Russia keeps top spot as China oil supplier in May, Angola pips Saudi again

MOSCOW (MRC) — For the third month in a row, Russia has maintained its spot as China's top crude oil supplier and Angola clung onto the second spot over Saudi Arabia, data from Chinese customs for May imports showed on Friday, as per Reuters.

The data release follows the decision from Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world's two-biggest oil producers who are vying for market share in China, to extend a global oil supply cut agreement to bolster prices in an oversupplied market.

Russia supplied a record 5.74 MMt, or 1.35 MMbpd, to China last month, the General Administration of Customs said, rising from April's 1.15 MMbpd.

Russia was also the largest supplier for the first five months of the year with shipments averaging 1.16 MMbpd, followed by Angola at 1.11 MMbpd and Saudi Arabia at 1.1 MMbpd, customs reported. Angolan shipments were 5.56 MMt last month, or 1.31 MMbpd, up 79.5% from a year ago, the data showed.

Saudi exports were 4.43 MMt, or 1.04 MMbpd, which was 8.6% higher compared to May last year, the data showed. That was down from April's 1.147 MMbpd.

"Declining premiums in Russian export grade ESPO (East Siberian Pacific Ocean) starting in around April may have attracted Chinese buying," said a Beijing-based trading executive.

China's total crude oil imports rebounded to the second highest on record in May, making China the world's top buyer for the month, but the pace is expected to ease from June through August after some local importers ran out of quotas and as refiners contemplate run cuts.

The data also showed China's May imports from Iran gained 10% from a year ago to 681,800 bpd while purchases from Iraq sunk 36% year-on-year to 513,800 bpd.

Pemex sees restart of Salina Cruz refinery on July 30

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Mexican state oil producer Pemex said that it expects to restart operations on July 30 at Salina Cruz, its largest oil refinery, after it was hit last week hit by flooding and subsequent fire that forced a shutdown of the plant, as per Reuters.

The Pacific coast refinery is Mexico's biggest, with a daily processing capacity of 330,000 bbl of crude oil.

Pemex said it was focused on restarting operations, cleaning up and rehabilitating the plant's affected areas, and on general maintenance work.

Taking advantage of the plant shutdown, Pemex said it will perform maintenance work initially planned for April 2018, thereby "reducing the economic impact of the refinery shutdown."

As MRC informed earlier, a major fire broke out at Mexican state oil producer Pemex's Salina Cruz refinery after a crude spill, injuring nine people and extending the shutdown of the plant into a second day.

Pemex, Mexican Petroleum, is a Mexican state-owned petroleum company. Pemex has a total asset worth of USD415.75 billion, and is the world's second largest non-publicly listed company by total market value, and Latin America's second largest enterprise by annual revenue as of 2009. Company produces such polymers, as polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS).

Sonoco announces acquisition of Clear Lam Packaging for USD170M in cash

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Sonoco has announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire 100% of the stock of Clear Lam Packaging, Inc., a family-held developer and manufacturer of flexible and forming plastic packaging films for approximately USD170 million in cash, reported StreetInsider.

The transaction is subject to normal regulatory review and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2017.

Founded in 1969, the Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based company is projecting 2017 sales of approximately USD140 million and operates state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Elk Grove Village and Nanjing, China, with nearly 400 employees. Clear Lam is a technology leader in the development, production and conversion of high barrier flexible and forming films used to package a variety of products for consumer packaged goods companies, retailers and other industrial manufacturers, with a focus on structures used for perishable foods. Clear Lam serves markets including condiments, dairy, meats and cheese, produce, confection, fresh and prepared foods, nuts and snacks, food service and personal care.

According to Jack Sanders, Sonoco president and chief executive officer, the acquisition of Clear Lam will further build on Sonoco’s strategy of expanding its global Flexible Packaging and Thermoforming Plastics operations to provide offerings serving the fast-growing perimeter of grocery and retail food stores.

