Borealis producing certified renewable PP from Neste renewable propane at own facilities in Belgium

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Borealis has started to produce polypropylene (PP) based on Neste-produced renewable feedstock in its production facilities in Kallo and Beringen, Belgium, reported Hydrocarbonprocessing.

This marks the first time that Borealis has replaced fossil fuel-based feedstock in its large-scale commercial production of PP. The Belgian plants were recently awarded by the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) organization with ISCC Plus certification for its renewable PP.

Taking its commitment to the next level for advancing the circular economy, Borealis once again furthers its EverMinds ambitions. This path breaking venture in sustainable production is being driven in close collaboration with upstream and downstream value chain partners such as Neste and Henkel. It also aligns with the Borealis’ aim to ensure that 100% of its consumer products are recyclable, reusable, or produced from renewable sources by 2025.

Borealis and its upstream partner Neste are moving the industry closer to a circular economy of plastics thanks to the production start in December 2019 of renewable PP. After producing renewable propane using its proprietary NEXBTL technology, Neste sells the renewable propane to the Borealis propane dehydrogenation plant in Kallo. Here it is converted to renewable propylene, then subsequently to renewable PP at Kallo and Beringen plants.

The recently finalized audits carried out by an independent third party have resulted in an ISCC Plus certification for the renewable PP produced at both Kallo and Beringen plants. This certification encompasses the entire value chain scope and verifies that the renewable feedstock used is certified as being 100% renewable and sustainably produced, including traceability to point of origin.

Downstream partners from a variety of industries such as consumer packaging, automotive, healthcare, and appliance industries can now commercialize their end-use products with a lower carbon footprint based on renewable propylene and PP produced at Borealis’ Belgian plants. In response to increasing demand, Borealis is working with value chain partners to expand availability.

Henkel, a global market leader in the adhesives sector and known for its strong brands in Laundry & Home Care and Beauty Care, has already embraced the values of the circular economy. Having made the use of sustainable materials a key pillar in its packaging strategy, Henkel is committed to work with its value chain partners to drive sustainable packaging solutions. Including renewable PP content in the packaging of a major Henkel brand over the course of the year marks another step in its efforts to significantly reduce its use of fossil fuel-based virgin plastics.

"Producing renewable PP based on renewable feedstock for the first time in history is another concrete step towards a more sustainable carbon future,” says Lucrece Foufopoulos, Borealis Executive Vice President Polyolefins, Innovation and Circular Economy Solutions. “Working closely with partners like Neste and Henkel, who share our EverMinds™ mind-set, is key to shaping a better tomorrow. Thinking circular means capitalising on growth opportunities that accelerate the transformation to a circular economy."

"It is great to see, for the first time in history, a propane dehydrogenation facility using renewable propane to replace fossil feedstock, enabling Borealis to produce mass balance certified renewable polypropylene for sustainability-focused brands like Henkel. This is an exceptional example of collaboration across the value chain making a positive sustainability impact in the polymers sector,"' says Mercedes Alonso, Executive Vice President, Renewable Polymers and Chemicals, Neste.

We remind that, as MRC informed before, in early October 2019,, Austrian polyolefin supplier Borealis AG lifted a force majeure declared in the previous months at its production site in Kallo. On 2 Sep, 2019, the company declared force majeure on refinery grade propylene and propane from its production site in Kallo, Belgium, as a consequence of “unforeseen technical issues."

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, the estimated PP consumption in the Russian market was 1,260,400 tonnes in January-December 2019, up by 4% year on year. Supply of almost all grades of propylene polymers increased, except for statistical copolymers of propylene (PP random copolymers).

Borealis is a leading provider of innovative solutions in the fields of polyolefins, base chemicals and fertilizers. With headquarters in Vienna, Austria, Borealis currently employs around 6,500 and operates in over 120 countries.

Coronavirus shock and oil price fall pummel world stocks

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Global stocks plunged on Monday and prices for crude oil tumbled as much as 33% after Saudi Arabia launched a price war with Russia, sending investors already worried by the coronavirus fleeing for the safety of bonds and the yen, reported Reuters.

Saudi Arabia had stunned markets with plans to raise its production significantly after the collapse of OPEC's supply cut agreement with Russia - a grab for market share reminiscent of a drive in 2014 that sent prices down by about two-thirds.

Brent crude and US crude futures slid as much as USD14 to trade at USD31.02 and USD27.34 a barrel in chaotic trade. They recovered some of their losses but were still down 23% - on track for their biggest daily fall since 1991, the start of the first Gulf War.

European equity markets suffered hefty losses with London , Frankfurt and Paris tumbling between 7-8%. Italy's main index slumped 11% after the government ordered a lockdown of large parts of the north of the country, including the financial capital Milan.

