Saudi Aramco and Total launch engineering studies to build a giant petrochemical complex in Jubail

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Amin H. Nasser, President and Chief Executive Officer of Saudi Aramco and Patrick Pouyanne, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Total, have signed in Dhahran the joint development agreement for the front-end engineering and design (FEED) of a giant petrochemical complex in Jubail, on Saudi Arabia’s eastern coast, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Announced in April 2018, the world-class complex will be located next to the SATORP refinery, operated by Saudi Aramco (62.5%) and Total (37.5%), in order to fully exploit operational synergies. It will comprise a mixed-feed cracker (50% ethane and refinery off-gases) - the first in the Gulf region to be integrated with a refinery - with a capacity of 1.5 million tons per year of ethylene and related high-added-value petrochemical units. The project represents an investment of around $5 billion and is scheduled to start-up in 2024.

The project will provide feedstock to other petrochemical and specialty chemical plants located in the Jubail industrial area and beyond, representing an additional USD4 billion investment by third-party investors benefitting to the Saudi economy.

The overall complex will represent an investment of approximately USD9 billion and is expected to create 8,000 local direct and indirect jobs.

Saudi Aramco Chief Executive Officer Amin H. Nasser said: "SATORP’s second-phase expansion represents a quantum leap in Saudi Aramco’s downstream strategy to maximize our hydrocarbon resources and help position the Kingdom as a chemicals manufacturing hub, thus supporting economic diversification. Today’s signing will deliver on multiple levels, from high-value fuels and petrochemical products for consumers on three continents to meaningful job creation and local content development. We’re pleased to celebrate with Total this latest milestone in the SATORP journey.

Patrick Pouyanne, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Total said: "We are delighted to write a new page of our joint history by launching a new giant project, building on the successful development of SATORP, our biggest and most efficient refinery in the world. This world-class complex also fits with our strategy to expand in petrochemicals by maximizing the synergies within our major platforms, leveraging low-cost feedstocks and taking advantage of the fast-growing Asian polymer market."

As MRC wrote before, in July 2017, Saudi Aramco and France's Total unveiled plans for building a mixed-feed cracker and derivatives in Jubail, near their joint refining complex. The cracker is expected to have a capacity of 1.5 MMtpy.

Saudi Aramco is an integrated oil and chemicals company, a global leader in hydrocarbon production, refining processes and distribution, as well as one of the largest global oil exporters. It manages proven reserves of crude oil and condensate estimated at 261.1bn barrels, and produces 9.54 million bbl daily. Headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, the company employs over 61,000 staff in 77 countries.

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.

U.S. ethanol exports to Brazil drop to nearly three-year low

MOSCOW (MRC) - Exports of corn-based U.S. ethanol to Brazil sank to the lowest levels in nearly three years in August, U.S. Department of Agriculture data showed, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

A big Brazilian sugar harvest pressured domestic biofuel prices, making imported ethanol comparatively more expensive than local sugar-based supplies, according to Geoff Cooper, chief executive of the Renewable Fuels Association trade group.

The downturn in U.S. ethanol exports to Brazil, while somewhat expected, was another blow to biofuel producers reeling from low prices and near-record large stockpiles.

Only 4,395 gallons (about 105 barrels) of U.S. ethanol were exported to Brazil in August, down sharply from 24.5 million gallons (about 583,400 barrels) in the same month a year ago. The monthly imports were the smallest since Brazil brought in no U.S. supplies in October of 2015, USDA data showed.

“We were fully expecting the big drop in Brazil. This may be a little less than we were thinking,” Cooper said. Sales of Brazilian sugar-based ethanol in the second half of August hit an all-time high, cane industry group Unica said.

Brazil last year imposed a tariff on U.S. ethanol imports. China, another top global biofuel buyer, increased an existing tariff on U.S. ethanol imports as part of the Washington-Beijing trade dispute, hampering shipments.

U.S. ethanol futures have recovered from an over decade-low of USD1.21 per gallon on Aug. 30, edging up 0.2 percent to USD1.32 on Friday. In a move that U.S. biofuel makers hope will shore up demand, President Donald Trump next week in Iowa is expected to announce the lifting of a summer ban on the sale of higher ethanol blends of gasoline in the United States, sources told Reuters.

Ethanol producers have been angling for the removal of the ban. The industry has been at odds with the White House after the administration gave numerous oil refineries exemptions from the nation’s biofuels blending laws that require them to blend – or pay for credits – corn-based biofuels into the nation’s fuel stock.

Petrochemicals set to be the largest driver of world oil demand

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Petrochemicals are becoming the largest drivers of global oil demand, in front of cars, planes and trucks, according to a major study by the International Energy Agency, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Petrochemicals are set to account for more than a third of the growth in world oil demand to 2030, and nearly half the growth to 2050, adding nearly 7 million barrels of oil a day by then. They are also poised to consume an additional 56 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas by 2030, and 83 bcm by 2050.

