Reliance commissions worlds largest and most complex Ethane Project

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Reliance is pleased to announce successful and flawless completion of its Ethane Project, including commissioning of its ethane receipt & handling facilities and ethane cracking, at its Dahej Manufacturing Facility in Gujarat in a world record time of less than three years, said the company on its site.

Reliance is the first company to globally conceptualize large-scale imports of ethane from North America as feedstock for its cracker portfolio in India. The project involved seamless integration of several elements across a complex infrastructure value chain. This includes securing ethane refrigeration capacity in the US Gulf coast; delivery of dedicated Very Large Ethane Carriers (VLECs) to carry ethane from the US Gulf Coast to the West Coast of India;
construction of ethane receipt and handling facilities; laying pipelines and upgrading crackers (to receive ethane) at Dahej, Hazira and Nagothane Manufacturing Facilities.

This successful start-up underlines ours ability to build world-scale capacities and infrastructure using complex technologies, such as marine transportation of cryogenic ethane, handling of ethane at (-) 90 deg.C, supply of ethane to the crackers in an energy efficient way and pump ethane from Dahej to other locations. The execution of this project at this scale and magnitude is a first in the world.

The Shale Gas industry in North America has grown exponentially in the past 5 years. Consequently ethane has become one of the most competitively priced feedstock for US crackers.

The supply of Ethane to our crackers at Dahej, Hazira and Nagothane will provide feedstock security and flexibility, enabling us to select the most optimal feed mix based on market conditions.

This will improve the cost competitiveness of our existing crackers and enable us to optimize the portfolio in a volatile market environment.

Chemical production in Russia grew by 7.5% in January-March 2017

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Output of chemical products increased by 7.5% in the first three months of the year, as per Rosstat's data.

According to the Federal Service of State Statistics, last month's production of basic chemicals grew by 9.4% from March 2016. Benzene and caustic soda accounted for the greatest increase in the output.

268,000 tonnes of ethylene were produced in March, compared to 238,000 tonnes a month earlier. Overall, over 773,000 tonnes of this olefin were manufactured in the first three month of 2017, up by 8.2% year on year. Such a major increase in the output was caused by stable operations of Angarsk Polymer Plant this year, whereas last year the plant shut down its production in early February due to technical issues.

Last month's production of benzene rose to 131,000 tonnes from 117,000 tonnes in February. Overall output of this product exceeded 378,000 tonnes over the stated period, up by 13.6%year on year. The increase in production was ensured by Angarsk Polymer Plant.

March production of xylenes was 45,400 tonnes, compared to 44,000 tonnes a month earlier. January-March output of xylenes was 146,600 tonnes, down by 6.8% year on year.

March production of sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) was 110,000 tonnes (100% of the basic substance), up by 12.1% year on year. Overall output of caustic soda grew to 307,900 tonnes in January-March 2017, up by 12.3% year on year. In February 2016, due to force majeure for ethylene supply, SayanskKhimplast was forced to shut down its caustic soda production, the outage continued until July.

Last month's production of mineral fertilizers was 1.828 mln tonnes (in terms of 100% nutrients), up 8.5% from February. Russian plants produced over 5.368 mln tonnes of fertilizers in the first three months of 2017, up by 8.3% year onyear. Production of all types of fertilizers increased, with potash fertilizers, the output of which grew by 13.9%, accounted for the greatest increase.

Oman plans IPOs for downstream energy firms

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Oman plans to offer shares in some state-owned downstream energy companies to the public, partly to raise money as low oil prices pressure its finances, Omani Oil and Gas Minister Mohammad bin Hamad al-Rumhy said on Thursday, reported Reuters.

The companies include Salalah Methanol Co and a drilling company, Rumhy told reporters without naming the drilling firm or giving any financial details.

Oman has been considering privatization of a wide range of state firms for several years but has not yet moved ahead with the program, and Rumhy did not say when the initial public offers might take place.

Salalah Methanol, founded in 2006, is owned 90% by state-run Oman Oil Co and 10% by Takamul Investment Co, and has a methanol production capacity of 3,000 tpd, according to its website.

As MRC informed before, Oman Refineries and Petroleum Industries Company (Orpic) plans to raise capacity of its polypropylene (PP) plant to 340,000 tpa of high quality PP from 200,000 tpa. The plant is part of the government's vision to develop the petrochemical industry. It is also part of the efforts made by the Sultanate to diversify sources of national income and benefit from gas production.

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait signal likely extension of oil supply cuts

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Leading Gulf oil producers Saudi Arabia and Kuwait gave the clearest signal yet that OPEC plans to extend into the second half of the year a deal with non-OPEC producers to curb oil supplies, reported Reuters.

Consensus is growing among oil producers that their supply restraint agreement should be extended after its initial six-month term, but there is as yet no agreement, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said on Thursday.

