Petrobras cuts 5-year investment plan

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Brazilian state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA (Petobras) has outlined an ambitious target for debt reduction it said won't impact oil production, raising familiar concerns at a company that has grown famous for misplaced optimism, reported The Wall Street Journal.

In a closely watched annual presentation of its five-year business plan, Petrobras said its domestic output of oil and liquefied natural gas, or LNG, will rise to 2.77 million barrels a day in 2021, up from an average of 2.09 million in the first eight months of this year.

At the same time, the company said it would slash capital expenditures to USD74.1 billion in the 2017-21 period, a 25% reduction from the 2015-19 period. Petrobras also plans to sell USD19.5 billion in assets during 2017-18, up from a target of USD15.1 billion in 2015-16.

Petrobras' lofty goals were met with skepticism by some outsiders, who expect the austerity measures to weigh on its production and, consequently, cash flow. Adriano Pires, a longtime Brazilian oil consultant, said the company’s oil output will likely fall to around 2.3 million barrels a day given the cuts it is making.

"The explanations they gave today at the press conference didn’t convince me," Mr. Pires said. "Optimism has always been Petrobras’ original sin."

Roughly between 2008 and 2014, Petrobras’ business plans became known for increasingly euphoric outlooks that ultimately forecast its domestic oil output rising to 5 million barrels a day by the end of this decade. To develop massive offshore oil reserves, along with Brazil’s refining capacity, the company budgeted as much as USD220 billion in investments for a five-year period.

But since announcing the USD15.1 billion goal in mid-2015, the company has raised just over USD4 billion, highlighting investor concerns about Petrobras’ ability to get good deals for its oil and gas assets amid the current downturn in commodity prices.

As MRC reported earlier, Petrobras is seeking to sell its 5.8 billion Brazilian real (USD1.4 billion) stake in petrochemical producer Braskem SA. Petrobras hired Brazilian bank Banco Bradesco SA as a financial adviser and has started to pitch the sale to foreign investors. Petrobras owns a 36 percent stake in Braskem, Latin America's largest petrochemical producer. The sale would help Petrobras meet its target of selling USD15.1 billion worth of assets in 2015-16, a key part of its plan to cut debt as oil prices plunge to 12-year lows.

Headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, Petrobras is an integrated energy firm. Petrobras' activities include exploration, exploitation and production of oil from reservoir wells, shale and other rocks as well as refining, processing, trade and transport of oil and oil products, natural gas and other fluid hydrocarbons, in addition to other energy-related activities.

Arkema finalizes the divestment of its activated carbon and filter aid business

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Arkema finalizes the divestment of its Activated Carbon and Filter Aid business With around EUR93 million sales, said the producer in its press release.

Arkema’s Activated Carbon and Filter Aid business employs over 300 people, who will now be joining the American
group Calgon Carbon, a leader in activated carbon and in purification and filtration solutions.

With this divestment concluded for a EUR145 million enterprise value (9.5 x Ebitda), Arkema actively continues the
Group’s refocusing on its core businesses, after finalizing the divestment of Sunclear in November 2015, which
represented sales of some EUR180 million.

We remind that, as MRC wrote before, Bostik, the specialty adhesives business line of Arkema, has expanded its cementitious products manufacturing capacities, based on its world-class Polymer Modified Binder (PMB) technology, at its Seremban plant in Malaysia. As a leading global adhesive specialist for construction, consumer and industrial markets, Bostik will be able to serve growing construction market demand in Central Malaysia, North Malaysia and Sabah regions.

On 2 February 2015, Arkema finalized the acquisition of Bostik, the world's No. 3 in adhesives.

Arkema is a leading European supplier of chlorochemicals and PVC. Kynar and Kynar Flex are registered trademarks of Arkema Inc. The company's business portfolio spans high-performance materials, industrial specialties and coating solutions. Reporting annual sales of EUR7.7 billion in 2015, the company employ approximately 19,000 people worldwide and operate in close to 50 countries.

A. Schulman to make cuts to its middle management staff

MOSCOW (MRC) -- On the heels of recent financial losses, material supplier A. Schulman Inc. will eliminate approximately 60 positions, mainly from its middle management ranks, said Canplastics.

According to a Nov. 14 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Fairlawn, Ohio-based company anticipates that a total annual pre-tax savings of approximately USD5 million to USD6 million will be realized from reorganization.

