Egypt nearing deal with Iraq in search for crude oil imports

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Egypt is nearing a deal to import crude oil from Iraq and is looking to other countries to help secure supply, Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation's chief Tarek al-Hadidi said, reported Reuters.

for additional crude comes after Saudi Arabia's state oil firm Saudi Aramco halted shipments of oil products to Egypt last year.

The USD23 billion Saudi aid deal had included 700,000 t of refined oil products per month for five years. Aramco has never provided a reason for why the deal was halted.

Egypt has turned to the spot market in recent months to make up for the missing products.

The EGPC last month announced it was seeking up to 1.012 MMt of gasoil for delivery in February and March compared to around 200,000 t of gasoil per month before the Aramco cutoff.

Egypt has turned to Iraq in search of a longer term solution to make up for the shortfall, and is in talks to import 1 MM barrels per month of crude oil from Baghdad, which would then be refined into petroleum products in Egypt.

An Egyptian delegation is set to visit Iraq this month to work out final details.

"We are now in the final stages with the Iraqi government and ministry of oil in Iraq to supply 1 million barrels per month, this will be a good way to secure our crude supplies," EGPC's Hadidi told an oil conference in Cairo on Tuesday.

Hadidi said Egypt would look for similar deals with other countries as a way of securing its crude supplies.

"We are trying to have an agreement with other countries as well…government to government deals," he said.

As MRC informed before, in 2015, CB&I was awarded a contract by Carbon Holdings for the license and engineering design of a polypropylene unit to be built in Ain Sokhna, Egypt. The unit will be aligned to the Tahrir petrochemical complex and use CB&I's Novolen technology to produce 350,000 tpy of polypropylene.

Field narrows in bidding for Italy's TotalErg petrol stations

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The field of prospective bidders for the Italian petrol station network belonging to Total and Italian energy group Erg has narrowed, leaving only a handful of interested parties undertaking due diligence checks on the business, sources familiar with the matter said, reported Reuters.

A first round of bidding for the TotalErg JV company drew to a close at the end of January and binding bids for the network are now expected some time in early April, the sources said.

"It's a tough sale and things are moving slowly," one of the sources said, adding that management presentations had yet to take place.

API Anonima Petroli, the privately-owned oil refiner which owns 2,600 stations of its own, is one of the industrial players left in contention, along with Qatar Petroleum, the sources said.

Rival operator Kuwait Petroleum International (Q8) has said it is not in the running. "We monitor the market for opportunities but in this phase we are not interested in the asset," a Q8 spokesman said.

TotalErg declined to comment, while no one at API or Qatar Petroleum could immediately be reached for comment.

TotalErg, which controls close to 2,600 service stations and has a market share of some 11%, appointed HSBC and Rothschild to sell the business that could be worth as much as USD845 million.

But Italy has around 21,000 service stations across the country, almost twice the number in France and almost three times that of Britain, and the sources said a new owner of TotalErg might want to rationalize.

Private equity firms Advent and Apollo have also been admitted to the final stages of bidding, the sources said, while Carlyle Group and KKR decided to pull out.

Some of the sources said Advent and Apollo were considering teaming up with API to prepare a joint offer.

A deal with API would create Italy's biggest service station operator, ahead of Eni and Kuwait Petroleum International which last year bought a network from Royal Dutch Shell.

As MRC informed previously, in September 2015, French oil major Total said it agreed to sell a majority stake of 50% plus 1% share in Geosel Manosque to a 50-50 consortium of EDF Invest and Ardian as part of its USD10 billon disposal plan. The transaction values Total"s interest at 265 million euros (USD297 million), excluding inventory.

Besides, we remind that in late 2014, Total permanently shut its high density polyethylene (HDPE) line. The plant was shut permanently owing to weak margins which had arisen on account of cheap imports in the region. Located at Antwerp in Belgium, the line has a production capacity of 70,000 mt/year.

Total S.A. is a French multinational oil and gas company and one of the six "Supermajor" oil companies in the world with business in Europe, the United States, the Middle East and Asia. The company"s petrochemical products cover two main groups: base chemicals and the consumer polymers (polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene) that are derived from them.

