European PP prices for supplies to CIS countries remained steady in August

MOSCOW (MRC) - August contract price of propylene in Europe was agreed up by EUR8/tonne from the level in July.
However, most European producers announced the roll over of July export PP prices for supply to the CIS markets in August, according to ICIS-MRC Price Report.

Negotiations on August prices of European PP began last week. All market participants reported the rollover of July export prices for propylene polymers from all producers for August supplies.

Deals for August supplies of homopolymer PP were discussed in the range of EUR1,170-1,230/tonne FCA, which corresponds to the July deals.

Deals for copolymers of propylene (PP block copolymers) were done in the range of EUR1,240 -1,300/tonne FCA.
Some companies reported temporary export restrictions due to scheduled shutdowns of capacities.

Russian SIBUR examining capital market options

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Russian petrochemicals producer SIBUR is examining various options on capital markets, its chief executive told Reuters while declining to confirm concrete plans for an initial public offering (IPO).

Financial market sources told Reuters last month SIBUR was preparing an IPO that could raise USD2-USD3 billion and potentially take place by the end of the year.

"We are considering the different options on the capital markets as and when necessary. Now it’s to early to say about the concrete plans," Dmitry Konov said in an interview, without detailing the options.

Businessman Leonid Mikhelson, the head of and a major shareholder in Russia’s largest gas producer Novatek, owns 48.5 percent of Sibur, which is the largest petrochemical producer in Eastern Europe.

Mikhelson’s business partner Gennady Timchenko owns 17 percent, while China’s Sinopec and Silk Fund control 10 percent each.

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters last month that Mikhelson might sell part of his stake, while Timchenko and another shareholder, Kirill Shamalov, both subjected to U.S. sanctions, were likely to retain their shares.

Shamalov owns 3.9 percent in Sibur.

Given most of Sibur’s revenue is made in U.S. dollars, Konov said the largest part of the firm’s debt should also be denominated in the currency.

He said capital spending was peaking in 2018 as construction works at a petrochemical complex in western Siberia, known as ZapSibNefteKhim, were expected to be completed in May 2019.

The installation and start-up works need to be done before ZapSibNefteKhim, which will be one of the world’s five biggest petrochemical plants, is due to come on stream, he added.

SIBUR is considering building a second big plant, known as the Amur Gas Chemical Complex (GCC), and may make a final decision at the end of 2019, Konov said.

According to the company’s website, Amur GCC will have a capacity of 1.5 million tonnes per year of ethylene, to be further transformed into polymer products.

SIBUR said last month investment in this plant could total up to USD8 billion and it was looking to share the cost with partners from Asia.

As MRC wrote before, on 17 February 2015, SIBUR launched construction of ZapSibNeftekhim,a facility for deep hydrocarbon to polyolefin processing. ZapSibNeftekhim's project is designed to operate a steam cracker (by Linde AG, Germany) with a capacity of 1.5 mtpa of ethylene, around 500 ktpa of propylene and 100 ktpa of butane-butylene fraction (BBF), along with units with a total capacity to produce 1.5 mtpa of various grades of polyethylene (by INEOS, UK) and a polypropylene unit of 500 ktpa (by LyondellBasell, Netherlands).

Vietnamese Nghi Son refinery seeks approval for oil product exports

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Vietnam’s Nghi Son oil refinery is seeking approval to export oil products as high inventories and pre-existing import contracts have limited domestic fuel demand, reported Reuters with reference to three industry sources.

If the approval is granted, this would be the first time Vietnam, a net importer of fuel, has allowed oil product exports produced domestically. The fuel shipments could also weigh on regional margins at a time when supplies are expected to start flowing from new projects in Malaysia and China.

Nghi Son Refinery and Petrochemical LLC, owner of the 200,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) refinery, has ramped up output to more than 50 percent of capacity since starting up earlier this year and this has contributed to high fuel inventories, the sources said.

"We are seeking the approval from the Ministry of Industry and Trade to export our fuel products," one of the sources told Reuters, declining to be named as he was not authorized to speak with media.

