Output of chemical products in Russia grew by 2.9% in January-July 2019

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Russia's output of chemical products dropped in July 2019 by 2.5% month on month.
However, production of basic chemicals increased by 2.9% in the first seven months of 2019, according to Rosstat's data.

According to the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, the largest increase in production volumes on an annualized basis accounted for mineral fertilizers and polymers in primary form. Thus, 223 ,000 tonnes of ethylene were produced in July, compared to 260,000 tonnes a month earlier.

Angarsk Polymers Plant and Gazprom neftekhim Salavat shut down their production capacities for maintenance in July. Thus, 1,801,000 tonnes of this olefin were produced in January-July 2019, up by 2.4% year on year.

Benzene production in July amounted to 108,000 tonnes against 124,000 tonnes a month earlier, which was also a result of the shutdowns in Angarsk and Salavat. Overall output of this product reached 851,000 tonnes in the first seven months of 2019, up by 0.4% year on year.

July production of sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) were 97,900 tonnes (100% of the basic substance) versus 110,000 tonnes a month earlier.

SayanskKhimPlast and Bashkir Soda Company shut their capacities for scheduled maintenances in July. Overall output of caustic soda totalled 742,900 tonnes over the stated period, compared to 736,500 tonnes a year earlier.

1,990,000 tonnes of mineral fertilizers (in terms of 100% nutrients) were produced in July versus 1,920,000 tonnes a month earlier. Overall, Russian plants produced 14,314,000 tonnes of fertilizers in January-July 2019, up by 3.3% year on year.

Last month's production of polymers in primary form decreased to 690,000 tonnes, up 7.6% from June due to scheduled maintenance works of several manufacturers. Overall output of polymers in primary form totalled 4,934,000,000 tonnes over the stated period, up by only 3.2% year on year.

PE imports to Belarus down by 2.8% in H1 2019

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Overall imports of polyethylene (PE) into Belarus dropped by 2.8% year on year in the first six months of 2019, reaching 62,900 tonnes. Local companies increased their purchasing of only high density polyethylene (HDPE), according to MRC's DataScope report.

According to the National Statistics Committee of Belarus, June PE imports to Belarus virtually remained at the level of the previous month and were 11,200 tonnes. Overall PE imports totalled 62,900 tonnes in January-June 2019, compared to 64,800 tonnes a year earlier. Demand for linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) subsided, whereas demand for HDPE increased.

The structure of PE imports to Belarus by grades looked the following way over the stated period.

June 2019 total low density polyethylene (LDPE) imports rose to 3,600 tonnes from 3,200 tonnes a month earlier, local companies raised their purchasing in Azerbaijan. Overall imports of this PE grade into Belarus totalled about 20,000 tonnes in the first half of 2019, which virtually corresponded to the last year's figure.

June HDPE imports were about 5,300 tonnes, compared to 6,700 tonnes a month earlier. Local companies reduced their purchasing of film grade PE in Russia and of Middle Eastern pipe grade PE. Thus, HDPE imports totalled 30,100 tonnes in January-June 2019, up by 6.8% year on year.

Overall LLDPE imports reached 12,900 tonnes in January-June 2019, whereas this figure was 16,900 tonnes a year earlier.


Chevron Lummus Global secures Spanish refinery contract

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Chevron Lummus Global LLC (CLG) announced it has been selected by Compania Espanola de Petroleos (CEPSA) to provide licensed technology for its Algeciras Refinery in Spain, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

CLG has completed the design of the unit employing its proprietary LC-FINING and ISOTREATING technologies. The scope of work also includes the supply of catalysts, proprietary equipment, and engineering.

With an innovative process design integrating 36,700 BPSD of LC-FINING technology with 27,600 BPSD of ISOTREATING technology, the efficient unit will strengthen CEPSA’s position as a major provider of marine diesel and bunker fuel oil.

"This award further demonstrates CLG’s technology leadership in the complete bottom of the barrel solutions to meet future International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations," said Ujjal Mukherjee, Managing Director of CLG.

CLG’s LC-FINING technology process provides high conversion of residues selectively to liquid products with superior performance and reliability. ISOTREATING technology employs state-of-the-art hydrotreating catalyst to produce high-quality products with long run lengths and minimal by-product formation.

As MRC informed before, in July 2019, Chevron Lummus Global (CLG) was awarded the license and engineering contracts for a 270 TMTPA (thousand metric tons per annum) Lubricants Base Oil plant at Indian Oil Corporation Ltd.’s Haldia Refinery in West Bengal, India.

Chevron Lummus Global (CLG), a joint venture between Chevron U.S.A. Inc. and McDermott, is a leading process technology licensor for refining hydroprocessing technologies and alternative source fuels, as well as a global leader in catalyst system supply. CLG offers the most complete bottom-of-the-barrel solution for upgrading heavy oil residues. Our research and development experts are continuously seeking advancements in technology and catalysts that will improve operating economics for your next project.

PDVSA partners fear reach of latest US sanctions on Venezuela

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Foreign joint venture partners with Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA are concerned the latest set of US sanctions on the South American country could disrupt their operations, reported Reuters with reference to three industry sources.

