Kuwait Petroleum eyes turning al-Zour into a commercial refinery

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Kuwait Petroleum Co has prepared a study to transform its al-Zour refinery into a commercial one to increase its profitability, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing with reference to the state news agency KUNA's Monday statement.

We remind that, as MRC reported earlier, in May 2018, Kuwait Petroleum International (KPI) was in talks to buy 24% of the Bina joint venture refinery in central India, as the Middle East nation wants to increase its South Asian market share. Global oil producers are vying to gain entry into India’s expanding refining sector. The world’s third-biggest oil importer plans to raise its refining capacity by 77% to about 8.8 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2030 to meet rising fuel demand.

Oil from Kuwait accounted for about 6% of India’s overall imports in 2017/18.

PET Technologies is making inroads in the U.S.

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The Austrian blow molding machine maker has just sold a unit to its second American customer, pet industry provider Moderna Products, as per Canplastics.

No matter what the item – from grain to ice cubes to snacks in a vending machine – gravity is always the best dispenser: it never breaks down, never calls in sick for the day, and never takes a vacation. Moderna Products USA, a manufacturer of plastic applications for the pet industry, just got a gravity assist in dispensing water from blow molding machine PET Technologies GmbH.

Moderna’s newest product design is a gravity-fed watering dish that combines blow molded jars manufactured on a specially modified, semi-automatic UPF-30 series blow molder from PET Technologies with injection molded bases.

The UPF-30 was installed recently at Moderna’s American plant in Gaffney, S.C., and runs alongside its existing injection molding machine. PET Technologies technicians were on hand to commission the new machine and to give tutorials to the new operators. A second installation at Moderna’s headquarters in Belgium is scheduled for the near-future.

The machine installation in Gaffney is the second in the U.S. for Neunkirchen, Austria-based PET Technologies since the machinery maker set its sights on cracking the North American market last year. The first PET Technologies automatic blowing machine – an APF-3002 with 3,000 bottles per hour output and a bottle volume up to 3 litres – was put into operation at a customer’s plant in Arizona in June.

Founded in 1999, PET Technologies’ equipment has been installed in more than 40 countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia; and now, with the development last year of its APF-Max stretch-blow molding machine with four-, six-, and eight-cavity configurations and output up to 14,000 bottles per hour, the company is determined to make its mark in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico.

According to Vladimir Tsallagov, PET Technologies export director, the company made its first sales into South America early last year, followed up by its first sale to a Canadian customer later in 2018: two four-cavity APF-6004 blow molding machines sold to plastic drink bottle molder Triumbari Corp., of Bolton, Ont.

Another prong in PET Technologies’ expansion strategy involved finding a North American sales representative. The company appointed Chicago-based Sopro Machinery LLC as its exclusive distributor in Canada and the U.S. two years ago.

PET Technologies’ has also beefed up its manufacturing capabilities to assist with its foray into North America. "We opened a new 4,000-square-meter manufacturing plant in Chernihiv, Ukraine a few years ago,” Tsallagov said. “The facility has two R&D departments: one for machines and one for molds. And then in January 2018 we opened an adjoining 1,500- square-meter, two-storey office complex.” While PET Technologies machines are designed at the company’s headquarters in Austria, all the parts are produced and assembled in Chernihiv. “We don’t outsource anything,” Tsallagov said. “We do all the manufacturing and assembling of machines ourselves. Our company is interested in the future – we’ve done the prep work and are ready to expand into North America, and we’re beginning to see some good results."

Air Liquide to build first world scale liquid hydrogen production plant dedicated to the supply of Hydrogen energy markets

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Air Liquide will build the first world scale liquid hydrogen production unit dedicated to the hydrogen energy markets, located in the Western US, and has signed a long-term agreement with FirstElement Fuel Inc (FEF), a leader in retail hydrogen infrastructure in the US, to supply hydrogen to FEF’s retail liquid hydrogen fueling stations in California, according to Hydrocarbonprocessing.

These new commitments will serve the growing needs of the hydrogen mobility market in California and help enable and complement the deployment of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles and support the hydrogen merchant market across the state.

Air Liquide expects to invest over 150 million US dollars to build a liquid hydrogen plant in the western United States, with construction to begin in early 2019. The plant will have a capacity of nearly 30 tons of hydrogen per day - an amount that can fuel 35,000 Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs). Through this investment, Air Liquide will enable the large-scale deployment of hydrogen mobility on the west coast, providing a reliable supply solution to fuel the 40,000 FCEVs expected to be deployed in the state of California by 2022. The plant will also support other fuel cell vehicle and transportation markets in the region, such as material handling and forklifts and heavy duty trucks.

The new plant is the first large scale investment into the supply chain infrastructure needed to support hydrogen energy solutions for the energy transition, starting with transport and mobility. The pace of FCEV deployment has now reached a level requiring a growing scale of investment and is paving the way for the growth of zero emission mobility in other geographies.

In addition to the long-term supply agreement, Air Liquide and FEF have entered into an agreement outlining Air Liquide’s intent to make an equity investment in FEF, following previous assistance to the company by Toyota and Honda. With these agreements, Air Liquide also builds upon its existing collaborations with Toyota and Honda to further enable a robust hydrogen fueling infrastructure and, along with others, bolster the deployment of fuel cell electric vehicles and the retail fueling infrastructure in California.

Michael Graff, Executive Vice President & Executive Committee Member of L’Air Liquide S.A. and Chairman & CEO of American Air Liquide Holdings, Inc., said: "This new investment in hydrogen production and our collaborative relationship with FirstElement Fuel, further demonstrate our long-term commitment to the development of hydrogen energy for mobility, and accelerate the deployment of new hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles - cars, trucks, buses - planned by automotive manufacturers like Toyota, Honda and other leading OEMs. We are convinced that hydrogen is an essential sustainable energy vector of the future and a cornerstone of the energy transition."

