LyondellBasell workers protest union leader suspension

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Workers at LyondellBasell Industries protested outside the company’s Houston refinery against the suspension of a local union president in a dispute about safety practices, reported Reuters with reference to a United Steelworkers (USW) official's statement.

A Lyondell representative was not immediately available to discuss the protest.

Lance Spurlock, president of USW Local 13-227, which represents 450 workers at the 263,776 barrel-per-day (bpd) Houston refinery, was suspended on Wednesday pending dismissal by Lyondell following the dispute, said Marcos Velez, USW staff representative.

Spurlock told a company supervisor a union member could not be required to operate a crane at the refinery, Velez said.

Following the dispute, a plant supervisor told the company Spurlock used unethical and inappropriate language in disputing the assignment of the worker, who is not trained to operate a crane, Velez said.

"If Lance had said half the stuff they say he said, we wouldn’t be here," Velez told the 100 workers gathered for the lunchtime protest outside the refinery’s administration building in east Houston.

Velez said Spurlock and a union member present during the dispute with the supervisor both denied that Spurlock used an expletive in talking to the supervisor.

Local 13-227 has been arguing with the company over crane operations at the refinery since 2008, when a 420-foot (128-metre) crane fell over in an accident that killed four people and injured seven others, all of whom were contractors.

Federal investigators found a contractor operating the crane at the time of the accident did not have the training to operate a crane of that size.

As MRC informed previously, in September 2019, LyondellBasell sarted up a new, fifth production line at its polypropylene (PP) compounding plant in Knapsack, Germany capable of producing 25 kt/yr. With this, capacity of the Knapsack facility is over 200 kt/yr, making the site "the world’s largest polypropylene compounding facility".

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, the estimated PP consumption in the Russian market was 796,120 tonnes in January-July 2019, up by 11% year on year. Shipments of PP block copolymer and homopolymer PP increased.

LyondellBasell is one of the largest plastics, chemicals and refining companies in the world. Driven by its 13,000 employees around the globe, LyondellBasell produces materials and products that are key to advancing solutions to modern challenges like enhancing food safety through lightweight and flexible packaging, protecting the purity of water supplies through stronger and more versatile pipes, and improving the safety, comfort and fuel efficiency of many of the cars and trucks on the road. LyondellBasell sells products into approximately 100 countries and is the world's largest licensor of polyolefin technologies.

BP to restart its Whiting Refinery FCCU in late October after maintenance

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BP Plc is expected to resume operation at its small gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic cracking unit (FCCU) at its 430,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Whiting, Indiana, refinery in late October after about a month of the overhaul, reported Inspectioneeing with reference to the sources familiar with plant operations.

The company began a planned overhaul of the small FCCU on 19 September, said sources. BP was continuing to increase production levels on the large crude distillation unit (CDU) at the refinery on that day, but didl not run the 240,000 Pipestill 12 CDU at full capacity, while the 65,000 bpd FCCU 600 was shut for the overhaul, the sources said.

Thus, FCCU 600 is expected to be shut for about a month to complete the overhaul, according to the sources. Production was cut on Pipestill 12 the day before because of a malfunction. Pipestill 12 is the largest of three CDUs doing the primary breakdown of crude oil into hydrocarbon feedstocks for all other production units at the refinery.

As MRC informed previously, in November 2018, BP Plc’s trading arm entered a tolling agreement with the owners of an idled oil refinery in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, cementing plans to bring the plant back online six years after it was idled by previous owners. Under BP’s tolling agreement with Limetree Bay Refining LLC, owner of the idled Hovensa refinery, BP will supply the facility with crude and sell its products, low-sulfur fuels that will meet an International Maritime Organization mandate in 2020.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing polyethylene (PE) and polyprolypele (PP).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption was 1,081,100 tonnes in the first half of 2019, up by 8% year on year. Deliveries of all PE grades increased. Meanwhile, the estimated consumption of PP in the Russian market totalled 694,210 tonnes in January-June 2019, up by 14% year on year. The supply of propylene block copolymers (PP-block) and propylene homopolymers (PP-homo) increased.

