Toray to increase production capacity of polypropylene film

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Toray Industries, Inc. has announced that it decided to increase the production capacity of its polypropylene (PP) film TORAYFAN manufactured by Toray Plastics (America), Inc., as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

A production facility with annual capacity of 30,000 tons will be additionally built at TPA’s Rhode Island Plant (Rhode Island, US), which aims to start operation in 2020. TORAYFAN is the lightest among plastic films and it is superior in transparency, toughness and aroma retaining property.

It is widely used for general industrial applications, capacitors and packaging materials and TPA has a high share in the North American market for high value-added packaging materials. The biaxially-oriented polypropylene (BOPP) market in North America is estimated to grow at a pace of 3% a year given the future population growth. In the food packaging film market in particular, there is an increasing push towards longer shelf life for food stuff and diversification of package designs for snacks, confections and health foods such as nutrition bars.

The production capacity increase announced this time in response to such diversification and sophistication of customer needs and the company aims to further expand the business by enhancing the production capacity at TPA early on. Toray is promoting the Expansion and Advancement of Global Business as one of the basic strategies of the medium-term management program Project AP-G 2019, and the TORAYFAN capacity increase is part of the strategy.

Further, under the corporate philosophy of "Contributing to society through the creation of new value with innovative ideas, technologies and products," the Toray Group is determined to vigorously propel the business expansion with the aim of achieving sustained growth in the growing business fields and areas.

As MRC reported previously, in December 2018, Toray Industries, Inc., announced its decision to enhance production capacity of ABS resin TOYOLAC, manufactured at and distributed by Toray Plastics (Malaysia). The company will add a facility with production capacity of 75,000 tons annually to expand the sales of high performance varieties such as transparent grade, which has the No. 1 global market share, and start its operation in November 2020. The move will increase TPM’s production capacity to 425,000 tons a year and Toray Group’s capacity with the existing facility at Toray’s Chiba Plant to 497,000 tons a year.

Renewables niche reaps profits for Finnish refiner Neste

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Biofuel producer and oil refiner Neste reported a bigger than expected fourth-quarter profit after seeing robust demand for its renewables fuels, which it expects will continue to grow, reported Reuters.

The Finnish company, which produces diesel and other fuels from renewable materials at plants in Singapore and Rotterdam, said sales at its renewables business in the first quarter would likely surpass those of the fourth quarter of 2018, adding that utilization rates would be high.

Chief Executive Peter Vanacker said the company’s main growth drivers going forward would be rising jet fuel sales, and marine fuel sales as shipping companies prepare for new sulfur emissions rules coming into force in 2020.

"In 2018, we have already produced the first 5,000 tonnes of renewable jet fuel and we see a big market coming up in the aviation industry," Vanacker told Reuters in a phone interview.

Neste’s cooperation with furniture giant Ikea on bio-based plastics, announced last June, would be another growth area, he said.

The company’s shares rose as much as 6 percent after its results and were up 4 percent at 85.46 euros by 1343 GMT.

Neste, which also has two conventional oil refineries in Finland, said margins for its oil products business would be low in the first quarter due to a weak gasoline market, but would strengthen towards the end of that period.

Renewables account for 70 percent of group profits and Neste said its total fourth-quarter core operating profit rose 12 percent to 349 million euros (USD398 million), beating analysts’ average expectation of 321 million in a Reuters poll.

Operating profit at its renewables operations rose to 281 million euros, beating analysts’ forecasts in the poll, which ranged from 198 million to 258 million.

Neste announced in December plans to build a new 1.4 billion euro refinery in Singapore, expecting to expand its total renewables production capacity to 4.5 million tonnes annually by 2022 from 2.7 million tonnes currently.

"As you can see from the Singapore investment, quite a lot of our efforts are going into expansion in the renewables space where we still see quite a lot of opportunities for the future," Vanacker said.

Neste said its cooperation with Ikea aimed "to utilize renewable residue and waste raw materials as well as sustainably produced vegetable oils in the production of plastic products".

The company sees room for growth in its marine fuel business ahead of the new sulfur emissions limits, which will fall to 0.5 percent in bunker fuel from 3.5 percent currently.

"We are very well positioned because here in the Baltic Sea the regulation is already even lower than 0.5 percent, it’s 0.1 percent," Vanacker said, referring to the new emissions limit for ships.

"This will have a positive influence on our additional margin," he said, adding some industry consultants has estimated the effect at between USD1.8 and USD2 per barrel.

