Ineos Styrolution makes China move

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Ineos Styrolution has made its first production move into China with the acquisition of two 200,000-tonne polystyrene facilities from Total S.A., as per Plasticsinpack.

The deal, which includes the Foshan site in the Guangdong Province in South China and the Ningbo site in the Zhejiang Province in Eastern China, was agreed in August 2018 and has now received regulatory approval. It also includes two sales offices in Gunagzhou and Shanghai.

The increase in its Asia manufacturing footprint is part of Ineos Styrolution’s Triple Shift growth strategy, and provides access to the domestic market in China with locally produced materials.

"We continue to execute on our growth strategy," said Kevin McQuade, chief executive of Ineos Styrolution. "After the integration of the K-Resin business, the current deal marks our second acquisition in Asia, a region that we have identified as a focus growth."

Steve Harrington, president Asia-Pacific, is excited about the new opportunities afforded by this transaction: "Not only does this deal allow us to better serve our existing customers in the region, but it also provides us access to the broader market in China."

Augusta refinery of Sonatrach in Italy to begin maintenance

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Sonatrach’s Augusta refinery in Italy will start maintenance work for up to 45 days, reported Reuters with reference to a Sonatrach executive.

The Algerian state energy firm bought the refinery last year from Exxon Mobil Corp.

(Reporting by Lamine Chikhi Editing by Ulf Laessing and Susan Fenton)

As MRC informed earlier, in October 2018, Sonatrach and Total signed two agreements as part of the comprehensive partnership announced in 2017. A new concession contract to jointly develop the Erg Issouane gas field located on the TFT Sud permit, signed by Sonatrach, Total and Alnaft (the National Agency for the Valorization of Hydrocarbon Resources).

CNOOC keeps crude runs rate stable at Huizhou refinery after blast

MOSCOW (MRC) - A blast at CNOOC’s Huizhou refinery that killed one worker has not affected crude oil runs at the company’s biggest refinery, a manager from the refinery told Reuters.

The manager declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue. The blast, which also injured another worker, came during a trail start of one of the refinery’s secondary units on Feb. 18, a document from Guangdong Administration of Work Safety showed on Tuesday.

The blast was caused by fuel gas exceeding safe limits at a steam furnace at the refinery’s partial oxidization coal-to-hydrogen plant, according to the document published on the official wechat account of China’s Chemical Safety Association.

The work safety administration has ordered CNOOC to shut down the coal-to-hydrogen unit, which is part of its phase two expansion, according to the document.

CNOOC has already started a full maintenance program at the 240,000 barrel-per-day refinery, according to sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

A CNOOC press officer did not immediately respond to Reuters inquiry for comment. The Guangdong Administration of Work Safety cannot be reached for comment.

Evonik is fully on track to complete capacity expansions, making specialties available locally

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Evonik Industries is fully on track to expand its production capacities for tire silica, said the company.

The company is responding to the tire industry’s growing demand for innovative silica used in the production of low rolling resistance tires. At the same time, the expansions make it possible to react quickly and reliably to increased regional demand for specialty products.

"Our strategic capacity expansion came in response to regional customer requirements, and it improves the supply security and local availability of tire silica and specialty products," says Andreas Fischer, the head of the Silica Business Line at Evonik. Hark-Oluf Asbahr, head of marketing at Tire and Rubber Materials, confirms this for the current demand for specialty silicas such as ULTRASIL® 9100 GR and ULTRASIL® 5000 GR: “We are adapting our product range on site to shorten transport routes and to increase availability and supply security for the benefit of our customers."

The new plant in Americana, Brazil, commissioned in July 2016, has already reached full capacity due to high regional demand. Commercial production is also underway in the plant in Charleston, USA, which was opened in October 2018. "The new silica production in the American ‘Tire Belt’ was received very well by regional customers," Fischer reports.