The pan-regional STOXX 600 fell into bear market territory -- a drop of more than 20% from its February peak. Oil stocks sank, with Premier Oil down 51% and energy giant BP trading 21% lower.

Heavy selling was set to continue on Wall Street with U.S. futures hitting their down limit after tumbling 5% on Sunday. The SPDR S&P 500 exchange traded fund is down 7.4% in premarket trading.

"We are seeing this week, finally, a full-scale liquidation and signs of capitulation, full-scale panic - we see this in every asset," said Paul O'Connor, head of multi-asset at Janus Henderson.

"The oil price plunge adds a huge disruptive dynamic to markets that are already very fragile - investors are looking for losers in this move."

The losses in Europe followed sharp declines in Asia. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares ex-Japan lost 4.4% in its worst day since August 2015 and Japan's Nikkei dropped 5.1%. Australia's commodity-heavy market closed down 7.3%, its biggest daily fall since the 2008 global financial crisis.

Investors piled into safe-haven bonds, driving the 30-year US bond yields beneath 1% on bets that the Federal Reserve will be forced to cut interest rates by at least 75 basis points at its March 18 meeting, after having already delivered an emergency easing last week.

The US 10-year Treasury yield fell to as low as 0.318% in its biggest daily fall since 2011 - during a sovereign debt crisis across the euro zone.

The number of people infected with the coronavirus rose above 110,000, and 3,800 have died from the virus.

"Markets appear to be capitulating as the virus arrives in the US, the heart of global finance," said BofA's David Hauner.

There were mounting worries that U.S. oil producers that had issued a lot of debt would be made uneconomic by the price drop.

The mood was also hit by North Korea firing three projectiles off its eastern coast.

Noting that many central banks had little scope to ease further, Martin Whetton, head of bond & rates strategy at CBA, said "let's hope we start to see some more clarity on the reaction."

Markets fully priced in an easing of 75 basis points from the Fed on March 18, while a cut to near zero was now seen as likely by April.

The European Central Bank meets on Thursday and will be under intense pressure to act, but rates are already deeply negative.

"This week’s ECB meeting will be the first test case for ECB President Christine Lagarde," ING's eurozone chief economist Carsten Brzeski wrote in a note. "With hardly any ammunition left and confronted with an external shock which cannot be tamed by economic policies, the ECB will have to balance carefully between words and deeds."

The 10-year Bund yield - the euro zone's leading safe asset - fell to a new record low of -0.863% while inflation expectations for the euro zone sank below 1% for the first time.

Data suggested the global economy toppled into recession this quarter. Figures out from China over the weekend showed exports fell 17.2% in January-February from a year earlier.

The fall in US yields and Fed rate expectations pushed the dollar to its largest weekly loss in four years before it recovered some ground..

The dollar extended its slide to 101.58 yen, depths not seen since late 2016. It was last down nearly 3% at 102.42.

The euro shot to the highest in over 13 months at USD1.1492 , to be last at USD1.1410.

Gold initially cleared USD1,700 per ounce to a fresh seven-year peak, only to fall back to USD1,677.4 amid talk some investors were having to sell to raise cash to cover margin calls in stocks.

We remind that, as MRC wrote previously, in September 2019, six world's major petrochemical companies in Flanders, Belgium, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, and the Netherlands (Trilateral Region) announced the creation of a consortium to jointly investigate how naphtha or gas steam crackers could be operated using renewable electricity instead of fossil fuels. The Cracker of the Future consortium, which includes BASF, Borealis, BP, LyondellBasell, SABIC and Total, aims to produce base chemicals while also significantly reducing carbon emissions. The companies agreed to invest in R&D and knowledge sharing as they assess the possibility of transitioning their base chemical production to renewable electricity.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 2,093,260 tonnes in 2019, up by 6% year on year. Shipments of all PE grades increased. PE shipments rose from both domestic producers and foreign suppliers. The estimated PP consumption in the Russian market was 1,260,400 tonnes in January-December 2019, up by 4% year on year. Supply of almost all grades of propylene polymers increased, except for statistical copolymers of propylene (PP random copolymers).

OMV evaluates USD4.68 bn Borealis petrochemicals deal

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Austria’s OMV AG is in talks to buy a USD4.68 billion stake in Borealis AG, a potentially record-breaking acquisition that would shift the state-controlled energy company’s focus to petrochemicals, said Bloomberg.

Taking over the maker of polyolefins, base chemicals, and fertilizer would accelerate Chief Executive Office Rainer Seele’s move toward higher-value, lower-emission oil products. That rebalancing could be further amplified if OMV helps fund the purchase by selling some upstream oil assets or gas pipelines.

