Phillips 66 says refineries to run at mid-90% in 2Q 2017

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Phillips 66 expects its refineries to run in the mid-90% range of their combined capacity in the second quarter, according to a document prepared for a Friday morning conference call with Wall Street analysts to discuss first quarter earnings, said Reuters.

Phillips 66 is the sole owner of nine US refineries with a combined crude oil throughput capacity of 1.6 MMbpd and co-owns two other US refineries with a combined capacity of 336 Mbpd. Phillips 66's refineries ran at 84% of capacity in the first quarter, primarily due to overhauls at refineries in California, Illinois, Louisiana and New Jersey.

The company expects members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to agree to extend crude oil production cuts at the group's May 25 meeting, Chairman and Chief Executive Greg Garland said in a Friday morning conference call. "I think our base case assumes that there's extension in May in terms of OPEC," Garland said.

Looking to the long-term, Garland said refiners like Phillips 66 can expect growth in mid-stream operations like pipelines and terminals along with petrochemical production.

"Refining is a good business," he said. "It's just long term, we don't see it growing."

The company thinks demand for motor fuels will decline in the United States over the next few years due to changes in automobile efficiency, Garland said. Refiners will likely focus on expanding exports to balance declines in US demand.

"To invest in refining to add capacity still doesn't make sense to us," he said. "I think to invest to reduce your cost structure, gain access advantage to crudes and some yield, those are all good investments that we should be making."

Complying with federal renewable fuel requirements continues to drag on margins, Chief Financial Officer Kevin Mitchell said during the call, even though the cost for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) have fallen this year.

"RINs are still a reduction to the realized margin. It's just less of a reduction with RIN prices coming down over the period," Mitchell said. The company has been able to find replacement supply for a drop in Canadian crude exports.

"I think from our viewpoint operationally it's been a minimal impact," Garland said.

As MRC informed earlier, Phillips 66 expects a permit will be granted to build an oil pipeline under the Missouri River near Native American land in North Dakota.

Phillips 66 is an American multinational energy company headquartered in Westchase, Houston, Texas. It debuted as an independent energy company when ConocoPhillips spun off its downstream assets and midstream assets. Phillips 66 began trading on the New York Stock Exchange on May 1, 2012, under the ticker PSX. The company is engaged in producing natural gas liquids (NGL) and petrochemicals.

Alpek completes propylene storage spheres at Altamira

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Mexico's Alpek has completed adding 5,000 mt of propylene storage to its Altamira port terminal, as per a company spokesman, reported Plastemart.

"The mechanical completion is finished and operations should ramp up in the month of May," spokesman Hernan Lozano said. Each of the two spheres has a capacity of 2,500 mt. "The purpose of the project is to make the domestic propylene logistics chain more efficient, as well as to have greater flexibility to import raw material," Lozano said.

Indelpro imports monomer on spot and contractual basis and converts it into polypropylene. The completion of the project comes amid the expected startup of Enterprise Products Partners' propane dehydrogenation unit in Mont Belvieu, Texas. Enterprise said the 750,000 mt/year PDH unit is on track to start in Q3 and could double exports year on year.

As MRC wrote earlier, Alpek, a leading petrochemical company, is all set to buy polyethylene terephthalate (PET) producer Petroquimica Suape (PQS) for USD385 million. Currently owned by Brazil's Petrobras, PQS owns a 700,000 mt/year PTA plant as well as a 450,000 mt/year PET plant in Ipojuca, Pernambuco, Brazil. After the acquisition, Alpek will own all these assets as well as Citepe - a polyester unit. Alpek already owns Mexico’s polypropylene producer Indelpro and DAK Americas, which produces PET in the US, Mexico, Canada and Argentina. The deal is awaiting corporate approvals as well as approvals by the appropriate governmental authorities.

Alpek is the petrochemicals unit of Mexican conglomerate Alfa.

Iran gets positive output cut signals from OPEC, NON-OPEC states

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Iran's Oil Minister said OPEC and non-OPEC countries had given positive signals for an extension of output cuts, which Tehran would also back, said Reuters.

OPEC meets in May to discuss oil supply policy. Oil prices fell last week though they closed higher on Friday on growing hope that OPEC might agree to extend production cuts long enough to reduce a global crude glut.

"During these last days we received a positive signal from OPEC members and non-OPEC contributors in this agreement for cutting the production for extending this agreement for the second half of 2017," minister Bijan Zanganeh told reporters.