"This signals a transitional moment for the hydrogen automobile market," said Joel Ewanick, Founder & CEO of California-based retail hydrogen station company, FirstElement Fuel Inc. "Air Liquide is bringing significant private investment to build a key piece for growing California's hydrogen network. It's yet another indication of the momentum for hydrogen as a replacement for gasoline."

Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America, said: "The commitment to construct a hydrogen plant of this scale by Air Liquide and supply FirstElement Fuel with hydrogen for its fueling stations in California is a clear demonstration of the shared vision of global leaders like Air Liquide, Toyota and the OEM community to innovate, build and deploy the vehicles and infrastructure to enable clean mobility of the future."

Steven Center, Vice President, Connected & Environmental Business Development Office, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. said: "Honda welcomes Air Liquide’s significant investment in hydrogen refueling infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles. Their commitment will broaden the appeal of fuel cell electric vehicles and speed the adoption of this promising zero-emission vehicle technology."

As MRC wrote earlier, in October 2018, Air Liquide Engineering & Construction signed a contract to supply an air separation unit (ASU) to Shandong Runyin Bio-Chemical Industry Co. Ltd (Runyin), a subsidiary of Shandong Ruixing Group, a large chemical company and one of the key high-tech players in China. Under the terms of the contract, Air Liquide Engineering & Construction will design and build a large ASU with a production capacity of 2,950 tons of oxygen per day.

Wave of refinery shutdowns may push India into importing fuel next year

MOSCOW (MRC) -- A wave of shutdowns will hit Indian state-owned refineries next year as the country prepares for cleaner fuels from April 2020, company officials said, in moves that could temporarily dent oil demand and push up imports of refined fuels, reported Reuters.

India, the world’s third-biggest oil importer and consumer, has surplus refining capacity and rarely imports gasoil and gasoline.

It also means that demand for fuel produced by India’s privately owned refiners will likely climb during the period, as state refiners seek to fill the gap.

State refiners - Indian Oil Corp, Bharat Petroleum, Hindustan Petroleum and Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals - account for about 60 percent of the country’s nearly 5 million barrels per day (bpd) capacity.

The refiners will have to shut gasoil- and gasoline-making units at their plants for 15 to 45 days to churn out Euro VI-compliant fuels from January 2020 to be able to sell them from April of that year.

"Next year will be challenging for us as I have to protect my crude throughput and finish the job at the refineries and get ready for Euro VI by April 2020," said B.V. Rama Gopal, head of refineries at IOC, the country’s top refiner.

IOC plans a roughly month-long shutdown of gasoline- and gasoil-producing units at all of its 11 refineries, he told Reuters.

Key parts of the refineries requiring a revamp include naphtha hydrotreaters, catalytic reforming units, isomerisation units, diesel sulphurisers and diesel hydrotreaters. In addition, some refiners have to revamp or set up new gasoline treaters, hydrogen production and sulfur recovery units.

India has been gradually reducing sulfur emissions from vehicles since 2000, when fuel sold in the country had 500 parts per million (ppm).

Motorists in Delhi, which faces major air pollution, moved in April this year to Euro-VI standards, which allow up to 10 ppm sulfur and are known locally as Bharat Stage-VI.

HPCL will shut its diesel and gasoline units while upgrading the crude units at its Vizag and Mumbai refineries for 30 to 45 days, its chairman M. K. Surana said.

He forecast a slight reduction in the company’s crude intake.

"We will take the shutdown in one shot so we don’t have multiple disruptions," Surana said.

Surana and MRPL managing director M. Venkatesh, who intends to shut some refinery units for up to a month, said they see no need to import fuel in 2019 given that state fuel retailers can access robust production at local private refiners.

Their view is challenged by analysts who estimate weaker gasoil and gasoline prices would prompt state refiners to import auto fuel instead of going to private peers who levy coastal freight charges on top of normal prices.

A similar phenomenon was witnessed when India migrated to Euro IV fuel in phases to April 2017, said Sri Paravaikkarasu, head of east of Suez oil for consultants FGE in Singapore.

"There is a high possibility that the lengthy shutdown period could result in a shortage of current Euro IV products in the domestic market. In such an event, Indian NOCs (national oil companies) should turn to the international market for product purchases," she said.

FGE expects India could import 40,000 bpd of gasoline and 70,000 bpd of gasoil for about one quarter in 2019 because of the shutdowns.

BPCL, India’s second-biggest state refiner, has upgraded two of its refineries to superior-grade fuels and is revamping the fire-hit hydrocracker at its Mumbai refinery so it can produce cleaner diesel, its head of refineries R. Ramachandran said.

BPCL plans to shut a crude unit and some other secondary units at the Mumbai refinery for maintenance and upgrades next year for 15-20 days to produce cleaner fuels.

Ramachandran said there could be a need to import "some additional cargoes but it will not be a major hiccup".

"The shutdowns will be spaced out in a manner to ensure there is enough product in the market. It will be a well-orchestrated exercise," he said.

As MRC informed earlier, in 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.

Oil group Total says strikes impacting Normandy, Grandpuits and Feyzin sites

MOSCOW (MRC) -- French oil and energy company Total said it had started a process to suspend production at a refinery in Normandy due to a strike, reported Reuters.

Total added that deliveries of refined products from the Grandpuits and Feyzin sites had also been blocked due to strikes.

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

Total S.A. is a French multinational oil and gas company and one of the six "Supermajor" oil companies in the world with business in Europe, the United States, the Middle East and Asia. The company's petrochemical products cover two main groups: base chemicals and the consumer polymers (polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene) that are derived from them.