Canadian Alberta boosts incentives for new petrochemical plants

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Alberta said that it will double its incentives for companies developing new plants to make petrochemical products, as the Western Canadian province seeks to diversify its economy beyond crude extraction and export, reported Reuters.

The province will now provide royalty credits worth CD2.1 billion (USD1.6 billion), up from earlier commitments totaling CD1.1 billion, to projects that convert natural gas and oil into value added products like gasoline, fertilizer and plastics.

Alberta said it was expanding the program after receiving 23 applications from Canadian and international companies for the incentive program, representing CD60.2 billion in potential investment in the province.

"It sends a clear signal that companies from around the world want to invest in Alberta," said Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, Minister of Energy, in a statement. "We need to put our foot on the gas pedal."

The province has been struggling with sagging oil and gas prices, as rising crude output has outstripped existing pipeline takeaway capacity, while gas production that used to be sold into the Northeastern United States has been displaced by expanding US supplies.

In Alberta, most petrochemical upgrading uses natural gas byproducts like ethane, propane and butane.

The province first launched the petrochemical incentives in 2016. Two projects, including Inter Pipeline Ltd’s (IPL.TO) CD3.5 billion petrochemical plant near Edmonton, were approved to share the original CD500 million in royalty credits. It announced the second round earlier this year.

Alberta also said it would double its support for petrochemical feedstock plants, which provide the raw materials for petrochemical upgrading.

As MRC informed before, in December 2017, Inter Pipeline Ltd. announced that its board of directors had authorized the construction of a world-scale integrated propane dehydrogenation (PDH) and polypropylene (PP) plant. The facilities, collectively referred to as the Heartland Petrochemical Complex, are estimated to cost USD3.5 B in aggregate and will be located in Strathcona County, Alberta near Inter Pipeline’s Redwater Olefinic Fractionator.

French union seeks oil refinery shutdown as pay strike extended

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Oil industry workers were on strike for a third day at four of France’s seven refineries and unions urged employees to step up blockades to force the plants to halt production, reported Reuters.

Support for continued action came after unions rejected on Thursday a 1.5 percent salary increase offer by oil industry federation UFIP, saying it was below the French inflation rate.

A spokesman for UFIP said talks to resolve the dispute had ended late on Thursday without agreement.

The CGT and fellow hard-left union FO have called on striking workers to step up blockades of refineries and fuel depots so companies are faced with supply shortages.

Thierry Defresne of the CGT union told Reuters that Total’s Grandpuits refinery south of Paris, one of the refineries where workers remain on strike, was completely blocked and only had enough crude to continue functioning until Sunday midday.

But a Total spokeswoman said France’s CIM oil storage and dispatch services company, which supplies crude to refineries operated by Total and Exxon, was working normally.

"Total denies the fact that the Grandpuits refinery will run out of crude, forcing a shutdown," she said, although she said outbound of deliveries of fuel from Grandpuits were blocked.

Some CIM employees staged a brief walk out on Thursday in solidarity with the striking refinery workers but they resumed work later in the day.

The Total spokeswoman said deliveries of fuel the firm’s Donges refinery on the west coast had resumed, while she said only one of Total’s fuel depots, La Mede in the south, was blocked.

Workers at Donges refinery and at Exxon Mobil Corp’s Fos-sur-Mer refinery in the south voted to suspend their strike action pending salary talks, the CGT’s Defresne said.

He said workers were still striking at Total’s Grandpuits, Gonfreville and Feyzin refineries, along with Ineos’ Lavera refinery.

The strike over pay and bonuses adds to challenges facing fuel companies, which are also facing protests from the "yellow vest" movement of citizens who oppose higher fuel taxes and have sporadically blockaded oil depots this week.

UFIP said some petrol stations were experiencing minor supply issues but there were no widespread fuel shortages.

Siemens equipment selected for billion-dollar crude flexibility project with ADNOC Refining in UAE

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Samsung Engineering and the Chicago Bridge & Iron Company (CB&I) - a McDermott International company - has recently selected Siemens to provide 19 process reciprocating compressors for ADNOC Refining’s crude flexibility project at Ruwais Refinery-West, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Samsung Engineering and CB&I will provide EPC services to increase the refinery’s crude processing flexibility, enabling the site to process up to 420,000 barrels of oil per day of the local crude grade known as Upper Zakum, which is found offshore. The upgrade will improve the value of each barrel of oil and allow ADNOC to export more of its main onshore, lighter-grade Murban crude.

Project commissioning is expected in 2022.

