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.

Alpek to acquire PET producer Petroquimica Suape for USD385 million

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Alpek, a leading petrochemical company, is all set to buy polyethylene terephthalate (PET) producer Petroquimica Suape (PQS) for USD385 million, reported CMT.

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.

Petrobras is divesting assets - except for its core oil and gas exploration and production divisions – and this deal is part of the same divesting drive.

Alpek owns 23 factories in 6 countries and it is Latin America’s largest polyester manufacturer.

More on PET markets in Mexico, Brazil as well as the larger South/Central America, Andean and Caribbean region will be discussed at CMT’s 5th SCAPET scheduled on 7-8 June, 2017 in Medellin, Colombia.

As MRC informed before, in late December 2016m, Petrobras said its board had approved the sale of two petrochemical companies, Petroquimica Suape and Citepe, to Mexico's Alpek SAB de CV for USD385 million.

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.

Alpek is the petrochemicals unit of Mexican conglomerate Alfa.

PTT approves spin-off of oil marketing and retail ops

MOSCOW (MRC) -- State-run Thai oil and gas giant PTT has gained shareholder approval to spin off and denationalize its retail operations such as gasoline stations and cafes, as per Nikkei Asian Review.

PTT aims to carry out the spinoff as early as this year and list the newly established company on the Stock Exchange of Thailand. The new company will be unrestrained by special government regulations for state-run enterprises, allowing it to more easily complete acquisitions as well as accelerate foreign expansion.

The spun-off company, to be named PTT Oil and Retail (PTTOR), will include PTT's 1,500 gas stations nationwide as well as consumer-oriented businesses like coffee shops and convenience stores. Those operations generate about 20% of the energy giant's group net profit.

PTT will be the leading shareholder of PTTOR, controlling at least 45%. But with the government's indirect share below 50%, the new company will not legally be a state-run enterprise.

Addressing the goals of the spinoff at the shareholders meeting, PTT CEO Tevin Vongvanich said that it will be easier to create flexible growth strategies.

As MRC wrote previously, in June 2016, Thailand's largest energy company PTT Pcl postponed plans to build a USD20 bln refinery and petrochemical complex in Binh Dinh's Nhon Hoi economic zone, Vietnam amid political changes in the country and uncertainty in global oil markets. PTT and Aramco were slated to hold a 40% stake each, with the Vietnamese government holding the remaining 20%.