Keiyo Monomer plans to resume VCM plant in Chiba after turnaround

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Keiyo Monomer is likely to restart its vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) plant following a maintenance turnaround, as per Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in Japan informed that the plant is planned to be brought on-stream in end-March 2018. The plant was shut for miantenance in mid-February 2018.

Located in Chiba, Japan, the plant has a production capacity of 200,000 mt/year.

As MRC informed before, Keiyo Monomer shut its VCM plant in Chiba for maintenance turnaround in mid-February 2015. It remained off-stream for around one month.

Citgo Petroleum slows Aruba refinery revamp due to U.S. sanctions

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Houston-based Citgo Petroleum has slowed work on an overhaul of its 235 Mbpd Aruba refinery due to a lack of financing stemming from U.S. sanctions on Venezuela's state-run PDVSA, the refining firm said, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Sanctions imposed last year by the United States on Venezuela have limited access to long-term credit for PDVSA and its subsidiaries, affecting many oil projects in the South American country and Caribbean islands where they operate.

"Citgo Aruba ... needs to slow down the refinery revamp project due to sanctions by the U.S. government on PDVSA which are not allowing us to get additional financing for the project," the unit said in a press release late on Tuesday.

The Caribbean refinery has been leased since 2016 by Citgo, the U.S. refining subsidiary of PDVSA, under a 25-year agreement with the Aruba government that also includes an extensive USD685 million overhaul aimed at restarting operations at the inactive refinery and converting the facility to a crude upgrader.

"We are working hard to find a solution and hope to fully resume the project in the near future," said James Cristman,Citgo's refining vice president, in the release, adding that 600 workers had been hired for the project.

Citgo Aruba did not say how long work would be delayed at the refinery, which has remained idle since 2012. The Aruba government declined to comment.

At the end of 2016 two consortia, including Japanese engineering firm JGC Corp and French oil services company Technip, were shortlisted to handle the refurbishment.

Months later Citgo asked its cash-strapped parent company PDVSA to provide initial funding of $100 million, according to an internal document seen by Reuters, but the credit was not granted and there has been little progress since then due to the lack of financing.

PU aerogel from BASF wins 2018 German Design Award

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The PU aerogel insulation material Slentite from BASF has received the 2018 German Design Award from the German Design Council, according to GV.

The distinction was awarded for good product design in the Building and Elements category. The expert jury stressed particularly the varied opportunities that the material offers architects, designers and planners as a result of its product characteristics.

According to the manufacturer, the insulation panel consists of up to 90 % air and permits up to 50 % slimmer insulation than conventional materials. Various projects in the construction sector are currently being realised with cooperation partners. Slentite is said to be the first breathable aerogel to be produced as a solid polyurethane panel. The clean, dust-free panels can be cut to size on site and applied directly to walls or coated beforehand. The product thus enables space-saving insulation solutions in both new builds and energy upgrades, said BASF.

"We are proud of the award," said Marc Fricke, Slentite project manager at BASF, on the occasion of the commendation. "It confirms that we have succeeded in many years of in-depth research in developing a product that will deliver true added value to the marketplace. We already look forward to reporting on the first specific live projects in which Slentite is making that decisive difference."

As MRC wrote before, in April 2016, BASF celebrated the inauguration of its new facilities for the production of Ucrete in Bukit Raja, Klang/Malaysia. It was the first manufacturing hub in Asia Pacific to produce all components of Ucrete.

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.

China becomes world second largest LNG importer behind Japan

MOSCOW (MRC) -- China surpassed South Korea to become the world’s second-largest importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2017, according to data from IHS Markit and official Chinese government statistics, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Chinese imports of LNG averaged 5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2017, exceeded only by Japanese imports of 11 Bcf/d. Imports of LNG by China, driven by government policies designed to reduce air pollution, increased by 1.6 Bcf/d (46%) in 2017, with monthly imports reaching 7.8 Bcf/d in December.

