Meridian Energy Group signs McDermott as Davis Refinery EPC contractor

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Meridian Energy Group, Inc., the leading developer of innovative, advanced technology and environmentally-compliant oil refining facilities, has announced that the company has signed an agreement with McDermott out of Houston, Texas under which McDermott will finalize the Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) for the Meridian Davis Refinery in Billings County, North Dakota, according to Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Following the completion of the FEED effort, the Parties will be prepared to enter into a comprehensive turnkey Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Agreement to build the Davis Refinery. McDermott is a premier, fully – integrated provider of technology, engineering and construction solutions to the energy industry. 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.

William Prentice, CEO of Meridian, said of this agreement, "Meridian’s mission is to drive the reinvention of the refining industry, and the Davis Refinery is intended to be the prototype for a new type of refinery. To fulfill this mission, Meridian requires an EPC Partner that shares this vision, and that has the expertise and professionalism to complete Davis and follow-on projects in a reliable and cost-effective manner - Meridian believes that McDermott is that firm and is very happy to be entering into this agreement and finalizing another major milestone on the Davis project."

Lance Medlin, Meridian EVP of Projects on EPC with McDermott, "The Davis Refinery is being designed as a cutting-edge facility, setting a new standard in how emerging energy needs are addressed at regional levels. Meridian’s partnership with McDermott for the engineering and development of the Davis Refinery is another step in what has proven to be the consistently right direction in refining, and we’re proud to announce this next phase in the Davis Project."

As MRC wrote previously, in July 2018, Meridian Energy Group, Inc., announced that the company had executed a contract with SEH Design|Build, Inc., a subsidiary of Short Elliott Hendrickson Inc. with an office in Bismarck, North Dakota, for the performance of site and civil design and construction services for the Davis Refinery.

Johnson Matthey and Eastman Chemical Company license new ethylene glycol technology to Jiutai

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Johnson Matthey and Eastman Chemical Company (Eastman) have announced that their advanced, proprietary technology for the production of ethylene glycol from coal has been selected by Inner Mongolia Jiutai New Material (Jiutai) for its planned 1,000,000 t/y ethylene glycol facility, as per GV.

Ethylene glycol, commonly referred to as mono ethylene glycol (MEG), is a key industrial chemical and is also a building block in the production of polyesters for fiber and packaging applications. Today, the majority of the world’s MEG is produced from ethylene but this new process enables the production of MEG from a variety of raw materials, including coal, natural gas, or biomass, thereby enabling companies to produce MEG without the need to access ethylene.

"Jiutai is pleased to select Johnson Matthey and Eastman’s novel technology for the production of MEG. Jiutai’s aim is to utilize local coal and other precious resources, such as water, in a clean and sustainable manner to produce high value MEG at its new Coal to Chemicals Complex at Togtoh Industrial Park, Togtoh, Inner Mongolia. With the combined efforts of all parties involved in this important project, we are focused on implementing the project in a timely manner and bring great value to the Company in a world class facility," commented Cui Lianguo, Chairman of Jiutai Group at the contract signing ceremony.

Jiutai’s Coal to Chemicals complex will produce synthesis gas by gasification of coal. The synthesis gas will be converted to methanol which will then be converted to formaldehyde from which MEG will be produced.

Johnson Matthey has also licensed to Jiutai its world leading technologies and catalysts for the production of methanol and formaldehyde in an integrated MEG facility, which will maximize feedstock conversion and reduce utility consumption across the multi-step route from syngas to MEG. This, combined with the advanced technology for MEG production and the large capacity, provides significant value addition whilst using abundantly available coal. The methanol plant will be a world scale facility and any excess methanol above that required for MEG production will be used in other Jiutai facilities. The formaldehyde plant will have a capacity of 1,500,000 t/y and will be among the largest single site facility for formaldehyde production in the world.

"We are delighted that Jiutai has selected the MEG technology developed under a collaboration between Johnson Matthey and Eastman. Our focus is to provide highly efficient, sustainable technology and catalysts which enables our customers to maximize their feedstock conversion. Over the past fifty years, JM has applied its world class science and technology to bring many new process technologies and catalysts to the market which have created significant value for our customers. This new MEG technology is the latest addition to our portfolio and we are excited to bring this to market for our customers", said Jane Toogood, Sector Chief Executive, Efficient Natural Resources, Johnson Matthey.

Eastman and Johnson Matthey began development of the MEG technology from synthesis gas over a decade ago. Extensive testing was conducted at the research facilities of Eastman and Johnson Matthey, and the MEG process was developed by combining the complementary capabilities of scientists and engineers of both companies. MEG produced in the process meets all international and Chinese specifications and independent tests have confirmed the quality is maintained over prolonged period of storage.

"The MEG technology was developed through many years of sustained research and development, and by combining the expertise of Eastman and Johnson Matthey in synthesis gas chemistry we are pleased to license this advanced process to Jiutai", said Dr. Peter Miller, Vice President of Stream Development and Operations Technology for Eastman.

As MRC informed earlier, in July 2018, Jacobs Engineering has won a contract from Eastman Chemical to provide capital construction, maintenance and turnaround services at Eastman sites in Longview, Texas, and Kingsport, Tennessee.

