U.S. EPA yet to decide on retroactive refinery waiver requests

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not yet taken action on petitions by refiners seeking retroactive biofuel blending waivers, Senator Chuck Grassley from Iowa said, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The Iowa senator called on the EPA to reject such petitions in a weekly call with reporters. Grassley said the petitions were an attempt to skirt a 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision earlier this year that said waivers from the nation’s biofuel blending laws granted to small refineries after 2010 had to take the form of an “extension."

The decision, if applied broadly, would likely put an end to the Trump Administration’s practice of granting large numbers of exemptions to blending mandates. However, a Department of Energy official said last month the department would review retroactive blending waivers. If granted, such waivers could be considered compliant with the court’s ruling.

His comments sparked outrage from biofuel advocates, who claim waivers undermine demand for ethanol and other biofuels. The oil industry refutes that claim. Grassley said the petitions should be immediately dismissed, and the fact that they haven’t was a big concern of corn farmers and the industry in general. Iowa is the largest ethanol-producing state in the country.

“If the EPA ends up accepting these petitions, not only will they lose again in court, they will risk President Trump’s support in Iowa and other Midwestern states,” he said. Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard, refineries must blend billions of gallons of biofuels into their fuel pool or buy credits from those who do. Small refineries have been able to get waivers from the EPA, after their applications are reviewed by the Department of Energy.

The 10th circuit court’s decision made it unclear whether the large number of waivers issued in recent years could go ahead. “Small refinery petitions received are sent to DOE for further analysis and we will await their recommendations,” an EPA spokesperson said.

As MRC informed previously, global oil consumption cut by up to a third in Q1 2020. What happens next in the oil market depends on how quickly and completely the global economy emerges from lockdown, and whether the recessionary hit lingers through the rest of this year and into 2021.

Earlier this year, BP said the deadly coronavirus outbreak could cut global oil demand growth by 40 per cent in 2020, putting pressure on Opec producers and Russia to curb supplies to keep prices in check.

We remind that, 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 721,290 tonnes in the first four month of 2020, up by 4% year on year. Low density polyethylene (LDPE) and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) shipments grew partially because of the increased capacity utilisation at ZapSibNeftekhim. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market totalled 347,440 tonnes in January-April 2020 (calculated by the formula production minus export plus import). Supply exclusively of PP random copolymer increased.

Equate names new CEO as Ramachandran retires

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Equate (Kuwait City), Kuwait’s major petrochemical company owned 42.5% each by Petrochemical Industries Co. and Dow; 9% by local Boubyan Petrochemical Co. (PIC); and 6% by local group Qurain Petrochemical Industries, has appointed Naser Aldousari as the new CEO effective 1 October 2020, said Chemweek.

He succeeds Ramesh Ramachandran who will retire. Aldousari is currently senior vice president of Equate and has worked in the petrochemical industry for more than 24 years. His career includes several senior leadership roles with PIC and membership on the Equate and The Kuwait Olefins Co. boards of directors.

“As we enter a next phase of growth of Equate, [Naser] Aldousari is ideal to take over the leadership of [the] company. He has the experience, knowledge and vision to lead Equate through this challenging time and prepare it for new levels of success in the future,” said Sulaiman al-Marzouqi, chair of the Equate board.

Raja Zeidan, Equate lead director representing Dow, added, “We are looking forward to the leadership that Aldousari will bring to our organization. We also thank Dr. Ramachandran for the many milestones he achieved while CEO with MEGlobal and then CEO of Equate. He brought a new level of shareholder value and a global perspective that has become a core part of our identity and strategy."

Sudhir Shenoy, country president & CEO of Dow India, will succeed Aldousari as senior vice president of Equate effective 1 October 2020. Shenoy joined Dow in 1997 as a sales manager, moving into various management roles in sales, business, asset and commercial management. He managed large businesses, including polyurethanes and home & personal care and water solutions.

The board of Equate has also announced that Phisanu Sermchaiwong, currently Dow finance director – APAC, will return to Kuwait to take the role of CFO at Equate. He will replace Dawood Alabduljalil, CFO who will retire in October. Sermchaiwong roles at Dow included financial planning manager for North America, CFO of the SCG-Dow Group of joint ventures and finance director for Dow Thailand. In 2009, he was appointed global financial planning director for the Treasury department and in 2014 he was appointed CFO of Equate. He was appointed to his current role in 2018.

