PP production in Russia down by 2.2% in 2018

MOSCOW (MRC) – Russia’s overall polypropylene (PP) production dropped by 2.2% year on year in 2018, totalling 1,370,500 tonnes. At the same time, only two out of seven producers reduced their output, according to MRC’s ScanPlast report.

Local PP producers’ December total output rose to 130,700 tonnes versus 91,100 tonnes a month earlier, SIBUR Tobolsk and Ufaorgsintez increased their capacity utilization.

Russia’s overall production reached 1,370,500 tonnes in 2018, compared to 1,400,900 tonnes a year earlier. At the same time, only SIBUR Tobolsk and Ufaorgsintez reduced their output over the stated period, whereas other producers managed to raise it.

The production structure by plants looked the following way over the stated period.

SIBUR Tobolsk had solved its technical production problems by December, the plant’s total output rose to 46,700 tonnes versus 18,700 tonnes a month earlier. The Tobolsk plant’s overall production reached 436,100 tonnes last year, down by 15% year on year. Such a great reduction in production was caused by two shutdowns for maintenance.

Omsk Poliom (part of Titan) produced 19,100 tonnes of PP last month, compared to 17,600 tonnes in November. The Omsk plant’s overall production totalled 214,200 tonnes in 2018, up by 4% year on year.

Nizhnekamskneftekhim produced 18,500 tonnes of polymers of propylene in December versus 17,800 tonnes a month earlier. The Nizhnekamsk plant’s overall output increased to 215,800 tonnes last year, compared to 210,800 tonnes in 2017.

Tomskneftekhim produced 12,400 tonnes of propylene polymers last month, as in November. The Tomsk plant’s overall output reached 141,300 tonnes in 2018, which is virtually comparable to the figure for 2017.

Ufaorgsintez’s total PP production was 11,400 tonnes in December versus 9,700 tonnes a month earlier, the plant operated with reduced capacity utilization in early November because of feedstock problems. The Ufa plant’s overall output of polymer did not exceed 119,300 tonnes last year, compared to 124,500 tonnes a year earlier.

Neftekhimia (Kapotnya) produced 10,700 tonnes last month versus 10,200 tonnes in November. The plant’s overall output reached 131,400 tonnes in 2018, up by 23% year on year. Last year’s increase in production was caused by the absence of shutdown for maintenance.

Stavrolen (LUKOIL) produced slightly more than 11,900 tonnes of polymers of propylene in December, compared to 7,600 tonnes a month earlier, the plant shut its production a one-week turnaround in early November. The Budenovsk plant’s overall output of propylene polymers reached 111,800 tonnes versus 101,000 tonnes a year earlier.


Total CEO says influx of US oil exports could weigh on prices

NOSCOW (MRC) -- An expected increase in US oil exports could weigh on oil prices towards the end of the year, as per Hydrocarbonproccesing with reference to the chief executive of French energy company Total's statement.

Speaking to France's BFM Business TV on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Pouyanne said there were many factors weighing on oil prices, yet a key one was related to the situation in the United States.

One of the main reasons as to why prices were expected to be weak was because in the United States, a major oil producer, a good part of its production was not being exported because of bottlenecks at the pipelines.

"These are being constructed, and when it will be done at the end of the year, there will be an influx of US crude in the market and this will drag prices lower towards the end of the year," Pouyanne said.

As MRC wrote before, crude oil output from the United States is expected to rise to a new record of more than 12 million barrels per day (bpd) this year and to climb to nearly 13 million bpd next year, the US Energy Information Administration said in its first 2020 forecast.

China imports record LNG supplies in Dec, remains world's No.2 buyer in 2018

MOSCOW (MRC) -- China's imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in December soared 25% from the same period a year earlier to a monthly record of 6.29 metric MMt, reported Reuters with reference to customs data.

The previous record of 5.99 metric MMt was set in November.

For the whole of 2018, imports grew 41% from 2017 to a record 53.78 metric MMt, according to the data from the General Administration of Customs. That saw China retain its position as the world's second-buyer buyer of the super-chilled fuel after Japan, having leapfrogged South Korea in 2017.

The 2018 surge came after gas shortages last winter prompted Chinese companies to buy supplies ahead of this winter, with Beijing continuing to push millions of households to shift to gas from coal for heating.

But analysts at IHS Markit and Wood Mackenzie are forecasting slower growth this year, at 15%–20%, as the government move to a more moderate stance in its coal-to-gas push.

"For domestic demand, the focus (this year) of air pollution campaign has changed to clean coal rather than coal-to-gas switching," said Lu Xiao, Beijing-based gas analyst with IHS, speaking before the customs data was released.

Warmer winter. Meantime this winter, temperatures have been higher than normal, leaving suppliers with hefty inventories. Dealers said there had been backlogs at some receiving terminals as deliveries were particularly strong in the first few weeks of the winter heating season.