BP is one of the world's leading international oil and gas companies, providing its customers with fuel for transportation, energy for heat and light, retail services and petrochemicals products for everyday items.

Shell shut GO-1 ethylene unit for debottlenecking

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Fluor was contracted to execute direct-hire construction for the GO-1 Ethylene unit at Shell Chemical Company's Norco Refinery in Norco, Louisiana, as per Fluor's press release.

The GO-1 unit scope involved considerable equipment and piping change out, including pumps, exchangers, vessels and major process gas compression equipment, during unit shutdown.

In addition to the work in the GO-1 unit, the project included electrical and piping off-sites as well as a separate project to install all new facilities required for the installation of a new OL-5 unit ethylene furnace.

As MRC informed before, operations were stable on 13 September at Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s 340,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) joint-venture refinery in Deer Park, Texas, after the upper Houston Ship Channel was closed by protesters from Greenpeace USA. The Deer Park refinery is a 50-50 joint-venture between Shell and Mexico’s national oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex). Shell is the managing partner of the joint-venture. Shell has three crackers at Deer Park site with a combined ethylene capacity of 1,67 mln per year and petrochemical plants.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing polyethylene (PE) and polyprolypele (PP).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,255,800 tonnes in the first seven months of 2019, up by 9% year on year. Shipments of all PE grades increased. At the same time, the estimated PP consumption in the Russian market was 796,120 tonnes in January-July 2019, up by 11% year on year. Shipments of PP block copolymer and homopolymer PP increased.

Royal Dutch Shell plc is an Anglo-Dutch multinational oil and gas company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands and with its registered office in London, United Kingdom. It is the biggest company in the world in terms of revenue and one of the six oil and gas "supermajors". Shell is vertically integrated and is active in every area of the oil and gas industry, including exploration and production, refining, distribution and marketing, petrochemicals, power generation and trading.

Kazanorgsintez to restart 3rd LDPE line at the weekend after maintenance

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Kazanorgsintez (part of TAIF Group) plans to resume low density polyethylene (LDPE) production at its third line after a scheduled turnaround, according to ICIS-MRC Price Report.

Thus, Kazanorgsintez extended maintenance works at the third LDPE line virtually for one week.

Meanwhile, the outage at the second line will last until 20 October.

The plant's overall annual LDPE production capacity is 225,000 tonnes.

As reported earlier, Kazanorgsintez completely took off-stream its LDPE production for the annual scheduled maintenance on 26 September. Besides, the plant's high density polyethylene (HDPE) production capacities were also shut at the same time.

PJSC "Kazanorgsintez" (part of TAIF Group) is one of Russia's largest plants. Kazanorgsintez produces 40% of overall Russian polyethylene (PE) and is the country's largest exporter. To date, the plant produces PE, polycarbonate (PC), PE pipes, phenol, acetone, bisphenol A. Kazanorgsintez is Russia's only PC producer. It manufactures a total of 170 items of products. Kazanorgsintez's annual output is 1.6 million tonnes. The plant is Russia's largest producer of high density polyethylene (HDPE). The plant's annual HDPE production capacity is 540,000 tonnes and its annual LDPE capacity is 225,000 tonnes.

September sales of EPS boards rose in Ukrainian market by 20%

MOSCOW (MRC) -- September sales of expandable polystyrene (EPS) boards increased in the Ukrainian market by 20% from August 2019, according to ICIS-MRC Price report.

A major converter said consumption of EPS boards remained seasonally high in the region. September and October is traditionally the period of maximum consumption of finished products in the domestic market.

At the same time, the downward trend of finished products consumption also remained unchanged year on year.

September sales of boards dropped by an average of 4% year on year, and overall, this figure decreased in the first three quarters of 2019 by 15% year on year.

As reported earlier, EPS imports to Ukraine decreased in January-July 2019 by 2% year on year to 19,900 tonnes from 20,300 tonnes a year earlier. July EPS imports into the region were 3,500 tonnes versus 3,600 tonnes a month earlier and 4,500 tonnes in July 2018.

EPS boards are widely used as heat insulating material for thermal insulation of internal and external cladding structure of the building, its foundations, basements, attics, as well as engineering systems.