RTI Sports develops bicycle saddle with E-TPU from BASF

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The research team of Ergon, a brand of the Koblenz-based German company RTI Sports, has developed the new bicycle saddle ST Core Ultra, which features TwinShell technology with an ergonomic core made of the expanded thermoplastic polyurethane (E-TPU) Infinergy from BASF, the world's pretrochemical major, reported GV.

According to the company, this design principle combines optimum pressure distribution and active motion support. Two shells function in isolation from each other in a sandwich construction, held in a floating arrangement by an elastomer damper made of E-TPU. The lower, supporting shell performs a load-bearing function while the upper, flexible seat shell supports the padding. This design principle not only increases comfort but also allows for a new form of pedalling ergonomics, says the manufacturer. As a result of isolating the seat shell from the supporting shell, the saddle follows the natural pedalling movements in all directions. This has the advantage of systematically combining optimised pressure distribution across the sit bones, efficient pedalling ergonomics, good vibration damping, and active back protection.

The ergonomic core of the bicycle saddle is made of Infinergy E-TPU, which is said to set new standards in relation to damping and suspension due to thousands of light and highly elastic foam particles. The high elasticity optimises the damping of pressure in the seat area. As soon as the pressure impulse has passed, the foam springs back into its old shape. The material retains this property even under continuous load. The core thus ensures a direct damping response and high resilience, as well as high durability at low material weight. The E-TPU foam has already been used successfully by leading manufacturers in the safety and running shoe sectors.

Franc Arnold, Ergon founder and chief executive, said: "The idea of a design principle using TwinShell technology and an ergonomic core has been around for a while, but we were never able to find a suitable material on the market to implement this project. Now, Infinergy from BASF has exceeded our expectations. I am absolutely certain that Ergon will cause a stir in the bicycle industry with its ST Core Ultra."

As MRC informed previously, in August 2016, BASF introduced tailored polyamide portfolio for the charge-air duct in modern combustion engines.

BASF is the largest diversified chemical company in the world and is headquartered in Ludwigshafen, Germany. BASF produces a wide range of chemicals, for example solvents, amines, resins, glues, electronic-grade chemicals, industrial gases, basic petrochemicals and inorganic chemicals. The most important customers for this segment are the pharmaceutical, construction, textile and automotive industries.

Thai Oil buys 1 MMbbl North Sea crude for Nov to replace Mideast oil

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Refiner Thai Oil PCL has bought 1 MMbbl of North Sea Forties crude to be delivered in November to replace more expensive Middle East oil, reported Hydrocarbonprocessing with reference to trade sources.

The delivered price for Forties was lower than that for Abu Dhabi's Murban loading in October, one of the sources said.

The Forties crude deal was unusual as a wide price difference between Brent and Middle East crude Dubai would seem to indicate the Atlantic Basin to Asia arbitrage is not open, traders said.

The seller was likely to be looking for an outlet for North Sea oil that has built up in storage, the sources said.

About 10.8 MMbbl of North Sea crude were stored on ships last week, based on Reuters calculations and trading sources.

It takes about 40 days to ship North Sea crude to Asia.

As MRC informed before, in late March 2017, Thailand's largest oil refiner Thai Oil bought its first ever cargoes of US Eagle Ford crude and Oman crude as its diversifies purchases amid OPEC production cuts.

We also remind that, as MRC wrote before, Russia will not fully scrap its oil export duty until 2022-2025, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said in mid-March 2017, four years later than previously expected. Russia, the world's biggest oil producer, is in the midst of a so-called "tax manoeuvre" whereby it is gradually increasing its mineral extraction tax (MET), while at the same time cutting export duties on oil and refined products. Previously the finance ministry had considered cutting the oil export duty to zero between 2018 and 2020.

Hurricane Harvey shuts 13% of refining capacity in the US, fuel prices surge

MOSCOW (MRC) -- US fuel prices surged on Monday as two more Gulf Coast refiners cut output and a third considered reductions, leaving more than 13% of the country's refining capacity offline after Tropical Storm Harvey flooded plants and shut seaports, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The storm swung back over the Gulf of Mexico on Monday and was expected to bring another 10 in to 15 in (25 to 38 cm) of rain to the Houston area and up to 8 in as far east as New Orleans, the National Weather Service said.

Marathon Petroleum Corp's Galveston Bay refinery in Texas City, Texas, cut production by half, sources familiar with plant operations said.

Lyondell Basell Industries' Houston refinery early on Monday also cut output by half to conserve crude supply, other sources said.

Meanwhile the nation's largest plant, Motiva Enterprises' 603-Mbpd Port Arthur, Texas, refinery was considering shutting due to high water on the plant grounds and running with essential personnel only, two sources said.

The profit that refiners make per barrel of gasoline jumped as high as 21% in the first trading day following Harvey's landfall near Corpus Christi, Texas, late on Friday, as fears of short supplies gripped the market.

In total, 2.45 MMbpd of US refining capacity was shut due to Harvey, which knocked out four refineries in South Texas before bringing flooding rains to plants near Houston.

Nearly 19% of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut, the US Department of the Interior said on Monday.

The latest refining cutbacks were at Marathon's 459 Mbpd plant and Lyondell's 26 Mbpd Houston plant.

Oil prices fell as the refinery closings reduced demand, with US crude futures dropping by more than 3% on Monday.

Among other Gulf Coast refiners, Exxon Mobil's 362.3 Mbpd Beaumont, Texas, refinery has cut production, the company said. It did not provide additional details. Earlier, Exxon halted production at its 560.5 Mbpd Baytown, Texas, plant.

