BP 2018 profit doubles to five-year high as output soars

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BP joined its competitors in posting a strong 2018 performance, with a doubling of profits driven by strong growth in oil and gas output following a large U.S. shale acquisition, said the company.

Record utilisation of its oil and gas fields and refining capacity further helped BP seal what was a transformational year as the aftermath of the deadly 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster eased.

But while the London-listed firm's revenue beat forecasts, debt rose and the pace of its share buyback scheme slowed in the last quarter after it paid the first and largest tranche of the USD10.5 billion BHP acquisition.

BP shares rose more than 3.3 percent in early trade, hitting their highest since early December.

"We now have a powerful track record of safe and reliable performance, efficient execution and capital discipline. And we're doing this while growing the business," BP Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley said in a statement.

Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil and Chevron all reported stronger-than-forecast earnings last week driven by higher production in U.S. shale basins where Oil Majors have invested billions in recent years.

The strong gains came despite a sharp drop in crude prices at the end of the year that wiped out most gains made in share prices throughout the year.

Schneider Electric EcoStruxure process safety advisor delivers profitable safety for industry

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Schneider Electric, the leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, has announced EcoStruxure Process Safety Advisor, an IIoT-based digital process safety platform and service that enables customers to visualize and analyze real-time hazardous events and risks to their enterprise-wide assets, operations and business performance, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Safety Advisor is built on Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure SIF Manager application for tracking and validating safety instrumented function (SIF) performance over the life of a plant. It provides a single view into the health and status of the user’s safety instrumented functions, which helps to identify potential risks and their impact on operations performance.

Platform- and vendor-agnostic, Safety Advisor uniquely extends the functionality of SIF Manager. Using a secure, cloud-based infrastructure, Safety Advisor aggregates real-time data, analytics and insights from multiple sites and geographies into a single user interface so customers can create an accurate, enterprise-wide risk profile in real time. It also identifies the need to take corrective action via easy-to-understand performance dashboards and leading indicators for safety health and then documents the entire process using an embedded SIF audit trail that supports safety compliance.

“EcoStruxure Process Safety Advisor enables the industrial workforce to create a closed-loop safety model that validates actual performance against original design criteria,” said Sven Grone, safety services practice leader, Schneider Electric. “Because they can now accurately predict when safety risks will exceed acceptable thresholds, they are better able to avoid incidents and reduce downtime, while improving the efficiency, reliability and profitability of their operations. At the end of the day, Safety Advisor ramps up our customers’ ability to run safely, comply with safety regulations and drive measurable results to the bottom line."

EcoStruxure is Schneider Electric’s open, interoperable, IoT-enabled system architecture and platform. EcoStruxure delivers enhanced value around safety, reliability, efficiency, sustainability and connectivity for customers. EcoStruxure leverages advancements in IoT, mobility, sensing, cloud, analytics and cybersecurity to deliver Innovation at Every Level. This includes Connected Products, Edge Control, and Apps, Analytics and Services. EcoStruxure has been deployed in 480,000+ sites, with the support of 20,000+ system integrators and developers, connecting over 1.6 million assets under management through 40+ digital services.

Celanese raises February VAM prices in Asia outside China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Celanese Corporation, a global chemical and specialty materials company, has raised its February list and off-list selling prices for Vinyl Acetate Monomer (VAM) sold in Asia Outside China (AOC), as per the company's press release.

The price increase below is effective as of 31 January, or as contracts otherwise allow, and is incremental to any previously announced increases.

Thus, Celanese raised VAM list and off-list selling prices by USD50/mt for AOC.

As MRC reported earlier, Celanese last increased its prices for VAM sold in Asia on 21 December, 2018, as follows:

- by USD50/mt for AOC.

Celanese Corporation is a global technology leader in the production of differentiated chemistry solutions and specialty materials used in most major industries and consumer applications. Based in Dallas, Celanese employs approximately 7,600 employees worldwide and had 2017 net sales of USD6.1 billion.

February LDPE prices fell in Russia

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Weak seasonal demand and oversupply became the main reason for the reduction of low density polyethylene (LDPE) prices in the Russian market. The key suppliers announced a price cut of Rb2,000-4,000/tonne for February shipments, according to ICIS-MRC Price report.

January was short due to the long New Year holidays, moreover, demand for LDPE is always very weak in the first months of the year due to a number of factors. Despite these factors, supply of polyethylene (PE) was excessive from some producers. And weak demand from the key export markets did not allow to get rid of oversupply of LDPE in the Russian market. As a result, many sellers announced price reductions for February shipments.

PE for the production of thick films (108 grade LDPE) accounted for the weakest demand in January, offer prices of this LDPE grade had reached Rb85,500-87,000/tonne, CPT Moscow, including VAT, by February. At the same time, the company's customers said Angarsk Polymers Plant intends to reduce its output of 108 grade LDPE by one third year on year this year.

Demand for 158 grade PE was slightly stronger last month than that for 108 grade LDPE. In addition, there were temporary disruptions in Kazanorgsintez's PE shipments. Offer prices for February deliveries of 158 grade LDPE were heard in a rather wide range, as follows: Rb91,500-96,400 CPT Moscow, including VAT.

PVC in Russia for deliveries in February rose by Rb1,000-1,500/tonne

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Negotiations over February shipments of suspension polyvinyl chloride (SPVC) began in the Russian market in the early last week. Expectedly producers announced a further increase of prices for supplies to the domestic market, according to ICIS-MRC Price Report.

SPVC prices in the Russian market reached their minimum last December, and prices has resumed rising since January despite weak demand. Demand for PVC improved in the Russian market in February, while there was still no import alternative. Therefore Russian producers announced price increase of Rb1,000 - 1,500/tonne for February shipments.

A month earlier, Russian producers raised the contract prices of SPVC by Rb1,200 - 1,500/tonne or January deliveries, which was mainly due to the increase in the VAT rate from 2019 by 2%. At the same time, despite the long New Year holidays and preventive downtime of a number of converters, some producers sold all their January quotas in the first week of sales.

Local producers significantly cut export prices of acetylene PVC in the end of December - January, in some cases, price offers for container shipments of acetylene PVC reached USD785/tonne, DAP Moscow. But even this level did not become attractive for Russian companies, the volume of imports is still insignificant.

Russian producers keep a fairly high level of capacity utilisation despite the low season in the domestic market.
Manufacturers supply excess PVC to foreign markets, particularly to India. The Indian market in the last few months shows a steady increase in demand and prices, which accordingly affects the export prices of Russian producers.

All these factors, the lack of an import alternative, good export volumes and a high level of prices in foreign markets, led to a further rise in the price of PVC in the Russian market. Overall, February deals for K64/67 PVC were negotiated in the range of Rb73,000 - 75,500/tonne CPT Moscow, including VAT, up Rb1,000-1,500/tonne from the January level. Deals for K70 PVC were discussed up by Rb1,500/tonne.