As MRC informed earlier, Equate to run SM 450,000 tonnes/year plant in Shuaiba, Kuwait at 80% till mid-June.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, April estimated consumption of PS and styrene plastics in Russia was 36,170 tonnes, down by 12% year on year. Russia's estimated consumption of PS and styrene plastics totalled 157,110 tonnes in January-April 2020, down by 5% year on year.

Equate Petrochemical Company K.S.C.C., together with its subsidiaries, manufactures, markets, and distributes petrochemical products. The company produces ethylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polypropylene, styrene monomer, paraxylene, heavy aromatics, and benzene; polyethylene for various applications, including flexible and food packaging, industrial packaging, agricultural films, HIC, and others; and monoethylene and diethylene glycol that are used in polyester fiber for fabrics, water-based adhesive materials, shoe polish, and printer inks, as well as automotive anti-freeze and coolants. The company sells its products in Kuwait and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries, North America, Asia, Europe, and internationally. Equate Petrochemical Company K.S.C.C. was founded in 1994 and is headquartered in Safat, Kuwait.

Enterprise Products Partners cuts capex, says oil pipeline volumes steady

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Enterprise Products Partners LP has recently slashed its capital expenditures for 2020 by about USD1 billion as oil demand plummeted due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the midstream company said volumes across its oil pipelines have not yet declined, reported Reuters.

Oil demand has crashed about 30% globally as the coronavirus pandemic has restricted travel and sent crude prices briefly into negative territory last week as storage across the world fills rapidly.

Enterprise said it expects crude oil production out of the Permian basin, the largest US shale play located in Texas and New Mexico, to drop in coming months and said gathering and processing volumes are likely to decline.

About 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude in Enterprise’s pipelines in the Permian Basin are covered under long-term contracts, said Jim Teague, co-chief executive officer at Enterprise, on a first-quarter earnings call with analysts. Those take-or-pay agreements require customers to either supply oil or pay a specific amount to Enterprise.

“Tanks have been converted to crude oil services. Our people have found places to store crude oil that two months ago, we didn’t even know existed,” he said.

Earlier this month Enterprise said it will give oil companies hunting for places to store crude the chance to ship barrels on its Seaway pipeline from the Gulf Coast to Cushing, Oklahoma, the main US storage hub.

The company said on Wednesday Seaway was “virtually full.”

Enterprise reported earnings-per-share of 61 cents. It reduced its guidance for total 2020 growth capital investments by approximately USD1 billion to a range of USD2.5 billion to USD3 billion and said six potential joint ventures are being negotiated, which could further reduce capex.

Regulators in Texas, the largest U.S. oil-producing state, are considering producer calls for cuts. Texas energy regulators will next week vote on the proposal to reduce state oil output.

As MRC reported earlier, Enterprise Products Partners and LyondellBasell Industries said in September 2019 they had executed long-term contracts to support construction of EPD's second propane dehydrogenation plant at the Mont Belvieu, Tex. complex. The decision to build the PDH 2 plant stems from recently executed long-term polymer grade propane (PGP) supply contracts between Enterprise and LyondellBasell Industries N.V.

Besides, we remind that Enterprise Products Partners' Mont Belvieu PDH in Texas restarted from planned maintenance in the first week of December, 2019. The PDH unit went offline for maintenance on November 13, 2019. That day, the company said in a filing with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that the RAC "B" turbine shut down, which resulted in flaring. The flaring was estimated to last 72 hours. The unit has a capacity of 750,000 mt/year.

Propylene is the main feedstock for the production of polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, PP shipments to the Russian market totalled 347,440 tonnes in January-April 2020 (calculated by the formula production minus export plus import). Supply exclusively of PP random copolymer increased.

Enterprise Products Partners L.P. is an American midstream natural gas and crude oil pipeline company with headquarters in Houston, Texas. It acquired GulfTerra in September 2004. The company ranked No. 105 in the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue

Dow targets carbon neutrality by 2050

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Dow Inc. announced new sustainability targets today, including a commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and ambitious plans to collect, reuse, or recycle 1 million metric tons of plastics within a decade, reported Chemweek.

The new goals - aligned around protecting the climate, stopping waste, and “closing the loop” - also include a target for 100% of Dow products sold into packaging applications to be reusable or recyclable by 2035.

“Climate change and plastic waste are among the greatest technical, social, and economic issues the world has ever faced, and our products and technology are critical to addressing both,” says Jim Fitterling, Dow chairman and CEO. “At Dow, we have a responsibility and an opportunity to lead in addressing these global challenges. A sustainable future is attainable, but only if we continue to tackle these issues head-on, hold ourselves accountable, and work together to enable new science- and technology-based solutions that directly address both climate change and plastic waste.”

