Aramco tax cut lifts company's value by USD1 trillion

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Arabia's decision to cut tax paid by national oil giant Saudi Aramco has increased its value by USD1 trillion, expected to be the world's largest, said Reuters.

The government said on Monday it was cutting the tax rate for Aramco to 50 percent from 85 percent as part of preparations for next year's IPO, which would sell as much as 5 percent of the company.

"By drastically reducing the tax rate, more cash will go to the potential owners of Saudi Aramco compared to the government," said Espen Erlingsen, vice-president for analysis at Rystad Energy, an oil and gas consulting service based in Oslo and New York.

"Assuming long-term oil prices averaging $75 per barrel, the valuation of the company increases from USD0.4 trillion to USD1.4 trillion," he said in a report.

That is good news for the Saudi government, which hopes to raise money to cover a USD79 billion budget deficit and invest in new industries as it tries to diversify the economy in an era of low oil prices.

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who leads economic reforms, has said the IPO will value Aramco at a minimum of USD2 trillion. A number much smaller than that could jeopardize the offer and damage his own political position.

Erlingsen calculated Aramco's value based on discounted free cash flow for each oil field. Under the new tax rate, much of the company's payments to the government are expected to be in the form of dividends, not tax.

"The total value of Saudi Aramco's revenue after costs is around USD3.4 trillion. With the old tax system, around 88 percent of the value went to the government through taxes and royalties, while with the new system around 60 percent of the profit goes to the government," Erlingsen said.

He predicted oil prices would reach USD75 by the time of the IPO, which would be near the long-term price needed to justify the share prices of other large global oil companies.

Global consultants Sanford C. Bernstein & Co said in a report that since Aramco had not released detailed financial information, it was impossible to make a reliable estimate of its value. But they said the size of Saudi oil reserves, larger than those of other oil companies, suggested Aramco could look cheap even at USD2 trillion - although that figure excluded factors such as political risks.

Using a different valuation method, enterprise value per flowing barrel, suggests a figure in the range of USD1 trillion to USD1.5 trillion, though the expected long life of Aramco's reserves compared with other companies means Aramco could command a premium to those numbers, Bernstein said.

Investment bank Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co estimated a valuation of USD1.1 trillion for Aramco, assuming free cash flow of USD55 billion a year from its upstream operations.

SABIC to feature lightweight PP and plastic-metal hybrid solutions

MOSCOW (MRC) -- With the automotive industry’s continued focus on reducing emissions and increasing fuel efficiency, materials-maker SABIC is presenting a range of solutions at this year’s VDI Plastics in Automotive Engineering Congress in Mannheim, Germany, as per the company's press release.

The solutions cross a range of application segments - from a vehicle’s exterior and glazing to components like instrument panel carriers and structural reinforcements for the body-in-white (BIW). Combined, these solutions can potentially reduce the overall weight of a vehicle by 13 to 15 kilograms.

"Our featured solutions at this year’s VDI Congress bring forward some novel approaches or highlight progress in other technologies," said Scott Fallon, global leader of SABIC’s automotive business. "I especially like that we’re showcasing answers for the industry that can ease multiple pain points. They not only help OEMs shed weight. They add value in other ways, too."

A good example of this is plastic-metal hybrid (PMH) structural reinforcements for the vehicle’s BIW. A PMH floor rocker reinforcement, for instance, can help reduce weight by up to 45% vs. an all-steel alternative. In this component, NORYL GTX resin (MPPE/PA) from SABIC combines with steel to form a very efficient energy-absorption crash box structure. This saves 1 kilogram (kg) in weight and maintains the required level of crashworthiness. The component is an industry-first use of plastic in a BIW reinforcement without the use of structural adhesives or foams. Use of the NORYL GTX resin allows the part to go through the automaker’s e-coat process with the rest of the BIW. Additional opportunities across the BIW means that a manufacturer could save up to 8 kg of weight with these hybrid solutions vs. all-metal reinforcements.