Siemens will provide two 2HSE-2 net-gas reciprocating compressors; two 2HHE-VG-1 reciprocating compressors; three 2HSE-1 NL hydrogen-recycle reciprocating compressors; four 4HHE-VB off-gas reciprocating compressors; and eight 4BDC-18H3 make-up hydrogen reciprocating compressors. These API 618 process reciprocating compressors are known for their rugged design, high reliability and flexible operating range. The compressors are supplemented with a pipeline cylinder design that incorporates the company’s legacy know-how with the latest advances in design practices, materials, valves, and capacity control.

Siemens’ Dresser-Rand process reciprocating compressors are available with up to 10 crank throws, as single-throw or balanced-opposed configurations. Each compressor is custom engineered to meet customers’ specific operating requirements.

"Our design flexibility, ability to supply everything from a single source, advanced compressor technology, and competitive pricing were critical to being selected for this mega-project," said Executive Vice President New Equipment Solutions and Corporate Account Management for Siemens Oil and Gas, Matthew Chinn. "Our rugged, highly efficient compressors will help ADNOC Refining increase the economic efficiency of its operations and expand flexibility to process up to 420,000 barrels per day of another crude.

As MRC reported earlier, in May 2017, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) announced that it would work together with the Austrian producer OMV to help grow Adnoc’s downstream businesses.

Synthomer completes nitrile latex boost at its Pasir Gudang production facility

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Synthomer said it has formally opened its expanded nitrile latex production plant in Pasir Gudang, Johor, Malaysia, the first of a two-phase expansion, as per Apic-online.

The first phase, which required an investment of USD63.5-million, expanded the facility by 90,000 t/y.

The second phase will add a further 60,000 t/y of nitrile latex capacity and will be operational "sometime in 2020," Synthomer noted. Both expansions are based on a new reactor technology.

In addition, the company announced it will build a new USD8.5-million, state-of-the-art Asian Innovation Centre in Johor. The center is scheduled to open in early 2020.

As MRC wrote before, in H1 2017, Synthomer plc acquired Perstorp Oxo Belgium AB from the Swedish Perstorp Holding AB for EUR 78 million. Perstorp Belgium is a niche additives business serving the decorative and industrial coatings industries. In 2016, the business generated earnings before interest and tax of EUR 8 million and had gross assets of EUR 21 million. The company operates from a single site in Ghent, Belgium, and has 41 employees, who will all be transferred with the business.

Synthomer is one of the world’s major suppliers of latices and speciality emulsion polymers supporting leadership positions in many market segments including coatings, construction, textiles, paper and synthetic latex gloves. The company has its Head Office in London, UK and provides customer focused services from operational centres in Marl, Germany, Harlow, UK, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

First ever drone standards to create lucrative market and solve economic challenges

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The introduction of the first ever list of drone industry standards is expected to enable a booming market and spur economies across the globe, says the International Standards Organisation, said Compello.

The world’s first drone standards are being introduced today in a bid to provide assurance on the safety, security and “etiquette” of their use.

International Standards Organisation (ISO) is releasing the new standards, which are expected to galvanise the industry and spur considerable market growth after boosting public confidence in the technology.

They are also expected to play an essential role in guiding how drones are used safely and effectively in a complex framework of regulatory compliance.

Robert Garbett, convenor of the ISO team responsible for global drone operational Standards, said: “I am delighted that we have now reached the point where the first ever standards for the global drone industry are ready for public consultation after three years of hard work and international cooperation between standard’s bodies across the world, with final adoption expected in 2019.

“These standards will undoubtedly lead to a new confidence in safety, security and compliance within this dynamic industry, resulting in a massive expansion in the availability and use of drone technology in the years to come.”

The new standards outline a cogent set of new rules for drone use, promoting and reinforcing compliance regarding no-fly zones, local regulation, flight log protocols, maintenance, training and flight planning documentation. They also address public concerns over privacy and data protection by requiring operators to have appropriate systems to handle data alongside communications and control planning when flying.

In terms of impact on the economy, the standards are expected to enable drones to solve various transport, security, environmental and productivity challenges faced by governments and industries across the globe.

Professional services network PWC recently predicted that the UK aerial drone industry will contribute GBP42 billion and 628,000 jobs to the UK economy by 2030, while Goldman Sachs estimate that drones worldwide will be a USD100 billion (GBP78bn) market by 2020.

Mr Garbett added: “Drones represent a global phenomenon and an unprecedented economic opportunity for any country which embraces the technology. It’s very encouraging that the UK Government is a world leader in recognising the importance of this vital business sector.

The ISO Draft International Standards for Drone Operations are formally released today for public consultation, with drone professionals, academics, businesses and the general public being invited to submit comments by 21 Jan 2019 with final adoption of these Standards expected in the US, UK and worldwide in 2019.