Its climate-neutrality efforts include an interim target to reduce annual carbon emissions by 5 million metric tons, or 15% its 2020 baseline, by 2030.

To meet its 2030 waste goal, Dow is investing and collaborating in key technologies and infrastructure to significantly increase global recycling. “Dow’s plastic waste goals are designed to ensure that its investments and collaboration, including its commitments to and investments in the Alliance to End Plastic Waste and Circulate Capital, have clear targets to stop waste from getting into the environment and to lead the materials science industry toward a circular economy,” the company adds.

Dow has also entered into new renewable power agreements for its manufacturing facilities in Argentina, Brazil, Texas, and Kentucky, securing 338 more megawatts of power capacity from renewable sources, representing an expected reduction of more than 225,000 metric tons of CO2e. The company says it is on track to exceed its target to source 750 MW of renewable power capacity by 2025.

“Reducing the impact of climate change and eliminating plastic waste are societal challenges that are closely linked. As a producer of technologies that are essential to a low carbon economy, we are developing and investing in new production processes that are low-emission and optimally efficient. And we’re now looking at waste as a resource that will enable us to continue to innovate sustainable materials,” said Mary Draves, Dow vice president and chief sustainability officer.

As MRC wrote earlier, Dow and Shell have teamed up to accelerate the development of technology that can potentially electrify steam cracker.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 721,290 tonnes in the first four month of 2020, up by 4% year on year. Low density polyethylene (LDPE) and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) shipments grew partially because of the increased capacity utilisation at ZapSibNeftekhim. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market totalled 347,440 tonnes in January-April 2020 (calculated by the formula production minus export plus import). Supply exclusively of PP random copolymer increased.

The Dow Chemical Company is an American multinational chemical corporation headquartered in Midland, Michigan, United States. Dow is a large producer of plastics, including polystyrene (PS), polyurethane, polyethylene, polypropylene, and synthetic rubber.

China is stockpiling crude oil and exporting fuel, not boosting consumption

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The rebound in China’s crude oil refinery processing and record imports of the fuel in May would seem to be bullish indicators that the world’s second-largest economy is recovering strongly after the hit from the coronavirus lockdowns, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

For sure, the numbers are robust. But there are some other factors within the data that give rise to caution against becoming too optimistic about the real strength of the crude oil sector in China. The two main factors worth looking at are the amount of crude flowing into commercial and strategic storage tanks, and the amount of crude that is ultimately being exported back out of China in the form of refined fuels.

China doesn’t release official data on flows into strategic and commercial stockpiles. But an estimate can be made by subtracting the amount of crude processed by refineries from the total volume of oil available from both imports and domestic output.

Imports in May were 11.296 million barrels per day (bpd), while domestic output was 3.88 million bpd, giving a total amount of 15.18 million bpd available. Refinery throughput was 13.69 million bpd, up 8.2% from May last year and the fourth-highest on record on a barrels per day basis.

Subtracting refinery throughput from total available crude leaves a gap of 1.49 million bpd, presumably going into commercial storage or the strategic petroleum reserve in May. The May flows into storage continued a trend so far this year of rising inventory builds: some 1.88 million bpd will have gone into tanks in the first five months of the year, according to calculations based on official data of crude imports and domestic output, and refinery processing.

To put that storage number into perspective, it’s about 300,000 bpd more than Britain’s total pre-coronavirus crude oil demand. The flows into storage in the first five months of 2019 were 1.21 million bpd. That means they have jumped by about 670,000 bpd in the same period this year, as China took advantage of the collapse in prices earlier this year amid a producer price war and the worsening pandemic.

The increase in storage actually exceeds the rise in imports in the first five months, up by about 620,000 bpd.

This shows that actual consumption of fuels in China has been soft in 2020 - unsurprising given the hit to demand in February and March, when much of the country was under some form of economic lockdown in a bid to contain the coronavirus.

While the rate of storage did slow in May compared to the previous four months, it was still higher than in the first five months of 2019, perhaps illustrating that consumption may not be quite as strong as suggested by strong headline numbers for crude imports and refinery processing.

As MRC informed earlier, China’s daily crude oil throughput rebounded in April from a 15-month low in March as refiners cranked up operations to meet renewed fuel demand after lockdowns imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus outbreak were eased. The country processed a total of 53.85 million tonnes of crude oil last month, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Friday, equivalent to about 13.1 million barrels per day (bpd). That was some 11% higher than 11.78 million bpd in March.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing PE and 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.