Chinese industrial heartland Shandong to overhaul energy intensive industries

MOSCOW (MRC) -- China's Shandong province, home to a fifth of China's oil refining capacity, is planning to consolidate dozens of small refineries and build mega-petrochemical complexes, as part of a new plan to overhaul energy intensive industries, reported Reuters.

The plan, published on Monday, is aimed at improving the efficiency and competitiveness in seven energy-intensive sectors, including steel, fertilizer, aluminum, coking coal and oil refining.

It comes amid an ongoing push by Beijing to tackle excess capacity in heavy industry and shift its economy to higher value-added sectors, and improve its dirty air.

"We will cap capacity of steel, petrochemicals, coking coal and aluminum and achieve a drop in energy intensity as well as total emissions from these sectors," the Shandong government said in the document published on its website.

The province, home to 90 percent of China's private refiners, wants to reduce total crude processing capacity from 130 million tons per year, or 2.6 million barrels of oil per day (bpd), to 90 million tons.

It will merge refiners with less than 3 million tons annual capacity by 2022, and later target those with up to 5 million tons, or about 100,000 bpd, before 2025.

It also wants to significantly reduce the output of diesel and gasoline by 2025.

The move is seen as positive for China's independent refining industry, currently facing fierce competition in local fuel markets and subject to frequent shutdowns due to environmental scrutiny.

The small private refiners known as "teapots" have a small share in domestic petrochemical markets, which are dominated by state companies such as Sinopec and foreign majors like Exxon Mobil.

"Shandong is being forced to reshuffle its oil industry under pressure from state-owned companies and foreign oil majors," said Zhong Jian, chief analyst with consultancy JLC.

Shandong said it will lobby for policy support from Beijing, including seeking approvals for new mega refining complexes and getting crude oil import quotas for new refineries. In the future, the province wants to build huge refining complexes with 30 million tons of yearly processing capacity and shift production to chemicals products.

The document also outlined plans for other sectors, such as capping annual fertilizer output at 8 million tons and reducing the number of coking coal producers from 56 to 40 in two years.

It also said 70 percent of steel mills built in polluted cities such as Jinan, Zibo and Binzhou will be forced to relocate to coastal areas.

The province said it would give incentives such as tax breaks and credit lines to help companies relocate and compensate workers made redundant during the relocation process.

Chevron in talks to buy Brazilian oil company's Texas refinery - sources

MOSCOW (MRC) - Chevron Corp has held talks to acquire Pasadena Refining System Inc (PRSI), a Texas oil refining unit of Brazilian state-run oil firm Petroleo Brasileiro SA (PETR4.SA), three people familiar with the matter said this week, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

U.S. oil companies are looking to expand refining operations to handle rising volumes of crude flowing from the country’s shale fields. A deal for PRSI would give Chevron an oil refinery that can process about 110,000 barrels-per-day of light crude.

Chevron is also discussing a gas liquids processing joint venture with Kinder Morgan Inc (KMI.N), largest energy infrastructure provider in North America, two of the sources said. Kinder Morgan operates a nearby plant that separates gas liquids into ethane, propane and other fuels.

The sources requested anonymity to discuss the confidential talks. They did not disclose the deal price. Petrobras did not respond to requests for comment. Chevron and Kinder Morgan declined to comment.

Petrobras, which is deeply in debt, has been seeking to divest USD21 billion in assets by year-end but has faced union resistance and legal obstacles. A presidential election on Sunday could raise obstacles for a sale with front-runner Jair Bolsonaro promising to install new managers at the company.

The PRSI refinery has been limited in the type of crude it can run since a 2011 fire, which left one of its processing units idle. A buyer would have to invest to upgrade the refinery, one of the people familiar with the matter said. But PRSI includes open land that could enable a future owner to easily expand the plant.

Petrobras put the plant, which is on the Houston Ship Channel leading to the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and has its own export docks, on the market earlier this year after sinking more than USD1.18 billion into the operation since 2006.

Garfield Miller, chief executive of energy investment bank Aegis Energy Advisors, said the U.S. shale-oil boom has given a second chance to U.S. plants designed to process lighter crudes. Several years ago Petrobras would not have been able to sell PRSI because of its age and inability to process heavy crudes, he said.

That has changed with the growth of the Permian Basin, the nation’s largest oilfield, which now produces 3.5 million barrels per day of oil, according to U.S. government figures. "Anyone with crude in the Permian might logically want to own it,” said Miller. “This refinery today has value, whereas eight or nine years ago it had none."

Pierre Breber, Chevron’s head of refining and chemicals, this month said the company wanted to build or buy a refinery along the U.S. Gulf Coast to process oil from its West Texas operations.

