Eni keeps foot on the gas in high-speed Gulf drive

MOSCOW (MRC) -- In less than 12 months Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi has turned the Middle East from a sideshow to a strategic hub for the Italian energy major. And the shift is not over, reported Reuters.

Since last March the 63-year-old has clinched nine deals in the United Arab Emirates, gained a toehold in Bahrain and expanded in Oman to reshape the group’s future.

In the latest deal on Sunday, Eni pledged USD3.3 billion to buy part of the world’s fourth-biggest refinery in the UAE, increasing its own refining capacity overnight by more than a third.

But the buying spree is not over and the company is looking to further bolster its presence in the Gulf region, according to three banking and industry sources with knowledge of the matter.

They said Eni was now primarily targeting "upstream" exploration assets - oil and gas fields - rather than downstream operations.

The company is looking to buy more assets in the UAE, as well as entering Qatar, the sources said, without giving further details.

"Descalzi was in the UAE 20-odd times last year to personally build relationships to secure the deals," said a separate industry source. "And there’s more on the way."

Eni declined to comment.

The Gulf drive is part of Descalzi’s plans to cut Eni’s traditional reliance on Africa, which accounts for more than half its production while gaining more exposure to refining assets in an oil-rich region closer to Asian markets.

In recent years, weakness in the company’s downstream businesses like refining and chemicals have dragged on profits and placed more of a premium on securing success in exploration.

Its heavy presence in Africa, with the risk associated with working in places like Libya and Nigeria, has also weighed on share price performance.

A banking source with knowledge of the matter said Eni was targeting the Gulf area of the Middle East because it did not have the political and security risks of countries like Iraq.

The Gulf region has in recent years attracted the world’s top oil companies seeking stakes in big and easy-to-develop oil and gas fields at a time of uncertainty over oil prices.

Long-term contracts in the region also guarantee stable revenues even if the returns are lower than other, riskier fields.

But while majors like BP, Total, Shell and Exxon have had a strong presence in the Gulf for decades, Eni has not.

The Italian firm’s strategy of selling down assets like its prize Zohr gas field in Egypt has been key to its recent expansion in the region.

Last March Eni traded a stake in Zohr with Emirates fund Mubadala to get its first foothold in the country, since when it has clinched a flurry of more deals with UAE oil giant ADNOC.

"Zohr was used as a way in. Since then the group has ramped up operations lightning fast in an area that has some of the world’s biggest resources and that’s on the doorstep of Asia," said Mediobanca oil analyst Alessandro Pozzi.

In Qatar, Eni can count on good relations with the state petroleum firm which recently bought Mexican oil blocks from the Italian company.

A decade ago Eni was struggling to replace reserves and lost credibility over its management of the huge Kashagan oilfield in Kazakhstan.

But giant gas discoveries in Mozambique and Egypt have since given it the strongest discovery record in the industry, boosting its credentials with oil-producing nations.

In 2017 ADNOC presented its 2030 strategy plan to open up its energy markets to foreign operators and attract the skills needed to develop the exploration and production, refining and petrochemical industries.

"When you are a country thinking, who can find the stuff, you look to Eni with its track record," said a source familiar with Eni management.

As MRC wrote previously, in late January 2019, ADNOC signed two new strategic equity partnerships with Eni and OMV covering both ADNOC Refining and a new trading joint venture, which will be jointly established by the three partners. In one of the largest ever refinery transactions, Eni and OMV will acquire 20% and 15% shares in ADNOC Refining respectively, with ADNOC owning the remaining 65%. The agreement values ADNOC Refining, which has a total refining capacity of 922,000 barrels per day, and which operates the fourth largest single site refinery in the world, at an enterprise value of USD19.3 billion. As a further part and condition of this agreement, the partners will also establish a trading joint venture, in which Eni and OMV will own 20% and 15% of the shares respectively. Proceeds to ADNOC from the sale are estimated to be USD5.8 billion, subject to completion adjustments. The transaction reflects the scale, quality and growth potential of ADNOC Refining’s assets, coupled with an advantageous location from which to supply markets in Africa, Asia and Europe.

BP to explain how business chimes with Paris climate deal

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BP has bowed to pressure from investors, including the Church of England, by backing a plan to explain how its strategy and investments are consistent with the Paris climate agreement, said the company.

The UK oil and gas company supported a resolution, put forward by a group of shareholders including the investment arms of HSBC, Legal & General and the C of E, forcing it to be more transparent on climate change. But BP urged investors to reject a tougher climate resolution brought by a Dutch shareholder activist group, which it said was too prescriptive.

The moves are part of a wider, growing wave of shareholder power being exerted on oil and gas companies to be clearer about their contribution to rising carbon emissions, and what they are doing about it. BP will encourage shareholders at its AGM in May to back the resolution organised by the Climate Action 100+ group, which represents 320 investors managing more than USD32tn of assets.

The proposal calls for BP to publish a business strategy in line with two of the Paris deal goals by the end of its 2019 financial year: holding temperature rises to well below 2C and reducing carbon emissions to net zero by the second half of the century.

The company has also been told to justify how capital expenditure in fossil fuel projects was consistent with the landmark climate deal, and set new metrics and targets. BP and the investors spent months in talks over the resolution, leading to some changes to the proposal but not on the core demand of a business strategy in line with Paris.

The two sides disagreed on whether the company had shown it was consistent with the goals of the climate accord. Investors said BP was yet to demonstrate that. Helge Lund, BP’s chairman, said: “The additional reporting specified in the resolution will build on BP’s history of progressive action in this area.” The company agreed four years ago to be more transparent about reporting on climate risks.