The Future of Petrochemicals is part of a new IEA series shining a light on "blind spots" of the global energy system – issues that are critical to the evolution of the energy sector but that receive less attention than they deserve. The report is among the most comprehensive reviews of the global petrochemicals sector and follows other reports in the series, including the impact of air conditioners on electricity demand, the impact of trucking on oil demand, or the role of modern bioenergy in the renewables sector.

Petrochemicals are particularly important given how prevalent they are in everyday products. They are also required to manufacture many parts of the modern energy system, including solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, thermal insulation and electric vehicles.

Demand for plastics – the key driver for petrochemicals from an energy perspective – has outpaced all other bulk materials (such as steel, aluminum, or cement), nearly doubling since 2000. Advanced economies currently use up to 20 times more plastic and up to 10 times more fertilizer than developing economies on a per capita basis, underscoring the huge potential for global growth.

The dynamism of the petrochemical industry is also driving new trends around the world. After decades of stagnation and decline, the United States has re-emerged as a low-cost location for chemicals production thanks to the shale gas revolution, and is now home to around 40% of the global ethane-based petrochemical production capacity. Meanwhile, the Middle East remains the lowest cost center for many key petrochemicals, with a host of new projects announced across the region.

Petrochemical products provide substantial benefits to society, including a growing number of applications in various cutting-edge, clean technologies critical to sustainable energy systems. However, the production, use, and disposal of petrochemical-derived products present a variety of climate, air quality and water pollution challenges that need to be addressed.

Biodiesel available at only half of Pertaminas Indonesia fuel depots

MOSCOW (MRC) - Indonesia’s Pertamina said unblended biodiesel had only been distributed to around half of its fuel depots across the archipelago, despite a programme launched this month for more widespread use of the biofuel, as per Reuters.

Southeast Asia’s largest economy rolled out rules this month requiring all diesel fuel to contain at least 20 percent bio content, among government efforts to boost palm oil consumption, cut Indonesia’s fuel import bill and support the rupiah.

In Indonesia, the bio portion of biodiesel is made with fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) from palm oil.

As of Friday, Pertamina had only received FAME at 69 of its 112 fuel depots in Indonesia, company spokesman Adiatma Sardjito said. However, Sardjito said he was currently unable to provide data on the volume of FAME distributed so far.

“We receive shipments of FAME at terminals and then distribute it,” Sardjito said, referring to a tender process for purchasing FAME from suppliers that is supervised by the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry.

“More than half of Pertamina terminals are ready to receive (FAME),” he said, adding that most of the terminals that had not received FAME are in eastern Indonesia.

Deputy Energy Minister Arcandra Tahar said there were “technical problems” related to FAME distribution and storage, but these were “being sorted out”.

Indonesia’s unblended biodiesel production is estimated to reach 5 million tonnes this year, an industry association said in August.

SABIC expands portfolio of ULTEM UTF120 film for high-temperature dielectric capacitors

MOSCOW (MRC) -- SABIC, a global leader in the chemical industry, has introduced two new gauges of ULTEM UTF120 polyetherimide (PEI) dielectric film for high-temperature, professional-grade capacitor applications, as per the company's press release.

These new additions of 7µm and 10µm (micron) thicknesses to SABIC’s industry-leading portfolio of ULTEM UTF120 film respond to customers’ requirements for film that can meet the voltage requirements of different capacitors and open the door for new design options.

SABIC’s ULTEM UTF120 film technology offers important advantages for capacitor applications, such as high dielectric constant and insulation resistance and low dielectric loss. The two new grades address the need for higher-voltage applications that require thicker film with greater storage capacity.

These new ULTEM UTF120 film grades are part of an expanding portfolio that already features a 5µm ULTEM UTF120 film product, which was launched last year. Today, SABIC is the only materials supplier offering extruded PEI film at these thicknesses.

"Today’s power electronics applications demand higher performance and greater reliability than ever before," said Stephanie Gathman, director, Emerging Applications, SABIC. "SABIC is actively investing in new high-temperature film technologies that offer distinct advantages over previous options, including better thermal and electrical stability and longer service life. With the introduction of these two new ULTEM UTF120 film grades, we are continuing to deliver on our strategy of building a broad portfolio that can support a full range of capacitor voltages and energy densities."

As MRC informed previously, in November 2017, Plastics-maker Sabic developed new materials for customers producing LED automotive lighting parts. LEXAN HF4010SR resin was one of the new offerings. This polycarbonate (PC) material can make it possible for customers to develop complex headlight bezels with enhanced aesthetics. Sabic also added new grades to its existing LEXAN XHT resin line, which can offer improved flow at high temperatures compared to other high-heat polycarbonate materials available today.

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) ranks among the world's top petrochemical companies. The company is among the worldпїЅs market leaders in the production of polyethylene, polypropylene and other advanced thermoplastics, glycols, methanol and fertilizers.