Japans last imports of Iranian oil could be in October

MOSCOW (MRC) - Japanese oil refiners will likely stop loading Iranian crude by mid-September with final shipments arriving in the first half of October, the head of the nation's oil refiners association said on Thursday, as the U.S. pressures countries to halt such imports, as per Reuters.

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has demanded nations cut all their imports of Iranian oil from November as it reimposes sanctions over Tehran's nuclear programme.

Although it has said that some allies who are particularly reliant on Iranian supplies may be granted waivers that would give them more time to wind down shipments.

"Japanese oil refiners have been making preparations for lifting plans on the assumption that U.S. sanctions are to be applied," the president of the Petroleum Association of Japan (PAJ), Takashi Tsukioka, said. "Considering that payment is to be finished by end of October, it is important that the refiners would finish loading (Iranian oil) before mid-September."

Tsukioka added that the industry is asking the Japanese government to push to maintain current levels of Iranian imports in talks with the United States. But a Japanese government source, who declined to be identified, said winning a waiver was seen as "difficult".

PAJ had said last month that Japanese refiners would likely stop importing from Iran, but on Thursday gave more details on potential timings.

Many refiners in Japan, the world's fourth-biggest oil importer, say they are resigned to completely halting imports from one of their historically important suppliers, unlike during a previous round of sanctions when they substantially reduced imports from the Middle Eastern country.

Three industry sources familiar with the matter said shipping companies had told refiners in Japan that they would stop carrying oil cargoes from Iran. The sources declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak with media.

That would follow similar announcements by the world's biggest shipping companies including A.P. Moller-Maersk of Denmark.

Unlike Japan, China and some countries in Europe have significantly raised purchases following the lifting of previous sanctions.

"It would be unreasonable for (Japanese refining) industry to be influenced similarly by such countries," said Tsukioka, who also serves as chairman of Japan's second-biggest refiner, Idemitsu Kosan.

Japan's largest banks had already said they would stop handling all Iran-related transactions to meet the November deadline set by Trump, Reuters reported last week.

Japanese refiners are looking to secure alternative supplies from the Middle East and the U.S. among others, industry sources have said.

Japan last year imported 172,216 barrels per day of Iranian crude, down 24.2 percent from a year earlier, with Iranian oil accounting for 5.3 percent of the nation's total imports.

ADNOC aims to deepen investment and partnership opportunities with Chinese energy majors

MOSCOW (MRC) -- His Excellency Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) Group CEO, held a series of meetings with Chinese oil, gas, refining and petrochemical industry leaders, focused on expanding and deepening investment and partnership opportunities across ADNOC’s integrated Upstream and Downstream value chain, during a visit to Beijing, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

H.E. Dr. Al Jaber was in the Chinese capital as part of the effort to expand and deepen business and economic relations with one of the UAE’s largest trading partners.

"Energy cooperation is an important aspect of the UAE’s relations with China, which is the number one oil importer globally and a major growth market for ADNOC’s crude, refined products and petrochemicals. We are keen to expand and deepen that relationship and believe there are mutually beneficial partnership and co-investment opportunities across our Upstream and Downstream value chains. ADNOC is also ready to work with its existing and potential new partners to meet the growing demand for energy and petrochemical products in China," H.E. Dr. Al Jaber said.

At the meetings, H.E. Dr. Al Jaber discussed ADNOC’s plans to develop new Upstream oil and gas resources and to expand ADNOC’s Downstream operations, which will see production of petrochemicals triple to 14.4 million tons per annum by 2025.

As announced earlier this year during ADNOC’s Downstream Investment Forum, the company is making significant investments in new Downstream projects, both domestically and internationally, to grow its refining capability and expand its petrochemical production three-fold to 14.4 mpta by 2025. Planned projects include a world-scale, mixed liquid feedstock Naphtha cracker, as well as investments in new refinery capacity. As a result of the planned expansions in its Downstream business, ADNOC will create one of the world’s largest integrated refining and petrochemical complexes at Ruwais, located in Abu Dhabi’s Al Dhafra region.

H.E. Dr. Al Jaber added, "We are keen to partner with value-add strategic partners who can contribute technology, know-how and market access. We believe there is enormous potential to expand our relationship with Chinese companies, especially in the Downstream, as we continue our transformation journey, grow our portfolio of products and maximize value."

The agenda also touched on ADNOC’s new licensing strategy announced earlier this year, which will see six offshore and onshore exploration, development and production blocks made available for competitive bidding.

"The release of the six blocks for competitive bidding represents a rare and exciting opportunity to invest in the UAE’s stable and secure exploration and production sector, as we accelerate delivery of a more profitable Upstream business and generate strong returns for the UAE. At the same time, the expansion of our Downstream portfolio will allow partners who contribute finance, give access to technology and knowledge and facilitate market access, to invest and benefit, with us, from the growing demand for petrochemicals, particularly in Asia," H.E. Dr. Al Jaber said.

Over the past 14 years, the UAE and China have established a number of partnerships in the UAE’s energy sector, starting in 2014, when ADNOC and CNPC established the Al Yasat joint venture. More recently, in February 2017, CNPC and China CEFC Energy were awarded minority stakes in the UAE's onshore oil reserves; and in March of this year, CNPC, through its majority-owned listed subsidiary PetroChina, was granted a 10% interest in each of the Umm Shaif and Nasr and Lower Zakum offshore concession areas.

