Storage tanks explode at Venezuela heavy oil project

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Two storage tanks exploded at the Petro San Felix heavy-crude upgrading project in eastern Venezuela, industry sources said, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The tanks were holding diluent, which is mixed with extra-heavy Orinoco belt heavy crude to make it lighter, legislator Jose Brito said in a telephone interview. "These two tanks were holding diluent," Brito said. "Fortunately, there were no injuries."

An oil industry source who asked not to be identified said the two tanks were located at a pumping station associated with the Petro San Felix project.

Venezuela's heavy crude upgrading projects turn tar-like Orinoco crude into more valuable grades of oil. Moving the heavy crude from production fields requires mixing it with some form of diluent that allows it to flow through pipelines.

State oil company PDVSA typically uses either light crude or fuel as diluent. It was not immediately evident what the tanks were holding.

PDVSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Photos on social media that users said were from the project, in the state of Anzoategui, showed flames coming out of two structures with large black plumes of smoke rising in the air.

Tee Hai Chem sells 51% stake to German giant Brenntag

MOSCOW (MRC) -- SPECIALITY chemicals distributor Tee Hai Chem on Thursday sold a 51 per cent stake to German chemical distribution giant Brenntag for a sum estimated to be SD200-300 million, said Businesstimes.

With the move, the Singapore company aims to accelerate growth by tapping into Brenntag’s global network to further expand its reach regionally and globally, as well as giving Tee Hai’s employees an opportunity to be part of a worldwide organisation.

Following the transaction, the family behind Tee Hai Chem, which include executive director Han Koon Juan and his three siblings, will become minority shareholders.

Headquartered in Singapore and with a heritage of over 53 years, Tee Hai Chem specialises in the procurement, sales and distribution of materials and chemicals, and the provision of services to strategic industries in the region such as life sciences, electronics and research & diagnostics. Its revenue for FY2018 stood at S$170 million.

Even as Brenntag acquires a majority stake, Mr Han, Tee Hai’s second-generation leader and son of founder Han Chin Fong, said that there will be “no changes” to Tee Hai’s management team. Brenntag will work with Tee Hai’s management to jointly operate the company.

Sinopec Sabic Tianjin restarts PP plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Sinopec Sabic Tianjin has resumed operations at its Polypropylene (PP) plant following a brief maintenance, as per Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in China informed that the company has planned to restart the plant on March 14, 2019. The plant was shut on March 7, 2019.

Located in Tianjin city, China, the plant has a production capacity 450,000 mt/year.

As MRC wrote before, Sinopec Sabic Tianjin Petrochemical Co. (SSTPC) started up a 1-million-t/y ethylene cracker in Tianjin, China, in 2010, and in 2012 it began construction on a new 260,000-t/y polycarbonate plant at Tianjin, which began operations in 2015.

China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec Group) is a super-large petroleum and petrochemical enterprise group established in July 1998 on the basis of the former China Petrochemical Corporation. Sinopec Group's key business activities include the exploration and production of oil and natural gas, petrochemicals and other chemical products, oil refining.

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) ranks among the world's top petrochemical companies. The company is among the world's market leaders in the production of polyethylene, polypropylene and other advanced thermoplastics, glycols, methanol and fertilizers.

Braskem reports record-high cash flow of RD7.1 billion in 2018

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Braskem, the largest petrochemical producer in the Americas and the world's leading biopolymers producer, closed 2018 with record-high cash flow of RD7.1 billion, which is 187% higher than in the previous year, said Marketscreener.

The result was supported by the positive variation in operating working capital, the depreciation in the Brazilian real against the U.S. dollar, the lower tax expenses abroad and the lower interest expenses. Net sales revenue also grew in the period, by 18% on the prior-year period, from R$49.3 billion in 2017 to RD58 billion in 2018. Braskem's EBITDA fell 8%, from RD12.3 billion to RD11.3 billion in 2018. The company posted net income of RD2.87 billion in the year, down 30% on the net income reported in 2017, of RD4.1 billion. The Company's Management is proposing to the Annual Shareholders' Meeting to be held on April 16th, 2019 the distribution of dividends in the amount of RD2.670 million for fiscal year 2018, equivalent to 100% of the net income attributable to shareholders.

