UAE ENOC to shut condensate splitter for a month in November

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC) has scheduled month-long maintenance for November at its 140,000 barrels per day (bpd) condensate splitter in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as per Reuters.

The planned maintenance will include the integration of a new crude distillation unit (CDU) pipeline that is expected to come onstream late next year, the sources said.

The sources declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak with media. ENOC did not immediately reply to an email from Reuters on the matter.

The maintenance comes as companies including ENOC and South Korea's Hanwha Total are grappling with feedstock condensate supply tightness due to sanctions against Iran which will take effect this month.

ENOC had chartered at least one vessel to store jet fuel to ensure supply to airlines in Dubai, sources told Reuters last month.

It also has onshore tanks to store refined oil products, including gasoline and feedstock.

Separately, ENOC last month announced that it would be constructing a jet fuel pipeline that can carry 2,000 cubic metres of the aviation fuel per hour to Al Maktoum International Airport.

The 16.2-km (10-mile) jet fuel pipeline is expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2020

US crude stocks rise for a sixth week, fuel draws down

MOSCOW (MRC) -- U.S. crude oil inventories climbed for a sixth straight week, but grew less than forecast last week, amid a drop in net imports and the government's sale of barrels from its reserve, while gasoline and distillate stocks drew down, as per Hydrocarbonproceesing.

The Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday that crude inventories, excluding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, rose 3.2 million barrels in the week to Oct. 26, less than analyst forecasts for a 4.1 million-barrel build. Much of that increase was in the Midwest, where stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub rose 1.9 million barrels, the EIA said. That was also the sixth straight week of builds at the delivery point for U.S. crude futures.

Net U.S. crude imports fell last week by 639,000 barrels per day, as exports rose 305,000 bpd. Oil prices rose after the data, with U.S. heating oil prices leading the energy complex higher after a big decline in inventories.

"Bullish draws to the products have acted as a counterweight to bearish sentiment ... half of today's crude build was contributed from another SPR release," Matt Smith, director of commodity research at ClipperData. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) said in August it would offer 11 million barrels of oil for sale from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) ahead of sanctions on Iran that are expected to reduce global supplies of crude. The delivery period for the proposed sale of sour crudes is from Oct. 1 through Nov. 30.

Winners for the sale include ExxonMobil, Marathon Petroleum and Phillips 66, according to a notice from the DOE in early September. Traders said the SPR barrels have been hitting the market this month and data showed stockpiles in the SPR fell by about 1.6 million barrels last week, the biggest weekly drop since December 2017.

"PADD 3 stocks fell by 1 million barrels. It would've fallen by 2.5 million if not for the SPR," one trader said. Inventories in the Gulf Coast, or PADD 3 region, fell by 1.1 million barrels to 218.5 million last week.

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, fell 4.1 million barrels, versus expectations for a 1.4 million-barrel drop, the EIA data showed. Gasoline stocks fell 3.2 million barrels, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 2.1 million barrel drop.

Meridian Energy Group engages CIBC World Markets as financial advisor

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Meridian Energy Group, Inc., a leading developer of innovative and environmentally-compliant oil refining facilities, and CIBC World Markets Corp. have entered into an engagement agreement under which CIBC will act as Meridian’s financial advisor, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

CIBC will assist in structuring and arranging for both debt and equity transactions for the full project financing for Meridian’s Davis Refinery project in Belfield, North Dakota. CIBC is a market leader in providing corporate finance and advisory services and, has decades of experience in major energy project financing in general across the oil and gas value chain, with unique market insights and creative solutions for all downstream capital needs.

Meridian has raised a significant portion of project financing to this point and will continue to raise development financing for completion of pre-EPC work. Meridian has initiated site preparation and grading at the Davis site, and is proceeding with final design and equipment fabrication and procurement with full construction activities and foundation work resuming in Spring 2019. Full commercial operation of the Davis Refinery is expected in late 2020 or early 2021.

