Iraq to increase Kirkuk oilfields output to supply refineries

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Iraq's state-run North Oil Company (NOC) has begun testing operations at its Avana and Bai Hassan oilfields in Kirkuk to increase crude supply for domestic refineries, Iraqi officials said on Wednesday, as per Reuters.

"We have started testing operations at Avana and Bai Hassan oilfields to prepare initial pumping of more than 50 Mbpd," one NOC official said.

Operations at the Avana and Bai Hassan fields have been halted since October when Iraqi forces took them back after they had been under Kurdish control since 2014.

Oil exports from Kirkuk fields have been suspended amid an ongoing dispute between Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) over the use of the Ceyhan export pipeline to Turkey.

Iraqi oil officials said there were no plans to resume crude flow through the Kurdish-owned pipeline, as no agreement had been reached yet.

"Until this moment we didn't reach any kind of agreement, even an initial, with Kurdish authorities to resume Kirkuk oil exports to Ceyhan," said an oil ministry official.

The Kurdish region operates a pipeline that connects to the twin Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline at Khabur on the border with Turkey.

Iraq started late last year to divert output from Kirkuk oilfields to local refineries to boost fuel production and help free up more oil for exports from the southern oilfields.

Aramco tends to Asian consumer relations

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Aramco’s deepening network of ties with major Asian crude buyers gained fresh impetus in late February, as per Yourpetrochemicalnews.

At home, efforts to enlist the company’s key existing foreign partners in delivering the kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic blueprint bore fruit in a commitment by a long-standing Japanese investor to establish a steel mill at Ras al-Khair. Aramco is leading the development of a flagship maritime services complex at the port in the Eastern Province, north of Jubail.

Meanwhile, ministers from Riyadh and New Delhi confirmed that final details were being ironed out for the Saudi company’s long-mooted entry into the refining sector of India – the world’s third largest and fastest-growing oil consumer.

On February 28, Aramco announced signature of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Japan’s Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal and parent company Sumitomo Corp. to conduct a feasibility study on a proposed integrated steel mill producing steel plates – which would be established in Ras al-Khair.

No detail was provided on the envisaged capacity, cost or timeframe of the project. However, the announcement noted the potential uses of steel plates – namely the manufacture of pipes, pressure vessels, marine vessels and offshore platforms – making clear the linkage with the wider Ras al-Khair maritime complex development, where operations are scheduled to start in 2021.

The estimated USD5.2 billion scheme is being developed by Aramco in joint venture (JV) with local shipping affiliate Bahri, UAE-based fabricator Lamprell and South Korean shipbuilding giant Hyundai Heavy Industries – and will encompass ship and rig building and repair services.

Several other foreign companies have also committed to establishing ancillary projects. Sumitomo Corp. is a long-established 50:50 Aramco partner in the 13-year-old Rabigh Refining & Petrochemical Co. (PetroRabigh) JV – the project company for the Saudi firm’s maiden integrated refining and petrochemicals complex, at Rabigh on the Red Sea coast.

Other international investments in the wider Ras al-Khair development have likewise been linked to partnership elsewhere in Aramco’s far-reaching operations.

US contracting stalwart McDermott signed an MoU in March 2017 to establish a manufacturing facility at the nascent offshore services hub. This included commitments whose failure to meet which would have consequences for McDermott’s lucrative position as a signatory of one of Aramco’s long-term agreements (LTAs). These grant qualification for tens of billions of dollars-worth of offshore contracting.

Meanwhile, Lamprell’s commitment to the Ras al-Khair complex was rewarded with negotiations, still ongoing, on joining the exclusive LTA pool.

In mid-2016, US-based GE Oil & Gas – which last year merged with compatriot BakerHughes, a major supplier of oilfield services to Aramco – and Italy’s Cividale signed an agreement to establish a 50,000-75,000-tpy forgings and castings manufacturing facility at the east coast site.

Honeywell helps refiners meet Euro V standards With new catalyst

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Honeywell UOP has introduced a new catalyst that can more efficiently remove sulfur and nitrogen from lower-value diesel blending components, allowing them to meet Euro V clean fuels specifications, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Honeywell UOP’s ULTIMet catalyst, the newest addition to its Unity hydrotreating portfolio, has more active sites for chemical reactions and can be used as a drop-in reload to "debottleneck" a unit, resulting in increased plant capacity with no additional capital expense. The new catalyst also can be loaded in combination with conventional hydrotreating catalysts to further improve their performance.

"The ULTIMet catalyst enables refiners facing stricter fuel requirements to achieve higher quality product specifications and greater profitability," said Jose Carrazza, Vice President and General Manager of Honeywell UOP’s Catalysts, Adsorbents & Specialties business. "This new catalyst also delivers greater operating flexibility than conventional catalysts in hydrotreaters, so it can handle more challenging, lower-priced feedstocks."

The ULTIMet catalyst also has the high strength and attrition resistance necessary to prevent breaking, which ensures a more reliable operation and helps extend the operating cycle by as much as 50 to 75 percent.

