Emergency triggers halt in Petrobras refinery operation

MOSCOW (MRC) — A refinery belonging Brazilian state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA was shut down for an emergency on Wednesday for the third time in less than 30 days, a labor union said in a press release, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The Sao Paulo state oil workers’ union said a “highly explosive" mixture of gasoline, liquefied petroleum gas and diesel vapor escaped in a cloud from the Paulinia refinery, Brazil’s largest.

Petrobras, as the oil company is known, could not be reached for immediate comment.

Metso receives major oil and gas valve orders from Chinese petchem customers

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Metso has received four major valve orders for the oil and gas industry from Chinese petrochemical customers, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

All orders are for greenfield investments and have been booked in Metso's orders received starting from the first quarter of 2017, with subsequent quarterly bookings in 2017 and continuing to 2018. The total value of the orders and company names are not being disclosed. All the companies are in the top ten petrochemical companies in China.

The orders include approximately 2,500 Neles ball, segment and butterfly valves for on/off and control applications for various process phases, such as coal gasification, ethylene cracking and PSA processes. The control valves are equipped with Neles ND9000 series intelligent valve controllers, which have the capability for advanced performance follow-up.

DuPont to sell cellulosic ethanol plant in blow to biofuel

MOSCOW (MRC) -- DuPont Industrial Biosciences, a unit of DowDuPont Inc, on Thursday said it halted operations at a 2-yr-old ethanol plant and will sell it, dealing another blow to efforts to create biofuels without using food crops, reported Reuters.

The decision to shut the Iowa plant comes as political winds are undercutting efforts to produce ethanol from plant waste and wood shavings. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this year has pushed to lower the amount of cellulosic biofuels that need to be blended into the nation’s fuels under a 2007 mandate, arguing the industry has not produced enough.

DuPont spent about USD225 MM to build the facility, which used corn stalks and stems to make ethanol, which is blended into gasoline. The plant was designed to produce 30 MMgal/yr.

The EPA predicted in 2007 that US cellulosic ethanol production could hit 1 Bgal by 2020, but output this year is expected to reach only 7 MMgal, according to Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), a trade group.

High production costs and still-maturing technology have undercut the rationale for cellulosic biofuel, part of the original goal to use biofuels to help reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

"Cellulosic biofuel innovators have been dealing with mixed policy signals and tremendous regulatory uncertainty for the past decade," RFA Chief Executive Bob Dinneen said in an interview.

Refiners such as PBF Energy, which must blend biofuels into the nation’s fuel pool or buy credits from those who do, have opposed the mandates.

"This is yet another example of why the nation’s biofuel mandate needs fundamental reform. More than a decade after the cellulosic portion of the mandate was passed, the fuel is still nonexistent," PBF Energy lobbyist Brendan Williams said.

A DuPont Industrial Biosciences spokeswoman said the EPA’s plan to decrease cellulosic biofuel volumes played no role in shutting the plant.

As MRC reported earlier, in late September 2017, DowDuPont Materials Science, the business division of newly formed DowDupont, commissioned ethylene and polyethylene (PE) units in Freeport, Tex., as part of Dow Chemical Co.'s previously announced USD6-billion US Gulf Coast (USGC) investment program in Texas and Louisiana on projects to utilize low-cost and advantaged US shale gas feedstock. The 1.5 million-tonne/year ethylene plant and 400,000-tpy PE plant - which is based on Dow’s proprietary Solution process technology for production of the company’s ELITE brand enhanced PE resins - were both in operation as of Sept. 21.

Oil near 2-yr high as tightening market attracts buyers

MOSCOW (MRC) — Oil prices rose on Friday, nearing their highest levels in more than 2 yr, with buyers attracted by expectations of an extension to a global pact to cut output that has reduced oversupply, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Global benchmark Brent futures traded up 41 cents at USD61.03 a barrel at 1345 GMT, approaching levels around USD61.70/bbl last seen in July 2015. Brent has risen around 38% since its low in 2017 reached in June. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude traded at USD54.78 a barrel, up 24 cents. WTI is around 30% above its 2017 low hit June.

This week's US Energy Information Agency (EIA) report on crude inventories and exports showed a large draw in US stocks, showing that market is rebalancing. "Wednesday's EIA report was bullish so the longs took profit then but now the uptrend is reasserting itself. Roll-over of the OPEC/non-OPEC deal looks certain and is also supportive," said Tamas Varga, senior analyst at London brokerage PVM Oil Associates.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meets at the end of November to discuss further action after it agreed nearly a year ago with Russia and other producers to hold back 1.8 MMbpd of oil supply. Russia said on Thursday the deal, which is due to expire in March, could be extended if necessary but that a decision was not imminent.

While supplies are being withheld, demand is also rising, especially in China, whose roughly 9 MMbpd of imports have surpassed those of the United States to top the world's crude importer list. "China's oil demand growth appears to be accelerating," investment bank Jefferies said.

Physical oil prices are also rising. Saudi Aramco, the UAE's ADNOC and Qatar Petroleum have all raised their crude prices for Asian buyers, with Aramco's December premium over the average of the Oman and Dubai benchmarks now at the highest in three years.

Traders also eyed risks from ongoing financial troubles of OPEC-members Venezuela and its state oil company PDVSA. The government and PDVSA owe some USD1.6 B in debt service and delayed interest payments by the end of the year, plus another $9 B in bond servicing in 2018.

The next hard payment deadline for PDVSA is an USD81 MM bond payment that was due on Oct. 12 but on which the company delayed payment under a 30-day grace period. Failing to pay that on time would trigger a default, investors say.

INEOS buys up UK shale licences from Total

MOSCOW (MRC) -- INEOS Shale has acquired Total’s entire 40% interest in PEDLs 139 & 140, and a 30% interest in PEDL 273, 305 & 316 (being 60% of Total’s current 50% holding), said the company on its website.

Ron Coyle, CEO of INEOS Shale, said: "Our acquisition of these assets represents an important development for INEOS Shale and demonstrates our ongoing commitment to this important new industry which we believe can bring much needed jobs and investment to the economy."

INEOS Shale, the onshore division of INEOS upstream, has completed the acquisition of Total E&P Limited’s onshore exploratory licence portfolio, less a 20% stake in three 14th Round licence awards that Total will retain. The transaction includes 100% of Total’s participating interest in PEDLs 139 and 140, and 60% of its interest in in PEDLs 273, 305 and 316. Increasing the total acreage held by INEOS under licence to more than 1.325macres. Total has also transferred to INEOS its option to farm-in to PEDL 209.

Ron Coyle, CEO at INEOS Shale, said: "Our acquisition of these assets represents an important development for INEOS Shale and demonstrates our ongoing commitment to this important industry. Shale gas represents an exciting opportunity for the UK, and has the real potential to bring much needed jobs and investment to local communities. The continuing growth of INEOS’s portfolio of licences means we will be at the very forefront of this transformational industry".