Evonik produces the innovative silica ULTRASIL 7800 GR for energy-saving SUV tires at its two new sites in Americana, Brazil and Charleston, USA as well as in Chester, USA. There is large demand for this groundbreaking product, which was launched last year.

The expansion of the production plant in Adapazari, Turkey will primarily serve customers in southeastern Europe and the Middle East. Designed to increase capacity by 40,000 tons, the construction project is on schedule and expected to be completed in late 2019.

In the years to come, Evonik will further strengthen its global leadership position as a provider of silica and offer products and solutions individually tailored to the tire industry.

Evonik is a leading global manufacturer of silica. In addition to the fumed silica AEROSIL and the precipitated silicas ULTRASIL, SIPERNAT, ZEODENT and SPHERILEX, Evonik also produces matting agents made from silica under the brand name ACEMATT and other fumed metal oxides under the brand name AEROXIDE. Overall, the company has global production capacities of approximately 1 million metric tons a year for all silica products.


Saudi Aramco to sign China refinery deals as crown prince visits: sources

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Aramco plans to sign preliminary deals to invest in two oil refining and petrochemical complexes in China during the Saudi Arabian crown prince’s visit this week, reported Reuters with reference to sources familiar with the plans' statement, as Beijing seeks expanded ties with Riyadh.

The Saudi delegation, including top executives from Aramco, arrived in Beijing on Thursday for a two-day visit, part of the crown prince’s Asia tour, during which the kingdom has pledged USD20 billion of investment in Pakistan and sought additional investment in India’s refining industry.

Mohammed bin Salman will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has made stepping up China’s presence in the Middle East a key foreign policy objective, despite its traditional low-key role there. China has given few details about the visit.

Saudi Aramco, the world’s top oil exporter, will sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to build a refinery and petrochemical project in the northeastern Chinese province of Liaoning in a joint venture with China’s defense conglomerate Norinco, said three sources with knowledge of the matter.

Aramco is also expected to formalize an earlier plan to take a minority stake in Zhejiang Petrochemical, controlled by private Chinese chemical group Zhejiang Rongsheng Holding Group, said two sources with knowledge of this particular deal. Zhejiang Petrochemical is building a refinery and petrochemical complex in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang.

T he investments could help Saudi Arabia regain its place as the top oil exporter to China, which it has relinquished to Russia for the past three years. Saudi Aramco is poised to bolster its market share by signing supply agreements with non-state Chinese refiners.

It is not clear what new details will be in the MOU with Norinco expected during the visit, as the two companies first announced an alliance in May 2017 during Saudi ruler King Salman’s visit to Beijing.

Under that earlier MOU, the companies agreed to build a refinery capable of processing 300,000 barrels per day of crude and a facility that would make 1 million tonnes per year of ethylene, a building block for petrochemicals, at an estimated cost of over USD10 billion.

A senior Aramco executive said last June that he expected the front-end engineering for the Norinco project to be finished by mid-2019, following which the company will take a final investment decision.

Norinco public affairs officials were not immediately available for comment.

Aramco officials did not reply to a request for comment sent by email.

All the sources declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Meanwhile, the Zhejiang agreement would give Saudi Aramco control of the 9-percent stake in the project held by the Zhejiang provincial government.

The agreement follows an earlier MOU that Aramco signed in October to invest in Zhejiang’s project, which is planned as a refinery to process 400,000 bpd of crude and associated petrochemical facilities in the city of Zhoushan, south of Shanghai.

Reuters was not able to immediately reach Zhoushan Ocean Development and Investment Co Ltd, which holds the 9-percent stake in Zhejiang Petrochemical for the provincial government, for a comment.

China has had to step carefully in its relations with Riyadh due to Beijing also having close ties with Saudi’s regional foe Iran.

On Wednesday, the day before the crown prince arrives, Xi told the speaker of Iran’s parliament that China’s desire to develop close ties with Iran will remain unchanged, regardless of the international situation.