Hydrotreating is a critical step in the refining process where hydrogen and a proprietary catalyst are used to remove sulfur and other contaminants before conversion into transportation fuels. The process produces a cleaner-burning diesel fuel product that meets new fuel regulations such as the Euro V standard, which specifies sulfur content of less than 10 parts per million in transportation fuels.

Honeywell UOP’s line of Unity catalysts includes more than two dozen hydrotreating catalysts for hydrocracking and fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) pre-treat, and diesel, kerosene and coker naphtha hydrotreating. Honeywell UOP also offers catalysts for naphtha hydrotreating and FCC gasoline desulfurization.

Honeywell UOP inaugurated the use of catalysts in the refining industry in 1931, beginning with solid phosphoric acid. This and subsequent processes significantly raised the yield of high-octane transportation fuels. Today, Honeywell UOP is recognized as a leading developer of advanced catalysts for the refining industry.

As MRC informed before, in January 2018, Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS) announced that BASF had opened a state-of-the-art control room equipped with Honeywell Experion technology at its waste incineration complex in Ludwigshafen, Germany. The control room was officially inaugurated on November 28, 2017, by Dr. Uwe Liebelt, president, BASF European Site and Verbund Management, and Vimal Kapur, president of HPS.

ELIX Polymers selected by Gigaset for its new home alarm system

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Gigaset, one of the world's largest manufacturers of cordless (DECT) phones and the clear market leader in Europe, has chosen ELIX M201AS from ELIX Polymers, a leading manufacturer of acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) resins and derivatives, for the housings of various components in its new Gigaset Smart Home Alarm system, as per ELIX Polymers' press release.

Three key properties called for by Gigaset for the housings were UV stability, chemical resistance and high gloss surface finish, without the need for any post-moulding treatments. ELIX M201AS, coloured in a customized white, best met the company’s requirements.

"ELIX M201AS has been our material of choice for many years for our DECT phones because it offers an excellent surface quality combined with chemical resistance and perfect processability, as well as very good mechanical properties," says Johannes Benning, an engineer at Gigaset. "It also has very good antistatic properties, so that products do not attract dust. It made sense for us to extend its use into our complementary range of products in home safety."

In fact, ELIX M201AS is used in many electrical and electronics applications around the home. Its physical and chemical properties are ideal for parts in continuous, long-term use, for which high-quality surface appearance is especially important. The compound contains special additives, not only to give it extra UV stability, but which also enable parts to be marked by lasers for identification and decorative purposes.

"We are very proud of the long cooperation with Gigaset and for being considered as a reliable and preferred partner for high quality ABS," comments Joachim Kroeger, Sales Manager ELIX Polymers. "We believe that the close collaboration that we have with the technical department at Gigaset - and indeed at many other customers and partners - enables us to analyse and identify their technical needs and to provide the best technical solutions and service."

ELIX Polymers backs up its comprehensive offering in ABS with customer services based on flexibility, proactivity, proximity to customers, a global perspective, and tailor-made solutions. Its multidisciplinary technical service team is equipped with the capabilities and resources to support customers throughout their product development processes. Whether it is a new colour development or the selection of the right material to comply with complex regulations, ELIX Polymers can provide highly experienced professionals with specialist knowledge in market segments that span automotive, appliances, E&E, consumer goods, healthcare, and beyond.

The Gigaset Smart Home Alarm system provides protection solutions for homes of all sizes, keeping owners up to date about the security status of their properties via a combination of small local sensors, cloud-connection and smartphone app. The Gigaset elements alarm system S contains base station, door sensor, motion sensor and siren and can be individually extended by a Wi-Fi-indoor camera and several other sensors.

As MRC wrote before, in February 2016, ELIX Polymers unveiled an upgraded version of P2MC as well as new ABS grades to complete the plating portfolio. Target applications for these electroplating grades include radiator grilles, logos, profiles, tailgate handles, and decorative interior parts.

ELIX Polymers is one of the most important manufacturers of ABS resins and derivatives in Europe, with 40 years of experience in engineering plastics and an installed capacity of 180,000/year from their plant in Tarragona (Spain) to the world. The operation starts in 1975, when the Tarragona ABS and SAN production plant was inaugurated.

CCL Industries buying Treofan Americas film operations for USD255 million

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Toronto-based packaging supplier CCL Industries Inc. is buying the Treofan Americas operations in Canada, the U.S., and Latin America from M&C SpA of Italy for USD255 million, as per Canplastics.

In a statement, CCL said its purchase includes a plant that produces biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) film in Zacapu, Mexico, and a sales office and distribution centre in North Carolina, along with other offices.

When it finalizes the deal in the second quarter, CCL will fold the operations into the Innovia business it acquired in early 2017. Its Innovia business already runs BOPP extrusion plants in Atlanta, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Australia, and Mexico.

CCL said the purchase will give it access to Treofan’s expertise in cavitated film for labels and packaging and its emphasis on wrap-around and in-mold decoration. Innovia has been targeting pressure-sensitive labels. The combination covers the major label growth technologies with the exception of sleeves.