Saudi Aramco and Total invest in high-quality retail fuel network

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Aramco and Total have signed an agreement to develop a network of retail fuel service stations in Saudi Arabia, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The 50:50 joint venture (JV) plans to invest around USD1 billion over the next 6 years in the Saudi retail fuel market to provide motorists with premium fuels and retail services in Saudi Arabia.

"This is a major milestone which will help establish a quality retail fuel network in the Kingdom. We look forward to working together with our long-term partner Total and draw on their extensive experience in the retail fuel market," said Abdulaziz Al-Judaimi, Saudi Aramco’s Senior Vice President of Downstream and Chairman of the JV Board.

He added: "With this new business, we aim to enhance the quality of services, as well as create jobs and additional investment opportunities in the Kingdom. This JV aligns with Saudi Vision 2030 and supports the goals of the Infrastructure and Transportation Initiative under the Quality of Life program. This project is designed to also help optimize the total value of our hydrocarbon resources."

Momar Nguer, President of Marketing and Services and Executive Committee Member at Total, said: "Total is proud to be the first international major oil company to invest in Saudi Arabia’s fuel retail network. This joint agreement is in line with our strategy to expand in fast-growing markets worldwide. This new agreement is also reaffirming our long-term partnership with Saudi Aramco. Following our joint investments in SATORP refining and petrochemical complex, we are pleased to bring to the Saudi market our expertise and customer-minded approach in retail and contribute to local employment development."

The two companies have also signed an agreement with the owners of Tas’helat Marketing Company (TMC) and Sahel Transport Company (STC) to acquire TMC and STC, thereby jointly acquiring their existing network of 270 service stations and their fuel tanker fleet. Saudi Aramco and Total plan to modernize this network and build high-quality service stations at selected locations. This transaction is subject to the approval of regulatory authorities.

Ahmed Al-Subaey, Vice President of Marketing, Sales, and Supply Planning and Chairman of the Board of RetailCo., said: "This venture will strive to exceed customer’s expectations. We aspire to become the retailer of choice in Saudi Arabia, providing customers with a unique experience and premium offerings. Saudi Aramco is building on its position as the world’s oil powerhouse and international retail experience, coupled with Total’s experience in this field."

Mr. Al-Subaey emphasized that the decision to acquire TMC came after extensive feasibility studies of the local fuel and retail market and its promising opportunities. He added: "Our goal is to provide high-quality services that support the tourism industry in the Kingdom and reflect our country’s progress in developing the infrastructure and a reliable service industry."

The JV will take a phased approach to expanding its network of domestic fuel retail stations, with a plan to reach the goal of owning and operating hundreds of stations by 2021.

As MRC reported earlier, in October 2018, State oil giant Saudi Aramco signed an agreement to invest in a refinery-petrochemical project in eastern China, part of its strategy to expand in downstream operations globally. The memorandum of understanding between the company and Zhejiang province included plans to invest in a new refinery and co-operate in crude oil supply, storage and trading, according to details released by the Zhoushan government after a signing ceremony in the city south of Shanghai. Zhejiang Petrochemical, 51 percent owned by textile giant Zhejiang Rongsheng Holding Group, is building a 400,000-barrels-per-day refinery and associated petrochemical facilities that was expected to start operations by the end of lasts year.

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.

Total S.A. is a French multinational oil and gas company and one of the six "Supermajor" oil companies in the world with business in Europe, the United States, the Middle East and Asia. The company's petrochemical products cover two main groups: base chemicals and the consumer polymers (polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene) that are derived from them.

PDH plant taken off-stream by Ningbo Haiyue

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Ningbo Haiyue New Material Co has undertaken a planned maintenance at its propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant, as per Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in China informed that the company has started maintenance at the plant on March 4, 2019. The turnaround is expected to remain in force for around four weeks.

Located in Ningbo, China, the plant has a propylene production capacity of 600,000 mt/year.

We remind that, as MRC informed before, in March 2017, Clariant, a world leader in specialty chemicals, announced that it had been awarded a contract by Dongguan Grand Resource Science & Technology Co. Ltd. to develop a new propane dehydrogenation unit in cooperation with CB&I. The project includes the license and engineering design of the unit, which is to be built in Dongguan City, Guangdong Province, China.

