European sales of gasoline-powered cars overtake diesel

MOSCOW (MRC) — Sales of gasoline-powered cars have overtaken diesel in the first half of this year for the first time since 2009, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) said this week, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The shift, following revelations that most diesel cars emit more pollutants on the road than laboratory tests suggested, saw gasoline car sales rise by nearly 10% from the first half of 2016, compared with an approximate 4% drop in diesel car sales in the same period, the group said.

Sales of "alternative" vehicles—hybrid, electric, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) and natural gas-powered ones—also rose by more than 35% to account for 5.2% of total car sales. The mayors of Paris and Athens have said they plan to ban diesel-engine cars in city centers by 2025 in the wake of the emissions scandal, while France is also making plans to reverse favorable tax treatments for diesel. Some expect other European governments to follow suit.

Even car manufacturing centers Stuttgart and Munich have mulled diesel engine bans. Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to cheating emissions tests.

ACEA, however, cautioned the shift to gasoline engines could make it tougher for Europe to meet CO2 reduction targets. "Policy makers need to be aware that a sudden shift from diesel technology to petrol will lead to an increase in CO2 emissions," ACEA Secretary General Erik Jonnaert said.

Jonnaert also called on governments to do more to usher in "alternative" cars. Sales of hybrid electric vehicles rose by a whopping 58% in the first half of the year, and electric sales rose by 37%, but the groups still account for just 2.6% and 1.3%, respectively, of total car sales.

"More needs to be done to encourage consumers to buy alternatively-powered vehicles, for instance by putting in place the right incentives and deploying recharging infrastructure across the EU," Jonnaert said.

Shandong Levima plans maintenance at MTO plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Shandong Levima New Material is likely to take its methanol-to-olefin (MTO) plant off-stream for maintenance, as per Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in China informed that the company has planned to commence maintenance at its plant in early-October, 2017. The plant is expected to remain off-line for around 6 weeks.

Located in Shandong, China, the MTO plant has an ethylene capacity of 170,000 mt/year and a propylene capacity of 200,000 mt/year.

As MRC informed before, in early March 2017, Honeywell announced that Jiangsu Sailboat Petrochemical Company, Ltd. had started its UOP Advanced MTO unit during a 10-day test to confirm successful operation. It has an annual production capacity of 833,000 mtpy, making it the largest single-train MTO unit in the world.

Rosneft elects German ex-chancellor Schroeder as chairman

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is set to face a fresh backlash at home after he was elected as chairman of Russia’s biggest oil producer Rosneft on Friday, reported Reuters.

Schroeder, a Social Democrat who led Germany from 1998 to 2005, prompted widespread criticism in his homeland in August when he was nominated to Rosneft’s board, given Western sanctions against Moscow over the Ukraine crisis and current Chancellor Angela Merkel’s frosty relations with the Kremlin.

Shareholders in state-controlled Rosneft, which is subject to the sanctions, elected Schroeder to its board at a meeting on Friday, and shortly afterwards Schroeder told a news briefing he had been chosen by the board to be its chairman.

"Schroeder is a reputed and renowned politician, who has persistently advocated strategic cooperation between Germany, Europe and Russia," Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin told the company’s shareholders before the vote.

Schroeder is currently chairman of the shareholders’ committee at Nord Stream AG, a Gazprom-led consortium established to build a pipeline carrying Russian natural gas across the Baltic Sea.

We remind that, as MRC informed before, Privately-run conglomerate CEFC China Energy has recently obtained preliminary state approval for its proposed USD9.1 billion investment in Russian oil major Rosneft. CEFC said earlier this month it will buy a 14.16 percent stake in Rosneft from a consortium of Glencore and the Qatar Investment Authority, strengthening energy ties between Moscow and Beijing.

Rosneft became Russia's largest publicly traded oil company in March 2013 after the USD55 billion takeover of TNK-BP, which was Russia’s third-largest oil producer at the time.

Evonik raises November prices for polyurethane foam additives

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Effective November 1, 2017, or as contract terms permit, Evonik will increase globally prices for all polyurethane additives, said the producer in its press release.

The increase will be 5-10% depending on product type including DABCO, POLYCAT, TEGOSTAB, TEGOAMIN, KOSMOS, GORAPUR release agents and ORTEGOL products.

Stannous Octoate (KOSMOS 29, DABCO T9) will be dealt with separately.

Evonik has worked diligently and will continue working to offset continuously rising raw material, energy, labour and transportation costs, however it is not possible to absorb all of these rising cost. Evonik will increase polyurethane additive prices in order to continue to meet the needs of its customers in the future.

As MRC wrote previously, Evonik Resource Efficiency has invest in a capacity expansion of its performance foams business at its production site in Darmstadt, Germany. The investment will increase the output of the facility by about 20% as a first step. The group will be adding production equipment to its operations complex that manufactures products marketed under the Rohacell brand. The expanded production capacity was expected to be operational by the second half of 2017.

Evonik, the creative industrial group from Germany, is one of the world leaders in specialty chemicals. Its activities focus on the key megatrends health, nutrition, resource efficiency and globalization. Evonik benefits specifically from its innovative prowess and integrated technology platforms. Evonik is active in over 100 countries around the world.

S. Korean KNOC refreshes Iraqi crude supplies in oil reserves

MOSCOW (MRC) — Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC) issued several tenders to buy and sell Iraqi crude from its strategic petroleum reserves (SPR) this week, three industry sources with knowledge of the matter said on Friday, as per Reuters.

KNOC earlier this week bought just under 3 MMbbl of Basra Light crude from a South Korean company to fill its SPR, they said.

In a separate tender that closed on Friday, KNOC sold 2 MMbbl each of Basra Light crude to Mercuria and Vitol to be loaded during October to December, the sources said.

The cargoes were sold on the condition that the supplies will have to be returned to KNOC’s storage between August and October 2019, they said.