OMV may buy a 39% stake in the affiliate from Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co., it said in a statement late Friday. That would increase its holding in Borealis to 75%, while Mubadala would maintain a 25% stake. The emirate’s wealth fund also owns a quarter of OMV and is discussing joint investments in Abu Dhabi and Asia.

The potential transaction would expand the value chain of OMV in the petrochemical sector and would allow OMV to "fully consolidate the results,” the company said. The supervisory board has yet to discuss the transaction and will make a decision as soon as possible, it said. OMV’s next supervisory board meeting is taking place on Wednesday.

The move follows years of effort and investment by OMV to gain scale in exploration and production, refining and petrochemicals. While adding some oil and production assets in Asia and the Middle East in recent years, the company’s biggest potential investments are in Indonesia and Abu Dhabi, where the company plans to expand its refining and petrochemical capacities.

OMV has reached production of 500,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day and has cut production costs over recent years. The company’s production is still relatively low compared to the biggest companies in the sector, making it harder to lower costs further.

A deal with Russia’s Gazprom for OMV to acquire a stake in the Akhimov 4A/5A gas field hit a roadblock on Friday as falling gas prices prompted a restart of price talks and a loss of exclusivity, OMV said. The Russian deal is a cornerstone in Seele’s revamp of OMV’s upstream business, which sold expensive North Sea oil production.

Seele has highlighted his focus on petrochemicals in the past, especially in emerging markets, where consumer demand is growing for plastics uses from packaging to car parts. OMV even flagged it’s looking for acquisition targets, but the price tag for the Borealis stake would be above anything it’s bought before.

Borealis is the world’s sixth-biggest maker of polyolefins - plastics made from oil - and had net income of 872 million euros (USD984 million) on 8.1 billion euros of revenue last year. Founded in Scandinavia, it’s now headquartered in Vienna with production facilities close to OMV’s Schwechat refinery, and has strong ties to Abu Dhabi.

OMV may sell upstream production assets or gas pipelines to help fund the deal, Austrian newspaper Der Standard reported earlier. OMV didn’t mention such plans in its statement.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 2,093,260 tonnes in 2019, up by 6% year on year. Shipments of all PE grades increased. PE shipments rose from both domestic producers and foreign suppliers. The estimated PP consumption in the Russian market was 1,260,400 tonnes in January-December 2019, up by 4% year on year. Supply of almost all grades of propylene polymers increased, except for statistical copolymers of propylene (PP random copolymers).

Global сhemicals output falls sharply in January

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Led by a large decline in China due to the effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the American Chemistry Council (ACC)’s Global Chemical Production Regional Index (Global CPRI) shows that global chemicals production fell by 1.0 percent in January, a reversal of gains in November and December, said ACC.

During January, chemical production increased in Latin America, the Former Soviet Union (FSU), and Africa and the Middle East. Production fell in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. Headline global production was up only 0.9 percent year-over-year (Y/Y) on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis and stood at 117.6 percent of its average 2012 levels.

During January, global capacity rose by 0.3 percent and was up 3.4 percent Y/Y. As a result, capacity utilization in the global chemical industry fell 1.1 points to 81.3 percent. This is down from 83.2 percent last January and below the long-term (1987-2017) average of 86.5 percent.

Among chemical industry segments, January results were mixed, with bulk petrochemicals and organics, plastic resins, synthetic rubber, and manufactured fibers showing gains. Production was soft in other segments. Considering year-earlier comparisons, growth was strongest in manufactured fibers, followed by synthetic rubber, plastic resins, coatings, and bulk petrochemicals and organics.

ACC’s Global CPRI measures the production volume of the chemical industry for 33 key nations, sub-regions, and regions, all aggregated to the world total. The index is comparable to the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) production indices and features a similar base year where 2012=100. This index is developed from government industrial production indices for chemicals from over 65 nations accounting for about 98 percent of the total global chemical industry. This data set is the only timely source of market trends for the global chemical industry and is comparable to the U.S. CPRI data, a timely source of U.S. regional chemical production.

Earlier it was reported that in January of this year, the index of production of chemicals in the Russian Federation grew by 3% compared with the same month a year. Over the past year, the release of basic chemicals showed an increase of 3.4%. The largest increase in production in January came in primary form polymers.

Chevron ups Permian Basin resource estimate to over 21 billion boe, double 2017 estimate

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Chevron has upped its Permian Basin resource estimate to more than 21 billion barrels of oil equivalent, more than double the company's estimate just three years ago, reported S&P Global with reference to its top executives' statement last Tuesday.