"Because the supplies this time somehow outpaced demand, the pressure was on how to remove the surplus," an official from a state oil and gas importer said, speaking before the customs data was issued.

However, the official, who declined to be identified as he was not authorized to speak to media, said that oversupply had been gradually easing.

State-run CNOOC, the country's largest LNG importer, had to resell a cargo of LNG at a leased floating tanker meant for emergency demand cover, industry sources said this week.

Growth in appetite for LNG has also been curbed as industrial users including some steel mills and ceramics plants had to restrict production over winter to meet China's anti-pollution targets.

Meanwhile, China's gasoline and diesel exports last year both hit record as state refiners won more quotas to ship surplus fuel.

For the whole of 2018, gasoline exports were up 23% from 2017 at 12.88 metric MMt, and diesel rose 7.8% to 18.53 metric MMt, according to the data.

Diesel exports in December stood at 1.57 metric MMt and gasoline exports were 1.28 metric MMt, the data showed.

Total refined fuel exports rose 12% last year to a record 58.64 metric MMt, customs said earlier this month.

Polskie LNG obtains environmental permits for terminal expansion

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Polskie LNG has obtained a set of environmental and location decisions for all projects implemented under the LNG Terminal Expansion Program, as per Hydrocarbonengineering.

The environmental permits are final, while the decisions issued by the Governor of West Pomerania are immediately enforceable (which stems directly from the provisions of the Special Act on the LNG Terminal). The Expansion Program of President Lech Kaczynski's LNG Terminal is implemented as scheduled.

The environmental decision and location permit are of fundamental importance for subsequent phases of collating pivotal project documentation such as building permits required for the investment process, said Pawel Jakubowski, President of the Management Board of Polskie LNG.

Meanwhile, two tender procedures are in progress. The objective of the first procedure – announced in December 2018 – is the selection of the contractor for three key components of the onshore expansion programme: construction of the third process storage tank, additional process installations increasing the regasification capacity and the LNG-to-rail transhipment installation along with a dedicated railway siding. Upon bidders' request, the deadline for submitting the offers was extended until 19 February. The second tender procedure (launched on 2 January 2019) pertains to the offshore development of the facility, i.e. the construction of an additional jetty. The latter project is implemented in collaboration with the Szczecin and Swinoujscie Seaports Authority. In that tender procedure, the offers are due by 26 February.

Enhanced regasification capacity, additional functionality and services are offered in response to the growing market demand for natural gas in Central and Eastern Europe and in the entire Baltic Sea region. Polskie’s LNG Terminal will become a key facility contributing to the development of LNG market not only locally, but also in neighbouring countries.

SABIC names Chase Plastics as North America distribution partner

MOSCOW (MRC) -- As part of its strategy to foster the additional growth of its Specialties business, and to provide outstanding service to its customers in North America, SABIC has named Chase Plastic Services, Inc. as a key distribution partner, serving SABIC customers for specialty engineering thermoplastics in the United States, Canada and Mexico, said the company.

Chase Plastics joins Nexeo Solutions as authorized distributors of SABIC’s complete portfolio of specialty materials, including NORYL™ resins (polyphenylene ether-based materials), ULTEM™ resins (polyetherimide materials), LNP™ compounds and the full range of polycarbonate-based, high performance copolymers.

"Because we view our distributors as extensions of our commercial teams, SABIC sets a very high standard when selecting distribution partners. We have every confidence that Chase Plastics, with its outstanding leadership, broad distribution network, deep experience in specialty thermoplastics and their commitment to, as they themselves say, ‘outrageous service,’ will bring added value to SABIC’s Specialties customers,” said Cathie Hess, Director, Customer Fulfillment, SABIC.

Chase Plastics is headquartered in Clarkston, Michigan, and has a network of 32 distribution centers and warehouses in the United States, Mexico and Canada, but it is the quality of their sales teams, which have deep experience in specialty products, including application development, that resulted in the distribution partnership with SABIC, noted Hess. “Chase Plastics’ sales and service teams are well-versed in the performance attributes of specialty plastics and ways to maximize application design to fully leverage those attributes."

"We are delighted by the prospects of supporting SABIC’s existing customers, and in addition, we look forward to helping SABIC grow its customer base in strategic industries in North America,” said Kevin Chase, President, Chase Plastics. “Chase Plastics’ strengths – unparalleled customer service, technical expertise and the breadth of our network – are well-aligned with SABIC’s growth ambitions. Just as important, our company’s business pillars of responsiveness, insight, flexibility and dedication are an excellent cultural fit with SABIC, which puts the customer at the center of each collaboration."

Chase Plastics will begin serving SABIC customers during Q1 2019, with a primary focus on initial introductions and orientation to programs in process with select SABIC customers. Chase Plastics representatives will also have access to the full range of SABIC’s global application design and testing resources to support their relationships with SABIC customers.