Chevron’s shale output from the region jumped 51 percent in the second quarter to 270,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. By expanding its refining capacity to Houston, it would be able to process the crude closer to where it is produced.

British Columbia, Canada introduces new project review rules

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The province of British Columbia introduced on Monday new environmental assessment rules that it said will increase clarity and certainty for the companies behind projects, mirroring efforts by the Canadian government to update major project reviews, reported Reuters.

The proposed changes will enhance early consultation with indigenous groups and allow "good projects" to be approved more quickly, British Columbia's environment minister George Heyman said in a statement.

"We want to reduce the potential for the types of legal challenges we've too frequently seen in B.C.," Heyman said.

Most major projects in British Columbia must undergo an environmental assessment, often done in partnership with a federal review.

Canada's ruling Liberals introduced draft legislation earlier this year that would change how pipelines, mines and other major projects are assessed, seeking to address unhappiness over the potential environmental impact of those developments.

The federal move has been criticized by political opponents and some in industry over concerns it will add more hurdles without resulting in increased public support for contentious projects like crude oil pipelines.

British Columbia said the changes to its process will give the province the ability to more fully assess environmental impacts of developments, including upstream emissions and social, cultural and health effects.

It will also include stronger enforcement, including audits, to ensure conditions of approval are being followed as intended.

The new rules will need to be approved by the province's legislative assembly.

As MRC informed before, state-owned Sinopec, formally known as China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, along with an Alberta indigenous group, China State Construction Engineering Corp and Alberta management company Teedrum, plan to build a refinery to process 167,000 barrels per day of crude into gasoline and other products.

Kraton CFO Stephen Tremblay steps down

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Kraton Corp. (KRA) disclosed in a regulatory filing that Stephen Tremblay, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, the Company's principal financial officer, is leaving such position with the Company effective November 14, 2018, as per Rttnews.

The company noted that Tremblay's departure was not the result of any dispute or disagreement with the Company on any matter relating to the Company's accounting practices or financial statements. He will remain in the employ of the Company through a transition period ending in the fourth quarter 2018. Subject to the satisfaction of the conditions contained therein, Mr. Tremblay will receive the severance benefits and entitlements set forth in the Company's applicable plans and policies.

Effective November 14, 2018, the Board of Directors appointed Christopher H. Russell, the Company's Chief Accounting Officer, to serve as the Company's Vice President and Chief Financial Officer on an interim basis until such time as a successor can be identified and appointed as the Company's principal financial officer.

Russell will continue to serve as the Company's principal accounting officer until such time as a successor can be identified and appointed. Russell, age 53, was appointed the Company's principal accounting officer in June 2015. From 2014 to 2015, Mr. Russell served as Chief Accounting Officer for Prince International Corporation, a leading manufacturer and distributor of mineral based products.

Saudi Aramco taps banks for USD5 billion petrochemical project finance

MOSCOW (MRC) - Saudi Aramco has approached banks to finance its USD5 billion Amiral petrochemical project that the state-owned oil producer plans to develop with France’s Total, five sources familiar with the matter said, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Aramco, the world’s largest crude producer, plans to boost investment in refining and petrochemicals in a bid to cut reliance on crude as demand for oil slows. Plans for the giant Amiral petrochemical complex in the Saudi city of Jubail were announced in April. It will be located next to the Satorp refinery, which is also jointly owned and operated by Aramco and Total.

Aramco has asked banks to pitch for a financial advisory role and to provide indicative commitments for the financing, two of the sources said. Aramco and Total declined to comment.

The companies said this year the facility would comprise a mixed-feed cracker with a capacity to produce 1.5 million tonnes a year of ethylene. It will also have other units producing high-value petrochemicals.

The project, scheduled to start up in 2024, requires an investment of about USD5 billion. The cracker would feed other petrochemical and specialty chemical plants worth USD4 billion to be built by other investors, taking total investment to USD9 billion, the sources said.

Project financing generally includes loans covering about 70 to 80 percent of total investment, with the remainder covered by equity. One source said it was too early to know the exact size of the debt financing as it depended on commitments from banks.

Aramco and Total signed a joint development deal in October for front-end engineering and design of the Jubail complex.

"Amiral accelerates our broader downstream strategy of becoming a global leader in refining and marketing, base lube oils, and chemicals," Aramco Chief Executive Amin Nasser said in October.

Separately, Aramco has been in talks with banks for its plans to acquire a controlling stake in Saudi petrochemical maker SABIC, a deal which could require up to USD70 billion in financing. Nasser has not given a timeline saying anti-trust regulations abroad meant the acquisition would take time.