The company's 2017 resource estimate for the basin, the largest source of oil output in the US and a significant source of natural gas, was 9 million boe, Jay Johnson, Chevron's executive vice president of exploration and production, said in webcast remarks at the company's annual Security Analyst Meeting in New York.

And the major expects to take final investment decisions on two 2018 deepwater discoveries in 2021 and 2022, Johnson said.

With flat prices, Chevron expects the Permian, in West Texas and New Mexico, to eventually generate more than USD4 billion/year of free cash flow, he added.

Chevron's output from the play is expected to top 600,000 boe/d this year and 1 million boe/d in 2024, Johnson said.

"We believe our Permian production has the potential to grow and sustain at around 1.2 million boe/d," Johnson said.

Moreover, the production and free cash flow Johnson cited are based on development of only half the company's 2.2 million Permian acres and only a portion of the play's multiple "benches" or sub-zones, he said. Free cash flow is a key financial goal of most upstream operators in the current low oil-price milieu.

Beyond that, the company also has what Chevron CEO Mike Wirth said were future investment opportunities within its portfolio for several years and beyond.

"Many of these positions are facility constrained, meaning with backfill projects, production has little to no decline," Wirth said. "We expect successes that will result in developments during the second half of this decade."

These projects range from LNG, led by the Gorgon and Wheatstone developments in Australia, shale and tight oil anchored by the Permian and including the Vaca Muerta play in Argentina and the Duvernay Shale in Canada, the Tengiz expansion project in Kazakhstan that will raise production to 1 million boe/d in 2023 and the Gulf of Mexico, Wirth said. The company has 232 blocks in the US Gulf with 62 active prospects.

Beyond that, additional upside potential may come from increasing activity in the Permian and other shale plays, ramping up production in the Neutral Zone between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and of heavy oil in Venezuela, Johnson said, adding importantly, these assets are already in Chevron's portfolio.

In addition, Johnson suggested the Gulf of Mexico is a brighter spot for the company than it has been in years.

Chevron continues to acquire exploration acreage in the Gulf, where it is one of the premier explorers and producers, and expects to sanction two additional projects in the next two years after green-lighting Anchor last year.

Whale and Ballymore, back-to-back finds in 2018, are expected to receive the go-ahead in 2020 and 2021. Whale, a remote field off the Texas Gulf Coast, will be a standard facility design, while Ballymore, further east off the toe of Louisiana, is envisioned as a possible tieback to an existing production hub.

Anchor, which has involved development of new technology enabling the extremely high-pressure field to prepare for production in 2024, will also benefit other such prospects.

Chevron plans to drill 11 potentially impactful exploratory wells around the world this year, including four in the US Gulf, two in the Mexican Gulf of Mexico and two in Brazil.

Also, Wirth said the previous company-wide total projected capital and exploration budget of USD19 billion-USD22 billion/year for the next three years has been extended to a fourth year (2024). Chevron has affirmed a USD20 billion capex budget for 2020.

As the oil industry has become increasingly vocal about committing to decarbonization in the last few years, Chevron executives said they are pursuing those initiatives although not as a separate business. Instead, they are integrating and weaving it into projects where appropriate.

While the company has vastly reduced its exposure to US gas production per se, it is involved in LNG. Chevron aims to improve returns at two such Australian facilities, Gorgon and Wheatstone, and will look at other opportunities to expand its LNG portfolio, Wirth said.

"But they have to be the right ones," he said. "We're in no hurry to do anything there [in that arena]. Everybody who's looking at making final investment decisions on LNG is going to have to be pretty thoughtful about when and how they step into that market."

We remind that in March 2018, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP successfully introduced feedstock and commenced operations of a new ethane cracker at its Cedar Bayou facility in Baytown, Texas. At peak production, the unit will produce 1.5 million metric tons/3.3 billion lbs. per year.

As MRC wrote before, US-based Phillips 66 remains open to developing another ethane cracker for its Chevron Phillips Chemical (CP Chem) joint venture, the refiner's CEO said in March 2018.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 2,093,260 tonnes in 2019, up by 6% year on year. Shipments of all PE grades increased. PE shipments rose from both domestic producers and foreign suppliers. The estimated PP consumption in the Russian market was 1,260,400 tonnes in January-December 2019, up by 4% year on year. Supply of almost all grades of propylene polymers increased, except for statistical copolymers of propylene (PP random copolymers).

Headquartered in San Ramon, California, Chevron Corporation is the the second-largest integrated energy company in the United States and among the largest corporations in the world. Chevron is involved in upstream activities including exploration and production, downstream activities including refining, marketing and transportation, and advanced energy technology. Chevron is also invested in power generation and gasification processes.