PTT and BIG form JV to build first ASU from cold waste in Thailand

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Thailand's PTT Plc and Bangkok Industrial Gas Co. (BIG) have formed a joint venture to build the "first" air separation unit (ASU) that will use cold waste from the regasification of liquefied natural gas in Map Ta Phut, Thailand, as per Apic-online with reference to BIG's announcement.

The project, expected to require an investment of around USD47-million, will be capable of producing over 450,000 t/y of liquid oxygen, nitrogen and argon using advanced technology. Operations are scheduled to begin in 2021.

According to BIG, the new plant will bring "tremen-dous" environmental and energy efficiency benefits, such as reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 28,000 t/y and by reducing chilled water waste emissions from PTT's operations in the gulf.

The joint venture is owned 51% by PTT and 49% by BIG.

As MRC informed previously, PTT started commercial operations at its new 400,000 mt/year metallocene C6 linear low density polyethylene plant at Map Ta Phut, Thailand, in the first quarter of 2018.

PTT Global Chemical is a leading player in the petrochemical industry and owns several petrochemical facilities with a combined capacity of 8.45 million tonnes a year.

Mars crude falls from 5-year high ahead of Gulf refinery repairs

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Mars Sour, a US offshore crude grade, fell sharply as market participants focused on upcoming Gulf Coast refinery maintenance work expected to take crude units offline and reduce demand for the medium sour grade, reported Reuters with reference to traders.

Mars barrels for delivery in March traded at a USD5.20 premium to US crude futures, weakening after reaching a five-year high of USD7.35 last week amid rising demand for the medium sour crude, traders said.

Production cuts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries have made medium sour grades similar to Mars harder to find for refiners worldwide, increasing demand for "overseas buyers looking to replace Middle East barrels," Morningstar analyst Sandy Fielden wrote in a client note on Monday.

Demand for medium sour grades has risen in South Korea, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and China, Fielden said, noting Chinese purchases of US crude have fallen sharply in recent months amid the US-China trade war.

But domestic demand for Mars began to normalize ahead of Gulf Coast refinery turnarounds scheduled for March and April, traders said. Mars on Monday traded near the same levels as West Texas Intermediate at East Houston, also called MEH, and at a USD1.50 to USD2 discount to Light Louisiana Sweet, a normal range, traders said.

Union says time running out for new refinery contract

MOSCOW (MRC) - The United Steelworkers union (USW) warned on Tuesday that time was running out to reach a new national agreement for U.S. refinery and chemical plant workers before the current pact expires on Friday, sources familiar with the talks said, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The USW and Shell Oil Co, the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, have been in talks since Jan. 16 for an accord on wages, benefits and safety covering 30,000 refinery, chemical plant and pipeline workers.

A message sent to union members noted that less than 60 hours remain to reach a new agreement. The current contract expires shortly after 12 a.m. on Friday, the sources said.

The message also said Shell needed to “get serious about economics and our other issues,” the sources said. Shell spokesman Ray Fisher said the company was working for an agreement with the union.

“We continue actively working through numerous topics to reach an agreement with the USW International Union that best ensures opportunity for our workers to continue to grow, develop and enjoy earnings that are among the most competitive in the manufacturing industry,” Fisher said.

The USW has said the talks will not be automatically extended past the contract’s expiration. These are first talks since a breakdown in negotiations in 2015 led to a series of rolling strikes in which more than 7,000 workers walked off their jobs at 12 refineries and three chemical plants. Most strikes ended within two months.

The sources said the chances for a national strike had increased slightly because of slow paced negotiations. Going into talks, both sides said they wanted to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

This year’s negotiations made progress early on union proposals to increase health and safety representation at plants, according to the sources, but have bogged down over a USW proposal to begin replacing non-union workers who perform maintenance work with union members by 10 percent a year.

The union is seeking an 8-percent-a-year pay increase for hourly workers under a new three-year contract. U.S. refinery workers make about USD40 an hour after four years on the job.