Valero Energy's 335 Mbpd Port Arthur, Texas, refinery is running at or near maximum capacity but contending with flooding in the plant, sources said on Monday. Valero confirmed the plant is running, but has not commented on further.

Total SA's 225.5 Mbpd Port Arthur, Texas, refinery is operating normally, sources said.

In the area where the storm first hit, Citgo Petroleum's refinery in Corpus Christi is preparing to begin its restart process as early as on Wednesday, sources said. A spokesperson did not reply to requests for comment.

Two other refiners who shut plants in the region, Valero and Flint Hills Resources, did not respond to requests for updates on their operations there.

Iraq sets up oil shipping, trading joint venture

MOSCOW (MRC) -- OPEC member Iraq has formed a JV with a shipping company owned by Arab states to transfer, store and trade crude and oil products, according to official documents and industry sources, reported Reuters.

Middle East oil producers are venturing into buying and selling oil to boost their incomes as a sharp drop in crude prices since mid-2014 has forced the industry to become more efficient and commercially focused.

The venture, Al-Iraqia Shipping Services and Oil Trading (AISSOT), will handle a "plethora of activities ranging from trading of petroleum products, ship chartering, oil terminals, various marine services, and bunkering", according to a company statement sent to Reuters.

AISSOT is owned by state firm Iraqi Oil Tankers Co (IOTC) and Arab Maritime Petroleum Transport Co (AMPTC), a pan-Arab company in which Arab oil producers such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait hold a share.

IOTC owns a stake of 22.5% in AISSOT, according to a copy of the signed 20-yr contract seen by Reuters.

"Formation of AISSOT is based on Iraqi Oil Ministry vision to further strengthen activities of two major entities i.e. AMPTC and IOTC in the field of shipping, marine services, and oil trading," the company said in a statement.

"It is also one of Iraqi Oil Ministry’s initiatives to develop national oil companies to international levels."

AISSOT, which will soon start bunkering operations at ports in southern Iraq, is the second oil venture set up recently by the country.

State oil marketer SOMO and Russia's Litasco formed a joint trading company in Dubai to market crude and may expand into oil products and petrochemicals, industry sources said.

"The new venture will have exclusive rights for transportation of crude and refined products. It will develop other projects include trading starting with fuel oil and products and can eventually get into crude oil allocations," said an industry source familiar with the company's operations.

AISSOT will be based in Dubai with plans to open offices in Singapore and other hubs. It has around 25 employees now and intends to go up to 50 in Dubai by the year-end, the source said.

The company is in discussions to build a terminal storage facility in Iraq over the next few years that would handle crude and oil products, the source added.

According to AISSOT, the company "is in a position to invest in and gradually acquire a significant fleet to transport the majority of Iraqi crude oil to end users at competitive rates."

The company will also start a marine academy to train Iraqis, with the aim of eventually having up to 85% Iraqi nationals working on its ships.

AISSOT's co-owner AMPTC was established in 1973 by member countries of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries. Saudi Arabia's government is the biggest shareholder in AMPTC with a 15.595% stake, while Iraq has 13.657%, according to the company's website. Kuwait has 15.484%, the UAE 14.175% and Qatar 14.776%, along with other countries such as Libya, Algeria, Bahrain and Egypt.

As MRC wrote before, in early May 2017, Iraq's oil ministry said it had started loading a tanker with 2 MMbbl of crude oil bound for Egypt, marking the first shipment under a bilateral agreement.

Kraiburg TPE presents new TPE series with adhesion to EPDM

MOSCOW (MRC) -- A new material development has been announced by Germain thermoplastics elastomer manufacturer Kraiburg TPE - a new TPE series with outstanding adhesion to EPDM, according to GV.

The new grades are part of the Thermolast K family and are said to combine excellent adhesion to EPDM with high UV resistance and very good weatherability, in addition to good flow properties. The new material series is ideal for automotive exterior applications. Kraiburg TPE mentioned pilot projects which include window seals consisting of EPDM profiles with moulded TPE corner joints.

CEO of Kraiburg TPE Franz Hinterecker said: "Our trade fair exhibit will demonstrate more than just our expertise in the development and production of extremely high-quality compounds. We take on the challenges of our customers and make them our own, in order to offer a unique service bundle with comprehensive material competence, solid knowledge of the market and intensive, personal customer orientation worldwide. We look forward to consolidating and expanding our network of close customer relationships in Friedrichshafen."

Another new development that already attracted attention at this year’s Chinaplas is a new TPE for use in consumer electronics. For this field of application the company developed materials with soft velvety surfaces and very good adhesion to polar thermoplastics, as well as outstanding mechanical properties.

As MRC informed previously, in March 2015, for automotive exterior applications with wide flow paths and exceptionally challenging weathering requirements, Kraiburg TPE (Waldkraiburg/Germany) developed a new class of compounds within the Thermolast K family: High-flow compounds.

Kraiburg Rubber (Suzhou) Co. Ltd. was established in 2005 and is part of the Waldkraiburg-based German company Kraiburg Holding GmbH & Co. KG. The company produces a wide range of standard rubber compounds (based on NR, EPDM, CR, AEM, SBR, FKM, etc.) for automotive, building and construction applications, and other industrial markets as well as highly customised products for all kinds of industries at its Suzhou site. The compounds are produced on highly automated and fully process-controlled mixing lines, based on state-of-the-art technology. The company has 130 employees.