Indian Oil eyes turnaround at Panipat PTA plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The state-owned Indian Oil Corp Ltd (IOCL) is in plans to shut its purified terephthalic acid (PTA) plant for maintenance, as per Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in the India informed that the company is likely to start turnaround at the plant in early-February, 2019. The plant is slated to remain under maintenance until end-February, 2019.

Located in Panipat, India, the PTA plant has a production capacity of 550,000 mt/year.

As MRC wrote before, Indian Oil Corporation's Rs 34,555-crore 15 million tonnes per annum Paradip Refinery was commissioned in phases from March 2015 onwards. Indian Oil Corporation was conducting feasibility studies to set up a petrochemical complex at Paradip in Odisha for Rs 20,000 crore. The petrochemical complex will be built in the vicinity of the company’s to-be-commissioned 15-mln tpa greenfield refinery at Paradip. The petrochemical complex will be in addition to the already announced Rs 3,150-crore polypropylene project at the same location, the foundation stone for which was laid by MOS for petroleum and natural gas.

Indian Oil Corporation Limited, or IndianOil, is an Indian state-owned oil and gas corporation with its headquarters in New Delhi, India.

Saudi Aramco bolsters South Korean refining business with USD1.6bn Hyundai deal

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Arabia's Aramco is paying up to 1.8 trillion won (USD1.6 billion) for a 19.9% stake in Hyundai Oilbank, in a deal that strengthens its hold on South Korea's refining industry while also providing a welcome cash injection for Hyundai Heavy Industries Group, the struggling South Korean shipbuilder, as per NIKKEI.

Aramco already owns a 63% stake in South Korea's third-largest refinery, S-Oil, and the deal will bolster its downstream presence in one of the world's biggest crude oil importing countries. Currently the South Korean refining market is dominated by SK Innovation and GS Caltex. Aramco in recent years has been moving aggressively to expand its refining capacity in Asia.

HHIG, meanwhile, is struggling to pay back debt after years of losses, a situation exacerbated by the downturn in the shipbuilding industry since the global financial crisis. More recently, the shipbuilder has sought to restore profitability by selling its noncore assets and laying off thousands of employees.

The Ulsan-based shipbuilder planned to list the refinery affiliate, which also runs a network of gas stations, on the South Korean stock market this year as part of a strategy to cut borrowing. The company's total debt reached 12.2 trillion won in September, up from 10.8 trillion won in December 2017.

That listing is likely to go ahead despite the deal, said analysts, who welcomed the stake sale. The valuation of Hyundai Oilbank at 9 trillion won was far higher than the market estimation of 7.5 trillion won, one said.

"We need to pay attention to the fact that Aramco gave Oilbank a higher valuation than S-Oil. This will lead to revaluation in Oilbank," said Han Young-soo, an analyst at Samsung Securities. "It is also positive that [Oilbank] is participating in many projects initiated by Aramco."

Shares of HHIG jumped 3.83% to 379,500 won on Monday.

South Korea's shipbuilders have suffered amid the industry's long downturn. Earlier this month, the Philippine subsidiary of Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction filed for court protection after defaulting on loans.

As MRC informed before, Saudi Aramco’s potential acquisition of a stake in petrochemicals maker SABIC would affect the timeframe of its own planned initial public offering, the firm’s chief executive, Amin Nasser, said in a TV interview in late July 2018.

Saudi Aramco is an integrated oil and chemicals company, a global leader in hydrocarbon production, refining processes and distribution, as well as one of the largest global oil exporters. It manages proven reserves of crude oil and condensate estimated at 261.1bn barrels, and produces 9.54 million bbl daily. Headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, the company employs over 61,000 staff in 77 countries.

Zhejiang Petrochemical to use Honeywell technologies in phase 2 Zhoushan plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- China's greenfield Zhejiang Petrochemical will use a range of process technology from Honeywell UOP for the second phase of its integrated refining and petrochemical complex in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, according to a document, quoting a senior Honeywell official, seen by S&P Global Platts Thursday, reported Apic-online.

"This second phase of the complex by itself will process 20 million tons per year of crude oil and produce another six million tons per year of aromatics when completed," Bryan Glover, vice president and general manager, Process Technology and Equipment, at Honeywell UOP, stated in the document.

"It will be the largest crude-to-chemicals complex in the world, with more than 50% of the crude converting to petrochemicals."Zhejiang Petrochemical was established in 2017 and is a joint venture between textile companies Rongsheng Holding (51%) and Tongkun Group (20%), as well as chemical company Juhua Group (20%). Saudi Arabia's state-owned oil company Aramco on October 18, 2018, said it was taking a 9% stake in the refinery, with a source close to the project telling Platts that Aramco had agreed to supply around 5 million mt (36.65 million barrels) of crude to the plant in 2019.

