Iraq to build 150,000 bpd refinery

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Iraq’s oil ministry will construct a refinery in Kirkuk with a capacity of 150,000 barrels per day, Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban said, as per Reuters.

"The ministry has put the final touches on building an investment refinery in Kirkuk with a capacity of 150,000 barrels per day and according to the latest international standards," Ghadhban said during a visit to the northern city.

The oil ministry has put the final touches on project as per the latest global standards, stated the report citing the Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban.

Several Iraqi ministers visited Kirkuk this weekend to meet the governor of the province and discuss new projects and plans that have stalled, some of which were in the oil and electricity sectors.

Ghadhban stressed the importance of Kirkuk to the Iraqi federal government, reported

Last November, Iraq resumed oil exports from the Kirkuk province, a year after it had stopped oil flows from the area due to a dispute with the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, it stated.

Weeks before the resumption of the Iraqi oil exports from the Kirkuk province, the Kurdistan region said that it had upgraded its oil export pipeline, boosting its capacity to 1 million bpd from 700,000 bpd, to accommodate future production growth from the region, it added.

Strikes impact Shell Pernis oil refinery but extent unclear

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Workers on strike at Royal Dutch Shell's Pernis plant in the Netherlands have taken offline a thermal gasoil installation, a Dutch union said, in the first sign of any impact from industrial action on Europe's largest oil refinery, reported Reuters.

Shell said earlier in the day that the unit had been shut. It later clarified that it had only repeated what the unions had said and would not comment on the status of the refinery.

The refinery, near Rotterdam, has the capacity to process 404,000 barrels per day of oil.

The CNV union also said strike action had disrupted planned maintenance at the adjacent Moerdijk petrochemical site.

A Shell spokeswoman said striking workers were trying to disrupt planned maintenance on the Moerdijk Lower Olefins (MLO) unit.

"Not taking out the factory for maintenance could have an effect on the environment, safety and licences, therefore we are keen to have the maintenance take place as scheduled," she said.

It was not clear how long the maintenance was planned to last.

A CNV spokesman reiterated that the refinery was running at 65 percent capacity. The Shell spokeswoman declined to comment.

On April 10, when unions had said the refinery was running at that rate, Shell said it had not shut any units there.

"They won't be able to get to the 65 percent unless they do shut it down but we are not at that point yet," the Shell spokeswoman said then.

Genscape, a specialist firm that tracks refinery upsets and provides real-time updates, has not yet issued any major disruption alerts regarding the refinery.

On Friday, it detected flaring, which is usually a sign of unit malfunction. But Shell said there was no "significant" flaring that day, rather a "short process upset" may have led to flaring.

Labour unions will decide on Tuesday whether to escalate their strike action at Pernis and Moerdijk, the CNV said.

As MRC wrote previously, in May 2018. China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and Shell Nanhai B.V. (Shell) announced the official start-up of the second ethylene cracker at their Nanhai petrochemicals complex in Huizhou, Guangdong Province, China.

Royal Dutch Shell plc is incorporated in England and Wales, has its headquarters in The Hague and is listed on the London, Amsterdam, and New York stock exchanges. Shell companies have operations in more than 70 countries and territories with businesses including oil and gas exploration and production; production and marketing of liquefied natural gas and gas to liquids; manufacturing, marketing and shipping of oil products and chemicals and renewable energy projects.

Chevron to acquire Anadarko

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Chevron Corporation announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Anadarko Petroleum Corporation to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Anadarko in a stock and cash transaction valued at USD33 billion, or USD65 per share, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Based on Chevron’s closing price on April 11th, 2019 and under the terms of the agreement, Anadarko shareholders will receive 0.3869 shares of Chevron and USD16.25 in cash for each Anadarko share. The total enterprise value of the transaction is USD50 billion.

The acquisition of Anadarko will significantly enhance Chevron’s already advantaged Upstream portfolio and further strengthen its leading positions in large, attractive shale, deepwater and natural gas resource basins. Furthermore, Western Midstream Partners, LP is a successful midstream company whose assets are well aligned with the combined companies’ upstream positions, which should further enhance their economics and execution capabilities.

"This transaction builds strength on strength for Chevron," said Chevron’s Chairman and CEO Michael Wirth. "The combination of Anadarko’s premier, high-quality assets with our advantaged portfolio strengthens our leading position in the Permian, builds on our deepwater Gulf of Mexico capabilities and will grow our LNG business. It creates attractive growth opportunities in areas that play to Chevron’s operational strengths and underscores our commitment to short-cycle, higher-return investments." "This transaction will unlock significant value for shareholders, generating anticipated annual run-rate synergies of approximately USD2 billion and will be accretive to free cash flow and earnings one year after close," Wirth concluded.