As MRC wrote before, Neste Oyj and Borealis Polymers Oy, in co-operation with the energy companies Fortum Power and Heat Oy, Helen Oy, Vantaan Energia Oy and Porvoon Energia Oy - Borga Energi Ab, will conduct a preliminary study on recovering and utilizing excess heat generated at the Neste and Borealis industrial manufacturing facilities in Kilpilahti, as per Neste's summer 2018 press release. The study will focus on the technical and economic impacts of recovering excess heat at these facilities and recirculating it into district heating systems in Porvoo and the Helsinki metropolitan region.

Neste (NESTE, Nasdaq Helsinki) creates sustainable solutions for transport, business, and consumer needs. The company's wide range of renewable products enable our customers to reduce climate emissions. The company is the world's largest producer of renewable diesel refined from waste and residues, introducing renewable solutions also to the aviation and plastics industries. It is also a technologically advanced refiner of high-quality oil products.

South African Sapref to close for routine maintenance

MOSCOW (MRC) -- South Africa’s largest refinery, the 180,000 barrel per day Sapref plant in the east coast city of Durban will shut down for routine maintenance from the last week of May until the end of July, reported Reuters with reference to a refinery official.

The refinery, in which BP Southern Africa (BPSA) will invest USD1 billion for upgrades, is a 50/50 joint venture between the local unit of BP and Royal Dutch Shell.

As MRC informed earlier, in November 2018, BP Plc’s trading arm entered a tolling agreement with the owners of an idled oil refinery in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, cementing plans to bring the plant back online six years after it was idled by previous owners. Under BP’s tolling agreement with Limetree Bay Refining LLC, owner of the idled Hovensa refinery, BP will supply the facility with crude and sell its products, low-sulfur fuels that will meet an International Maritime Organization mandate in 2020, it said in a statement.

Senators pressure Trumps EPA pick over biofuels

MOSCOW (MRC) - Five Republican senators are warning President Donald Trump’s new pick to run the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, that their support for his nomination may hinge on his biofuels policy, said Reuters.

The senators, all from states hosting oil refineries, said they want to be assured that Wheeler would work to reduce the regulatory costs for oil companies of complying with the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard before they decide on whether to back him as permanent chief of the EPA.

The Renewable Fuel Standard requires oil refiners to blend increasing amounts of biofuels like corn-based ethanol into their fuel each year, or purchase blending credits from those who do. The measure is intended to help farmers and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign energy sources, but oil refining companies - like Valero Energy Corp and billionaire investor Carl Icahn’s CVR Energy Inc - complain it costs them a fortune.

"Without an adequate proposal to meaningfully lower the regulatory burden ... we will have serious concerns with your nomination,” the five Republican senators said in a letter to Wheeler dated Feb. 11.

The letter was signed by Ted Cruz of Texas, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Michael Lee of Utah, as well as both John Kennedy and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.

The five were due to meet with Wheeler later on Wednesday night to discuss biofuels, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The EPA is working on a number of critical adjustments to its biofuel policy that are of interest to the oil industry, including resetting targets for annual biofuels blending volumes, lifting a summertime ban on higher-ethanol blends of asoline, and proposing measures to limit speculation in the blending credit market.

Wheeler, a longtime Washington insider and former coal lobbyist, took the reins at EPA on an interim basis in July after his predecessor, Scott Pruitt, resigned in a storm of controversy over his high spending on first-class travel, round-the-clock security, and office equipment.

Trump nominated him in January, but a full vote of the Senate is required for his confirmation.

ADNOC seeks to expand downstream investment in Asia

MOSCOW (MRC) - Abu Dhabi National Oil Company is seeking to invest in more downstream assets, mainly in refining and petrochemicals, in strategic locations like India to find a stable outlet for its oil, said its chief executive officer, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

"India is not only an important market for us. India is a very strategic partner for United Arab Emirates, spanning all ... sectors, energy being one of (them)," he told reporters on the sidelines of energy conference Petrotech.

ADNOC, along with Saudi Aramco, is participating in a planned 1.2 million-barrels-per-day (bpd) coastal refinery in western Maharashtra state. ADNOC is also keen to lease more strategic storage in India, Al Jaber said.

"Expanding our strategic reserve in India will be an item on the agenda to be discussed with our great friends in India," he told a conference in New Delhi.

ADNOC last year signed a preliminary agreement to use half of the Padur strategic reserve facility in southern India. The site can store about 2.5 million tonnes or 18 million barrels of crude.

India, which relies on oil imports for about 80 percent of its needs, has built underground emergency storage in three places to protect itself from any disruption.

The underground reserves can hold 36.87 million barrels or about 9.5 days of average demand.

ADNOC, the only foreign company with a deal to store oil in India’s strategic reserves, has another storage deal agreement at Mangalore’s strategic storage in Karnataka.

"We will always be looking for ways to enhance our cooperation with our Indian counterparts, catering for the Indian market and beyond," Al Jaber said.