Asian jet fuel discounts slip to 9-yr seasonal low as supply swells

MOSCOW (MRC) - Asian jet fuel price discounts stand at their lowest December levels in nine years as a supply glut offsets consumption even as the region’s aviation sector booms, as per Hydrocabonprocessing.

The slump is a mirror image of the steep gains Asian aviation fuel price differentials saw in the first quarter of this year. Then, tight supply lifted them to their highest seasonal levels in a decade.

The cash differentials for jet fuel in the Asian trading hub of Singapore were at a discount of $1.06 a barrel below benchmark quotes on Monday JET-SIN-DIF, the weakest for this time of year since 2009, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

Cash differentials represent the price buyers are prepared to pay for fuel over or below benchmark values published daily by price reporting agencies. “Clearly the physical market does not believe that the high prices of jet paper (contracts) are justified,” said Sukrit Vijayakar, director of energy consultancy Trifecta. “That is what is causing the weakness in the cash differentials."

The weakness also comes as winter in the northern hemisphere has seen a mild start: The outlook is largely for an unusually mild season because of an El Nino weather pattern. That’s especially the case in Japan, where kerosene - almost identical to jet fuel - is commonly used for heating.

The low kerosene consumption and high yields for churning out jet fuel are luring refiners to pump out more of the latter, market sources said, weighing on the price traders are willing to buy it for. And the low cash prices are starting to weigh on refinery margins, traders said.

Refining margins, also known as cracks, for jet fuel were at USD15.66 a barrel over Dubai crude during Asian trading hours on Monday - down 19 percent in the last four weeks.

Despite that, jet cracks remain comparatively high - the peak of USD19.34 a barrel on Nov. 15 was a near four-year high - and seasonally adjusted refinery cracks for jet fuel are still at their strongest levels for this time of the year since 2014.

Taiwan's Formosa Petrochemical seals 2019 gasoil, jet fuel term contracts

MOSCOW (MRC) - Taiwan’s Formosa Petrochemical Corp has finalized its term contracts to sell diesel and jet fuel for loading in 2019, at volumes and price levels mostly steady from this year, trade sources said, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The refiner has sealed its one-year term contract for diesel with 10 parts per million (ppm) sulfur at a premium of 15 to 25 cents a barrel to Singapore quotes, they said.

That compares to a premium of 22 cents a barrel premium for 2018 term contracts, they added. Formosa has also finalized its 500 ppm sulfur gasoil for 2019 at a discount of 50 cents to 60 cents a barrel to Singapore quotes versus this year’s discount of 65 cents a barrel.

The prices for gasoil contracts vary depending on whether the buyer lifts it monthly or quarterly, two of the sources said.

For jet fuel, it finalised the term contracts at a premium of 5 cents a barrel to Singapore quotes, down 3 cents from this year’s term contract, the sources said.

Volumes were generally close to this year’s term deals, the sources added.

A Formosa spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.

Total Port Arthur refinery production cut by SRU outage

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Production at Total SA’s 225,500 barrel-per-day-capacity Port Arthur, Texas, refinery was cut on Sunday by the outage of Sulfur Recovery Unit 3, reducing the plant’s ability to process acid gas, reported Reuters with reference to sources familiar with plant operations.

Production was cut by 40 percent of capacity in November when SRU 3 was shut.

As MRC informed earlier, in April 2015, Total announced that its proposed new ethane cracker near its refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, is being designed to have a capacity of 1 million tpy.

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.

SCS incorporates as independent organisation for the styrenics chain to advance circularity

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Leading styrenics suppliers Ineos Styrolution, Total SA, Trinseo and Versalis have joined forces to work together on recycling styrenics, said Plasticsnews.

The four companies announced that they had founded Styrenics Circular Solutions (SCS) on Dec. 10 to use innovative technologies to "unlock" polystyrene’s circularity potential.

"Game-changing technologies will enable polystyrene, [expanded PS] and other styrenics-based plastics to be fully recycled so that they can be used again … in high-quality applications, ultimately also for food contact," the companies said in a news release.

The newly incorporated platform will also seek the inclusion of new members across the styrenics value chain and waste management stream to further the cause — including recyclers, waste management companies, converters and brand owners — to join them to link waste streams to “innovative recycling technologies."

According to its website, the platform aims to accelerate the development and roll-out of the "game-changing technologies" that convert used styrene-based products back to high-quality applications, ultimately also suitable for food contact.

It also intends to "mobilize" regional waste collection and sorting partners to push more styrene-based products into recycling, creating a “pull” and clear business case.

The platform, said the statement, will place a strong focus on engaging with waste collection and sorting partners to recover more polystyrene and EPS-based products.

“Today’s signing marks an important milestone of our voluntary pledge,” said Jens Kathmann, secretary general of SCS.

Polystyrene, he went on to say, “has an unparalleled capacity for closed-loop recycling, when properly collected and sorted."

Norske Shell divests USD526m of stakes in Norwegian offshore fields

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Norske Shell, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell, has divested its interests in the Draugen and Gjoa offshore fields on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) to oil and gas firm OKEA for Nkr4.52bn (USD526m), according to Offshore Technology.

The firm signed an agreement with OKEA in June for the sale of its stakes in the fields.

OKEA acquired Norske Shell’s 44.56% operated interest in the Draugen field (PL093) and 12% non-operated interest in the Gjoa field (PL153).

As a result of the deal, the company will assume operatorship of the Draugen field and absorb more than 153 employees from Norske Shell.

The two fields accounted for around 14% of Norske Shell’s total production last year.

Norske Shell managing director Rich Denny said: "Today’s deal completion was achieved despite a tight timeline from the Sales and Purchase Agreement in June 2018. It was made possible by good collaboration between Shell and OKEA, and with constructive dialogue with the Norwegian Authorities."

"The transaction is part of Shell’s USD30bn divestment programme and the strategy to simplify its portfolio."

Despite the sale, Norske Shell will continue to operate in Norway through its operating interests in Ormen Lange and Knarr and non-operating stake in Troll, Valemon, and Kvitebjorn.

Norske Shell will also continue to serve as the technical service provider of the Nyhamna gas processing plant.

The transaction is part of Shell’s USD30bn divestment programme and the strategy to simplify its portfolio.

Earlier this month, Shell Australia agreed to offload its interest in the Greater Sunrise natural gas fields located off the northern coast of the country.

Last month, the company reached an agreement to sell its Danish upstream interests to Norwegian Energy Company (Noreco) for USD1.9bn.

Royal Dutch Shell, commonly known as Shell, is an Anglo–Dutch multinational oil and gas company headquartered in the Netherlands and incorporated in the United Kingdom.Created by the merger of Royal Dutch Petroleum and UK-based Shell Transport & Trading, it is the fourth largest company in the world as of 2014, in terms of revenue, and one of the six oil and gas "supermajors".