“The strategic combination of Chevron and Anadarko will form a stronger and better company with world-class assets, people and opportunities," said Anadarko Chairman and CEO Al Walker. "I have tremendous respect for Mike and his leadership team and believe Chevron’s strategy, scale and operational capabilities will further accelerate the value of Anadarko’s assets."

As MRC informed before, in May 2018, Chevron Products Company, a division of Chevron U.S.A. Inc., and Novvi LLC announced that they had entered into an agreement to jointly develop and bring to market novel renewable base oil technologies. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

US EPA revives provision that may name refiners applying for biofuel waivers

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday took the first step to revive part of a rule that could, if finalized, reveal the names of oil refineries which applied for exemptions from the nation’s biofuel laws, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The move is seen as a win for the corn industry, which has criticized the waiver program due to its lack of transparency. The EPA only in 2017 first began releasing the number of waiver petitions it has received and granted but the names have been kept confidential so far.

Under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program, refiners are required to blend biofuels into the nation’s gasoline pool, but small operations can apply for exemptions. The Trump administration made extensive use of such waivers in the last two years, saving refiners money but angering the corn lobby, particularly after major companies like Exxon Mobil Corp received exemptions for certain facilities.

The issue is a battlefield between the rival oil and corn industries. The ethanol industry claims the exemptions have been overused, threatening demand for corn-based ethanol at a time when farmers are already struggling.

The oil companies have long complained that speculation in the biofuels credit market has inflated prices and complying with cost them hundreds of millions of dollars - one of a long list of complaints by the industry about U.S. biofuel policy.

Last week, the EPA signed a Federal Register notice saying it is reopening the comment period for a provision in a rule related to the small refinery exemption program that was first introduced in 2016.

That provision from 2016 proposed to establish a determination that basic information related to EPA actions on petitions for RFS small refinery and small refiner exemptions may not be claimed as confidential business information, according to a document on the provision on EPA’s website.

“With respect to each decision on a small refinery/refiner exemption request, we would release to the public the petitioner’s name, the name and location of the facility for which relief was requested, the general nature of the relief requested, the time period for which relief was requested, and the extent to which EPA granted or denied the requested relief,” the document said.

While ethanol groups mostly hailed the move, oil industry representatives were largely critical. Fuelling American Jobs Coalition said the proposal, if finalized, would do more harm than good.

“The data underlying Small Refinery Exemption requests reflects the underlying financial health of facilities in the highly competitive refining sector. Such information can affect access to capital for marginal refineries and can make them attractive targets of acquisition, literally moving markets,” it said in a statement.

To obtain a waiver, refineries with a capacity of less than 75,000 barrels per day (bpd) have to prove that compliance with RFS would cause them significant financial strain. They submit information about the company’s financial health while doing that, although the EPA’s provision does not include revealing that.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, in an interview with Reuters on Thursday, hinted there could be fewer exemptions under his leadership due to the lower price of biofuel credits that have reduced economic hardship, which is one of the conditions for the exemption.

PVC packaging in ‘Le Pacte National sur les Emballages Plastiques’

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Since the publication of The New Plastics Economy in January 2017 until the most recent ‘Le Pacte National sur les Emballages Plastiques’ (The National Pact on Plastic Packaging) in February 2019, PVC packaging has been referred to as an ‘uncommon plastic’, and a ‘problematic’ waste, as per Eppm.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation perception of PVC disregards the important contribution of PVC packaging in the European medical and food sectors, according to Vinyl Films and Sheets Europe (VFSE).

VFSE President Roberto Bozzi said: “There is no doubt about the good performance that makes PVC the preferred polymer in some specific product applications where hygiene, safety or extended shelf life are essential requirements. Despite all the advantages offered by the high performance of PVC, its use in packaging is proposed to be restricted in favour of other plastics, for which some collection and sorting systems are in place, and which therefore are considered recyclable."

The mechanical recycling of PVC cling film is feasible with the existing waste management systems, although much remains to be done in the treatment of post-consumer waste to increase collection and sorting.

While this is tackled by municipalities and local authorities, VinylPlus and VFSE members are developing chemical recycling solutions that can treat PVC packaging, including cling film in household waste.

The prevention of food waste has also been overlooked by the current approach of the circular economy for plastic packaging. In addition, the amount of resources needed to produce food is much higher than the production of plastic packaging.

Sustainable consumption must go hand in hand with the appropriate use of packaging to ensure safety and to reduce food waste, and PVC containers meet these conditions, according to VFSE, hence why it is requesting support for the development of adequate collection systems.

Bozzi added: “Recommendation to restrict the use of PVC packaging while ignoring its high performance is unjustified and fraught with consequences. In the short term, it can have a major impact on the choices made by brand owners and retailers who will take decisions without any appropriate analysis of the complete lifecycle of the packed product they sell. This will result in an automatic increase of food waste, costs and uses of resources, among others."

VFSE is willing to open up an urgent dialogue with all interested stakeholders.