Canada gives struggling oil sector CD1.6 billion boost

MOSCOW (MRC) - The Canadian government said on Tuesday that it would spend CD1.6 billion (USD1.19 billion), mostly through loans, to assist the country’s oil and gas industry, which has struggled to move energy to U.S. markets due to full pipelines, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi said in Edmonton, Alberta, that the aid package would include C$1 billion for energy exporters to invest in new technologies, boost working capital or find new markets.

Canada is producing a record 4.9 million barrels of oil per day this month, according to National Energy Board estimates, but pipeline capacity has not expanded as quickly to move crude to U.S. refineries. The bottlenecks have resulted in steep price discounts.

The federal aid package also includes C$500 million in commercial financing spread over three years to help high-risk oil and gas companies weather current market conditions, Sohi said. Another CD100 million will go toward energy projects through an innovation fund, and CD50 million will fund projects that involve reducing environmental damage from resource extraction.

The funds will stabilize struggling oil companies, but they really need greater access to markets, said Mark Scholz, president of the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors.

The struggles of the oil sector, concentrated in the western province of Alberta, have generated rallies in the past month demanding that Ottawa do more to help. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government bought the Trans Mountain pipeline in the summer with plans to expand it, but a Canadian court quashed government approval of the project.

This month, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley took the rare step of ordering oil curtailments amounting to 325,000 barrels per day, starting in January, to reduce the province’s glut. Small oil producers will benefit from Ottawa’s support package, although it is “cut and paste” from federal aid for other sectors, Notley told reporters in Calgary.

Both Trudeau and Notley face elections next year and the oil industry’s problems pose a political liability. The Canadian economy is projected to grow by 1.9 percent next year, more slowly than this year’s 2.1 percent pace, partly due to weak energy investment, the think-tank Conference Board of Canada said.

KBR announces a new propane dehydrogenation technology

MOSCOW (MRC) – KBR, Inc. announced that it has developed a new Propane Dehydrogenation (PDH) technology (K-PROTM) that offers high propylene selectivity and conversion, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

This technology is based on KBR's catalytic olefins technology (K-COTTM) which is a commercially proven fluidized-bed technology for converting low-value olefinic, paraffinic or mixed streams into high-value propylene and ethylene.

K-PROTM delivers significant capital cost and operating cost advantages when compared with conventional designs. This arises from its fluidized-bed design which delivers reliable operation and high on-stream factors when compared with fixed or moving bed reactors.

K-PROTM technology combines the know-how and experience of K-COTTM with a novel high selectivity, low-cost, dehydrogenation catalyst that does not require precious metals. Plants based on this new technology will be designed as stand-alone propylene production units independent of a steam cracker or a FCC unit. Additionally, existing PDH operating units can be easily modified to benefit from the superior process performance and lower operating cost.

"K-PROTM is a further evolution and extension of KBR's pioneering work in catalytic cracking process technology," said John Derbyshire, KBR President, Technology. "The CAPEX savings for K-PROTM over other commercially available technologies is in the range 20-30% based on our internal studies. In addition the FCC-based design will deliver higher on-stream factors and much better energy efficiency when compared with existing designs. Our clients have every reason to be excited about this newest addition to our olefins technology portfolio."

KBR has over 70 years of experience in olefins plant design and construction. KBR's K-COTTM technology is extremely flexible in terms of feed and products and its versatility can enhance economic performance of steam crackers in a number of ways KBR's SCORETM is a versatile, high yield and low CAPEX steam cracking technology which can be designed for feedstock ranging from ethane to heavy gas oils. With the addition of new PDH technology to its offerings, KBR is positioned better than ever to address all its clients' needs for olefin technology solutions.

Equinor halts output at Norway methanol plant due fire

MOSCOW (MRC) -- A fire broke out at Equinor’s Tjeldbergodden industrial facility in Norway, triggering an evacuation of staff, reported Reuters with reference to the company and police.

The fire was later put out, and no injuries were reported, Equinor added.

Output was halted from the facility’s methanol plant and an air separation plant, according to a company spokeswoman

There was no information available regarding the facility’s third plant, a terminal receiving natural gas from the offshore Heidrun field, she added.

