Total completes upgrade of Antwerp refining, petchem platform

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Total has inaugurated the new units at its Antwerp integrated refining & petrochemicals platform, which have progressively started up in the last few months, reported Hydrocarbonprocessing.

This event marks the completion of the upgrade program launched in 2013 of one of the largest and most efficient integrated refining & petrochemicals platforms in Europe. Thus, the company has invested more than EUR1 B to further improve the competitiveness of this major site located in the heart of Europe's main markets.

Two key projects were completed:

- An investment in a new refining complex was approved for the conversion of more heavy fuel oil into low-sulfur light products.
- A deasphalting unit and a hydrocracker were built to increase the production of clean and high-value-added products.
- The new refining complex will reduce the high-sulfur heavy fuel oil yield, in anticipation of the new marine fuel regulation that will take effect in 2020.
- Steam cracker flexibility has been increased to maximize the processing of low cost advantaged feedstock.
- A new unit was built to convert rich gases produced by the refinery into cracker feedstock.
- One of the two steam crackers and site logistics has been adapted to import and process ethane.

Total also announced a logistics project last August to connect the platform to the neighboring storage terminal via a new pipeline and the expansion of the terminal's capacities to maximize product value.

As MRC informed earlier, in April 2015, Total announced that its proposed new ethane cracker near its refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, is being designed to have a capacity of 1 million tpy.

Total S.A. is a French multinational oil and gas company and one of the six "Supermajor" oil companies in the world with business in Europe, the United States, the Middle East and Asia. The company's petrochemical products cover two main groups: base chemicals and the consumer polymers (polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene) that are derived from them.

OPEC agrees oil cut extension to end of 2018

MOSCOW (MRC) — OPEC and non-OPEC producers led by Russia agreed on Thursday to extend oil output cuts until the end of 2018 as they try to finish clearing a global glut of crude while signaling a possible early exit from the deal if the market overheats, as per Reuters.

Russia, which this year reduced production significantly with OPEC for the first time, has been pushing for a clear message on how to exit the cuts so the market doesn't flip into a deficit too soon, prices don't rally too fast and rival US shale firms don't boost output further.

Russia needs much lower oil prices to balance its budget than OPEC's leader Saudi Arabia, which is preparing a stock market listing for national energy champion Aramco next year and would hence benefit from pricier crude. The producers' current deal, under which they are cutting supply by about 1.8 MMbpd in an effort to boost oil prices, expires in March.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told reporters the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC allies had agreed to extend the cuts by nine months until the end of 2018, as largely anticipated by the market.

OPEC also decided to cap the combined output of Nigeria and Libya at 2017 levels below 2.8 MMbpd. Both countries have been exempt from cuts due to unrest and lower-than-normal production.

Falih said it was premature to talk about exiting the cuts at least for a couple of quarters as the world was entering a season of low winter demand. He added that OPEC would examine progress at its next regular meeting in June.

"When we get to an exit, we are going to do it very gradually ... to make sure we don’t shock the market," he said. OPEC and Russia together produce more than 40% of global oil. Moscow's first real cooperation with OPEC, put together with the help of President Vladimir Putin, has been crucial in roughly halving an excess of global oil stocks since January.

With oil prices rising above $60, Russia has expressed concerns that an extension for the whole of 2018 could prompt a spike in crude production in the United States, which is not participating in the deal. A joint OPEC and non-OPEC communique said the next meeting in June 2018 would present an opportunity to adjust the agreement based on market conditions.

Bayer and Monsanto merger receives CFIUS approval

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Bayer and Monsanto said that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States or "CFIUS" has completed its review of the proposed merger, and has concluded that there are no unresolved national security concerns with respect to the transaction, as per Bayer's press release.

The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of required regulatory approvals.

Bayer and Monsanto will continue to cooperate with the authorities in order to complete the transaction in early 2018.

As MRC reported before, in summer 2016, Bayer shareholders voiced skepticism about a Monsanto acquisition. A survey of Bayer shareholders in June found widespread dissatisfaction with the proposed deal, and one Bayer investor has called for a shareholder vote on it.

Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the fields of health care, agriculture and high-tech polymer materials. As an innovation company, it sets trends in research-intensive areas. Bayer's products and services are designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life. At the same time, the Group aims to create value through innovation, growth and high earning power. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development and to its social and ethical responsibilities as a corporate citizen.

thyssenkrupp to build two major polymer plants in Turkey

MOSCOW (MRC) -- thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions’ subsidiary Uhde Inventa-Fischer has signed a contract to build two new world-scale polymer plants for SASA Polyester Sanayi A.S in Adana, Turkey, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

One plant is planned to produce 380,000 tpy of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) for low-viscosity applications.

The second plant will use Uhde Inventa-Fischer’s proprietary patented MTR technology to produce 216,000 tpy of resin for the production of PET bottles. Both new plants are among the largest single-line production plants for their respective products.

The scope of delivery for both projects will include basic and detail engineering, the delivery of all necessary components, and technical services for erection, pre-commissioning and commissioning supervision.

The MTR process eliminates solid-state polycondensation (SSP) and leads to substantial energy savings. It reduces investment, operating and maintenance costs, has a higher raw material yield and results in products of superior quality. The MTR process is based on Uhde Inventa-Fischer’s proprietary 2-reactor technology, which uses the patented ESPREE and DISCAGE reactors to obtain the desired high melt viscosities.

The design of the polycondensation plant will be based on the same proprietary technology, which in this case enables the production of superior high-quality polyester polymer. A characteristic feature of the plant is that the polymer melt will be conveyed directly from the polycondensation plant to several downstream lines.

As MRC informed before, in August 2017, half a year after the announcement of the 2030 strategy, MOL Group reached an important milestone in its industrial transformational journey. The license agreements signed with Evonik and thyssenkrupp, will enable MOL to produce propylene oxide, a key component for the production of polyether polyols. MOL intends to become a significant producer of polyether polyols, high-value intermediates for products applied in the automotive, packaging and furniture industries.

PE imports to Kazakhstan rose by a quarter in ten months of 2017

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Imports of polyethylene (PE) into Kazakhstan grew in the first ten months of 2017 by 25% year on year, totalling about 100,000 tonnes. Shipments of all PE grades increased, reported MRC analysts.

October 2017 PE imports to Kazakhstan rose to 8,500 tonnes from 7,900 tonnes a month earlier, local companies significantly increased their purchasing of high density polyethylene (HDPE) in Russia. Overall PE imports were about 100,000 tonnes in January - October 2017, compared to 79,900 tonnes a year earlier. Purchasing of all PE grades rose, with linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) accounting for the greatest increase.

The structure of PE imports by grades looked the following way over the stated period.

October HDPE imports into Kazakhstan grew to 6,600 tonnes from 6,200 tonnes a month earlier. Local companies managed to increase PE purchasing in Russia after several months of severe restrictions from local producers because of shutdowns for maintenance. Thus, overall HDPE imports reached 76,400 tonnes in the first ten months of 2017, up by 28% year on year.

October purchases of LDPE by local companies increased to 1,500 tonnes from 1,300 tonnes in September, Russian producers raised their shipments. Overall LDPE imports into Kazakhstan totalled about 18,000 tonnes over the stated period, up by 13% year on year.

Purchasing of LLDPE by local companies was 5,600 tonnes in January-October 2017 versus 4,300 tonnes a year earlier.