"We have been selling part of our fuel output to the local market, but local traders and consumers are unable to absorb all of our products because they have already placed long-term orders with international suppliers, pending our official commercial production," the source said.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade did not immediately comment on the export request.

Vietnam’s imports of oil products in July fell to its lowest since January 2016, shipping data from Thomson Reuters Eikon showed.

Fuel inventories are high amid weak domestic sales and higher refining output, a Vietnam-based industry source said.

"Vietnam has a surplus of diesel and gasoline and sales are especially bad for gasoline with cargoes selling at a heavy discount," the source added.

Nghi Son, the country’s second refinery, is scheduled to reach full capacity by the fourth quarter of this year, the first source said.

The refinery sold its first cargoes of gasoline and diesel in May and exported its first petrochemical shipment in June.

Nghi Son and the 130,000-bpd Dung Quat refinery that started up production in 2009 are expected to jointly meet about 70 percent of the country’s refined oil product demand.

The plant is scheduled to import 6 million tonnes of crude oil and churn out 4 million tonnes of refined products this year, the company said in a statement late last month.

Nghi Son is located 260 km (160 miles) south of Hanoi.

The USD9 billion refinery is 35.1 percent owned by Japan’s Idemitsu Kosan Co, 35.1 percent by Kuwait Petroleum (IPO-KUWP.KW), 25.1 percent by PetroVietnam and 4.7 percent by Mitsui Chemicals Inc.

As MRC informed before, Nghi Son Refinery and Petrochemical started up on Feb. 28, 2018. The USD9 billion plant, co-owned by Kuwait Petroleum Europe BV and Japanese firms Idemitsu Kosan and Mitsui Chemicals , is designed to help Vietnam cope with a shortage of refined oil products.

Fanuc to build new Michigan facility

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Robotic automation supplier Fanuc America Corp. has announced plans to construct a new USD51 million facility in Auburn Hills, Michigan – to be called the North Campus – that will be used for engineering, product development, manufacturing, and warehousing, as per Canplastics.

"Robotics and automation are key drivers of manufacturing competitiveness," said Mike Cicco, president and CEO of Fanuc America. “We’re looking forward to expanding our facilities here in Oakland County to keep pace with the growing demand for automation."

With the addition of the new North Campus building, Fanuc America’s three facilities in Michigan total 1,155,525 square feet.

Fanuc America’s North Campus is scheduled to open in the fall of 2019; the company will hold an official groundbreaking ceremony later this year.

The expansion, expected to create 100 jobs, received a USD1 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant.

Fanuc America is a subsidiary of Japan-based Fanuc Corp.

US sanctions: what trade restrictions on Iran mean for the oil and gas industry

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The US today re-imposes economic sanctions on Iran, with a second wave of sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic's energy sector due in November, as per Compelo.

In May, President Donald Trump ended US participation in the Obama-era nuclear agreement with Iran.

Under the 2015 Nuclear Deal Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with the P5+1 group of world powers – the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany – Iran agreed to limit its nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.

President Trump described the JCPOA has “a horrible, one-sided deal” and pledged to re-impose tough sanctions on Tehran after a wind-down period of 90 days. That has now expired.

As of today, 7 August, Iran is, among other things, prohibited from using US currency, trading in metals and minerals including gold, steel, coal and aluminium, and conducting transactions related to the Iranian currency the rial, the value of which has already declined 50% against the US dollar in 2018 amidst civil unrest.

President Trump wants to Iran to curtail its nuclear enrichment and weapons programmes, and end its support of unfavourable governments or uprisings in the Middle East.

Adopting a typically hardline stance, he has warned of “severe consequences” for any countries or companies that defy the sanctions and continue to do business with Iran.

The remaining unilateral sanctions will be re-imposed by the US on 5 November and will target Iran’s energy sector, including barring imports of the oil and gas from the country, and sanctions on its energy, shipping and shipbuilding sectors.

French oil and gas multinational Total has already threatened to pull out of its $4.8bn deal with Petropars, a subsidiary of the National Oil Company of Iran (NOIC), to exploit the vast South Pars natural gas field in the Persian Gulf unless it is granted a waiver from the US sanctions.