"There is consensus building but it's not done yet," he told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in the United Arab Emirates. Asked about non-OPEC producer Russia, Falih replied: "We are talking to all countries. We have not reached an agreement for sure, but the consensus is building."

Kuwait's oil minister Essam al-Marzouq, at the same event, said he expected to see an extension of the agreement.

"We have a noticeable increase in compliance from non-OPEC, which shows the importance of extending the agreement," Marzouq said.

"Russia is on board preliminarily. Compliance from Russia is very good. Everyone will continue on the same level," he said.

If OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers decide to extend their six-month agreement, the cuts may become less deep as oil demand is expected to be stronger for seasonal reasons in the second half of 2017, Marzouq said.

He said OPEC would extend the deal if there was consensus among non-OPEC producers, and that producers were always looking for more non-OPEC members to join the agreement.

One African country has expressed interest in joining, Marzouq said, without identifying it.

OPEC is keen that non-OPEC play its part in reducing world inventories to support a price rise that has stalled near USD55 a barrel. Crude is up from lows last year below USD30.

OPEC meets on May 25 to discuss extending supply curbs with non-OPEC countries that total 1.8 MMbbl daily, two-thirds of that from OPEC.

Falih said there was "an initial agreement" that the oil cuts may need extending to drain high global inventories. He said talks were ongoing.

"Our target is the level of inventories. This is the main indicator for the success of the initiative," Falih said.

While inventories held at sea and in producer countries have dropped, they remain stubbornly high in consumer regions, particularly in Asia and the United States.

The International Energy Agency said last week that inventories in industrialized countries were still 10% above the five-year average, a key gauge for OPEC.

Omani Oil and Gas Minister Mohammad bin Hamad al-Rumhy said a "quite high" number of producers favored extending the supply restraint agreement.

"The number of countries that are supporting the extension I think would be quite high, percentage-wise," Rumhy told reporters.

However, Iraq may seek to be exempt and ask to boost its own output, the leader of the nation's Shi'ite ruling coalition Ammar al-Hakim told Reuters.

Speaking in Cairo, Hakim cautioned that Baghdad could ask to be exempted from taking part in the supply curbs as the nation needed its oil income to fight Islamic State.

"Given these sensitive circumstances, it is the right of Iraq to hope for an exemption by the other OPEC member states and have an opportunity to increase its production," Hakim, an influential cleric, said in an interview late on Wednesday.

"But we are with the principle of reducing the overall OPEC supply to lift prices."

As MRC informed before, Russian crude imports to China rose in early 2017 as the country's independent, or teapot, refiners had expanded their diet to include the Urals grade. Russia could expand its market share in China, the second-largest oil consumer, this year after a drop in Brent prices relative to Middle East crude benchmark Dubai opened the arbitrage for Russian Urals to head east. Russia topped Saudi Arabia as the biggest crude seller to China in 2016.

PE imports in Ukraine decreased by 5% in Q1 2017

MOSCOW (MRC) - Ukraine's imports of polyethylene (PE) decreased to 59,300 tonne in first three months of this year, down 5% year on year, compared to the same period of 2016. The decrease in imports accounted for the deliveries of low density polyethylene (LDPE) and high density polyethylene (HDPE), according to MRC DataScope.

March PE imports into Ukraine decreased to 19,500 tonnes, contrary to the experience of the past, compared to 21,500 tonnes a month earlier. Local companies decreased purchases of LDPE and low density polyethylene (LDPE). In general, January-March imports into Ukraine totalled 59,300 tonnes compared with 62,600 tonnes year on year; supply of LLDPE and ethylene-vinyl-acetate (EVA) increased.

Structure of PE imports over the reported period was as follows.

Imports of HDPE into Ukraine increased in March, despite the low demand in some processing segments, the final figure was about 9,000 tonnes against 6,800 tonnes in February. Local companies increased their purchasing of film and pipe grade HDPE. Overall HDPE imports of HDPE exceeded 24,000 tonnes in the first quarter of 2017 versus 30,000 tonnes a year earlier, shipments of film grade HDPE fell by almost a third, deliveries of injection moulding PE decreased by 20%.

March imports of LDPE decreased to 4,500 tonnes against 6,600 tonnes, resulting from a significant reduction of export quotas from Russian and Middle Eastern producers. Overall LDPE imports exceeded 16,300 tonnes over the stated period, down by 8% year on year.

Last month's LLDPE imports were 4,100 tonnes, compared to 6,700 tonnes in February, shipments of film grade PE fell by almost 2 times.
Overall LLDPE imports grew to 14,900 tonnes in January-March 2017 from 12,800 tonnes a year earlier. The main increase in demand was provided by producers of film products and cable-conductor products.

Imports of other PE grades, including ethylene-vinyl-acetate (EVA), totalled 4,100 tonnes over the stated period, compared to 2,000 tonnes a year earlier.