The company has not released any information about the timeline of the downsizing.

In the first week of November, Schulman reported net sales of USD604 million for its fourth quarter of 2016, down from USD674 in the same prior year quarter – a decline of 8.3%. The company’s net sales for the U.S. and Canada were USD158 million, down 18.6%; and in Europe, Middle East and Africa net sales were USD299 million, down 6.7%.

In total, Schulman expects to post a loss of more than USD350 million for its 2016 fiscal year, due to what the company described as problems relating to its purchase of Citadel Plastics in 2015.

As MRC informed earlier, A. Schulman Inc. announced that it has expanded its existing compounding capacity by adding two new production lines at the Kerpen plant in Germany. In addition to the two twin screw extruders, the company has invested in a fully automatic packaging line.

A. Schulman is a global plastics supplier, headquartered in Akron, Ohio, and a leading international supplier of high-performance plastic compounds and resins, which are used as raw materials in a variety of markets. A. Schulman has 33 manufacturing facilities globally. A. Schulman's fiscal third-quarter earnings fell 69% amid continued sluggishness in European markets and higher-than-expected costs in Latin America, where the company has been consolidating its Brazilian operations.

Indian refiners take advantage of Iranian price discounts

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Iran overtook political rival Saudi Arabia as India's top oil supplier in October, shipping data showed, just ahead of a producers' meeting this month to hammer out the details on output cuts aimed at reining in a global glut, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Iran used to be India's second-biggest oil supplier, a position it ceded to Iraq after tough Western sanctions over its nuclear development program limited Tehran's exports and access to finance.

But India's oil imports from Iran have shot up this year after those sanctions were lifted in January. In October they surged more than threefold compared with the same month last year, rising to 789,000 bpd, according to ship tracking data and a report compiled by Thomson Reuters Oil Research and Forecasts.

Iran's surge to the No.1 spot is due partly to less available crude from Saudi Arabia, which has increased its capacity to refine oil instead of just exporting more crude.

"Saudi Arabia's refining capacity has increased over time so it is not in a position to increase its exports further, whereas Iran is better placed to raise its output and sales to India," said Ehsaan Ul Haq of U.K.-based consultancy KBC Energy.

Indian refiners including Reliance Industries Ltd, operator of the world's biggest refinery complex at Jamnagar, that had stopped imports from Iran during the sanctions period have also returned as buyers of Iranian oil.

Iran produces almost 4 million bpd of oil and exports 2.4 million bpd. Tehran's exports dropped to 1 million bpd during sanctions, down from a peak of almost 3 million bpd in 2011, before tougher Western sanctions were implemented.

Gaining the top position as oil supplier to the world's third-biggest importer, even if only for one month, comes at a sensitive time.

As MRC reported earlier, India's daily oil imports from Iran in August surged to their highest in at least 15 years as the OPEC producer boosted its shipments to recoup market share ceded to rivals Saudi Arabia and Iraq under pressure from economic sanctions. Private refiner, Essar Oil, was the top Indian client of Iran in August, followed by Indian Oil Corp. and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd. India received about 576 Mbpd of Iranian oil in August, up about 10% from July, according to trade sources and ship arrival data compiled by Thomson Reuters Supply Chain & Commodities Research.

Amcor buys Chinese flexible packaging supplier Hebei Qite

MOSCOW (MRC) -- In a deal that will expand its flexible packaging operations in China, global packaging supplier Amcor Ltd. has purchased Hebei Qite Packing Co. Ltd, said the producer on its site.

The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Qite has one plant located in Hebei, North China and the business generates sales of over USD28 million from the sale of flexible packaging products to large domestic customers within the dairy and food segments.

"Amcor continues to have substantial opportunities to grow our flexible packaging business in the Asian region. Globally and especially within Asia, China is a very attractive growth market for flexible packaging. This acquisition will enhance our already attractive platform for growth with new and existing customers in the important Northern region," Amcor CEO Ron Delia said in a statement.

Amcor currently has a total of eleven flexible packaging plants in China, including two plants in close proximity to Qite in Northern China.

As it was informed earlier, in the early November, Sonoco completed the sale of its rigid plastics blow molding operations to Amcor, a global leader of rigid and flexible packaging products, for USD280 million.

Amcor Limited is an Australian-based multinational packaging company. It operates manufacturing plants in 42 countries. It is the world's largest manufacturer of plastic bottles.