The Trump Administration last week froze all Venezuelan government assets in the United States and US officials ratcheted up threats against companies that do business with Venezuela.

That has raised fears for those companies that the United States will make good on threats to sanction individual firms, and also that banks will limit transactions just to avoid the risk of sanctions as well, the sources said.

The White House imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry in January in an effort to oust socialist President Nicolas Maduro, whose re-election in 2018 is viewed by much of the Western Hemisphere as illegitimate.

The executive order issued on Aug. 5 did not explicitly sanction non-US companies that do business with PDVSA, including partners in crude operations like France’s Total SA, Norway’s Equinor ASA and Spain’s Repsol SA, as well as Russian and Chinese customers.

However, the order threatens to freeze US assets of any person or company determined to have “materially assisted” the Venezuelan government.

Similar language was included in sanctions in January, but US national security adviser John Bolton said last week that the newest measures mean companies have a choice between doing business with Venezuela or the United States.

“If they really want to do what Bolton says that he wants to do, which is to get these firms to stop doing business with Venezuela, they’re going to show that they mean it, they’re going to have to punish somebody,” said Francisco Rodriguez, a Venezuelan economist at Torino Economics in New York and former advisor to opposition presidential candidate Henri Falcon.

Total, Equinor and Repsol did not respond to requests for comment.

The latest measures do not go as far as Washington’s sanctions on Iran’s oil sector, which expressly prohibit foreign countries from purchasing Iranian crude.

Still, sanctioning companies that do business with PDVSA, known as secondary sanctions, could hamper Venezuela’s oil industry, analysts said. More than half of current crude production comes from joint ventures between PDVSA and foreign partners.

The January sanctions blocked U.S. firms from importing Venezuelan oil and US dollar transactions with PDVSA, accelerating a longstanding decline in the OPEC nation’s oil industry. The country shipped about 933,000 barrels per day (bpd) in July, down from almost 1.5 million bpd in the three months before sanctions.

One industry source said PDVSA’s partners and customers may request clarity on the order from the US Treasury Department or even request explicit waivers to ensure their activities do not run afoul of regulations.

The source said companies were concerned about potential over-compliance by financial institutions unwilling to risk sanctions by approving operations linked to PDVSA, complicating their ability to pay suppliers and contractors. That could cause oilfield activity to slow.

While transactions in dollars linked to PDVSA or its joint ventures remain banned, the European Union has not prohibited operations in euros. Nevertheless, many banks are not authorizing euro bank accounts to firms associated with PDVSA or transactions that can ultimately be tracked to it, which has left the state-run firm with frozen money all over the world.

“There is panic among oil companies about how the US government will interpret the new executive order since it could lead to secondary sanctions - not at the level of Iran, but close. Every punitive measure by the United States generates a corrosive effect,” said a third source.

Sanctioning companies from European allies of the United States could raise diplomatic tensions. Such sanctions would be less likely to influence companies from China and Russia, which have continued to back Maduro amid an economic and political crisis in Venezuela.

China petrochemical expansion to overwhelm Japan, South Korea producers

MOSCOW (MRC) -- A massive surge in China’s manufacturing capacity for paraxylene, a petrochemical used to make textile fibers and bottles, could force leading exporters in Japan and South Korea to cut production as early as the second quarter of 2020, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

China will add about 10 million tones of paraxylene manufacturing capacity from March 2019 to March 2020, according to company reports and officials, that is enough for making 22 trillion 500-milliliter plastic bottles.

The world’s top consumer of paraxylene (PX), China imports 60% of its need for the chemical to feed polyester demand that has more than doubled since 2010. Over half of China’s PX imports come from South Korea and Japan and the new capacity is expected to cut Chinese imports by about 50%.

Without Chinese demand, the profit margins for regional manufacturers such as Japan’s JXTG Holdings Inc (5020.T), South Korea’s Lotte Chemical (011170.KS) and Hyundai Cosmo Petrochemical and domestic producer Dalian Fujia are expected to drop further, likely causing a rollback in output and decline in earnings.

“We will see drastic cutbacks in PX operating rates among many Asian exporters, and potential capacity rationalization in sites where integrated refining-aromatics margins are poor,” said Darryl Xu, principal analyst for Asia chemicals at consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

Private companies are leading China’s latest PX boom through a string of projects often integrated with big oil refineries which make them more cost competitive and flexible.

China’s Hengli Group launched in March a PX plant capable of producing 4.5 million tonne per year (tpy) in the city of Dalian and Zhejiang Petrochemical is slated to start a 4 million tpy plant in Zhoushan late in 2019.

In July, Shandong-based Hongrun Petrochemical began trial runs at its 700,000 tpy plant and China Petroleum and Chemical Corp, or Sinopec (0386.HK), will start a plant in Hainan producing 1 million tpy in the third quarter.

Helen Yang, a researcher at JLC Consultancy, estimated China’s PX imports could fall to 7 million tonnes next year and further to 4 million tonnes in 2021. Imports this year will be 12.6 million tonnes, the first annual decline in over a decade, down from a record 16 million tonnes in 2018.