Zanganeh blamed the United States for lack of foreign investment in Iran's energy sector, citing political pressure on international oil companies. "They (US) cannot stop us, anyone cannot stop our activities for developing oil and gas but ... they can reduce the acceleration of our activities," he said.

Under a deal reached in 2015, Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for lifting of most international sanctions imposed on the country.

But many foreign investors have continued to be put off by obstacles to doing business in Iran, including lingering unilateral US sanctions.

Clariant provides solutions for the plastic industry to boost product performance

MOSCOW (MRC) – Clariant, a world leader in specialty chemicals, will feature at the Chinaplas 2017 exhibition a series of novel technologies and products dedicated to helping the electrical & electronics, agriculture, consumer goods and automotive industries achieve greater performance and sustainability through new colors and capabilities, said the company on its website.

The exhibition will be held on May 16-19, 2017 at the China Import & Export Complex at Pazhou in Guangzhou, China.

The importance of reform was emphasized as one of the enablers to drive local economic growth in a number of key industries. In agriculture, for instance, the supply of quality, environmentally more compatible agricultural products was highlighted, along with a stronger focus given on achieving top quality and performance in consumer goods in order to drive stronger domestic demand and, in turn, sustained economic growth. The importance of sustained green development was also attached to the electrical & electronics and automotive industries, where sources of pollution and impact on the environment must be reduced continuously.

Under shift towards a greener economy in China, more businesses in China are looking to enhance the performance and sustainability of their products. Clariant has made sustainability a key element of its business approach, from product design to end disposal, without compromising on performance.

At Chinaplas 2017, Clariant will showcase how its specialty chemical products and solutions provide appealing functionality, in addition to sustaining product safety and environmental compatibility for customers in the electrical & electronics, agriculture, consumer goods, and automotive industries in China.

As MRC informed before, in March 2017, Clariant announced that it had been awarded a contract by Dongguan Grand Resource Science & Technology Co. Ltd. to develop a new propane dehydrogenation unit in cooperation with CB&I. The project includes the license and engineering design of the unit, which is to be built in Dongguan City, Guangdong Province, China. The Dongguan plant will be one of the largest single-train dehydrogenation units in the world. Clariant's technology partner CB&I will base the plant's design on its Catofin® catalytic dehydrogenation technology, which uses Clariant's tailor-made Catofin catalyst and Heat Generating Material (HGM).

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. Clariant India has local masterbatch production activities at Rania, Kalol and Nandesari (Gujarat) and Vashere (Maharashtra) sites in India.

April situation in Russian LDPE market was atypical for the past few years

MOSCOW (Market Report) -- Contrary to the past years' experience, there was no major deficit in the Russian low density polyethylene (LDPE) market this April. Conversely, a producer announced a significant price reduction in early May, according to ICIS-MRC Price report.

In the previous years, a seasonal increase in demand for film products and a scheduled long maintenance at Kazanorgsintez, Russia's second largest producer, which is traditionally held in mid-April-early May were the main reasons for the spring growth in LDPE prices in the Russian market. In 2016, a shortage of LDPE in the market was aggravated by the forced outage at Angarsk Polymer Plant due to a failure at its ethylene unit. This year has become atypical over the past few years, and as a result, there was no noticeable price increase in April, and in early May, on the contrary, prices went down.

Some market participants said there was no seasonal surge in demand for film products partially because of bad weather conditions, partly due to higher imports of finished goods (a serious strengthening of the rouble against the dollar made imports more affordable for consumers). There has been also a decrease in demand in some sectors of the economy, particularly, in the construction sector, since early 2017.

Some converters, conversely, built up additional inventories of polyethylene (PE) in March (before the introduction of restrictions on freight road transportation and the scheduled shutdown at Kazanorgsintez), thereby minimizing their risks in April.

Partially, weak demand for LDPE during the spring period was caused by lower linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) prices. The difference in LDPE prices and prices of some LLDPE grades reached Rb10,000/tonne and higher, and, as a consequence, converters increased the share of LLDPE in their procurement portfolio.

A major increase in LDPE prices never happened in the Russian market in April. Moreover, prices were virtually relatively steady during the whole month, only prices of Kazanorgsintez's LDPE grew because of tight supply. And in the second half of April, a slight reduction in prices of 108 grade LDPE began in the market, and by the end of the month, traders' offer prices for this PE grade had reached Rb94,500-95,500/tonne FCA, including VAT.

And already in early May, Tomskneftekhim announced a reduction of Rb7,000/tonne from April in its LDPE prices. Other producers have not agreed upon their prices for this month yet.