'We demonstrated solidity and resilience and delivered consistent results in a year marked by narrowing international spreads in our industry and in which we had to deal with various non-recurring events that adversely affected our operations around the world: the truck drivers' strike in Brazil, the severe winter in the United States, the instability in feedstock supply in certain markets caused, for example, by the low level of the Rhine River in Europe and the incident at the chlor-alkali plant in Alagoas,' explained Fernando Musa, Braskem CEO. 'We are ready to surmount the challenges of the world economy,' he added.

The operating and commercial highlights of 2018 include the higher resin demand (polyethylene, polypropylene and PVC) in Brazil of 5.2 million tons, up 2.4% from 2017, which is explained by stronger economic growth spurred by demand from the agrochemical, cosmetics, pharmaceutical and food packaging industries. In this scenario, the highlight was the PVC market, which grew 1.4% after four straight years of contraction.

Braskem's crackers in Brazil operated at a capacity utilization rate of 91% in 2018, down 3 p.p. from 2017, mainly due to the truck drivers' strike and the plant outages in the Northeast at the start of the year. In this scenario, resin sales came to 3.4 million tons, down 2% from 2017, while sales of key chemicals increased 1% to 2.9 million tons. In 2018, resin exports were 1.3 million tons and exports of key chemicals were 571,000 tons, down 14% and 31% from 2017, respectively. In the year, the units in Brazil and exports posted EBITDA of USD1.96 billion (RD6.98 billion), which represents 61% of the Company's consolidated EBITDA from all segments.

In the United States, PP demand grew 3.1% compared to 2017, with the highlight the caps and oriented films segments, which are widely used in food packaging. In the European market, PP demand decreased compared to 2017, accompanying the region's weak economic performance, especially in countries such as Germany and Italy. Braskem's plants in the United States and Europe operated at a capacity utilization rate of 87%, down 11 p.p. from 2017, mainly due to the plant outages in the United States, the scheduled shutdown of the unit in Oyster Creek, Texas for 50 days and the inbound logistics constraints on propylene supply to the plants in Europe explained by low river levels. Polypropylene sales decreased 9% compared to 2017, to 1.9 million tons. In the year, the units in the United States and Europe posted EBITDA of USD608 million (R$2.208 billion), representing 19% of the Company's consolidated EBITDA.

In Mexico, the polyethylene (PE) plants operated at an average capacity utilization rate of 77%, down 11 p.p. from 2017, due to the lower supply of ethane in the period and the scheduled shutdown conducted in May. As a result, PE sales decreased 18% from 2017, to 799,000 tons, 67% of which was sold in Mexico's domestic market. In the year, the Mexico unit posted EBITDA of USD617 million (RD2.251 billion), representing 20% of the Company's consolidated EBITDA.

PP unit brought on-stream by Nghi Son Refinery

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Nghi Son Refinery & Petrochemical has restarted its Polypropylene (PP) unit following an unplanned outage, as per Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in Vietnam informed that the company has resumed operations at the unit on March 11, 2019. The unit was taken off-line on March 3, 2019 owing to technical issues.

Located at Nghi son, Vietnam, the PP unit has a production capacity of 400,000 mt/year.

As MRC reported earlier, in November 2018, Vietnam’s Nghi Son oil refinery officially began commercial production following months of tests. Commercial production had begun from Nov. 14, Nghi Son Refinery and Petrochemical LLC said in a statement, while a source at the refinery told Reuters the refinery was operating smoothly.

The USD9 billion refinery is 35.1 percent owned by Japan’s Idemitsu Kosan Co, 35.1 percent by Kuwait Petroleum, 25.1 percent by PetroVietnam and 4.7 percent by Mitsui Chemicals Inc.