Chemical leak set off fire at Mitsui ITC Houston-area terminal

MOSCOW (MRC) - The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) said a fuel leak, possibly due to open valves and a running pump, set off a massive blaze at a Mitsui & Co Ltd petrochemical storage operation along the Houston Ship Channel in March, said Reuters.

The fire that began on March 17 at Intercontinental Terminals Co (ITC) spread black smoke across Houston, shut the ship channel, slowed production at local oil refineries and closed roadways and schools as it spread from one giant storage tank to 10 others before being extinguished on March 20.

"ITC has been cooperating with the CSB and other federal, state and local regulatory authorities in their respective investigations of the March fire at the Deer Park facility," said a company spokesman. "These investigations continue, and ITC is working with the government agencies to identify potential causes and take appropriate steps to ensure safe operation."

The safety board said investigators believe the fire started in piping next to a 80,000-barrel tank containing naphtha, a flammable liquid used in motor fuel production. A pump connected to the piping was left running for several hours beginning the night before to mix the naphtha with another fuel and prepare it for export on March 17, it said.

The board's lead investigator noted that valves on the piping had to be operated manually, preventing emergency workers from being able to shut the piping system as the fire spread. "The leaks could not be controlled once the fire started," said CSB lead investigator Crystal Thomas in a presentation on Wednesday.

The safety board plans to pursue the piping and other possible ignition sources for the blaze. Its review could answer "why the fuel release was not detected before ignition, why the release was not isolated, and why prolonged emergency response efforts were necessary to control and ultimately extinguish the fire," according to an initial report released on Wednesday.

No injuries were reported from fire.

The CSB investigates chemical plant explosions and fires to determine root causes to improve plant safety, but has no regulatory or enforcement power.

Mitsui faces criminal charges for spilling chemicals into waterways around the ITC terminal in the Houston suburb of Deer Park, Texas, after the fire was put out.

Vopak, which operates a storage terminal adjacent to ITC, sued in May for at least $1 million in lost business and damages.

As it was written earlier, Mitsui Chemicals is investing in additional capacity at its Grand Siam Composites production plants in Thailand in response to rising demand for PP compounds in global markets. The company operates eight manufacturing sites worldwide, including Grand Siam, as well as five RandD facilities.

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.

Mitsui Chemicals is a leading manufacturer and supplier of value added specialty chemicals, plastics and materials for the automotive, healthcare, packaging, agricultural, building, and semiconductor and electronics markets. Mitsui Chemicals is a Japanese Chemicals company, a part of the Mitsui conglomerate. The company has a turnover of around 15 billion USD and has business interests in Japan, Europe, China, Southeast Asia and the USA. The company mainly deals in performance materials, petro and basic chemicals and functional polymeric materials.


Indian Oil second quarter net profit down 83% to Rs 563 crore

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), the country’s largest fuel retailer, has posted an 83 per cent dip in net profit at Rs 563 crore for the second quarter ended September on the back of decreased revenue and fall in gross refinery margins, according to Energy EconomicTimes.

The company had posted a net profit of Rs 3,247 crore for the corresponding quarter ended September 2018.

IOC’s revenue from operations declined 13 per cent to Rs 1,32,376 crore during the September quarter.

The fuel retailer’s gross refining margin dropped to USD2.96 per barrel for the first six months (April-September) of 2019, as compared to $8.45 per barrel posted in the corresponding period a year ago.

Its refinery throughput declined marginally to 17.53 million tonnes (MT) in the second quarter of the current financial year from 17.81 MT posted in the corresponding quarter a year ago.

Domestic sales in the second quarter increased marginally to 20.17 MT, as compared to 19.82 MT posted in the corresponding quarter last fiscal.

As MRC reported earlier, Indian Oil Corp restarted operation at its naphtha cracker in India in early-October, 2019, after completing maintenance works. The cracker was shut in early-September, 2019 for a maintenance turnaround. Located in Panipat, in the northern Indian state of Haryana, the cracker has an ethylene production capacity of 857,000 mt/year and propylene capacity of 425,000 mt/year.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,436,390 tonnes in the first eight months of 2019, up by 9% year on year. Shipments of all PE grades increased. At the same time, the PP consumption in the Russian market was 909,260 tonnes in January-August 2019, up by 10% year on year. Shipments of PP block copolymer and homopolymer PP increased.

Indian Oil Corporation Limited, or IndianOil, is an Indian state-owned oil and gas corporation with its headquarters in New Delhi, India.

DuPont sales down in Q3 on higher product prices, lower costs

MOSCOW (MRC) -- DuPont recorded a 5% decrease in net sales year on year in the third quarter, continuing the downward trajectory from the second quarter, said Reuters.

Sales in China, which accounted for about 15% of total revenue, were driven by higher demand for a film used in newer smartphones and helped offset weakness in its electronic and automotive sectors.

A protracted trade dispute between the United States and China as well as fears of a global economic slowdown have been weighing on DuPont and rivals Germany’s BASF and Dow inc.

Chief Executive Officer Marc Doyle said destocking in semiconductors, used in everything from consumer electronics to data centers, was now behind and there were indications of demand stabilizing in the automotive sector.

To offset the weak macro environment, chemical companies have been relying on costs cuts to boost profits. Dupont said it slashed USD145 million in costs in the third quarter and was on track to deliver more than USD500 million for the full year.

The company’s core operating margins improved 20 basis points, while cost of sales declined 4.5%.

Shares of DuPont, which makes everything from adhesives and resins to probiotics, rose as much as 3.3% to $67.75 in morning trading. Net sales fell 4.5% to USD5.43 billion, with volumes impacted by a slowdown in both the automotive and semiconductor end markets.