The resolution said: "Investors remain concerned that the company has not yet demonstrated that its strategy, which includes growth in oil and gas as well as pursuing low-carbon businesses, is consistent with the Paris goals."

The company’s contribution to climate change could also undermine its stated mission of lifting people out of poverty because of the impact of global warming on the world’s poorest people, the investors added. However, Bruce Duguid, the lead coordinator of the resolution and the head of stewardship at Hermes EOS, welcomed BP’s decision to back the proposal. “This is good news for both investors and the planet,” he said.

BP has not specified what metrics and targets it might set if the resolution is passed, but they could include targets for the carbon intensity of its products and linking executives’ bonuses to carbon emission cuts.

But the company will not be setting targets any time soon for “scope 3 emissions” produced by customers using its products, such as burning petrol in a car. These emissions are much bigger than those from the company’s operations.

BP said it was not supporting a separate resolution, brought by the Dutch investor group Follow This, seeking to make BP set a goal for scope 3 emissions. The group has previously been credited with influencing Shell’s decision to set such targets.

Toyo-Korea lands petrochemical project in Thailand

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Toyo Engineering Korea Limited, a Korean subsidiary of Toyo Engineering Corporation, has been awarded Engineering, Procurement and Construction project from Bangkok Synthetics Company Ltd. (BST), a major C4 downstream product manufacturer of Thailand, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

This project involves the construction of 1,3-Butadiene & Butene-1 production units total capacity of 80 KTA & 34 KTA, respectively, at BST’s existing petrochemical complex in Map Ta Phut, Rayong, Thailand. The plant is scheduled for completion in 2021.

This is an EPC project following the Front End Engineering Design (FEED) contract awarded to Toyo-Korea at the end of 2017.

As MRC informed before, in August 2018, Toyo Engineering Corporation was awarded offshore engineering and procurement services of olefin expansion project by Map Ta Phut Olefins Co., Ltd (MOC), a joint venture company of SCG Chemicals Co., Ltd (SCG Chemicals) and The Dow Chemical Company. This project intends to increase the annual olefin production capacity of an existing plant by 350,000 tons from the current capacity of 1,700,000 tons (900,000 tons of ethylene and 800,000 tons of propylene). The plant is to be constructed adjacent to MOC’s existing olefin plant in Map Ta Phut, Rayong, Thailand and scheduled for completion in 2021.

SABIC pioneers first production of certified circular polymers

MOSCOW (MRC) -- SABIC, a global leader in the chemical industry, has announced another major milestone in its ground-breaking project to pioneer the production of certified circular polymers using a feedstock from mixed plastic waste, as per the company's press release.

The latest achievement - the production of the first certified circular polymers - is part of what is known as a ‘market foundation stage’. Launched in January, this stage is an important step towards creating a new circular value chain for plastics, during which, initial volumes of pyrolysis oil from plastic waste are introduced as feedstock at SABIC’s Geleen production site in The Netherlands. The patented pyrolysis oil has been produced by PLASTIC ENERGY Ltd from the recycling of low quality, mixed plastic waste otherwise destined for incineration or landfill.

As part of the market foundation stage, SABIC has begun to produce and commercialize the first monthly volumes of certified circular polymers - polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP)-, prior to the projected start-up in 2021 of the commercial plants planned by SABIC and PLASTIC ENERGY in the Netherlands to manufacture and process the alternative feedstock.

"Certified circular polymers are a disruptive innovation and SABIC’s market foundation stage is a critical phase in their development", said Frank Kuijpers, General Manager Corporate Sustainability at SABIC. "It will act as a bridge moving from a linear economy to a circular one and will enable the value chain to become familiar with the products and consider how they can best be implemented in their own markets. It will allow confidence in this pioneering product to grow before SABIC goes into full scale production."

The polymers are certified through the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification plus (ISCC+) scheme that certifies circular content and standards across the value chain from source to end product. The ISCC+ certification works on what is known as a “mass balance system”, meaning that for each tonne of circular feedstock fed into the cracker and substituting fossil-based feedstock, a tonne of the output can be classified as circular.

Certified circular polymers will help SABIC’s customers to meet consumer demand for more sustainable products and will contribute to closing the loop on reutilizing plastic waste.

As MRC reported before, in November 2017, Sabic introduced new materials for customers producing LED automotive lighting parts. LEXAN HF4010SR resin was one of the new offerings. This polycarbonate (PC) material can make it possible for customers to develop complex headlight bezels with enhanced aesthetics. Sabic has also added new grades to its existing LEXAN XHT resin line, which can offer improved flow at high temperatures compared to other high-heat polycarbonate materials available today.

Glenn M. Plumby named Marathon Petroleum Corporate Officer

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Glenn M. Plumby, senior vice president and chief operating officer for Speedway LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC), has been appointed an MPC officer, with the title senior vice president and chief operating officer, Speedway, said the company.

"Among Glenn's many notable accomplishments, he has played a key leadership role in Speedway's significant growth in recent years," said MPC Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gary R. Heminger. "Glenn has gained enormous expertise in our retail business during more than 37 years of dedicated service, making him a welcome addition to our senior management team."

Plumby joined MPC in 1981 and held various accounting and marketing positions until transferring to Emro Marketing Company, the predecessor of Speedway LLC, in 1994. He was appointed vice president of Light Product Marketing in 2000 and served as vice president of Marketing from 2003 to 2009. From 2010 through 2017, Plumby held operations posts as both a vice president and a senior vice president. He was appointed senior vice president and chief operating officer for Speedway in 2018.