Petrobras pricing pressure spooks potential refinery buyers

MOSCOW (MRC) -- A surprise decision by Brazil's state-controlled oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA to cut diesel prices in response to truckers' protests is worrying some potential buyers of Petrobras' refineries, three people with knowledge of the matter said, reported Reuters.

Petrobras' planned sale of a 60 percent stake in four refineries, announced on April 19, is part of a wider effort to unload assets to reduce debt. The refineries will be sold in two regional blocks: one in the northeast and another in the southern region of the country, with two refineries each.

Petrobras has said it will retain around 75 percent of its domestic refining capacity after the privatization of the four units.

Petrobras is hoping to get non-binding proposals in early July, two people with knowledge of the sale process said, asking for anonymity because negotiations are private.

Among the groups Petrobras has invited to bid are buyout firms Patria Investimentos Ltda, which has an investment agreement with Blackstone Group LP, and First Reserve Management LP. Other potential buyers are Brazilian firms Ultrapar Participacoes SA and Cosan SA Industria e Comercio , the sources said.

The groups are expected to receive the initial invitations to participate in the process next Monday.

But rising pressure on Petrobras to cut fuel prices, sparked by the truckers' protest this week, has worried some potential acquirers.

Petrobras late on Wednesday said it would slash diesel prices by 10 percent for 15 days to ease pressure while the government tries to reach a permanent deal with truckers to ease price pressure more permanently. The decision triggered a 15 percent plunge in Petrobras shares on Thursday.

Two potential investors told Reuters they worry that changes in Petrobras' pricing policy would strongly affect private competitors, as the state-controlled company plans to keep most of its refining capacity, especially in southeastern Brazil, the country's wealthiest region.

Potential pricing changes to appease the government could create unfair competition, the sources added.

Cosan, Patria, First Reserve did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the matter. Ultrapar declined to comment.

In a conference call with investors on Thursday, Petrobras Chief Executive Officer Pedro Parente, who has insisted that the diesel price cut does not change the company's overall pricing policy, also said it would not jeopardize the refinery sale plan.

But the sources said investors were likely to demand more guarantees related to pricing policies in the refineries sale process as a result.

As MRC wrote previously, in late October 2017, Petrobras’s minority stakes in Braskem and Deten Quimica was excluded from Petrobras’s divestment program, according to a government decree published in Brazil’s Official Gazette last week. The decree prevents Petrobras from immediately selling its minority stake in Braskem, which had been announced this year. A new decree will be required to release the stock sale.

Headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, Petrobras is an integrated energy firm. Petrobras' activities include exploration, exploitation and production of oil from reservoir wells, shale and other rocks as well as refining, processing, trade and transport of oil and oil products, natural gas and other fluid hydrocarbons, in addition to other energy-related activities.

SABIC introduces new series of high modulus ductile compounds to the Americas, Europe

MOSCOW (MRC) -- SABIC, a global leader in the chemical industry, is introducing its next-generation THERMOCOMP HMD-D compounds to the Americas and Europe here at NPE 2018, as per the company's press release.

Initially launched in Asia, these materials, on display at the company’s booth (S19001), expand SABIC’s THERMOCOMP™ portfolio of specialty compounds with high-performance, glass-reinforced polycarbonate (PC) materials. The new series of six grades delivers a unique combination of high modulus and ductility to enable lighter, thinner and stronger parts that advance design innovation and ease of use. They are engineered for challenging structural components in the consumer electronics, healthcare and transportation sectors.

"From smartphone cases to medical device housings and mass transit interior panels, there is an urgent need on the part of OEMs to replace metal and other traditional materials to reduce weight, expand design freedom and cut processing costs and complexity,” said Joshua Chiaw, director of compounds at SABIC. “THERMOCOMP™ HMD-D compounds not only avoid the drawbacks of metal, they also add value with breakthrough ductility performance and excellent stiffness, which open opportunities for use in a wide range of structural applications. Based on enthusiastic and widespread adoption by our customers in Asia, we are expanding the availability of these materials to the Americas and Europe."

To achieve lighter weight and thinner geometries in structural applications, THERMOCOMP™ HMD-D compounds deliver high performance in key mechanical properties that previously were mutually exclusive. The materials offer both better ductility and dimensional stability/warpage control than other high-modulus PC-based materials. This distinctive combination of attributes allows, for example, the creation of thin-wall devices that may withstand stringent drop testing without cracking.

The new compounds use special glass fibers that minimize warpage. Grades with different glass fiber loadings (10 percent through 50 percent) are available to meet various modulus requirements.

THERMOCOMP™ HMD-D products also deliver good strength for metal replacement while reducing weight due to their low specific gravity. They provide an excellent surface appearance by minimizing the floating of glass fibers to the surface and improved melt flow, which, unlike parts made with various competitive materials, are not affected by heat and moisture aging. Together with good color-matching capability and color stability, these characteristics help manufacturers appeal to fashion-conscious consumers of electronic devices and to patients who use home medical devices. All grades feature halogen-free flame retardancy to support sustainability efforts.


Index of chemical production in Russia increased by 2.8% in January-April

MOSCOW (MRC) - April production of chemicals in the Russian Federation fell by 2.3% compared to a month earlier.
Nevertheless, this indicator increased by 2.8% for the first four months, according to Rosstat.

According to the Federal Service of State Statistics of the Russian Federation, April production of basic chemicals fell by 2.3% compared to March, the output of all key products declined. In general, the cumulative result in January - April of this year, the production index of basic chemicals increased by 2.8%.

April production of ethylene reached 244,000 tonnes against 264,000 tonnes a month earlier. Russia's production of ethylene in the first four months of the year increased to 1.027 mln tonnes, up only 1.6% more than in 2017.