Global auto sales declined in 2018: Scotiabank

MOSCOW (MRC) -- World vehicle sales fell in 2018, a new report from Scotiabank said, owing mainly to a sharp contraction in auto purchases in China in the second half of the year amid a Government-led crackdown on non-bank lending – but despite posting a decline relative to 2017, the Canadian auto market posted its second best year on record in 2018, said Canplastics.

“We forecast Canadian vehicle sales to fall again in 2019 and 2020 toward the 1.90 million units per year mark,” Scotiabank said in its latest Global Auto Report.

Sales in Western Europe also dropped sharply in the final months of 2018, the report said, owing to a shortage of qualifying vehicles under new emission test procedures introduced in the European Union in September, but still managed a slight increase for the year when excluding the UK.

Canadian vehicle sales closed 2018 with a 2.9% month-over-month (m/m) December decline to 1.82 million units delivered, their lowest one-month total since early-2015,” Scotiabank said. “Compared to last December, purchases fell by 8%. Following 2017’s all-time record of 2.04 million autos sold, sales in 2018 contracted by 2.6% with 1.98 million units driven off dealers’ lots.”

The second half of the year saw a significant weakening of activity in the new autos market which has been impacted by slowing employment growth and rising interest rates, Scotiabank said. “As purchases move toward a long-term equilibrium of around 1.9 million units sold per annum, we forecast vehicle sales in Canada to total 1.93 million units delivered in 2019,” the report said.

U.S. vehicle sales ended 2018 on a strong note, Scotiabank said, with 17.51 million annualised units delivered in December, with increases of 1.5% year-over-year (y/y) and 0.6% m/m. “The twelve-month total of 17.2 million units purchased marked the third best year on record against expectations for a decline from 2017’s figure of 17.1 million autos sold,” the report said.

In Mexico, meanwhile, vehicle purchases fell by 7.1% in last year to 1.42 million units delivered, nearly 200,000 units below 2016’s all-time high of 1.60 million units.

In 2018, Chinese vehicle sales fell for the first time in two decades owing to a pronounced slowdown in economic activity, particularly in the latter half of the year. Total sales for the year sat three percentage points below 2017’s record high, and recorded a sharp year-on-year decline of 14% in December.

In Europe, new vehicle emission tests rules which entered into force in September led to a big swing in sales in the second half of 2018, though auto purchases in Western Europe excluding the UK managed to eke out a 0.3% increase in 2018.

And in South America, a surge in sales of 14% and 16% in Brazil and Chile, respectively, helped to offset a sharp contraction of 23% in Argentinean auto purchases in 2018. “The bulk of last year’s 4.2% rise in South American auto sales was driven by a potent start to the year which was later unwound by weak activity in Argentina,” Scotiabank said.

ExxonMobil awards US Beaumont refinery expansion EPC to TechnipFMC

MOSCOW (MRC) -- TechnipFMC has been awarded a large reimbursable contract by ExxonMobil for detailed engineering, procurement, and construction for the recently announced crude expansion project in Beaumont, Texas, USA, said the company.

The awarded scope covers the addition of four new units – atmospheric pipe still, kerosene hydrotreater, diesel hydrotreater and benzene recovery at ExxonMobil’s Refinery.

The new units of this expansion project will be integrated into the existing facilities at the refinery. The expansion will optimize the facility by giving ExxonMobil the flexibility to run lighter crudes.

Nello Uccelletti, President of TechnipFMC’s Onshore/Offshore business, stated: "We are pleased to have been awarded this contract by our long-term client, ExxonMobil. We look forward to bringing our global project execution capabilities, extensive U.S. Gulf Coast execution experience and leadership in the refining sector to this significant refinery expansion project for ExxonMobil."

Valero proposal stymies Port Arthur refinery talks: sources

MOSCOW (MRC) - A company proposal to change who would assign daily work has stymied negotiations for a new contract at Valero Energy Corp’s Port Arthur, Texas, refinery, said sources familiar with the talks, as per Reuters.

The dispute between negotiators for the company and United Steelworkers union local 13-423 has moved off from the bargaining table as Valero sent emails to refinery employees two weeks ago and, in response, the union conducted membership meetings, the sources said.

Valero has proposed the new contract allow salaried supervisors to assign daily jobs, taking that authority away from head operators, hourly workers who have for decades made the assignments, the sources said.

A Valero spokeswoman did not reply to a request for comment.

Valero’s proposed change, according to the sources, could undermine union seniority and operational safety as the assignments may not go to those best qualified to do the inside and outside operator jobs.

"The head operators are the most responsible guys in the refinery," one of the sources said. The change could also end rotation in job assignments, leaving some stuck in the same role for long periods of time, according to the sources.

The negotiations underway between Valero and local 13-423 will produce a local agreement that will be paired with the national agreement being hammered out by the USW International’s negotiators and Shell Oil Co, the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, which is representing U.S. refinery and oil companies.

The current national agreement and the contract at the Valero Port Arthur refinery both expire early Friday morning.

Workers at the Valero refinery can’t strike until the contract expires and the officials at the USW International authorize the walk-out, the sources said.