SABIC is also featuring an injection-molded, foamed instrument panel carrier. The part uses the company’s STAMAX resin (LGFPP; 60YK270E grade) with SABIC PP resin (612MK10EE grade) in a structural foaming process.

In this approach, the manufacturer injects the material into the mold with a foaming agent. Immediately afterwards, the mold is opened a few millimeters (mm), controlling the final density of the part. During the process, the foaming agent produces CO2 bubbles that create a foamed core. The final produced part is both light and stiff. SABIC’s solution is emission-optimized and meets the VDA278 industry standard. Other potential benefits from this foamed STAMAX resin solution include the need for less material during processing, shorter cycle times, and a better balance of impact and stiffness.

Another PP-based solution from SABIC on display is a lightweight, thin-wall front bumper on a recently launched 2017 model. This part uses SABIC PP compound (8650 grade) to optimize the thickness to 2.5 mm, which can save more than 10 percent in weight. Low shrinkage, excellent impact-stiffness balance and potentially reduced cycle times are among the advantages of this approach. SABIC’s material is an open compound, which allows for greater dimensional flexibility for molders.

SABIC continues to highlight progress in plastic glazing applications. This time, the featured part is an in-production rear quarter window, the largest in the world in LEXAN resin (GLX143 grade). A two-shot injection compression molding process combining LEXAN resin with CYCOLOY resin (PC/ABS; XCM830 grade) results in a final part that is up to 40 percent lighter vs. conventional glass. This glazing solution allows for design features not possible in glass, as well. Notably, this window is the first from a new production facility in China devoted to the manufacture of mass-produced LEXAN PC glazing parts.

Finally, SABIC is highlighting ongoing development work in the use of unidirectional laminates. The idea is to combine the material supplier’s UDMAX tape with STAMAX resin to achieve further weight reduction, while improving mechanical performance. UDMAX tapes are fiber-reinforced thermoplastics, which offer high strength and stiffness, good processability and fatigue resistance.

As MRC informed before, in October 2016, Sabic announced that it had developed next generation low density polyethylene (LDPE) foram grades. The first product of a new generation of LDPE foam grades from SABIC was designed to increase production efficiency at the foam manufacturer.

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) ranks among the worldпїЅs top petrochemical companies. The company is among the worldпїЅs market leaders in the production of polyethylene, polypropylene and other advanced thermoplastics, glycols, methanol and fertilizers.

Egypt to halve arrears with oil companies in coming weeks

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Egypt expects to cut the USD3.5 billion euros it owes to international oil companies by around half in coming weeks, the Egyptian oil minister said, reported Reuters.

"We have made a lot of progress on paying off arrears," Tarek El Molla said at an oil and gas conference.

The minister also said he expected to finalize an agreement to import crude oil directly from Iraq in a month at the most.

"We will import around 1 million barrels a month," he said.

Asked when Egypt might become an exporter of oil and gas, Molla said the country would be self sufficient by the end of 2018.

"Starting from 2019 and beyond we can start talking about exporting," he said.

We remind that, asAs MRC informed before, in June 2016, Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. announced that it had received a contract to provide detailed engineering and procurement assistance services to TCI Sanmar Chemical for its PVC-2 polyvinyl chloride plant expansion project in Port Said, Egypt. When complete, the PVC-2 facility’s production capacity is expected to be 200 kilo-tonnes per annum (KTPA). Combined with its other global facilities, this takes TCI Sanmar’s total PVC production capacity to 400 KTPA, strengthening the company’s position as one of the largest PVC producers in the Middle East and North Africa.

Troubled California oil refinery puts PBF turnaround skills to the test

MOSCOW (MRC) -- An aging California refinery is testing PBF Energy Inc's reputation as a turnaround whiz, with mounting production woes and costly repairs at the 88-year-old plant throwing a wrench into efforts to quickly revive profits, said Reuters.

The refinery, acquired from ExxonMobil Corp for USD537.5 MM, has reported frequent breakdowns since the deal closed last July. On April 1, a regional air-quality regulator expects to consider the plant's frequent breakdowns and emissions, along with a plan to enhance safety with an expensive phase out of a chemical used in gasoline production.

