COVID-19 - News digest as of 29.05.2020

1. Oil prices fall as focus turns to OPEC+ consensus

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Crude futures fell Wednesday as the focus turned to a lack of consensus among OPEC+ members ahead of the group's next meeting on June 8-10, reported S&P Global. NYMEX July crude settled at USD32.81/b, down USD1.54, while ICE July Brent settled at USD34.74/b, down USD1.43. "Oil's rally stalled out after Russia signaled they want to unwind productions in July, a sign that the battle for market share will resume as crude demand improves," said OANDA analyst Edward Moya. "Russia's comments on easing cuts in July served as a reminder that higher prices and improved crude demand will likely see OPEC+ compliance go out the window." While news that Russia's oil ministry said global oil markets would balance in June or July pulled prices lower, subsequent news Wednesday that Russia's President Vladimir Putin agreed with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the need for "close coordination" put a floor in futures."Both sides noted the importance of joint efforts in achieving OPEC+ agreements in April to limit oil production," said a statement from the Kremlin. "They agreed that further close coordination on this issue should take place between energy ministers." The OPEC+ alliance agreed in April to reduce output by 9.7 million b/d in May and June in response to plummeting demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Saudi Arabia has since said it will cut a further 1 million b/d in June.


Irving Oil to buy Come-by-Chance refinery owner

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Canada-based oil refinery operator Irving Oil said it had agreed to buy North Atlantic Refining Corp, the owner of the Come-by-Chance refinery in Newfoundland, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Come-by-Chance refinery, which has an output of 135,000 barrels per day, was the first to close in North America as refiners worldwide began to scale back to adjust to a sudden demand slump due to the coronavirus outbreak.

As MRC informed earlier, North Atlantic Refining Ltd’s Come-by-Chance refinery in Canada will be the first to close in North America due to the coronavirus pandemic as refineries worldwide cut back operations. The company confirmed on Monday that it told stakeholders it was pausing production because of concerns about worker safety as the virus spreads.

As MRC informed earlier, US-based Phillips 66 is delaying three sizeable scheduled shutdowns at its refineries this year, the company said last week, because of concerns that coronavirus could spread among the refineries' workers if the maintenance goes ahead.

We also reminad that 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 383,760 tonnes in the first two month of 2020, up by 14% year on year. High density polyethylene (HDPE) and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) shipments increased due to the increased capacity utilisation at ZapSibNeftekhim. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market were 192,760 tonnes in January-February 2020, down by 6% year on year. Homopolymer PP accounted for the main decrease in imports.

ELIX Polymers joins the fight against COVID-19 with biocompatible ABS grades for medical devices

MOSCOW (MRC) - Leading ABS producer ELIX Polymers is collaborating with a large group of companies within ClusterMAV, the Advanced Materials Cluster of Catalonia, Spain, in the fight against COVID-19, said the company.

The partners are working in collaboration with the National Federation of Innovative Business Groups and Clusters (FENAEIC), which focuses on promoting collaboration between federations, clusters and their partners, within the European Cluster collaboration platform.

ELIX Polymers is donating a medical-grade material, ELIX ABS 3D-FC, in response to high demand from hospitals for medical masks, valves for ventilators and other medical devices. This product, developed for transformation into filaments for FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) 3D printing, is now being used by Ford Motor Company (which has switched some of its production in automobiles to medical equipment), research organization AIMPLAS, and two Spanish plastics processors, PESL and SIIM.

Materials developed by ELIX Polymers for the healthcare sector are compliant with the ISO 10993 and USP class VI biocompatibility standards. They have been included in Drug Master Files (DMF) for use in medical and food contact applications in both Europe and the USA.

Ford is using 15 3D printers at its facility in Valencia to produce protective face shields at a rate of 300 units a day. Filaments, produced on extruders operated by volunteer employees, are used to print head supports for protective face shields. Assembled shields are shipped to an ozone disinfection centre coordinated by the Ministry of Health in Valencia and then distributed to hospitals and care homes.

Logistic support of the initiative, in coordination with leading plastics distributor Nexeo Plastics in Barcelona, is enabling distribution of ELIX ABS 3D-FC filaments to several 3D printing companies in the network. They are producing various parts that are in high demand, including ventilator adaptors and manifolds. One such company is Noumena, a tech company that specialises in the manufacture of additives and uses ELIX ABS 3D-FC in its WASP 3D printing machines to produce different types of protective masks with interchangeable filters for the subsequent supply thereof to hospitals. In some cases, injection moulding is also being used; for this, ELIX Polymers is providing another medical grade, ELIX ABS M203-FC.