Tom Skwarek, member of the Meridian Board of Directors, had this to say on the CIBC engagement, "Meridian is extremely pleased to engage CIBC as its Financial Advisor. CIBC’s leadership in energy project financing and its full range of banking and capital markets skills will ensure access to the right financial partners joining our founding shareholders as construction progresses."

Meridian Chief Financial Officer, Chad Hope echoed these sentiments, "Meridian is looking forward to CIBC’s expertise to assist in securing the necessary financing to construct and operate the Davis Refinery. This is an important and crucial step in constructing the cleanest refinery to date, in the world."

Phillips 66 and Renewable Energy Group to build renewable diesel facility

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Phillips 66 and Renewable Energy Group, Inc. announced that planning is underway for the construction of a large-scale renewable diesel plant on the U.S. West Coast, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The plant would utilize REG’s proprietary BioSynfining® technology for the production of renewable diesel fuel. Planned feedstocks include a mix of waste fats, oils and greases, including regionally-sourced vegetable oils, animal fats and used cooking oil.

"REG is excited to be working with a leading refiner, Phillips 66 , on a project that has the potential to significantly expand biofuel production in Washington state and provide low carbon fuel markets with products that are in significant demand on the West Coast ,” said Randy Howard , CEO of REG. “We look forward to working with state and local stakeholders to facilitate development of this important project and increase the supply of low carbon fuels in the region."

The new facility would be constructed adjacent to the Phillips 66 Ferndale Refinery in Washington state . The Ferndale Refinery offers existing infrastructure, including tank storage, a dock, and rail and truck rack access.

"The proposed facility’s strategic location in Washington state would enable us to move renewable fuels more efficiently to support West Coast and international fuel market demand." said Brian Mandell , senior vice president, Marketing and Commercial, Phillips 66 . "We continually look for opportunities to provide our customers with a reliable source of innovative renewable fuels."

This announcement follows more than a year of collaboration between Phillips 66 and REG related to site selection and preliminary engineering. The companies expect to make a final investment decision in 2019. If approved, production at the new facility is currently premised to start in 2021.

REG owns and operates 13 biomass-based diesel refineries, with a combined effective production capacity of 565 million gallons per year. This includes REG Geismar, a 75-million-gallon nameplate capacity plant located in Louisiana that was the first renewable diesel plant built in North America . REG’s 100 million gallon per year REG Grays Harbor biodiesel plant, the largest biorefinery in the REG fleet, is also located in Washington state .

ExxonMobil starts new unit at Antwerp refinery

MOSCOW (MRC) -- ExxonMobil has started operations of a new unit at its Antwerp refinery in Belgium to convert heavy, higher-sulfur residual oils into high-value transportation fuels such as marine gasoil and diesel, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The new 50,000 barrel-per-day unit expands the refinery’s capacity to meet demand for cleaner transportation fuels throughout northwest Europe. The company’s investment in the new coker will also help meet anticipated demand for lower-sulfur fuel oil to comply with new standards to be implemented by the International Maritime Organization in 2020.

"Our investment in Antwerp strengthens ExxonMobil’s competitiveness and position as a leading European refiner by expanding the refinery’s product slate and increasing our ability to deliver larger quantities of cleaner, higher-value fuels to European customers," said Bryan W. Milton, president of ExxonMobil Fuels & Lubricants Company. "The USD2 billion we have invested in our Antwerp refinery over the last decade has made the facility one of the most modern and efficient in the world."

Other projects completed in Antwerp include a 130 megawatt cogeneration unit, which leads to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and a diesel hydrotreater, which has increased the refinery’s production capacity for low-sulfur diesel to enable modern diesel engines to achieve lower emissions standards.

The delayed coker is the first of several expansion projects designed to strengthen the competitiveness of ExxonMobil’s advantaged facilities in Europe. The company is currently constructing a new hydrocracker in Rotterdam that will upgrade heavier hydrocarbon byproducts into cleaner, higher-value finished products such as EHCTM Group II base stocks and ultra-low sulfur diesel. ExxonMobil is also considering an expansion project at its Fawley refinery in the United Kingdom that would include a new hydrotreater unit and associated hydrogen plant to increase domestic diesel production and reduce reliance on imported fuel.