As MRC informed before, in March 2018, Norway’s Statoil announced plans to change its name to Equinor, reflecting its commitment to become a broad energy company rather than one focused only on oil

Croatian INA plans to modernise Rijeka refinery, convert second plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Croatian energy group INA plans to invest more than four billion kuna (USD616 million) to modernize its largest refinery but a second, smaller refinery will be converted into an industrial plant, it said, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The investment plan, approved by INA’s management board on Wednesday, is aimed at stemming losses in its refining division, currently running at around one billion kuna a year. INA owns two refineries in Croatia, one in the northern Adriatic port of Rijeka, and a smaller one in the central town of Sisak.

The plan foresees major investment in Rijeka to turn it into a top-level European refinery, INA said in a statement. “Total investments are worth more than 4 billion kuna, which would represent the single largest investment project in the history of the company,” it said.

“The final investment decision is planned for 2019, provided all preconditions assuring return on investment are met,” INA said. The modernized refinery should be ready to operate in 2023. INA’s biggest shareholder is Hungary’s MOL which owns slightly below half, while the Croatian government controls close to 45 percent.

Under the investment plan, the Sisak refinery will be turned into another type of industrial facility. The Sisak site would remain a major employer, but it was necessary to convert it from loss-making crude oil processing to “viable alternative industrial activities,” the statement said.

The new business in Sisak may include bio-component refining and petrochemical production, INA said, adding that it could also involve a modern logistics hub, bitumen, renewables and lubricant production.

Without giving details of possible job losses at Sisak, INA said it was prepared to offer alternative jobs to affected workers and severance payments significantly higher than the Croatian average. Workers at Sisak have repeatedly voiced concerns in recent years about MOL’s alleged plans to shut down the plant, putting pressure on the Croatian government to prevent it.

The company estimated that, if fully implemented, its plans would increase average yearly core profit, or EBITDA, by more than one billion kuna.

MOL and the Croatian government have been at odds for several years about management rights and investment policy at INA. Two years ago, the Zagreb government announced it intended to buy back INA shares from MOL, but little has happened since.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic recently said that a final decision would depend on the price set by MOL.

In the first nine months of this year, INA’s revenues were 16.23 billion kuna, 21 percent more than in the same period last year. EBITDA amounted to 2.7 billion kuna, roughly the same as in the first nine months of 2017. (USD1 = 6.4948 kuna)

INEOS Styrolution makes final investment decision for ASA capacity in the Americas

MOSCOW (MRC) -- INEOS Styrolution, the global leader in styrenics, announces today the final investment decision to construct a new 100kt capacity ASA plant at its site in Bayport, Texas, as per the company's press release.

The new ASA (acrylonitrile styrene acrylate polymer) facility strengthens the INEOS Styrolution position as the only global producer with ASA production capacity in all regions. Upon the start-up, scheduled for 2021, the new facility will unleash additional capacity of ABS polymers at the existing INEOS Styrolution Altamira plant in Mexico.

A contract for engineering, procurement, and construction has been awarded to WorleyParsons, a leading global provider for the chemical industry.

"I am looking forward to offering our customers additional ASA capacity allowing for more flexible production of specialty grades per their growing demand in the Americas. In addition, we will be able to produce more ABS in our existing plant in Mexico also serving the growing ABS market,” explains Alexander Glueck, President Americas.
Kevin McQuade, CEO INEOS Styrolution, comments: “We continue to follow a strong growth path to meet customer needs, particularly in growth markets like the Americas. Our Triple Shift growth strategy continues to serve as an excellent advisor."

INEOS Styrolution is the leading, global styrenics supplier with a focus on styrene monomer, polystyrene, ABS Standard and styrenic specialties. With world-class production facilities and more than 85 years of experience, INEOS Styrolution helps its customers succeed by offering the best possible solution, designed to give them a competitive edge in their markets. The company provides styrenic applications for many everyday products across a broad range of industries, including Automotive, Electronics, Household, Construction, Healthcare, Packaging and Toys/ Sports/ Leisure. In 2017, sales were at 5.3 billion euros. INEOS Styrolution employs approximately 3,300 people and operates 18 production sites in nine countries.