China’s imports of natural gas have grown to meet increasing domestic natural gas consumption, which has been primarily driven by environmental policies to transition away from coal-fired electricity generation. The Chinese government has also implemented policies to convert several million residential households in China’s northern provinces, which traditionally rely on coal heating in the winter, to use natural gas-fired boilers instead.

Natural gas storage capacity in China is relatively limited, estimated at just 3% of total natural gas consumption. China’s seasonal peak demand is met primarily by natural gas imports, either by pipeline from Central Asia or by shipments of LNG. Despite increases in China’s domestic production and in pipeline imports in 2017, natural gas shortages in northern China led to record levels of LNG imports during the 2017 winter. Overall, natural gas imports accounted for 40% of China’s 2017 natural gas supply, and LNG made up more than half of those imports.

China has 17 LNG import terminals at 14 ports along its coastline, with a combined regasification capacity of 7.4 Bcf/d. Annual utilization rates at LNG import terminals averaged about 50% from 2013 through 2016, but the rate increased to 69% in 2017. Colder-than-normal winter weather increased natural gas demand and led LNG import terminals in the northern and central coastal regions of China to exceed nameplate capacity by 30% and 20%, respectively, in December 2017.

EIA expects natural gas consumption in China to continue to increase - driven by economics and environmental policies - and imports and increasing domestic production will be used to meet growing demand. China’s LNG import capacity is expected to reach 11.2 Bcf/d by 2021, once capacity expansions at existing terminals and new terminals currently under construction are completed. EIA also expects China’s imports of natural gas by pipeline to increase, especially as the Power of Siberia pipeline from Russia comes online by the end of 2019.

U.S. LNG exports to China increased significantly last year, from 17.2 Bcf in 2016 to 103 Bcf in 2017. China accounted for nearly 15% of U.S. LNG exports in 2017, behind only Mexico and South Korea. In November 2017, the United States and China signed several preliminary agreements for U.S. LNG exports to China, including exports from Sabine Pass on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, the fully approved Delfin LNG offshore export project off Louisiana’s coast, and the proposed Alaska LNG project. In February 2018, Cheniere Energy and the China National Petroleum Corporation signed two long-term contracts for LNG from Sabine Pass and new LNG facility under construction near Corpus Christi, Texas.

Russia remains China top oil supplier as pipeline expands

MOSCOW (MRC) - Russia remained the top crude oil supplier to China in January, data showed, beginning 2018 on a strong note after the start-up of an expanded trans-Siberia pipeline and as Beijing released more crude import quotas to independent refiners, as per Reuters.

Russian supplies came in at 5.67 million tonnes, or 1.34 MMbpd, up 23.4 percent from a year earlier, data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs showed. The January number compared with 1.194 Mbpd in December.

Last month, data showed Russia notched up its second year as China's largest supplier in 2017, surpassing Saudi Arabia - OPEC's top exporter - by some 150 Mbpd.

The strong Russian exports to the world's largest crude oil buyer came as a second East Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline started commercial operation in January. In a reshuffle of the pack, Angola ranked second with 4.68 million tonnes, or 1.1 MMbpd, of crude in January, down 5.4 percent from a year earlier.

China imported 4.45 million tonnes, or 1.05 MMbpd, of crude from Iraq, up 28 percent from a year ago. Saudi Arabia supplied 4.29 million tonnes, or 1.01 MMbpd, to China in January. That was down 15 percent from the same year-ago rate and compared with 1.11 MMbpd in December.

Even so, exports from the kingdom are expected to rise to record levels this year as Saudi Aramco ramps up supplies to Chinese state oil firm CNOOC, as well as the Huajin refinery owned by defence giant NORINCO.

China's total crude oil imports last month soared 20 percent from the same month a year earlier to a record rate of 9.57 million barrels per day, beating the previous peak of 9.17 MMbpd.

Customs data also showed China's oil imports from the United States soared to 2.01 million tonnes last month, or roughly 472,508 bpd. That compares with just 257,861 tonnes a year ago.

In 2017, U.S. shipments, which benefited from OPEC-led supply cuts, averaged about 153 Mbpd.