Yanbu: The site for Saudi Aramco-SABIC crude-to-chemicals project

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Aramco and SABIC have announced their selection of Yanbu, on the west coast of Saudi Arabia, as the site for the development of an integrated industrial complex to convert crude oil to chemicals (COTC), as per Hydrocarbonprocesing.

The announcement by Saudi Aramco and SABIC, the two largest industrial entities in the Kingdom, reflects the high importance both companies place on making the Kingdom a key hub for global chemicals production. The complex will utilize an economically viable, innovative configuration to convert crude oil to chemicals. This process is unprecedented in the industry.

The COTC complex is expected to process 400,000 barrels per day of crude oil, which will produce approximately 9 million tons of chemicals and base oils annually and is expected to start operations in 2025.

The complex is expected to create an estimated 30,000 direct and indirect jobs, further stimulating the Kingdom’s economic diversification efforts. By 2030 the COTC complex is expected to have 1.5% impact on the Kingdom’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with investments being shared equally by both companies.

Consistent with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic transformation program, this project will support the creation of a world-leading downstream sector in Saudi Arabia, built on four key drivers: maximizing value from the Kingdom’s crude oil production via integration across the hydrocarbon chain; enabling the creation of conversion industries to produce semi-finished and finished goods to help diversify the economy; developing advanced technologies and innovation; and enabling sustainable development in alignment with the Kingdom’s National Transformation Program.

The announcement strengthens the alliance between the two largest Saudi global entities and solidifies the Kingdom’s position as a global leader in chemicals by substantially increasing production and maximizing value across the entire hydrocarbons chain.

Earlier this year, Saudi Aramco and SABIC awarded the Project Management and Front End Engineering to Wood and KBR. The Partners are working on finalizing the selection of Leading Edge Technologies to complement their technologies.

Nigeria shores up fuel needs ahead of 2019 election with BP deal

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Nigeria's state oil firm NNPC said that it had signed a crude-for-product deal with BP for the next six months to help meet the country's gasoline needs over the holidays and ahead of its general election early next year, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Despite being Africa's biggest oil producer and an OPEC member, Nigeria is almost wholly reliant on fuel imports as its refineries barely function after years of neglect and infrastructure sabotage. Periodic fuel shortages are common with cars lining up at the pump sometimes for days, especially during the Christmas period.

Incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, whose popularity is already sagging, cannot afford to be seen as unable to meet the needs of Nigeria's 190-million population. It was not immediately clear what volume would be allocated to BP. NNPC already has 10 similar deals for a total of just over 300,000 barrels per day of crude out its close to 1.9 million bpd of production as of October.

NNPC initially announced on Twitter late on Wednesday without providing details. BP declined to comment. In its statement, NNPC said the arrangement with BP would account for 20 percent of the west African country's total gasoline needs. NNPC imports about 70 percent of Nigeria's fuel needs, mainly gasoline, via swap contracts known as Direct Sale Direct Purchase (DSDP). Foreign firms must pair up with a local company to deliver the products. NNPC said that BP will be partnered with Nigerian firm AYM Shafa. BP was not originally among the companies with whom NNPC signed DSDPs. "BP's partnership with AYM Shafa...makes it a perfect fit for our plans to ensure that there is adequate supply of products throughout the coming Yuletide and even beyond the election period," NNPC managing director Maikanti Baru said, adding that AYM Shafa has 150 retail outlets and depots. The existing contract holders that include trading houses Vitol, Trafigura, Mercuria and French oil major Total started in mid-2017.

NNPC extended the existing DSDP contracts to June 2019 but several trading sources in the consortiums have requested new price terms, sources with direct knowledge said. Higher oil prices this year have helped boost Nigeria's foreign exchange reserves, but the weakness in the country's currency against the U.S. dollar has forced the central bank to spend billions to keep the naira stable and prevent an unwelcome spike in its import bill. Nigeria has been using swaps for about 10 years. NNPC launched the DSDP model in 2016 and under it, NNPC sells crude oil to refiners or trading houses, who in return, supply mainly gasoline but also other petroleum products such as diesel.

Honeywell: USB devices pose a significant threat to industrial facilities

MOSCOW (MRC) -- New, first-of-its-kind research released by Honeywell shows that removable USB media devices such as flash drives pose a significant – and intentional – cybersecurity threat to a wide array of industrial process control networks, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Data derived from Honeywell technology used to scan and control USB devices at 50 customer locations showed that nearly half (44 percent) detected and blocked at least one file with a security issue. It also revealed that 26 percent of the detected threats were capable of significant disruption by causing operators to lose visibility or control of their operations.

