CCI Approves USD66 Billion Bayer-Monsanto Deal

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Fair trade regulator CCI has approved the German giant Bayer’s proposed USD66 billion acquisition of U.S.-based biotech firm Monsanto, subject to certain modifications to the long-pending deal, reported Bloomberg.

The approval to the deal, announced in September 2016, assumes significance in the wake of Monsanto facing opposition from various quarters within India over promotion of genetically modified crops, as also over royalty and patent issues.

The clearance from the Competition Commission of India is one of the several regulatory approvals required by Bayer in various countries to close the deal.

Announcing its approval last week, the CCI tweeted that it has cleared "acquisition of Monsanto by Bayer AG, subject to compliance of certain modifications". Mergers and acquisitions beyond a certain threshold require approval of the CCI.

India is one of the 30 countries whose approval is needed for the merger of worldwide operations of the two companies. The major approvals still required are from the U.S. Department of Justice as also regulators in Canada and Mexico.

After getting the CCI nod, Bayer said in a statement that the CCI has conditionally approved its proposed acquisition of Monsanto.

The acquisition of Monsanto will create a global leader in agriculture with a broad portfolio, providing superior product offerings and tailor-made solutions to farmers across all crops, in all geographies, the German chemical and pharma firm said.

In January, CCI had launched a public consultation process to determine whether the merger between the global giants, to create the world’s largest seeds and pesticide firm, will have any adverse impact on competition in India.

In India, both entities have presence in production and sale of vegetable seeds, cotton seeds as well as in production and sale of non-selective herbicides, according to that public notice.

Both companies have presence in India, with the U.S. firm selling genetically modified cotton seeds in the country for more than a decade.

The Bayer group is present in India since 1896 and it has two divisions - crop science and pharmaceuticals. The group has one listed entity in India - Bayer CropScience Ltd that posted a revenue from operation of nearly Rs 3,000 crore last fiscal.

Bayer India had an annual revenue of 600 million euros (about Rs 4,700 crore) in 2017, Richard van der Merwe, the senior Bayer representative, South Asia, had said in January this year.

Monsanto would add seed business to Bayer’s already significant crop science and pharmaceutical business in India.

As MRC informed before, in the second half of March 2018, Bayer received the green light from the EU to buy Monsanto, after promising to sell off substantial parts of its business, clearing a major hurdle to the last of a trio of mega-mergers consolidating the global agrochemical industry.

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.

Cureton Midstream to use Honeywell connected plant to improve reliability of gas processing

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Honeywell announced that Cureton Midstream LLC will use Honeywell Connected Plant to provide prescriptive monitoring of its UOP Russell gas processing plant in Weld County, Colo, as per the company's press release.

The plant is designed to cryogenically extract 99 percent of ethane and 100 percent of propane from natural gas supplied by producers in the Niobrara basin.

Cureton will use the Honeywell Connected Plant's Process Insight Reliability Advisor to feed plant data through Honeywell UOP fault models to provide performance analysis and recommendations. Honeywell's Reliability Advisor will help the plant run more smoothly and mitigate issues that impact plant productivity and profitability.

"Reliability Advisor is unique in gas processing because it applies Honeywell UOP's proprietary process knowledge and deep troubleshooting experience to recommend operational adjustments more quickly and accurately than has ever been possible before," said Zak Alzein, Vice President, Connected Plant, at Honeywell UOP. "This ensures that gas processing plants can run at the peak of their capability."

Honeywell Connected Plant is a suite of applications that delivers higher levels of safety, reliability, efficiency and profitability. These proven industry solutions are based on decades of Honeywell's domain knowledge and controls experience. These solutions turn data into actionable insight to optimize operations, predict plant failures and eliminate unplanned downtime.

As part of Honeywell's Connected Plant portfolio, Reliability Advisor gives gas processing plants -- as well as refineries and petrochemical facilities -- greater visibility into their operations so they can identify and resolve problems that often avoid detection and hamper production. It also can help plants avoid unplanned shutdowns for maintenance and repair that would cost plant operators millions of dollars per year in lost productivity.

"Reliability Advisor is a powerful software service because it combines process data with UOP expertise to give our customers a deeper view of what's happening in their plants," Alzein said. "It ties plant data to the right domain knowledge to provide new insights that improve operational reliability."

Honeywell Connected Plant also includes Process Insight Optimization Advisor, which continuously monitors streaming plant data and applies Honeywell UOP process models to determine economic optimization.