Meanwhile, ADNOC remains focused on market expansion in China and Asia, where demand for petrochemicals and plastics, including light-weight automotive components, essential utility piping and cable insulation, is forecast to double by 2040. China is the largest export customer in Asia for Borouge, a petrochemicals joint venture between ADNOC and Borealis, accounting for 1.2 million tons per year of polyolefins, equal to one third of its sales worldwide.

As MRC informed before, in May 2018, ADNOC unveiled plans to invest AED 165 billion (USD45 billion) alongside partners, over the next five years, to become a leading global downstream player, enabling it to further stretch the value of every barrel it produces to the benefit of ADNOC, its partners and the UAE.

Saudi Aramco in talks to buy stake in world's no. 4 chemical firm

MOSCOW (MRC) - Saudi Aramco said It is looking to buy a strategic stake in Saudi petrochemical maker SABIC, a move that could boost the state oil giant's market valuation ahead of a planned initial public offering, as per Reuters.

Aramco said in a statement that it was in "very early-stage discussions" with the kingdom's Public Investment Fund (PIF) to acquire the stake in SABIC via a private transaction. It has no plans to acquire any publicly held shares, it said.

Riyadh-listed SABIC, the world's fourth-biggest petrochemicals company, is 70 percent owned by the PIF, Saudi Arabia's top sovereign wealth fund. It has a market capitalization of 385.2 billion Saudi riyals (USD103 billion).

Reuters reported on Wednesday that Saudi Aramco had invited banks to pitch for an advisory role on the potential acquisition of a strategic stake in Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), citing two sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

The size of the stake Aramco is interested in acquiring is not known. Aramco said it had been evaluating a number of acquisition opportunities, both local and global, in line with its strategy of rebalancing its portfolio by moving further into downstream, particularly the petrochemical sector.

In a separate statement, the PIF said that talks on a sale were in the early stages. "There is a possibility that no agreement will be reached in relation to this potential transaction," the PIF said.

Aramco wants to develop its downstream business as the government prepares to sell up to 5 percent of the world’s largest oil producer, possibly by next year. Boosting its petrochemicals portfolio further could help attract investors for the IPO.

Shares in SABIC, the largest listed company in the Gulf, were down by 0.3 percent at 0945 GMT on Thursday.

Aramco invited the banks to pitch for a potential SABIC deal last month, the sources told Reuters on Wednesday, declining to be identified due to commercial sensitivities.

Total completes USD1.5bn acquisition of LNG business of ENGIE

MOSCOW (MRC) -- French oil and gas supermajor Total has completed its USD1.5bn (1.13bn pounds) purchase of ENGIE’s upstream liquefied natural gas (LNG) assets, as per EIC.

Additional payments of up to US$550m (415m pounds) could be payable by Total in case of an improvement in the oil markets in the coming years.

The portfolio includes participating interests in liquefaction plants, notably an interest in the US Cameron LNG project, long-term LNG sales and purchase agreements, an LNG tanker fleet as well as access to regasification facilities in Europe.

According to Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne the deal makes the company the second largest global LNG player with a worldwide market share of 10%.

As a result of the transaction, Total will manage an overall LNG portfolio of around 40m tonnes per year by 2020.

As MRC wrote before, in December 2017, Total inaugurated the new units at its Antwerp integrated refining & petrochemicals platform, which had progressively started up in the previous few months.

Total S.A. is a French multinational oil and gas company and one of the six "Supermajor" oil companies in the world with business in Europe, the United States, the Middle East and Asia. The company's petrochemical products cover two main groups: base chemicals and the consumer polymers (polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene) that are derived from them.

Advisian awarded pre-FEED role for world's largest ethylene steam cracker

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Advisian, the global consulting firm of WorleyParsons, has been awarded the role of preparing the pre-FEED and licensor evaluation for the latest expansion of Borouge’s Petrochemical Facility (Borouge-4 Plant), part of a major new downstream facility in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The award comes as Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) announces a five-year investment of Dh165 billion (USD45 billion) in downstream operations in partnership with other global players to build the world’s largest integrated refining and petrochemicals facility in Ruwais. Borouge-4 is a significant element of this investment.

Borouge, a joint venture between ADNOC and Austria’s Borealis, has awarded Advisian the role of preparing the pre-FEED and licensor evaluation for the new Borouge-4 Plant that sits at the heart of the petrochemical development in Ruwais. The plant will include the world’s largest single-train mixed feed steam cracker and associated petrochemical derivatives. The steam cracker will feed units producing Polyethylene and Polypropylene product totaling approximately 2.5 million tons per annum.

The pre-FEED work for Borouge-4 is a pivotal stage to the investment portfolio at the Ruwais development with its chemicals sector aiming to treble production by 2025 as part of this major development. Advisian will deliver the project with a core team based in the UAE, supported by the company’s centers of excellence in London, Houston and Toronto.

"We are delighted to be working with Borouge on this major project. Our successful track record of work in the chemical sector enables us to offer the specialist knowledge that this role requires," Geeta Thakorlal, Managing Director, Advisian - Global Front End Hydrocarbons and Chemicals said.

As MRC informed earlier, WorleyParsons announces today that it has been awarded a 5-yr Framework Agreement by Shell Global Solutions International, B.V., for the provision of engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) services for Shell downstream projects worldwide.