

In contrast, Clariant’s StyroMax UL3 catalyst has been proven to offer superior activity as well as enhanced selectivity at ultra-low SHR conditions (1.0 by weight). The new catalyst was installed at the Grand Pacific Petrochemical Corporation (GPPC) styrene production plant in Taiwan in May 2016, and design SM production rate has already been achieved at lower temperatures than previous operation. Also, catalyst selectivity has improved by 0.5% compared to former catalyst performance.

The higher activity of StyroMax UL3 increases yields, while its improved selectivity decreases the occurrence of by-products such as toluene and benzene, which are typically less valuable than styrene monomer. For producers, this directly translates into significant savings and increased productivity. Moreover, the catalyst’s optimal performance at ultra-low SHR ratios now makes styrene monomer production a much more sustainable process.

As MRC informed earlier, Clariant AG reported that its third-quarter EBITDA before exceptional items was 208 million Swiss francs compared to 207 million francs in the same time period last year.

Clariant AG is a Swiss chemical company and a world leader in the production of specialty chemicals for the textile, printing, mining and metallurgical industries. It is engaged in processing crude oil products in pigments, plastics and paints.

Pemex plans crude processing ramp-up by year-end

МOSCOW (MRC) -- Mexico's state oil company Pemex plans to ramp up crude processing to 960 Mbpd from 920 Mbpd by the end of the year, after refining hit the lowest levels in at least five years in September following a series of plant stoppages, said Reuters.

Carlos Murrieta, director general of Pemex's industrial transformation subsidiary, said on Monday that the company would spend around USD120 MM by year-end on maintenance at 24 units halted at its six domestic refineries.

"We are making a big effort to designate resources that we are moving from different parts toward maintenance ... and our expectation is to reach levels above 1.1 MMbpd by March/April," the official said in a telephone interview with Reuters.

Pemex's six refineries have a combined processing capacity of 1.64 MMbpd, but Murrieta said the optimal processing level would be between 1.20 MMbpd and 1.25 MMbpd, or around 75% of total capacity. He also said that in 2017 the company would ramp up spending on the maintenance of refineries, many of which have faced unscheduled stoppages.

Still, the company's crude oil exports rose to 1.42 MMbpd in September, as the company increased oil shipments to Europe and the Middle East. The company, which has struggled with falling production and a hefty debt load, has been hit by lower oil revenues. Pemex's production fell to about 2.1 MMbpd at the end of September, or down nearly 8% versus levels at the end of 2015.

However, the company expects to stabilize its finances by 2019-2020. Murrieta said the company hopes to seal tie-ups at refineries in Tula, Salina Cruz, and Salamanca, although it would aim to keep stakes of least 50%.

"What we see is a refinery where they (the partners) participate," he said. "We offer our existing infrastructure, our partner puts up capital, we reconfigure it and become joint owners," he said.

"I would expect that by the middle of next year, there will be solid news," he said, when asked when Pemex expected to seal the first such alliance.

As MRC informed earlier, in April 2016, a massive explosion rocked 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. Three people had died in the blast and as many as 45 were injured.

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.