TTIL and Cokebusters announce strategic alliance

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Two of the world's leading specialists in fouling removal technology for heavy industries, Tube Tech International and Cokebusters, have announced a strategic alliance that will benefit both companies' global client base, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Cokebusters is world-renowned for its specialist internal tube mechanical decoking and ultrasonic inspection services, focusing on intelligent solutions to oil refineries across the world. Tube Tech International specializes in delivering unrivalled levels of external fouling removal to heat exchanger tubes. Together, the two British companies will provide a seamless, end-to-end solution to refineries, sharing world-class patented cleaning and inspection technology and expertise.

Tube Tech International Managing Director, Jon Camp commented, "it's great to see two British companies delivering shared innovation to a global client base. We specialize in external cleaning and Cokebusters specializes in de-coking, but our customers are the same, so it makes sense to offer unified solutions and share our expertise and services."

"Customers will also benefit from the synergy between the two companies with a similar culture and commitment to investment in innovation and driving improvements in time and cost efficiencies."

Cokebusters Technical Director, Dr. David Thewsey added, "Cokebusters has always worked hard to offer our clients around the world the best possible service, and our alliance with Tube Tech will enable us to offer refineries a truly world-leading range of solutions to reduce downtime and emissions and improve productivity and safety."

Alongside their UK headquarters', both Tube Tech International and Cokebusters have established permanent bases in Houston, Texas and are establishing a reputation for contract mobilization across multiple continents.

In its 30th year, Tube Tech International was awarded multi-million-euro EU funding for the development of next-generation fouling removal technology in 2018, while Cokebusters received the Queen's Award for Enterprise for its achievements in international trade in 2018.

Strike cuts output at biggest Galp refinery: union

MOSCOW (MRC) - Workers at the largest oil refinery operated by Portugal’s Galp Energia started a month-long strike on March 1, cutting output at the Sines facility by 25-30 percent, union leaders said, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Galp said in a statement it would not comment on the impact of the strike, adding it did not recognize the union’s calculations. During similar strikes in the past, it has said production has not been significantly affected.

Striking workers said the oil and gas company had failed to resume a collective bargaining agreement or to negotiate better salaries, health and social benefits.

“Production at the main units in Sines is at 60 percent (of capacity),” said Miguel Bravo, from the Fiequimetal union. “We estimate that the impact on (production) is at a 25 to 30 percent reduction, which corresponds to 15-20 million euros (so far during this strike)."

Sines, in southern Portugal, produces 220,000 barrels per day. Workers at Galp’s second Portuguese refinery, in Matosinhos, which has around half the capacity, are due to strike from March 15, the union said.

In a statement sent to Reuters, Bravo said the strike is also having an impact on exports. Speaking to Portugal’s Lusa news agency, the union said Galp registered a loss of 36 million euros ($40.7 million) in exports due to strike action that unfolded during the first three months of 2019.

Asked about any impact on exports, Galp said: "above all, the group’s exports have reflected current market conditions, namely the exceptionally low levels of ‘gasoline cracks’ in the international market."

Shares in Galp were up 0.44 percent at 1057 GMT.

Asia Distillates-Gasoil refining margins dip, cash discount widens

MOSCOW (MRC) - Asian refining margins for 10 ppm gasoil slipped, while weaker buying interest in the physical market pushed cash differentials for the industrial fuel lower, Reuters.

Refining margins or cracks for gasoil with 10ppm sulfur content were at USD15.99 a barrel over Dubai crude during Asian trade, 15 cents lower from Monday's USD16.14 per barrel.

Cracks for the region's benchmark gasoil grade, however, have gained about 15 percent in the last one month, and are seasonally at their highest levels since 2015, Refinitiv Eikon data showed. Despite a few gasoil shipments towards the West from Asia last month, the arbitrage window is not quite open at the moment, trade sources said, as Singapore cracks are quite strong and the region's supplies are tightening with seasonal refinery turnarounds picking up.

The exchange of futures for swaps (EFS), which determines the gasoil price spread between Singapore and North West Europe, narrowed to around minus USD16 per tonne on Tuesday, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

The arbitrage is usually profitable when the EFS trades at about minus USD18 a tonne or below, traders said. Cash discounts for 10ppm gasoil GO10-SIN-DIF were at 29 cents a barrel to Singapore quotes on Tuesday, compared with a 28-cents discount a day earlier.

Meanwhile, cash discounts for jet fuel JET-SIN-DIF remained unchanged at 29 cents a barrel to Singapore quotes as the physical market in the Singapore window remained quiet with no bids or deals on Tuesday. Jet fuel refining margins dropped to USD14.12 a barrel over Dubai crude on Tuesday, compared with USD14.54 a barrel on Monday.