Ecuador to tender new fuel, sulfur units at Esmeraldas refinery

MOSCOW (MRC) - Ecuador plans to issue a tender early next year to find a firm willing to build and operate two processing units at its state-run Esmeraldas refinery, an expansion that would reduce the need for imported fuel, according to a document seen by Reuters and the energy minister, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

A prior USD2 billion overhaul of the 110,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery by the previous government of President Rafael Correa was insufficient to repair and modernize the Andean country’s largest plant, forcing Petroecuador to plan new maintenance and upgrade projects.

"We have serious problems at Esmeraldas ... we are doing a great effort to maintain the refinery in operation," Ecuador’s minister of Energy and Natural Resources Carlos Perez told Reuters in an interview late on Thursday.

A USD3 million maintenance program is expected to take about 60 days, starting in March. Esmeraldas’ fluid catalytic cracker (FCC) and hydrodesulfurization unit, which are struggling to work properly, will be repaired, the minister said.

Following that program’s completion, Ecuador’s government would award two 20-year contracts to construct new sulfur and fuel processing units under a BOT (build–operate–transfer) model, according to Perez and the document, which details the proposals.

"We have received interest from companies willing to build the fuel unit," Perez said. He did not disclose the names of the interested contractors.

Ecuador has total refining capacity of 175,000 bpd at three refineries. Most of them produce low octane, high sulfur fuels. The project aims to improve the quality and reduce emissions of diesel and gasoline produced at the Esmeraldas refinery.

Ecuador for a long time has planned a new refinery in Manabi, on the Pacific coast, but the company originally chosen to build it along with Petroecuador, Venezuela’s financially strapped PDVSA, was unable to provide all the funds, causing delays.

Correa’s government was in talks with Japan’s Mitsubishi for building the fuel plant, but the parties did not reach an agreement. South Korea’s SK Engineering and Construction and Australia’s Worley Parsons in 2013 won contracts to upgrade and revamp some of Esmeraldas’ processing units.

The new fuel unit is expected to require up to USD1 billion in investment, and the sulfur plant would cost about USD200,000, Perez said.

Saudi to meet Indian oil demand, absorb supply shocks

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Arabia is committed to meeting India’s rising oil demand and is the "shock absorber" for supply disruptions in the oil market, Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said, reported Reuters.

India, the world’s third-biggest oil importer, is grappling with a combination of rising oil prices and falling local currency. Retail prices for gasoline and diesel fuel in India are at record highs and the government has cut its excise tax on fuel to ease some of the pain for consumers.

While there are many factors that could influence global oil prices, Saudi Arabia and other major producers will continue to act to cushion the market from oil price shocks, Falih said at the IHS CERA conference.

"We could have another (round of) unanticipated disruptions that we have seen in Nigeria, Libya, Venezuela. And we have seen sanctions on Iran. These supply disruptions need a shock absorber and the shock absorber to a large extent has been Saudi Arabia," he said.

"We have invested tens of billions of dollars to build spare capacity of 2-3 million barrels per day over years," he added.

Saudi Arabia has the capacity to produce 12 million bpd and is currently producing 10.7 million bpd, Falih said, adding that production will rise further next month.

Falih said oil prices would "easily be at the three digit range had it not been for the extra effort the kingdom has done over many years by investing in capacity and then unleashing that capacity, delivering barrels over last few months, reversing inventory drawdown."

Brent crude prices LCOc1 were trading 80 cents a barrels higher at USD81.23 by 1157 GMT.

Prices hit a four-year high of USD86.74 a barrel earlier this month as the market grapples with the expected loss of Iranian exports due to US sanctions.

Falih said he told India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan that Saudi Arabia is committed to meeting its growing oil demand.

State oil company Saudi Aramco plans to supply Indian buyers with an additional 4 million barrels of crude oil in November, several sources familiar with the matter said last week.

Falih also said Saudi Arabia wants to invest in Indian downstream projects and strategic oil storage.

"Saudi Aramco’s desire is to invest in consumer-facing segments such as retail fuels and petrochemicals, building an integrated downstream business in India as well as our commitment to invest in strategic storage," Falih said.

India plans to build two strategic storage facilities to hold 6.5 million tonnes of oil costing around 110 billion Rupees (USD1.6 billion) through a joint partnership between an Indian state firm and private company.