ELIX ABS 3D-FC is being processed on several brands of 3D printers, including open-chamber types like Prusa and Ultimaker, and closed-chamber printers like WASP. Temperature fluctuation is reduced in a closed chamber, but open-chamber 3D printers have also given excellent results.

The downloadable printing profile for ELIX ABS 3D-FC, which is compatible with Cura software widely used in FFF 3D printing, has helped in identifying the most suitable settings for the material; standard Prusa settings for ABS have also been useful.

The performance characteristics of ABS, together with the fact that it can be adapted and customised to meet each
specific need in its final use, as well as the safety and reliability of the different types of ABS manufactured by ELIX, have made it an essential material for many medical equipment manufacturers.

As MRC reported before, in June 2018, ELIX Polymers, a thermoplastics manufacturer located in Tarragona's Poligono Sur industrial complex, announced a new investment amounting to EUR4 million, whose objective is to optimize its ABS powder production facilities. The company began executing this new project in 2018, which it will continue to develop and consolidate throughout the year of 2019.

As oer MRC's ScanPlast, overall imports of acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) to the Russian market increased in the first four months of 2020 by 5% year on year to 10,900 tonnes. This figure was at 10,400 tonnes in January-April 2019. Last month"s imports of material to the Russian Federation rose by 5% to 3,300 tonnes from 3,100 tonnes a year earlier. March ABS imports into the country were 2,800 tonnes.

ELIX Polymers is one of the most important manufacturers of ABS resins and derivatives in Europe, with 40 years of experience in engineering plastics and an installed capacity of 180,000/year from their plant in Tarragona (Spain) to the world. The operation starts in 1975, when the Tarragona ABS and SAN production plant was inaugurated.

Turnaround at German Heide refinery postponed until late summer

MOSCOW (MRC) -- German refiner Klesch will postpone scheduled turnaround work at its refinery near Hamburg until late summer because of the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, reported Chemweek with reference to a spokesperson for the refinery's statement to OPIS.

The 90,000-b/d refinery, known as Raffinerie Heide, was due to undergo planned maintenance in June. “The maintenance will now take place in late summer 2020,” the spokesperson says.

The company said at the end of April it had optimized production at the refinery in response to lower demand amid the COVID-19 outbreak. “We are able to reoptimize our operations in order to divert products and feedstocks away from low-demand products and channel them towards the production of other, less impacted products,” the spokesperson says. The plant has also diverted gasoline-blending ethanol to sell it as a standalone product on the back of increased demand for cleaning and hygiene products.

The Heide refinery is a key jet fuel supplier to the nearby Hamburg airport.

OPIS is an IHS Markit company.

We remind that, as MRC informed earlier, in late 2019, the TOTAL refinery in Leuna awarded Bilfinger two further major contracts worth roughly EUR30 million: the first involves exchanging the reactor systems; the second, performing the turnaround for the plant’s POX methanol facility.

We alos remind that Total is evaluating new gas cracker project in South Korea as part of petchems growth strategy.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 557,060 tonnes in the first three month of 2020, up by 7% year on year. High density polyethylene (HDPE) and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) shipments rose because of the increased capacity utilisation at ZapSibNeftekhim. Demand for LDPE subsided. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market was 267,630 tonnes in January-March 2020, down 20% year on year. Homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers accounted for the main decrease in imports.

Shandong Chanbroad to restart No. 1 propylene plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Shandong Chambroad Petrochemicals, is in plans to bring on-stream its No.1 propylene unit following a turnaround, according to Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in China informed that, the company is likely to resume operations at the plant by early-June, 2020. The plant was shut on March 25, 2020 and was supposed to remain under maintenance for about two weeks.

Located at Shandong province of China, the No. 1 plant has a production capacity of 125,000 mt/year.

As MRC informed before, in September 2018, LyondellBasell announced that Shandong Chambroad Petrochemicals Co. Ltd., (Shandong Chambroad), had selected the LyondellBasell Hostalen "Advance Cascade Process" (Hostalen ACP) technology. The low-pressure slurry process technology will be used for a 350KTA high-density polyethylene (HDPE) unit to be built in their petrochemical complex in Binzhou city, Shandong province, P.R. China.

Propylene is the main feedstock for producing polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, PP shipments to the Russian market was 267,630 tonnes in January-March 2020, down 20% year on year. Homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers accounted for the main decrease in imports.

Shandong Chambroad Petrochemicals Co.,Ltd is founded in 1988,whose predecessor is Boxing lubricating oil factory.After more than 20 years of trails and hardships,Chambroad has now developed into a large-scale private petrochamical enterprise intergrating petroleum refining and chemical industry. Besides, Chambroad has successively been awarded "one of top 500 manufacturing enterprise of China" and "one of top 500 chemical enterprise of China".