Russia's production of benzene in April decreased to 116,000 tonnes, compared to 134,000 tonnes in March.
January-April production of benzene in Russia reached 505,800 tonnes, up 4.9% year on year.

April production of sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) amounted to 96,700 tonnes (100% of the main substance) against 112,000 tonnes a month earlier, the reduction in the output was a result of the scheduled maintenance works at RusVinyl. Total production of caustic soda increased to 425,700 tonnes in January-April, up 1.6% year on year.

April production of mineral fertilizers was 1.99 mln tonnes (in terms of 100% of nutrients), compared to 2.046 mln tonnes in March. In general, January-April production of mineral fertilizers in Russia was about 8.022 mln tonnes, up 5.2% year on year. The most significant increase was seen in the production of nitrogen fertilizers, with an increase to the previous year - 7%.

DSM and Chromatic 3D Materials partner to develop 3D printing materials for finished manufactured goods

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Royal DSM, a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and materials, has announced that it has entered a preferred partnership with Chromatic 3D Materials to introduce thermoset materials for 3D-printing of finished manufactured goods, as per the company's press release.

With the collaboration, DSM further expands its portfolio, now offering the broadest selection of 3D printing materials for the broadest range of printing technologies.

"Additive manufacturing or 3D printing technology has the potential to fundamentally change the way products are manufactured - offering consumers personalized and customized products currently not feasible", says Hugo da Silva, Vice President of Additive Manufacturing at DSM. "This requires that manufacturers have a choice of the best combination of material, printing process and software for their application needs. With this partnership with Chromatic, we can offer our customers industrial-grade thermosets currently not available for additive manufacturing."

Chromatic 3D is one of the few companies that know how to develop technologies to 3D-print with thermosets, a broad class of materials offering adaptability, durability and resilience not possible with thermoplastics used in conventional 3D printing processes.

Combining DSM’s global market access and expertise with Chromatic’s patented technology, the partners will jointly develop thermoset materials that DSM’s customer’s strategic growth markets are looking for to 3D-print end-use applications. Initial products to be rolled out by DSM include industrial-grade soft and durable thermosets, which are complementary to DSM’s current portfolio of thermoplastics for fused filament fabrication (FFF). Starting immediately, the companies will build a broader portfolio based on customer needs in the strategic markets of footwear (in- and midsoles), transportation (such as in the growing area of automotive electronics), healthcare, electronics and tooling.

“Chromatic 3D Materials and DSM Additive Manufacturing have a shared vision to deliver high performance, industrial grade 3D Printing solutions to manufacturing. Together, we will make the dreams of industrial implementation of 3D Printing a reality”, said Cora Liebig, CEO of Chromatic.

As MRC wrote earlier, in November 2017, Royal DSM announced a new approach for its additive manufacturing (AM) activities. By aligning all its AM activities within the Materials cluster and promoting a partnership approach, DSM can provide customers an open and flexible infrastructure. This will help customers to find exactly the right materials and production systems for their applications. The new customer-centric organization will build on experience and expertise from all of DSM’s existing materials businesses, combining deep market segment-specific application understanding and expertise in all polymer AM processing technology platforms.

Royal DSM is a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and materials. DSM delivers innovative solutions that nourish, protect and improve performance in global markets such as food and dietary supplements, personal care, feed, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, automotive, paints, electrical and electronics, life protection, alternative energy and bio-based materials.

Honeywell control room technology transforms efficiency of Riikinvoima Oy Waste-To-Energy Plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS) announced that Riikinvoima Oy, a leading Finnish provider of sustainable energy, has transformed the operational efficiency of its flagship waste incineration plant in Leppavirta, Finland, with Honeywell Experion® Orion control room technology, as per the company's press release.

The control room at Riikinvoima Oy featuring Honeywell's Experion® Orion Console.

Based on a human factor study, the two-position Experion Orion Console incorporates intuitive graphics that allow safer, faster and more consistent operations, from process start-ups to abnormal situations and alarms. The console's ergonomic design reduces fatigue and creates a healthier working environment as well as higher situational awareness for plant operators.

"A crucial factor for the success of this project was a joint workshop, in which we defined key elements of the human machine interface (HMI) design," said Juha Rasanen, managing director at Riikinvoima Oy. "Now we are able to control our process in a standardized way, no matter who is running the plant, and react to any changes in the boiler condition quickly. This is how we can convert waste into energy in a safer, more environmentally-friendly and efficient way, allowing us to cost-effectively deliver energy to our customers."

The new technologies are enabling Riikinvoima Oy to run its circulating fluidized bed boiler – the first of its type in Finland – at an optimal level, meeting strict environmental regulations. In addition to the Experion Orion Console, the Leppavirta site will implement Honeywell's Field Device Manager, which uses smart instrumentation to perform device configuration and management capabilities. It will also add Control Performance Monitor, an application that monitors, diagnoses and remedies control asset issues, allowing Riikinvoima Oy to detect problems and predict maintenance needs as early as possible.

"This is very much a control room of the future," said Joe Bastone, global Experion product director, HPS. "Our solution combines human factors science with advanced technology to present critical data to operational engineers in a totally new way. This has helped improve and standardize process control at the site, unleashing new production efficiencies that are strengthening the business."

Riikinvoima Oy previously implemented Honeywell's Experion Process Knowledge System (PKS) and Safety Manager, the company's flagship distributed control system and its safety solution. Honeywell also supplied Uniformance PHD, which helps customers make better and faster decisions by using advanced data management. Honeywell was initially selected as a technology supplier by global EPC Andritz Group.