Falih also said Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) is keen to invest in India’s chemicals sector.

Saudi Aramco has an initial pact to take a 25 percent stake in the planned 1.2 million bpd West Coast refinery.

As MRC wrote before, in early October 2018, India set up a panel of officials to suggest ways to settle land acquisition issues for a planned USD44 billion refinery on the west coast. Saudi Aramco and ADNOC will hold a 25 percent stake in the planned 1.2 million barrel per day refinery and petrochemical project while a consortium of Indian refiners led by IOC will together hold the remainder.

Yeosu HDPE units to be shut by LG Chem

MOSCOW (MRC) -- LG Chem is in plans to take a No.1 & No. 2 high density polyethylene (HDPE) units off-stream for a maintenance turnaround, as per Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in South Korea informed that the company has schedule to start turnaround at the units in end-October 2018. The planned shutdow is expected to remain in force until end-November 2018.

Located at Yeosu in South Korea, the No. 1 & 2 HDPE units have a production capacity of 200,000 mt/year each.

As MRC informed before, Seoul's LG Chem is planning to spend USD2.4-billion to expand its naphtha cracking center (NCC) and polyolefin (PO) plant in Yeosu, South Korea. The project, which will expand the NCC and PO facility by 800,000 t/y each, is expected to be completed in the second half of 2021.

LG Chem Ltd., often referred to as LG Chemical, is the largest Korean chemical company and is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. According to ICIS report, it is 15th biggest chemical company in the world in 2011. It has eight domestic factories and global network of 29 business locations in 15 countries. LG Chem is a manufacturer, supplier, and exporter of petrochemical goods, IT&E Materials and Energy Solutions.

Kraiburg TPE to introduce trendsetting TEH compounds

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Kraiburg TPE’s trade fair appearance at Fakuma 2018 will focus, among other things, on a new, innovative technology for thermoplastic elastomer hybrids featuring an application-specific combination and a modifiability that are superior to the options provided by classic thermoplastic vulcanizates, as per the company's press release.

Materials made by mixing thermoplastics and crosslinked elastomers are mainly known as EPDM/PP blends. Although they combine application properties of elastomers with thermoplastic processability, they are limited when high performance is required such as contact with other media at high temperatures. This contrasts with an increased demand for materials that are suited for thermoplastic processing and, in particular, offer superior heat and chemical resistance. Kraiburg TPE classifies these materials as thermoplastic elastomer hybrids (TEH) to differentiate them from known TPV blends such as EPDM/PP.

Kraiburg TPE has developed and tested a trendsetting TEH manufacturing technology. The resulting application-engineered TEH materials are not only a response to the current and emerging challenges the company faces in the market, but they are also a new performance class for thermoplastic processors.

"Our TEH manufacturing technology enables us to combine different mixtures of various elastomers and thermoplastics with respective crosslinked systems to form materials with unprecedented properties. Due to their performance, the new materials can be regarded as an alternative to corresponding rubber compounds.

Their properties include high media and temperature resistances, which are adjusted to the requirements of each application,” explains Dr. Frieder Vielsack, Head of Advance Development at KRAIBURG TPE. And he adds: "This technology gives us the flexibility to tailor the material’s property profile to the requirements of specific applications".

The resulting compounds can not only be used as an alternative to common crosslinked rubber solutions that is economically convincing and processable like thermoplastics, but they also offer appealing options for multi-component applications when bonded with technical plastics such as polyamides and thermoplastic polyesters. They can be processed with common injection molding machines and extrusion lines, do not require any finishing and are completely recyclable. Black and natural are the standard colors.

The performance properties of these TEH materials include hardness from 55 to 80 Shore A, permanent operating temperatures of up to 150 C (302 F) and chemical stability against materials such as oils, lubricants, fuels and coolants. Thus they are particularly suitable for use in the environment of combustion engines, in heat management of drives and batteries for electric vehicles, as well as in lubrication and cooling systems of machines, process technology and buildings. Direct applications include seals and gaskets, plugs and connectors, lids and covers.