The threats targeted a wide variety of industrial sites, including refineries, chemical plants and pulp-and-paper manufacturers around the world, and the threats themselves ranged in severity. About 1 in 6 targeted industrial control systems or Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

"The data showed much more serious threats than we expected, and taken together, the results indicate that a number of these threats were targeted and intentional," said Eric Knapp, director of strategic innovation, Honeywell Industrial Cyber Security. "This research confirms what we have suspected for years – USB threats are real for industrial operators. What is surprising is the scope and severity of the threats, many of which can lead to serious and dangerous situations at sites that handle industrial processes."

The research marks the first commercial report to focus exclusively on USB security in industrial control environments. It examined data collected from Honeywell’s Secure Media Exchange (SMX) technology, which is specifically designed to scan and control removable media, including USB drives. Among the threats detected were high-profile, well-known issues such as TRITON and Mirai, as well as variants of Stuxnet, an attack type previously leveraged by nation-states to disrupt industrial operations. In comparative tests, up to 11 percent of the threats discovered were not reliably detected by more traditional anti-malware technology.

"Customers already know these threats exist, but many believe they aren’t the targets of these high-profile attacks,” Knapp said. “This data shows otherwise, and underscores the need for advanced systems to detect these threats."

The research, which is presented in the Honeywell Industrial USB Threat Report, recommends that operators combine people training, process changes, and technical solutions to reduce the risk of USB threats across industrial facilities.


TechnipFMC awarded major contract for MIDOR refinery project

MOSCOW (MRC) -- TechnipFMC has signed a major Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contract by Middle East Oil Refinery (MIDOR) for the modernization and expansion of their existing complex near Alexandria, Egypt, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

This EPC contract covers the debottlenecking of existing units as well as the delivery of new units including a Crude Distillation Unit, a Vacuum Distillation Unit, a hydrogen production facility based on our steam reforming technology, as well as various process units, interconnecting, offsites and utilities.

Starting in 2022, the modernized complex will exclusively produce Euro V products, with a 60% increase in the refinery’s original capacity to 160,000 barrels per day of crude oil.

Nello Uccelletti, President of TechnipFMC’s Onshore/Offshore business, stated: "This award demonstrates our long-standing relationship with MIDOR which started in 2001, with the delivery of their grassroot refinery. Over the years, we have supported our client with studies and engineering services. In 2015, we finalized a joint agreement with SACE to ensure an export credit facility to support a major expansion and modernization project, while carrying out early works including FEED and open book estimate. We are proud to support our client MIDOR in improving the production quality of their refinery, considered the most advanced of the Mediterranean region and African continent."

The company is working with MIDOR to complete the remaining conditions precedent to enable project work to commence. The Company will include the contract award in its inbound when all the requirements are fulfilled. Moreover, in the spirit of cooperation with the Egyptian government, TechnipFMC has also been awarded a contract for the basic design of the Assiut refinery Hydrocracker complex.

Japan Osaka Gas looks to Southeast Asia for LNG business

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Japan's Osaka Gas Co Ltd is considering expanding its Southeast Asia operations, a top executive said, tapping a region where natural gas demand is booming but domestic reserves are dwindling fast, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Osaka Gas, one of the world's biggest gas utilities and importers of liquefied natural gas (LNG), is increasingly turning abroad as it faces faltering demand at home due to a mature market and shrinking population. One opportunity is Vietnam, Kazuhisa Yano, Executive Chairman and Chief Asia Representative of Osaka Gas, told the Reuters Commodity Summit interview series.

Vietnam is one of Asia's fastest-expanding energy markets due to a large population and sharp economic growth, but reserves at its existing oil and gas fields are declining fast. "We will ... study Vietnam's gas market," Yano said on Tuesday, talking to Reuters while attending an industry conference in Singapore.

"There are several industry parks in Vietnam, and (there is) demand for gas for such kinds of industrial (purposes)." Vietnam does not currently import any LNG, but is planning to start in coming years, like other Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said this week that Southeast Asia is at the heart of future LNG demand growth, which it expects to increase by a third globally to 500 billion cubic metres (370 million tonnes) by 2023.

While Osaka Gas reviews Vietnam as a potential market, it will also look into expanding its current operations in the region.

The firm already has subsidiaries for operations such as sales and trading in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, Yano said. Like Vietnam, domestic gas reserves are running out in the Philippines, and LNG will soon be needed to meet demand from new power generation projects.

Yano said Osaka Gas was considering entering that market as a supplier.