Mexico fuel theft curtailed, secret hose found in refinery

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said a military-assisted crackdown had dramatically reduced fuel theft and uncovered a secret pipe that was used to siphon gasoline out of one of the country's refineries, reported Reuters.

Such fuel theft has dropped from 787 truck loads per day to 177 since thousands of soldiers were sent to state-oil company Pemex's installations last month, Lopez Obrador said at a daily news conference.

The crackdown on years of mounting fuel theft is the leftist government's first major move against corruption and violence after taking office on Dec. 1, but risks angering consumers and hurting the economy.

By closing off pipelines and refineries while it traced leakages, the government has triggered shortfalls and long lines at gas stations in at least six states, including Guanajuato, a major car-manufacturing hub in central Mexico.

Criminal groups and others who have tapped pipelines have long been blamed for billions of dollars of losses to public coffers over the past few years, but Lopez Obrador said last month that far more fuel was being stolen directly from Pemex installations by an internal network of corrupt officials.

Lopez Obrador said the military had discovered a 3-kilometer (1.9 mile)-long "hose" that was funneling fuel out of storage tanks at the Salamanca refinery in the central state of Guanajuato into a secret storage area.

He admitted there were complaints about the shortages, but said they were not widespread, and urged an end to "panic" buying and said shortages were an issue of distribution, not supply.

"This is not in vain," Lopez Obrador said. "We are going to end corruption."

Local media showed images of tanker trucks, escorted by federal police, heading from oil-rich costal states to the country's interior.

It was not immediately clear what impact the crackdown will have on imports of fuel. Mexico is the top export destination for US energy products, importing about 1.4 million barrels every day, or nearly a quarter of all US overseas sales.

Marathon Petroleum selects technology for digital monitoring and optimization

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) has implemented Axens’ Connect’InTM services for real-time process monitoring and optimization of multiple Continuous Catalytic Regenerative (CCR) Reformers and multiple Prime-G+ FCC gasoline post-treatment units across their refining network, according to Hydrocarbonprocessing.

MPC was an early-adopter of the Connect’InTM platform, and the two organizations have since collaborated to improve unit performance and utilized the tool’s cloud-based, simple web interface to improve decision making and technical service support. Connect’InTM has improved the MPC and Axens teams’ ability to proactively monitor Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) by automatically exchanging operating data via a secure channel and utilizing Axens’ high-fidelity models - all in real-time.

The engineers from both the Marathon and Axens’ teams can dedicate their efforts to unit improvements and spend less time managing and manipulating data. The tool has been especially useful for network subject matter experts to compare unit performance across their refineries.

Marathon Petroleum is the largest refiner in the United States with 16 refineries totaling 3.1 Million BPSD of crude capacity.

Connect‘InTM is a natural evolution of Axens’ Technical Services to enhance collaboration between Axens’ experts and client process specialists. The platform builds on Axens’ Digital Suite of Technical Services, APC, dynamic operator training simulators, linear programming, and management support.

As MRC reported earlier, in June 2018, Fluor Corporation announced that it had achieved substantial engineering completion for Marathon Petroleum Corporation’s Tier 3 gasoline sulfur standard reconfiguration project at the Galveston Bay refinery in Texas City, Texas.

Refinery to undergo maintenance and repair

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Bilfinger, an international leading engineering and industrial services provider and Teknokon, a renowned multi-disciplinary group headquartered in Istanbul, have been awarded a contract by Tupras to render maintenance and repair services for the Tupras' Izmir refinery, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The contract award underscores Bilfinger's growth strategy in the Middle East region and demonstrates the strategic value-add of the advanced solutions such as BMC in the Refining & Petrochemical sector.

"We are proud of being awarded this contract and are equally grateful for Tupras' invaluable trust. This is an important milestone for Bilfinger in the Middle East and represents a big step forward, in servicing the growing Refining and Petrochemical sector in the region," Ali Vezvaei, President & CEO of Bilfinger Middle East, commented.

Mr. Erkan Ergin, Chairman of Teknokon Group, commented: "We are very pleased to have been entrusted by Tupras for such an important maintenance contract. We strongly believe that our skilled resources coupled with the strong know-how and capabilities of Bilfinger will enable us to provide the customers with unique solutions and services."

As MRC informed before, in October 2018, SOCAR, the largest direct foreign investor in Turkey, launched its USD6.3-billion SOCAR Turkey Aegean Refinery - STAR Refinery, which will provide a large portion of oil products demand in the local market with 10 million tons of annual oil processing capacity.

Russia expands list of oil refineries eligible for tax relief

MOSCOW (MRC) - Russian has expanded the list of oil refineries eligible for so-called reverse excise tax after they agreed to invest around 300 billion roubles (USD4.5 billion) to upgrade capacity by 2026, the energy ministry said, as per Reuters.

Russia’s most significant oil industry tax overhaul took effect on January 1.

It is phasing out exporting duty in the next five years and increasing its mineral extraction tax.

Some refineries, including those affected by Western sanctions against Moscow, will be able to claim back some excise tax.

The ministry said it has expanded the list of the plants eligible to claim back the excise tax to include nine refineries: Neftekhimservis, Novoshakhtinsky, Afipsky, Taneko, Orsk, Antipinsky, Mariysky, Ilsky and Slavyansk ECO.

The refineries have pledged to launch 13 secondary processing units by Jan. 1 2026 to boost their combined high-quality gasoline production by over 3 million tonnes per year.

Their investment from 2015 to 2026 is seen at around 300 billion roubles, the ministry said.

Reliance posts record quarterly profit on petchem, refining boost

MOSCOW (MRC) - Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries posted a record quarterly profit, driven by growth in its petrochemicals and refining business, while its telecoms group Jio notched up a fifth consecutive profitable quarter, as per Reuters.

The telecoms business is central to the ambition of Chairman Mukesh Ambani - Asia’s richest man - to make Reliance’s consumer businesses as big as its energy operations, which contribute the bulk of group revenue and profit.

In the last two years, Jio has used cut-price data and free voice calls to cornered over 250 million subscribers, leaving rivals nursing losses. Jio posted a nearly 65 percent jump in profit to 8.31 billion rupees (USD117 million).

In the conglomerate’s refining and petrochemicals unit, which contribute around three-quarters of overall revenue and profits, revenue rose 47 percent and 37 percent respectively.

On a standalone basis, which includes primarily refining and petrochemicals, Reliance’s third-quarter profit rose 5.6 percent to 89.28 billion rupees.

Gross refining margin (GRM)- the profit earned on each barrel of crude processed - was USD8.8 per barrel for the quarter, outperforming the benchmark Singapore complex margin by USD4.5 per barrel.

The benchmark GRMs have come down to multi-year lows in the third quarter to below USD2 per barrel, hitting all refining companies globally.

Reliance’s refinery in the western state of Gujarat is the world’s biggest single-location refinery, with a capacity to process 1.36 million barrels per day of crude.

Net profit on a consolidated basis rose to 102.5 billion rupees (USD1.44 billion) for October-December, beating analyst average estimate of 96.48 billion rupees, Refinitiv Eikon data showed.

Reliance’s consolidated revenue grew 56.4 percent to 1.60 trillion rupees.