"The new TEH compounds that are matched to individual applications benefit from our proven materials know-how, solid market expertise and the way in which we are resolutely oriented toward our customers," adds Franz Hinterecker, CEO at Kraiburg TPE. "The versatility and performance of the innovative technology confirm our commitment as a supplier of ‘custom-engineered TPEs and more‘."

As MRC reported earlier, in December 2017, Kraiburg TPE presented a new series of thermoplastic elastomers from its Thermolast K family that was specially developed for excellent adhesion and UV resistance in two-component applications with ethylene-propylene-diene rubber (EPDM). The new compounds are intended for automotive applications such as EPDM window trim and sealing profiles with moulded TPE corner joints and end elements.

Kraiburg Rubber (Suzhou) Co. Ltd. was established in 2005 and is part of the Waldkraiburg-based German company Kraiburg Holding GmbH & Co. KG. The company produces a wide range of standard rubber compounds (based on NR, EPDM, CR, AEM, SBR, FKM, etc.) for automotive, building and construction applications, and other industrial markets as well as highly customised products for all kinds of industries at its Suzhou site. The compounds are produced on highly automated and fully process-controlled mixing lines, based on state-of-the-art technology. The company has 130 employees.

Total opens its new state-of-the-art lubricants oil blending and production plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Total has inaugurated its new state-of-the-art lubricants oil blending plant, strategically located in the Kaluga region of the Russian Federation, as per the company's press release.

The grand opening ceremony took place today, October 15th, in the presence of Anatoly Artamonov, Governor of the Kaluga Region, and Patrick Pouyanne, Chairman and CEO of Total.

This blending and production plant will allow Total to localize the production of its top-tier lubricants for the Russian market. With an investment equivalent to USD50 million, this facility has been designed to produce initially 40,000 tons of automotive and industrial lubricants per year, with a scale-up option to bring this capacity up to 70,000 tons per year.

The plant is equipped with a fully automated blending system and ultramodern filling lines. Covering an area of 7 hectares of the Vorsino industrial park in the Kaluga Region, this facility opens less than two years after the start of construction. Its operations are creating 50 new working positions onsite.

"As illustrated by our commitment to major LNG projects in the Arctic, Russia has become a key country for Total. In addition to our upstream activities, Russia is also one of the highest priority development markets for our Marketing & Services and downstream products, especially lubricants" underlined Patrick Pouyanne, Chairman and CEO of Total. " With this production & blending facility opening in Kaluga today, we are showing our strong dedication to our Russian customers. This new plant will strengthen our position in the Russian and Central Asian markets. It is fully in line with our strategy to grow profitability in developing markets and contribute strongly to the Group’s financial performance."

"The opening of Total factory once again confirms the economic and investment attractiveness of the Kaluga region for international partners.” commented Anatoly Artamonov, Governor of the Kaluga region. “We aspire to provide the best conditions for companies which understand the importance of production localization in Russia, develop the import substitution policy and take care about the environment by creating ecologically safe production plants. The Government of the region is ready to support them in such important and long-term projects".

This new plant will produce the entire range of Total and Elf lubricants products including: "Total Quartz" for passenger cars, "Total Rubia" for commercial vehicles, a full range of industrial oils, the "Fuel Economy" lubricants line, which allows both commercial and passenger vehicles as well as off-road vehicles to significantly reduce their fuel consumption.

In addition to the Russian market, Total Vostok also plans to ship products to a number of countries in Central Asia and to Belarus. With the start of this local production, consumer companies in the region will benefit from several advantages: a reduced dependence on imports, a significant decrease in both production and delivery times and an optimization of logistics and storage costs for the final products.

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

Total Vostok , subsidiary of the Marketing & Services Division of Total, is supplying automotive lubricants of Total and Elf brands, a wide range of industrial lubricants, as well as special fluids, fuel additives and special fuels to the Russian market. In addition to the extensive distribution network, stretching from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok, Total Vostok has branches in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Rostov-on-Don, Yekaterinburg and Kazan.

Total Lubricants is a leading global manufacturer and marketer of engine oils and lubricants. It has 35 production plants worldwide and more than 5,800 employees in more than 100 countries. Total Lubrifiants offers innovative, efficient and environmentally responsible products and services developed by more than 130 researchers at its R&D center. Total Lubricants is a partner of choice for the automotive, industrial and marine markets.