CB&I awarded CATOFIN technology contract for Chinese petchem plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- CB&I has announced it has been awarded a contract by Dongguan Grand Resource Science & Technology Co. Ltd. for the license and engineering design of a grassroots propane dehydrogenation unit to be built in Dongguan City, Guangdong Province, China, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The unit will use CB&I's CATOFIN catalytic dehydrogenation technology and Clariant's CATOFIN catalyst to produce 600,000 mtpy of propylene. This unit has been optimized to reduce equipment piece-count and lower propane consumption.

"CB&I is pleased to have been selected by Dongguan Grand Resource to provide the CATOFIN technology license for this new petrochemical facility in China," said Philip K. Asherman, CB&I's President and Chief Executive Officer. "Our CATOFIN technology continues to demonstrate low cost of production while providing proven reliability and flexibility to our customers."

As MRC informed before, in December 2015, China-based Hengli Petrochemical (Dalian) Refinery awarded a contract to CB&I to use its Catofin catalytic dehydrogenation technology for a grassroots propane and butane dehydrogenation unit to be constructed in Dalian of Liaoning Province. Under the deal, CB&I will license and provide engineering design for the proposed dehydrogenation unit. As well as CB&I's Catofin technology, the unit will use Clariant's Catofin catalyst to process 300,000t per annum of propane and 600,000t per year of isobutane feedstock for jointly produce propylene and isobutylene.

Israel Chemicals beats profit forecast in Q4

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Fertiliser producer Israel Chemicals (ICL) reported a smaller than expected drop in fourth-quarter profit and revenue on Wednesday, helped by its speciality products and record potash sales, said Reuters.

ICL, which produces about a third of the world's bromine and is the sixth-largest potash producer, has sought to counter low commodities prices by diversifying into products such as advanced additives and speciality fertilisers.

The Israel Corp subsidiary, which has exclusive permits in Israel to extract minerals from the Dead Sea, said that the prolonged commodities downturn had reduced minerals margins and that potash prices remain its main challenge this year despite a modest recovery from trough levels.

Net income excluding one-off items was USD114 million for the three months to Dec. 31, against USD180 million a year earlier and a forecast of USD73 million by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue dropped 6 percent to USD1.34 billion, beating a forecast of USD1.29 billion.

Israel Chemicals Ltd., also known as ICL, is a multi-national manufacturing concern that develops, produces and markets fertilizers, metals and other special-purpose chemical products. ICL serves primarily three markets: agriculture, food and engineered materials. ICL produces approximately a third of the world’s bromine, and is the world’s sixth-largest potash producer. It is a manufacturer of specialty fertilizers and specialty phosphates, flame retardants and water treatment solutions.

Asahi Kasei and Bluestar plan joint venture for mPPE business in China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Asahi Kasei has concluded a joint venture agreement with China National Bluestar (Group) Co., Ltd. (Bluestar), a subsidiary of China National Chemical Corp. (ChemChina), for the integrated production and sale of Xyron modified polyphenylene ether (mPPE) in China, including its intermediate materials 2,6-xylenol and polyphenylene ether (PPE), said the company on its site.

A final investment decision is conditional upon receipt of antitrust clearance, procedures to establish the joint venture, and detailed evaluation of the economics of the joint business.

Under its "Cs for Tomorrow 2018" medium-term management initiative, Asahi Kasei is advancing a strategic global expansion of its engineering plastics business in the Material sector centered on automotive applications. Xyron mPPE, in particular, is expected to enjoy strong demand growth in China in environmental and energy applications including electric vehicle battery modules and solar panel components. Currently, Asahi Kasei manufactures intermediate materials for mPPE in Singapore, and its global production capacity for Xyron is 62,000 tons per year.

The joint venture with Bluestar will enable Asahi Kasei to expand its business for mPPE in the strategically important Chinese market.

Bluestar, China’s only manufacturer of 2,6-xylenol and PPE, sought to expand capacity to meet growing demand and to enter the mPPE business. The joint venture to manufacture and sell 2,6-xylenol, PPE, and mPPE will leverage Bluestar’s technology for 2,6-xylenol and PPE together with Asahi Kasei’s mPPE compounding technology and applications development capability to facilitate further expansion in the growing Chinese market.

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