Russian oil production continues to fall after Druzhba contamination

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Russia’s oil production continued to fall this month, under pressure from lower exports after shipments via the Druzhba pipeline to Europe were found to be contaminated in April, sources said, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Five million tons of oil were contaminated last month with organic chloride and some of the dirty crude is still stuck in pipelines in Belarus and eastern Europe.

Russia has managed to take out around 2 million tonnes of the tainted oil from the pipeline system and agreed with Belarus last week to take back another 1 million tonnes.

Two industry sources told Reuters that Russia’s oil exports via Transneft pipelines, including Druzhba, dropped 6% during May 1-26 from the average level seen in April.

The country’s oil production over the same period totaled 11.126 million barrels per day (bpd), down from 11.147 million bpd on May 1-21, the sources said.

Russia’s recent oil output is below the 11.18 billion bpd target Moscow has pledged as part of an international deal among producers to curb production to support prices.

The oil contamination crisis, along with reduced exports from OPEC members Iran and Venezuela following U.S. sanctions on both countries, have lifted global oil prices.

Russia’s energy ministry, which oversees the energy data collection, declined to comment. So far, Russia has managed to restore some flows to Belarus, Ukraine and Slovakia.

On Monday, Czech pipeline operator MERO said that oil shipments via the Druzhba pipeline to the Czech Republic restarted at noon (1000 GMT).

Belarus state energy company Belneftekhim said on Monday that Belarus began pumping contaminated oil toward Russia on Friday and by the end of Sunday it had pumped 80,000 tonnes of it back to Russia.

Belarus Mozyr oil refinery is working at planned capacity while the Novopolotsk oil refinery is still operating at reduced capacity after the Druzhba oil contamination, Belneftekhim said.

As MRC informed earlier, the impact on European refinery throughput in the second quarter of 2019 from contaminated crude on the Druzhba pipeline is seen at roughly 250,000 barrels per day, under 2% of the continent’s product demand.

Unipetrol launched a discussion series focused on sustainability

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Unipetrol has initiated a new project “Let’s talk about it”. The project is a series of discussion videos with well-known science popularizer, Michael Londesborough, said the company.

The program features various experts, who have come to share their perspectives on the subject of sustainability.

“We feel the need to discuss these topics not only with experts, but also to present them to business partners and the general public. That’s why we came up with this talkshow. We are also actively working on finding and implementing solutions to many of the issues discussed. For example, we are testing hydrogen manufacturing from sustainable sources or the process of recycling plastic by pyrolysis,” said Jakub Kosmowski, Marketing Director at Unipetrol Group.

The goal of this initiative is to inform about and explore areas which are increasingly more important in today’s world. Topics include circular economy, alternative fuels, recycling as well as responsible manufacturing, social responsibility of individuals and corporations and other related areas. The series of videos should function as an educational tool for the public and a source of information for businesses wishing to implement more sustainable production and business models.

“We want the series to function as a platform for meaningful discussion and sharing thoughts and ideas on the concept of sustainability. Guests are selected to represent a wide spectrum of opinions and perspectives from a line of experts, professionals and visionaries,” says Dr. Michael G. S. Londesborough B.Sc Hons Ph.D, Researcher at the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry at the Czech Academy of Science and series moderator.

Unipetrol Group, the largest petrochemical producer in Czech Republic, considers the creation and support of these projects focused on sustainable models of production and consumption to be a part of its social responsibility.

Output of chemical products in Russia grew by 3.3% in January-April 2019

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Russia's output of chemical products rose in April 2019 by 8.3% year on year. However, production of basic chemicals increased only by 3.3% in the first four months of 2019, according to Rosstat's data.

According to the Federal Service of State Statistics, last month's output of basic chemicals grew by 8.3% year on year. The largest increase in production in monthly terms accounted for mineral fertilizers.

Last month's production of mineral fertilizers was 2.249 mln tonnes (in terms of 100% nutrients) versus 2.092 mln tonnes in March. Overall, Russian plants produced 8,306,000 tonnes of fertilizers in January-April 2019, up by 5% year on year.

Thus, 263 ,000 tonnes of ethylene were produced in April, compared to 276,000 tonnes a month earlier. Overall, 1,056,000 tonnes of this olefin were produced in January-April 2019, up 2.8% year on year.

April production of sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) was 103,000 tonnes (100% of the basic substance) versus 114,000 tonnes a month earlier. Thus, overall imports of caustic totalled about 428,000 tonnes in the first four months of 2019, compared to 425,700 tonnes a year earlier.

Last month's output of benzene were 121,000 tonnes versus 129,000 tonnes in March. Overall production of this product reached 491,000 tonnes in the first April months of 2019, down by 2% year on year.

April production of polymers in primary form decreased to 705,000 tonnes, up 5.5% from a month earlier. Total volume of polymer production in primary form in Jan-Apr amounted to 2,784,000 tonnes, up 0.7% more than a year ago.

U.S.resin production in march down from a year ago, acc says

MOSCOW (MRC) -- U.S. production of major plastic resins totaled 7.5 billion pounds during March 2019, a decrease of 0.3 percent compared to the same month in 2018, said Chemengonline.

According to statistics released today by the American Chemistry Council (ACC; Washington, D.C.). Year-to-date production was 21.5 billion pounds, a 4.9 percent increase as compared to the same period in 2018.

Sales and captive (internal) use of major plastic resins totaled 7.3 billion pounds during March 2019, an increase of 5.1 percent from the same month one year earlier. Year-to-date sales and captive use was 21.5 billion pounds, a 5.3 percent increase as compared to the same period in 2018.

As it was written earlier, in 2018, resin production in the U.S. reached nearly 120 billion pounds of resin, on a dry weight basis.

Texas environmentalists plan lawsuit against Valero for pollution

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Three Texas environmental groups notified Valero Energy Corp of plans to file a lawsuit under the U.S. Clean Air Act for pollution at the company’s Port Arthur, Texas, refinery, reported Reuters with reference to the organizations.

Environment Texas, the Sierra Club and the Port Arthur Community Action Network allege over 600 violations of pollution limits by the release of hazardous chemicals like sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and particulates from the refinery since 2014.

The lawsuit would be filed under a provision of the Clean Air Act that allows citizens to sue in federal court when government agencies have failed to halt pollution. Plaintiffs must first provide a 60-day notice to the companies and agencies of the planned lawsuit.

The organizations said Valero has released over 850,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide during emission events reported by the company to the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality.

“Valero’s Port Arthur refinery has a poor compliance record even when compared to other Texas oil refineries, spewing out millions of pounds of dangerous pollution into surrounding neighborhoods,” said Luke Metzger, executive director of Environment Texas.

A storage tank fire at the Port Arthur refinery in 2017 released over 250,000 pounds (113,398 kilograms) of particulate matter, more than any other facility in the entire state released from emission events over that entire year, the groups said.

In similar lawsuits, Environment Texas and the Sierra Club Lone Star chapter reached settlements with Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Petrobras over pollution at Houston-area refineries.

In 2017, Exxon Mobil Corp was ordered to pay USD20 million for over 16,000 Clean Air Act violations at its Baytown, Texas, refinery following a lawsuit by Environment Texas and the Sierra Club Lone Star chapter.

The Clean Air Act provides penalties up to nearly USD100,000 per each violation of the act.

As MRC wrote before, in May 2018, Valero Marketing and Supply de Mexico, S.A. de C.V., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Valero Energy Corporation, announced that it had signed long-term agreements to directly supply refined products into northern Mexico from its Corpus Christi and Three Rivers, Texas, refineries via a pipeline and terminal expansion in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, recently announced by NuStar Energy.