"The addition of Clear Lam will significantly expand our Flexible Packaging and Thermoforming Plastics operations as we will be able to develop, produce and convert high barrier flexible and forming film structures to package fresh and prepared food products purchased in the growing store perimeter," said Sanders. "As an example, Clear Lam complements our recent acquisition of Peninsula Packaging’s thermoforming operations by being able to produce barrier flexible film lidding that extends shelf life, is resealable and provides a complete packaging solution to our fresh fruit and vegetable customers."

Concerning the acquisition, Clear Lam Packaging President James Sanfilippo said, "We are excited to become part of the Sonoco family. I see the two companies with similar cultures, focused on building strong relationships with employees, customers and suppliers. Innovation has always been a driving force within Clear Lam and Sonoco, and it will continue to be a foundation for further growth."

Sonoco Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Rob Tiede said the addition of Clear Lam provides significant technology advantages as well as being able to drive synergies through the internalization of materials for Sonoco’s existing flexible and thermoforming customers.

As MRC informed before, in 2014, Sonoco Products Co. announced the acquisition of Weidenhammer Packaging Group GmbH of Germany for USD383 million, which included plastic packaging technology that the company was targeting for growth in the United States.

Sonoco Plastics is a leading manufacturer of mono-layer and multi-layer blow-molded bottles and jars, thermoformed cups and trays and engineered molded and extruded containers, spools and trays. The Company has 25 plastics operations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, Netherlands and Germany. In addition to the Beauty Park facility, Sonoco Plastics operates a state-of-the-art food-grade, blow-molding and injection molding plant in Columbus, Ohio. The Company is currently reviewing plans for additional expansion of this facility as well.

SABIC declares force majeure on PC production in North America

MOSCOW (MRC) -- SABIC has declared force majeure in North America for the production of polycarbonate (PC), exacerbating an already tense supply situation, as per Plastemart with reference to Britishplastics.

The Saudi petrochemicals giant cited a "series of equipment failures" at its Brine facility in Burkville, Alabama, as the reason for the declaration.

It said to customers in a letter dated 8 June that it has been forced to completely shut down the site near the Alabama capital of Montgomery, "severely impacting" its PC production.

The outage at the affected facility, which, according to market intelligence from Plastics Information Europe (PIE), can produce around 265,000 tpa of polycarbonate resin, is expected to last for around five weeks while repairs are being carried out.

Starting 19 June, all North American customers for SABIC’s 'Lexan' brand polymer were put on allocation for an undetermined period. Supply of extrusion grades will be limited to around 40%, it said while bottle and IR/VR grades will not be supplied at all. In Europe, delivery times for PC orders already reach 12 weeks or even more.

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.

SOCAR reveals volume of petrochemical output

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Azerikimya Production Union, which is a part of Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR, has slightly reduced the volume of production of main types of petrochemical products, a source in SOCAR told Trend.

The source noted that the slight reduction is due to the temporary suspension of production at the ethylene and polyethylene plant in Sumgayit city as part of modernization of Azerikimya’s enterprises.

"Azerikimya produced 103,410 tons of ethylene in 2016, as compared to 106,700 tons in 2015, 100,260 tons of polyethylene, compared to 103,480 tons in 2015, 52,190 tons of propylene compared to 56,390 tons in 2015, as well as 22,170 tons of butane-butylene fraction, compared to 24,790 tons in 2015," said the source.

The source pointed out that Azerikimya plans to keep the production volume at a stable level in 2017 and the company’s plans stipulate the termination of operation of the ethylene and polyethylene plant for 40 days in August-September for modernization.

After the completion of the first stage of modernization, the propylene production at the ethylene and polyethylene plant is expected to rise to 150,000 tons in October 2017.

SOCAR is 100 percent owned by the government of Azerbaijan. SOCAR participates in joint ventures (including ventures in Georgia and Turkey), consortia, and operating companies established with SOCAR’s participation.

Besides Azerikimya, SOCAR includes such production associations as Azneft (the enterprises producing oil and gas onshore and offshore) and Azerigas (distributor of gas produced in the country), as well as oil and gas processing plants, service companies, and the facilities involved in geophysical and drilling operations.