PVC imports to Belarus up by 11% in Jan-May 2019

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Imports of unmixed polyvinyl chloride (PVC) into Belarus grew in the first five months of 2019 by 11% year on year to 15,600 tonnes, according to MRC's DataScope report.

According to the Statistical Committee of the Republic of Belarus, local converters significantly reduced their purchasing of PVC in May 2019 after a surge in demand a month earlier, overall imports totalled 2,800 tonnes versus 4,500 tonnes in April.

Thus, imports of unmixed PVC reached 15,600 tonnes in January-May 2019, compared to 14,100 tonnes a year earlier, with local windows producers accounting for an increase in demand.

Russian producers with the share of about 87% of the Belarusian market were the key suppliers of resin to Belarus over the stated period. Producers from Ukraine and Germany with the share of 7% and 3%, respectively, were the second and third largest suppliers.


PDVSA partly restarts Amuay refinery after blackout

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA partly restarted activity at its 645,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Amuay refinery where a blackout halted operations in early July, sources said, though it remained well below capacity, reported Reuters.

The refinery’s catalytic cracker restarted and was processing 68,000 bpd, one of the sources said. Three other sources said two distilling units were processing a total of 135,000 bpd. The neighboring 310,000 bpd Cardon refinery remains offline, the sources said.

Neither PDVSA nor Venezuela’s oil ministry immediately responded to requests for comment.

Outages are frequent at the twin facilities that together form the 955,000 bpd Paraguana Refining Center, which has been operating well below capacity for years because of chronic operational problems aggravated by OPEC member Venezuela’s economic crisis.

Low output from the refineries, together with sanctions on PDVSA by the United States as part of its effort to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro, has contributed to fuel shortages throughout Venezuela in recent months.

We remind that, as MRC informed before, in late February 2019, Houston-based Citgo Petroleum slowed work on an overhaul of its 235 Mbpd Aruba refinery due to a lack of financing stemming from US sanctions on Venezuela's state-run PDVSA.

PP imports to Belarus rose by 11% in January-May

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Overall imports of polypropylene (PP) to Belarus rose in the first five months of 2019 by 11% year on year, totalling slightly over 45,700 tonnes. Demand for all grades of propylene polymers increased, according to MRC's DataScope report.

May PP imports to Belarus were about 11,500 tonnes, compared to 9,500 tonnes a month earlier, local companies raised their purchasing of propylene copolymer in Russia. Overall imports of propylene polymers reached 45,700 tonnes in January-May 2019, compared to 41,100 tonnes a year earlier, whereas the need for a homopolymer PP and propylene copolymers increased approximately equal.

The supply structure by PP grades looked the following way over the stated period.

May imports of homopolymer PP exceeded 6,500 tonnes, compared to 6,600 tonnes a month earlier. Overall imports of homopolymer PP reached 30,500 tonnes in January-May 2019, up by 11% year on year.

Russian producers with the share of about 87% of the total shipments were the key suppliers. May imports of propylene copolymers into Belarus were 3,700 tonnes versus 2,900 tonnes a month earlier, local companies increased their procurement of injection moulding statistical copolymers (PP random copolymers) in Russia.

Thus, overall imports of propylene copolymers reached 15,100 tonnes in January-May 2019, down by 11% year on year.


Lead banks work to shift Evonik unit loan

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Lead banks are in talks with private debt funds and family offices to shift excess paper on a €1.8bn buyout financing for German chemicals group Evonik’s methacrylates plastics unit, Madrid, that they are stuck with and are considering launching a second syndication process, banking sources said, said Reuters.

Evonik agreed to sell its clear acrylic sheet unit to Advent International for EUR3bn in March, backed with a EUR1.785bn-equivalent euro- and dollar-denominated leveraged loan financing.

It was increased by €21m prior to closing in June, to cover some of the issue discount on the loan after it priced at 500bp over Euribor/Libor at 95 OID, having struggled during syndication as investors shy away from cyclical businesses.

It is unclear how much of the loan the arranging banks were stuck with prior to close but at one point it was EUR500m, sources said.

The lead banks on the deal — Barclays, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs — are now coordinating the sell down process and are holding talks with private debt funds and family offices, to offload the paper.

Advent was not immediately available to comment. It is unusual for underwriters to approach this money directly but it has become more commonplace of late on difficult deals that haven’t found a natural home with CLOs and credit funds – the typical buyers of syndicated leveraged loans.

In June, Bank of Americal Merrill Lynch sold to direct lenders a EUR300m term loan backing Platinum Equity’s acquisition of a majority stake in Spain’s frozen fish producer Iberconsa.

Sinopec sets up fuel oil unit in Sri Lanka

MOSCOW (MRC) -- China Petroleum and Chemical Corp, known as Sinopec Corp, said it has set up a fuel oil company in Sri Lanka as it looks to supply fuel to ships along a major maritime route, reported Reuters.

The new unit, called Fuel Oil Sri Lanka Co Ltd, has been registered in Hambantota on the southern tip of the country, according to a report on the website of Sinopec Group, parent of Sinopec Corp.

Fuel oil is a refined product mostly used as bunker fuel for ships and is also burned in power stations.

The move marks the latest investment in Sri Lanka by China, which sees the South Asian island nation as a pivotal part of its Belt and Road Initiative infrastructure plan.

Sinopec stressed the strategic location of Hambantota port on the Indian Ocean along a key shipping route between the Suez Canal and the Malacca Strait, which is transited by two-thirds of global oil shipments. The market to supply fuel to ships had "huge" potential, it said.

In March, India’s Accord Group and Oman’s Ministry of Oil and Gas signed a USD3.85 billion deal to build a 200,000 barrel-per-day oil refinery near Hambantota port, in the biggest single pledge of foreign direct investment ever made in Sri Lanka.

China Merchants Port Holdings, China Harbour Engineering Corp and other Chinese companies are investors in the port and industrial zone.

Sinopec has set a company-wide target of 10 million tonnes of production capacity by 2020 to supply low-sulfur bunker fuels that meet the cleaner emission standards set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

As MRC wrote previously, in Septermber 2018, Sinopec Corp joined a group planning to build an oil refinery in Alberta, an enterprise that would strengthen demand for the Canadian province's heavily discounted crude. Thus, Sinopec along with an Alberta indigenous group, China State Construction Engineering Corp and Alberta management company Teedrum, plan to build a refinery to process 167,000 barrels per day of crude into gasoline and other products.

Sinopec Corp. is one of the largest scale integrated energy and chemical company with upstream, midstream and downstream operations. Its principal business includes: exploring, developing, producing and trading crude oil and natural gas; producing, storing, transporting and distributing and marketing petroleum products, petrochemical products, synthetic fiber, fertilizer and other chemical products. Its refining capacity and ethylene capacity rank No.2 and No.4 globally. Sinopec listed in Hong Kong, New York, London and Shanghai in August 2001. Sinopec Group, the parent company of Sinopec Corp., is ranked the 5th in Fortune Global 500 in 2012.