Equinor restarts methanol plant after fire

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Norway’s Tjeldbergodden methanol plant, Europe’s largest, has restarted operations after being shut by a fire in December, reported Reuters with reference to operator Equinor's statement.

Both the methanol plant, which accounts for about a quarter of Europe’s methanol production, and the air gas plant at the same industrial complex were back in normal operations, it added.

Equinor holds an 82-percent stake in the methanol plant, while ConocoPhillips owns the rest.

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.

Mexicos fuel woes rooted in chronic theft, troubled refineries

MOSCOW (MRC) - Nearly a month after Mexico's new president launched an ambitious plan to stamp out growing fuel theft, the strategy meant to crush corruption and organized crime is under heightened scrutiny, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

On Friday, at least 79 people died from a powerful explosion at a gasoline pipeline in central Mexico that had been punctured by fuel thieves. Relatives of some of the victims said fuel shortages stemming from the government's crackdown led people to risk their lives filling plastic containers from the leak.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office in December, said the tragedy has not weakened his faith in the plan. Since late December, he has closed six major pipelines where criminal gangs and other thieves have siphoned off stolen fuel worth billions of dollars. Lopez Obrador is moving distribution to trucks, but that switch has caused delivery delays and long lines at gas stations, threatening to crimp the economy and hurt his popularity if shortages persist. The veteran leftist won a landslide election victory on promises to root out endemic corruption, strengthen ailing national oil company Pemex and ensure stable fuel prices.

Mexico's fast-growing motor fuel market is a juicy target for thieves. It is the world's sixth biggest, according to energy ministry data, featuring a total daily demand of nearly 1.18 million barrels of gasoline and diesel. The Mexican government's lack of attention has allowed organized groups to open clandestine taps along Pemex's main pipelines. Internal complicity at Pemex refineries and terminals have also opened the door for theft of entire trucks loaded with fuel. Fuel stolen from Pemex's infrastructure mostly ends in the hands of the same retailers that legally sell Pemex gasoline and diesel.

Agility to manage logistics for Carbon Holdings

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Agility, a leading global logistics provider, has signed a memorandum of understanding to manage logistics at Carbon Holdings’ industrial facilities in Egypt, including construction of the new Tahrir Petrochemicals Complex (TPC), as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Agility will work with Carbon Holdings, a midstream and downstream petrochemical and process industrial plant company, to transport plastic byproducts within Egypt and to customers abroad. Agility will also handle the distribution of chemical compounds, including low-density ammonium nitrate inside Egypt and the onward distribution to container ports for Carbon Holdings’ Egypt Hydrocarbon Corporation (EHC) business.

The 5-MMm2 TPC is expected to be the largest single-train naphtha cracker in the world and will be strategically located in the Suez Canal Economic Zone in Ain Sokhna, Egypt. During construction, Agility will collaborate with Carbon Holdings to optimize heavy lift operations for the project, including in-bound movement of containers, storage and equipment for construction.

Elias Monem, CEO of Agility Middle East and Africa, said, "Agility has extensive experience serving the petrochemicals industry with a suite of solutions across the supply chain, and a strong track record of providing specialized logistics expertise. Having handled over 1,000 mega-projects globally, our specialists are well-versed in the demands of high-value, turnkey projects and have extensive capabilities in global project logistics, fuel logistics and remote site services."

Basil El-Baz, Chairman and CEO of Carbon Holdings, said, "Once our state-of-the art facility is operational, TPC will significantly increase Egypt’s total oil and non-oil exports. Agility’s specialized logistics services will help us achieve our ambitious growth plans. Through TPC, we expect to be able to efficiently and effectively transport our materials around the world, given the site’s strategic location in the Suez Canal Economic Zone."

Carbon Holdings develops, owns and operates a number of petrochemical manufacturing projects in Egypt. Once operational, TPC is expected to produce approximately 4 MMtpy of product and will be the first of its kind in the Middle East and Africa. TPC will consist of a derivatives unit, three polyethylene units, three polypropylene units and associated facilities, including a co-generation plant and water desalination plant.

As MRC reported earlier, in December 2018, Egypt’s Carbon Holdings secured USD1.25 billion in financing to build a giant petrochemicals complex in the Red Sea port of Ain Sokhna. The Tahrir Petrochemicals Complex, a USD10.9 billion project, would be the largest in the Middle East and is expected to create 48,000 jobs.

Saudi Arabia plans oil refinery, petchem plant in South Africa

MOSCOW (MRC) - Saudi Arabia plans to build an oil refinery and petrochemicals plant in South Africa as part of USD10 billion of investments in the country, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said after talks with his South African counterpart, as per Reuters.

The announcement is a much-needed vote of confidence in Africa’s most industrialized economy, where President Cyril Ramaphosa is trying to attract USD100 billion of new investments to rekindle growth.

The new refinery would reduce the need for refined product imports and cement Saudi Arabia’s dominant position in South Africa’s oil sector. The Gulf kingdom already supplies 40 percent of the crude oil consumed in South Africa.

“Saudi Aramco and South Africa’s Central Energy Fund are moving forward with the feasibility study and identifying the parameters of the project,” Falih told reporters in Pretoria, South Africa’s administrative capital. South African Energy Minister Jeff Radebe said a location for the refinery and petrochemicals plant would be finalized in the coming weeks. The capacity for the refinery is yet to be determined.

South Africa has talked about building an extra refinery for a decade, but it has struggled to agree with commercial terms with investors.

It has six refineries, four using crude oil and two synthetic fuel as feedstock. Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Total and Sasol are among major refinery operators.

Falih said Saudi Arabia had held discussions with Ramaphosa’s predecessor, Jacob Zuma, about building a refinery in South Africa but the proposed location was not attractive.

The two governments are now considering Richard’s Bay in KwaZulu-Natal province, home to South Africa’s major coal export terminal, among potential locations for the refinery.

State oil giant Saudi Aramco is also studying whether to use South African oil storage facilities in Saldanha Bay, while Saudi power firm Acwa Power is looking at investing in South Africa’s revamped renewable energy programme.

Oil refining capacity to grow at record pace this year - IEA

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Global oil refining capacity is set to increase at its fastest pace on record this year, possibly boosting stocks of products such as diesel, gasoline and marine fuel, reported Reuters with reference to the International Energy Agency.

Oil refining capacity will rise by 2.6 million barrels per day (bpd) and demand for refined products by around 1.1 million bpd, the IEA said in a monthly report.

It was not clear yet what that meant for margins, which slumped as the price of crude rose last year, said the Paris-based IEA, which coordinates the energy policies of industrialised countries.

"This (demand growth) utilises only half of the new capacity coming on stream. If refining margins are supported by accommodating crude prices, utilisation rates will not decline. This should mean that product stocks will increase," it said.

An increase in stocks of refined products could be "useful", the IEA said, ahead of the implementation next year of regulations by the International Maritime Organization to reduce sulphur content in shipping fuel.

Margins remain under pressure from rising oil throughput, which hit a historic high last month at 84.2 million bpd. Refineries will process 83.4 million bpd this year, compared with 82.2 million bpd last year, according to the agency.

"The global refining industry is facing a challenging 2019 ... If average crude prices continue moving higher for the third consecutive year, refining margins may decline to levels that force slowdown in some refining regions," the IEA said.