With an overall project cost of Yuan 160 billion (USD25.8 billion), Zhejiang Petrochemical plans to ultimately build up 40 million mt/year of crude processing capacity on Yushan Island of Zhoushan city in eastern China's Zhejiang province.

Phase I, revolving around 20 million mt/year of primarily crude processing capacity, will be able to produce 4 million mt/year of paraxylene, along with 8.5 million mt/year of gasoline, gasoil and jet fuel. Zhejiang Petrochemical has plans to start trial operations in February on its crude distillation unit and vacuum distillation unit at the phase I project, a source close to the company said this week.

Construction of the second phase will begin after the full start-up of phase I.

As MRC informed before, in October 2018, state oil giant Saudi Aramco announced that it would take a stake in a new refinery being built by Zhejiang Petrochemical. The oil giant expects to supply 170,000 barrels per day of Saudi crude to the refinery in Zhoushan in eastern China when it starts operation, Aramco's Senior Vice President of Downstream, Abdulaziz al-Judaimi said Reuters.

BP invests in new artificial intelligence technology

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BP Ventures has invested USD5 million in Belmont Technology’s Series A financing to further bolster BP’s artificial intelligence (AI) and digital capabilities in its Upstream business, said the company.

The investment supports BP’s ongoing work exploring opportunities to apply machine learning and cognitive computing in its global oil and gas business.

The Houston technology start-up has developed a cloud-based geoscience platform using AI. The platform has a string of unique capabilities including specially-designed ‘knowledge-graphs’. BP experts feed the platform geology, geophysics, reservoir and historic project information. It intuitively links that information together, identifying new connections and workflows, and creating a robust knowledge-graph of BP’s subsurface assets. Much like data searches available in the consumer domain, BP experts can then interrogate the data, asking the powerful knowledge-graph specific questions in natural language. The technology then uses AI neural networks to interpret results and perform rapid simulations.

Aimed at accelerating project lifecycles, from exploration through to reservoir modelling, the technology is targeting a 90% time reduction in data collection, interpretation and simulation.

David Eyton, BP’s group head of technology, said: "This AI-based platform, which we’ve nicknamed Sandy, is expected to unlock critical data for our subsurface engineers at a much accelerated pace. Our experts will ask it questions about our reservoirs like, ‘What factors control production in the Chirag field?’. Sandy will then interpret our data, including mapping out many more scenarios than are currently constructed, helping us make faster, better informed Upstream decisions.

"This investment helps drive forward our digital strategy and further underpins our Upstream operations with cutting edge technology."

BP’s investment will enable Belmont Technology to expand its workforce, extend Sandy’s capabilities and accelerate the deployment of its product.

Belmont Technology’s CEO, Jean-Marie Laigle, said: “We are extremely honored to welcome BP as an investor as it is a validation of our approach and technology. We are excited by the prospect of deploying a cutting-edge cognitive AI solution within BP.

"Our technology enables real-time thinking for subsurface engineers, helping transform the way teams work, analyse data, understand situations and generate novel ideas."

This investment follows BP’s previous deals in cognitive computing, including USD20 million in Series B funding in AI company Beyond Limits. That investment is helping deploy AI technology previously used in deep space exploration missions in offshore exploration, accelerating operational insight and process automation across operations. Belmont’s scalable knowledge-graphs can be interrogated by Beyond Limits’ technology for new insights.

Chemical production in Russia grew by 2.7% in 2018

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Russia's output of chemical products rose in December 2018 by 4.2% month on month.
However, this figure increased by 2.7% in 2018, according to Rosstat's data.

According to the Federal Service of State Statistics, last month's production of basic chemicals increased by 4.2% from November 2018, with benzene accounting for the main increase. Overall, production of chemical products grew in January-December 2018 by 2.7% year on year.

Thus, 276 ,000 tonnes of ethylene were produced in December, compared to 270,000 tonnes a month earlier. 2,990,000 tonnes of this olefin were produced in 2018, up by 4.8% year on year.

Last month's production of benzene rose to 124,000 tonnes from 112,000 tonnes in November. Overall output of this material reached 1.3406,000 tonnes in 2018, up by 3.3% year on year.

December production of sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) was 115,000 tonnes (100% of the basic substance) versus 109,000 tonnes a month earlier. Overall output of caustic soda grew to 1.279,000 tonnes in January-December 2018, up by 6.3% year on year.

Last month's output of mineral fertilizers was 2.121 m tonnes (in terms of 100% nutrients) versus 1.886 m tonnes in November, Russian producers increased their production of nitrogen and potash fertilizers. Overall, Russian plants produced over 22,870,000 tonnes of fertilizers last year, up by 1.4% year on year. Nitrogen fertilizers accounted for the greatest increase - up by 3.7% year on year.