Iraqs SOMO January exports 3.5 MMbpd, could top December's record

MOSCOW (MRC) - Crude oil exports by Iraq state-oil marketer SOMO ran at an average rate of 3.5 MMbpd in January, an Iraqi oil official said on Monday in Baghdad, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

With two more days left in January, the average of the month could top December's 3.535 MMbpd record, SOMO's acting director general Alaa al-Yasiri told reporters. Total exports for the country should be higher as SOMO does not control oil sales from the northern semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, estimated at more than 200,000 bpd.

"SOMO's recent export rate increase is not due to higher production, but to a drop in local consumption," he said. It was not immediately clear why consumption had fallen.

Exports could increase further as Iraq plans to start exports next week from the northern Kirkuk oilfield to Iran, using tanker trucks, he said.

Trucking crude to Iran's Kermanshah refinery will come under a swap agreement announced last month by the two countries to allow a resumption of oil exports from Kirkuk. Iraq and Iran have agreed to swap up to 60,000 barrels per day of crude produced from Kirkuk for Iranian oil to be delivered to southern Iraq.

Kirkuk crude sales have been halted since Iraqi forces took back control of the fields from the Kurds in October. Kurdish forces took control of Kirkuk in 2014, when the Iraqi army collapsed in the face of Islamic State. The Kurdish move prevented the militants from seizing the region's oilfields.

Iraq and Iran are also planning to build a pipeline to carry the oil from Kirkuk to avoid having to truck the crude, Luaibi said last month. The planned pipeline could replace the existing export route from Kirkuk via Turkey and the Mediterranean.

With an output of 4.4 MMbpd in December, Iraq is the second-largest producer of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), after Saudi Arabia. The country is producing below its maximum capacity of nearly 5 MMbpd in implementation an agreement between OPEC and other exporters including Russia to curtail global supply in order to support oil prices.

Pumping on Colombias Transandino pipeline halted after bomb attack

MOSCOW (MRC) - Pumping on Colombia's southern Transandino pipeline was halted on Sunday after a bomb attack by the ELN rebels spilled crude into a river, state-run oil company Ecopetrol and the military said, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The National Liberation Army (ELN) is in the midst of a renewed offensive against the military and oil infrastructure, after the end of a months-long ceasefire amid peace talks to end more than 53 years of war.

The attack, which occurred late on Saturday in Mallama municipality in Narino province, has not affected exports or crude production at fields in the southern jungle zone along the border with Ecuador, Ecopetrol said.

The 109-mile Transandino has the capacity to transport 85,000 barrels of crude per day.

The ELN, which has some 2,000 fighters, has killed two police officers and one soldier in attacks since the ceasefire ended on Jan. 9. The group on Saturday kidnapped an Ecopetrol contractor repairing damage to the Cano-Limon pipeline, also bombed by the ELN, the army said.

President Juan Manuel Santos has recalled the head of the government's negotiating team at the peace talks in Quito back to Bogota to discuss the future of talks.

PTTGC gets board approval to invest in new Map Ta Phut olefins facility

MOSCOW (MRC) -- PTT Global Chemical (PTTGC) has received board of directors' approval to invest in a new olefins project at Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate, Rayong Province, Thailand, as per Apic-online.

The project, expected to cost about USD985-million, in-volves a new facility with a production capacity of 500,000 t/y of ethylene and 250,000 t/y of propylene, using naphtha and liquefied petroleum gas as the main feedstocks. Commercial operations are planned to begin in 2020.

Once complete, PTTGC's nameplate olefins capacity will increase to more than 3.7-million t/y from nearly 3-million t/y currently.

An engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) agreement for the project was signed on 23 Jan. 2018, the company noted. Details of the agreement were not given; however, according to a Korean press report, the EPC contract was awarded to Samsung Engineering.

In 2016, PCN reported that the company was also planning to carry out a feasibility study for downstream production of acrylic acid, styrene, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene and polystyrene, among others.

As MRC informed before, PTT is on track to start commercial operations at its new 400,000 mt/year metallocene C6 linear low density polyethylene (MLLDPE) plant at Map Ta Phut, Thailand, in the first quarter of 2018. PTT had started up the plant by the end of last year.

PTT currently has a total capacity of 800,000 mt/year of HDPE, 300,000 mt/year of low density polyethylene (LDPE) and 400,000 mt/year of LLDPE at the same site.

PTT Global Chemical is a leading player in the petrochemical industry and owns several petrochemical facilities with a combined capacity of 8.45 million tonnes a year.

Nippon Shokubai plans capacity boost for performance chemicals in Japan

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Nippon Shokubai said it is planning to increase production capacities for its functional monomer VEAA and functional polymers EPOCROS and EPOMIN at sites in Japan, in order to meet strong growth in global demand, as per Apic-online.

VEAA production capacity will be raised at the company's Himeji plant. Mechanical completion is scheduled for December 2019.

Nippon Shokubai will also increase EPOCROS production capacity at Himeji, with completion expected in August 2018.

At the company's Kawasaki facility, EPOMIN produc-tion capacity will boosted. Mechanical completion is anticipated in September 2019. Nippon did not give the capacities of the plants.

As MRC informed earlier, in November 2015, Nippon Shokubai Co announced that Nippon Shokubai Europe, a subsidiary in Belgium, had held a groundbreaking ceremony for new superabsorbent polymer (SAP) plant and acrylic acid (AA) plant in its plant site in Antwerp, Belgium.

Nippon Shokubai Co., Ltd. provides ethylene oxide, acrylic, superabsorbents, performance chemicals, and catalyst and green energy materials. It operates through three segments: Basic Chemicals, Functional Chemicals, and Environment & Catalysts.

China plans first lab on ocean oil spill cleaning

MOSCOW (MRC) - China's Ministry of Transport is planning to establish a laboratory specializing in treating oil spills at sea, the first of its kind in the country, local media Science and Technology Daily reported on Sunday, asper Hydrocarbonprocessing.

China is spending some 200 million yuan a year on research for emergency treatment of oil spills but the technological expertise has not been widely applied because of lack of such a lab, the report said.

The laboratory is planned in northern port city of Tianjin, off the Bohai Bay, with an initial investment of USD63 million. The investment will go to research projects on oceanic ecological protection and safety issues for sea-borne transportation.

To date, only the United States and France have laboratories capable of undertaking tests and inspections required in treating ocean oil spills, the report said.

The Iranian oil tanker Sanchi collided with a dry cargo vessel early this month about 160 nautical miles off China's east coast, in the world's worst oil tanker disaster for decades.