Cureton is a Denver-based midstream company focused on providing commercial solutions to its customers. Cureton was founded in 2016, bringing experience in engineering, construction and operating assets across the United States. The company has overseen projects and operations in Colorado, North Dakota, Utah, Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana.

Honeywell UOP is a leading international supplier and licensor of process technology, catalysts, adsorbents, equipment, and consulting services to the petroleum refining, petrochemical, and gas processing industries. Honeywell UOP is part of Honeywell's Performance Materials and Technologies strategic business group, which also includes Honeywell Process Solutions, a pioneer in automation control, instrumentation and services for the oil and gas, refining, petrochemical, chemical and other industries.

EBRD finances upgrade of Egypts Suez refinery

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Supporting the modernization of Egypt’s oil industry, the EBRD is providing a USD200 million for major investments in energy efficiency and refurbishment of the oil refinery owned by Suez Oil Processing Company (SOPC), as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The plant has a throughput capacity of three million tonnes each year or 68,000 barrels of oil per day (BOPD) and is located at the entrance of the Suez Canal, adjacent to the city of Suez. It plays a crucial role in servicing the local market where a developing economy, a growing population, and an ageing infrastructure are putting pressure on meeting ever-rising demand.

The EBRD funds will finance investments to modernize the refinery with technical updates which will improve its operational performance. The investments will increase the flexibility of the plant’s crude intake and allow for the production of higher quality fuels and lower sulphur fuels.

The refinery will also undergo an extensive energy efficiency programme, leading to a direct reduction of over 295,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) each year and estimated yearly savings of 300,000 MWh of energy and 384,000 m3 of water.

The Suez Refinery is operated and owned by SOPC, a fully-owned subsidiary of the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC), an economic state corporation.

Since it started operations in Egypt in 2012, the EBRD has been supporting the country’s oil and gas sector to reduce levels of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, help with the implementation of international best practices and standards, increase the competitiveness of the sector and contribute to energy security in Egypt.

Despite having the largest refining capacity on the African continent, Egypt’s downstream infrastructure is aging and the country currently has to resort to imports in order to meet its growing domestic demand for petroleum products. Upgrades and energy efficiency investments at its refineries are critical for Egypt to optimize utilization rates, improve operational performance, reduce environmental impacts and achieve a sustainable balance in the energy sector.

Eric Rasmussen, EBRD Director, Natural Resources, said: "We are very pleased to support Egypt’s strong drive towards the renewal and overhaul of its energy sector. The modernization of the downstream segment plays an important role in this effort. The project we are signing today represents a major step forward and it also demonstrates the EBRD’s commitment to support Egypt and its sustainable and successful development."

Tarek El Molla, Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, said: "The project will contribute to one of the country’s main priorities in the ongoing oil and gas sector reform effort which is to optimize downstream performance and energy efficiency. The EBRD will also provide technical assistance, in addition to the US$200 million loan, which will support the sector-wide modernization and reform programme which aims at reducing the fiscal deficit, attracting private sector capital and establishing a role model for improving public sector governance in Egypt."

Indonesia plans to roll out 25 pct biodiesel rule from 2019

MOSCOW (MRC) - Indonesia will make it mandatory for biodiesel to have a bio-content of at least 25 percent from 2019, an energy ministry official said, as the country pushes to boost local consumption of palm oil, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

New and Renewable Energy Director Rida Mulyana sent a text message saying the policy would start in 2019 in response to questions on the matter from Reuters.

Indonesia is the world's top producer of palm oil, the raw ingredient for fatty acid methyl ester (FAME), which can be used to make biodiesel.

Mulyana later said he estimates the B25 programme, for which guidelines are currently being discussed by the energy ministry, would bring Indonesia's FAME consumption to between 5.5 million and 6 million kilolitres (kl) in 2019. That would be more than double the last year's consumption of FAME.

The government is pushing to increase domestic biodiesel usage to reduce oil imports and soak up excess palm oil supply. It is also considering expanding mandatory biodiesel use to include trains and the mining sector.

Rules introduced in 2015 require a 20 percent bio-content in biodiesel for land transportation from January 2016 to January 2020, after which a 30 percent bio-content would be mandatory.

Fadil Hasan, Executive Director of the Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI), said the B25 mandate would require the additional production of 750,000 kl of FAME annually.

Last month, Mulyana said Indonesia was targeting consumption of between 3.28 million and 3.52 million kl of FAME this year, up from 2.57 million kl in 2017.

Indonesian palm oil producers are facing increasing pressure in markets such as Europe due to concerns over environmental damage related to deforestation.

In the United States, Indonesian biodiesel faces steep anti-subsidy measures, as well as anti-dumping duties.

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.