SABIC and Saudi Aramco declare intent to develop Yanbu industrial park

MOSCOW (MRC) -- On 28 January, SABIC signed a Letter of Intent with Saudi Aramco to discuss the development of a downstream industrial and logistics park in Yanbu, as per Hydrocarbon Engineering.

The signing took place on the sideline of the inauguration ceremony of the National Industrial Development & Logistics Program (NIDLP).

The companies previously selected Yanbu as the location for their upcoming crude-oil-to-chemicals complex, a joint venture between SABIC and Saudi Aramco.

The programme, which is one of 13 programmes meant to enable ‘Saudi 2030 vision’, aims to increase growth and integration among four major sectors of Saudi Arabia’s economy: industry, mining, energy and logistics.

As MRC informed before, in March 2018, Wood was selected to develop the world's largest fully integrated crude oil to chemicals (COTC) complex in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on behalf of Saudi Aramco and SABIC as the first PMC contractor

Saudi Aramco, officially the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, is a Saudi Arabian national oil and natural gas company based in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Aramco"s value has been estimated at up to USD10 trillion in the Financial Times, making it the world"s most valuable company. Saudi Aramco has both the largest proven crude oil reserves, at more than 260 billion barrels, and largest daily oil production.

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) ranks among the world's top petrochemical companies. The company is among the world's market leaders in the production of polyethylene, polypropylene and other advanced thermoplastics, glycols, methanol and fertilizers.

Adani Group and BASF to partner for USD2.3bn India petrochemical venture

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Adani Group has signed an initial agreement with Germany's BASF to jointly invest 160 billion rupees (USD2.3 billion) in a petrochemicals venture that will take on billionaire Mukesh Ambani's flagship Reliance Industries, according to NIKKEI.

The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding to evaluate an acrylics value chain at Mundra port in the western Indian state of Gujarat, they said in a statement. The potential investment comprises the development, construction, and operation of plants that make products to serve local industries including construction, automotive and coatings, it added.

"India continues to be a very large importer of petrochemicals given the rapid expansion of the middle class," billionaire Chairman Gautam Adani said in the statement. "This partnership will allow us to produce several of the chemicals along the C3 chemical value chain that we are currently importing."

Adani will hold a minority stake in the venture, for which a feasibility study will be completed this year. Aside from the investment, BASF also plans to co-invest as a minority partner in a wind and solar park.

India, Asia's third-largest economy, is witnessing a surge in demand for automobiles, paints, and plastics that use this derivative of oil and gas. In the fiscal year ended in March, Reliance Industries, one of the largest petrochemical producers in the world, reported a 36% jump in revenue from petrochemicals. In the latest quarter ended in December, Reliance Industries reported a 37% jump in revenue from petrochemicals to 462.5 billion rupees.

According to the International Energy Agency, petrochemicals are set contribute more than a third of the growth in world oil demand by 2030, and almost half the growth by 2050.

For Adani Group, the proposed investment comes as it seeks to emerge as a large business behemoth with interests straddling across oil and gas, coal infrastructure, power, and renewable energy.

In 2017, Adani set up the world's largest solar energy plant with 648-megawatt capacity in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu that can power up to 150,000 homes. It also runs a joint venture with Wilmar International, which is into crushing oilseeds and also imports edible oil.

The group is in the process of setting up the world's largest thermal coal mine in Australia worth USD13 billion, though the project has long been delayed due to numerous court challenges from environmentalists concerned about climate change and potential damage to the Great Barrier Reef.

As MRC wrote before, in December 2017, BASF’s Coatings division inaugurated a new automotive coatings plant at its Bangpoo manufacturing site, Samutprakarn province, Thailand. The new plant was the first BASF automotive coatings manufacturing facility in ASEAN, and produces solventborne and waterborne automotive coatings to meet growing market demand in the region.

BASF is the leading chemical company. It produces a wide range of chemicals, for example solvents, amines, resins, glues, electronic-grade chemicals, industrial gases, basic petrochemicals and inorganic chemicals. The most important customers for this segment are the pharmaceutical, construction, textile and automotive industries.