PBF is spending USD100 MM this year to improve operations, and is budgeting another USD50 MM for upgrading its electric power to prevent outages. Phasing out the use of modified hydrofluoric acid at the plant presents a potentially larger bill that was not on the table when PBF bought the refinery last July.

This week, the company lowered its estimate of first-quarter crude throughput at Torrance by 16%. It has said the overhaul would allow the Torrance refinery to boost production and hit profitability goals. "These things will be fixed," PBF Chief Executive Tom Nimbley assured analysts on an earnings call last month.

The problems are weighing on earnings. Last year, the company missed its earnings goals due at least partly to outages at Torrance and at PBF's Delaware City, Del., refinery. It posted an operating loss of USD61.7 million in the fourth quarter compared with earnings of USD168 MM a year earlier.

"We left USD75 MM on the table in the fourth quarter and more than USD300 MM in terms of lost profit opportunities for the year," Nimbley said, discussing fourth quarter results. The push to phase out hydrofluoric acid, widely used in refining and semiconductor industries, came after a tank holding the chemical suffered a "near miss" from a 2015 explosion, according to a federal probe of the blast.

Hydrofluoric acid can form a toxic cloud at room temperature and exposure can cause severe health problems and lead to death. An estimated 330,000 people live or work near the refinery.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District may push to adopt a rule to phase out use of the acid by December. A study commissioned by the air regulator estimated switching to sulfuric acid would cost around USD100 million for each of the refineries in the region that use it.

PBF said in a statement that figure was "exceptionally low," and called a switch to sulfuric acid for gasoline output cost-prohibitive. A company executive has said the switch could worsen the plant's emissions. A refiner in Texas is building a similar unit for USD300 MM.

"I see no way they could avoid doing the upgrade if they wanted to stay in the gasoline business," said Robert Campbell, an analyst at consultancy Energy Aspects. Acquisitions made PBF the fourth largest independent refiner in the United States. It proved its skills by buying a Delaware City refinery, overhauling it and quickly cutting annual expenses by USD200 MM.

But the Torrance deal was troubled from the start. Closing was contingent on the plant running 15 days straight without a breakdown, but PBF went ahead despite an incident 10 days ahead of closing, saying it was not material and Exxon covered repair costs.

Huntsman provides restart time-line for Pori, Finland facility

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Huntsman Corporation announced that positive trends during the first quarter 2017 are strengthening its business, said the company on its website.

Based on current market conditions, we expect first quarter 2017 adjusted EBITDA to exceed the USD274 million of adjusted EBITDA during the same quarter in 2016. Notably, we are seeing continued strength in our MDI urethanes business, specifically in the Asia Pacific region. Within our Pigments and Additives division, TiO2 price increases announced for implementation January 1st have taken effect. In addition we have been able to mitigate a portion of the impact from the outage at our Pori, Finland facility through sales of undamaged inventory such that we now expect the first quarter EBITDA impact to be less than previously anticipated.

As previously announced, on January 30, 2017 we experienced a fire at our titanium dioxide facility in Pori, Finland. Importantly there were no injuries. The site has 130,000 metric tons of capacity, representing approximately 15% of our titanium dioxide capacity and approximately 2% of global demand. We are currently able to produce a small amount of product at the facility, and expect to be fully operational around year end 2018. We expect to restart portions of the facility in phases according to the following schedule.
• ~20% capacity within 2Q17
• ~40% capacity within 2Q18
• ~100% capacity around year end 2018

As MRC informed earlier, Huntsman is planning to close its titanium dioxide (TiO2) manufacturing facility in Calais, France, by the third quarter of this year. As a part of the plan, the white end finishing and packaging operation of the Calais TiO2 facility will shut down, leading to the closure of the entire facility.

Huntsman Corporation is a publicly traded global manufacturer and marketer of differentiated chemicals with 2016 revenues of approximately USD10 billion.