Sales in China declined only 2% in the third quarter from a year earlier, compared with a 3% fall in the second quarter and 10% in the first. Net income from continuing operations available for DuPont shareholders stood at USD367 million, or 49 cents per share, for the three months ended Sept. 30.

On a proforma basis, the company earned USD73 million, or 9 cents per share, in the same period last year.

Excluding items, the company earned 96 cents per share, above analysts’ average estimate of 95 cents per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Dupont, which had raised its full-year profit forecast in August, also narrowed its estimate for proforma adjusted earnings per share to between USD3.77 and USD3.82, from its prior forecast of USD3.75 and USD3.85 per share.

As it was written earlier, BASF and DuPont Safety and Construction declared that the companies inked an agreement wherein BASF will sell its ultrafiltration membrane business to DuPont.

As MRC informed earlier, DuPont Teijin Films has launched a new depolymerisation process which upcycles post-consumer PET waste into technically-advanced BOPET films suitable for use in various applications.

As per MRC' DataScope, import deliveries of Chinese injection moulded PET chips to the Russian market decreased in September this year by 72% compared to the same month last year - to 4,430 tonnes. The same indicator in August 2018 amounted to 15,640 tonnes. Shipments from China increased by 15% to 100,000 tonnes in the nine months of this year. The share of imports from China amounted to 90% against 86% for the same period last year. The leading Chinese suppliers to the Russian market were producers Yisheng, Wankai and Sinopec.

DuPont Teijin Films is a joint venture between DuPont and Teijin Ltd and supplies polyester films and related services to a wide range of industries, including healthcare, alternative energy, electronics and packaging.

DuPont makes a broad array of industrial chemicals, synthetic fibres, petroleum-based fuels and lubricants, pharmaceuticals, building materials, sterile and specialty packaging materials, cosmetics ingredients, and agricultural chemicals. It has plants, subsidiaries, and affiliates worldwide.

Aramco Trading wins tender to lift 550,000 tonnes of naphtha from MOH in 2020

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Arabia's Aramco trading has won a term tender to buy around 550,000 tonnes of naphtha throughout 2020 from Greek refiner Motor Oil Hellas, three trading sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

Under the terms of the tender, Aramco would lift a 60,000 tonne cargo of naphtha roughly every month and a half, one of the traders said.

As MRC wrote before, the initial public offering of Saudi Aramco - the company that is preparing to sell up to a 5% stake - will happen soon, reported the country's energy minister's statement on Wednesday. The Aramco IPO is "going to come soon. It will come at the right time with the right approach and definitely with the right decision, and it will be a Saudi decision, specifically by (Crown) Prince Mohammed," Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman told delegates attending the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh. He didn't provide further details.

Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV channel reported on Tuesday that the local listing of Aramco will take place on December 11, with a final flotation price set to be announced on December 4.

We also remind that Saudi Aramco, which temporarily lost half of its oil production following the September 14 attacks on two key oil facilities, is running its local refineries at full capacity and is forging ahead with plans to start up new refineries. The company is also starting up a joint venture refinery in Malaysia next year. According to Aramco's bond prospectus released in April, the refining and petrochemical joint venture with Petronas - the Malaysian national oil company - collectively known as PRefChem, was supposed to start this year.

The PRefChem joint venture includes a 300,000 b/d refinery, an integrated steam cracker with capacity to produce 1.3 million mt of ethylene located in Johor, Malaysia. Aramco was supposed to provide a significant portion of PRefChem's crude supply under a long-term supply agreement. Jazan and PrefChem will help Aramco reach a gross refining capacity of 5.6 million b/d, it said in the prospectus. The company currently owns and has stakes in four refineries abroad with a total refining capacity exceeding 2 million b/d.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,436,390 tonnes in the first eight months of 2019, up by 9% year on year. Shipments of all PE grades increased. At the same time, the PP consumption in the Russian market was 909,260 tonnes in January-August 2019, up by 10% year on year. Shipments of PP block copolymer and homopolymer PP increased.

Saudi Aramco is an integrated oil and chemicals company, a global leader in hydrocarbon production, refining processes and distribution, as well as one of the largest global oil exporters. It manages proven reserves of crude oil and condensate estimated at 261.1bn barrels, and produces 9.54 million bbl daily. Headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, the company employs over 61,000 staff in 77 countries.

First product from Chinese Zhejiang new PP plant due in Nov

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Zhejiang Petrochemical is expected to start production at its new PP plant in November, reported NCT with reference to a source close to the company.

Located in Zhejiang, China, the new plant will have a production capacity of 900,000 tons/year of PP.

As MRC wrote previously, China's greenfield Zhejiang Petrochemical will use a range of process technology from Honeywell UOP for the second phase of its integrated refining and petrochemical complex in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province. The second phase of the complex by itself will process 20 million tons per year of crude oil and produce another six million tons per year of aromatics when completed. With an overall project cost of Yuan 160 billion (USD25.8 billion), Zhejiang Petrochemical plans to ultimately build up 40 million mt/year of crude processing capacity on Yushan Island of Zhoushan city in eastern China's Zhejiang province.

Phase I, revolving around 20 million mt/year of primarily crude processing capacity, will be able to produce 4 million mt/year of paraxylene, along with 8.5 million mt/year of gasoline, gasoil and jet fuel. Zhejiang Petrochemical has plans to start trial operations in February on its crude distillation unit and vacuum distillation unit at the phase I project, a source close to the company said this week. Construction of the second phase will begin after the full start-up of phase I.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, the PP consumption in the Russian market was 909,260 tonnes in January-August 2019, up by 10% year on year. Shipments of PP block copolymer and homopolymer PP increased.