Shell in talks to exit Indonesian Masela block and LNG project

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Oil major Royal Dutch Shell is in talks to withdraw from Indonesia's Masela block and is looking for a buyer, which could either be Japan's Inpex which is the operator of the development with a majority interest, or another interested party, Indonesian upstream regulator SKK Migas' operations deputy Julius Wiratno told S&P Global Platts on July 6.

Shell's potential exit from the Masela block, which includes an offshore gas development and the Abadi LNG terminal, would follow several international oil companies like BP and Chevron which have pulled out of some of Indonesia's largest upstream projects in recent years due to resource nationalism or poor project economics, or both.

"The company (Shell) is in the process of finding a partner to take over its participating interest in the block," Wiratno said. "They are currently in discussions on a B2B (business to business) basis with Inpex and potential partners," he added.

Wiratno said Inpex will likely continue to control the Masela project, either by itself or along with other partners. "It depends on the negotiations," he added.

Inpex is the operator of the Masela block with a 65% interest and Shell holds the remaining 35%. A Shell spokeswoman said the company does not comment on portfolio activity. Inpex did not immediately respond to queries that were sent out of office hours on July 6.

On June 30, Shell said it would take a post-tax impairment charge of between USD15 billion and USD22 billion in the second quarter. Out of this USD8 billion to USD9 billion would be in its integrated gas business, mainly in its Queensland and Prelude projects in Australia, and USD4 billion to USD6 billion in the upstream segment largely in Brazil and North American shale.

As oil majors cut the value of their oil and gas assets, reshuffle global portfolios and slash capital expenditure to ride through the pandemic, analysts said they are unlikely to commit to big-ticket, long-gestation projects in a significant way.

Additionally, regions like Indonesia are also unlikely to sustain international E&P investment unless their production sharing contracts are extremely attractive and project approvals are less bureaucratic.

The Masela block, for which the latest plan was to produce 9.5 million mt/year of LNG and 35,000 b/d condensate, has been the subject of disagreements between the government and project owners for several years.

The initial project plan involved a floating LNG plant scaled up from 2.5 million mt/year to 7.5 million mt/year, but the Indonesian government then insisted on an onshore LNG terminal that would provide more local employment, although the project partners opposed a more expensive and time-consuming onshore project.

Eventually, the companies agreed to an onshore terminal and the Indonesian government approved the revised development plan for Abadi LNG. Indonesia also approved a 20-year extension to the production sharing contract for Masela to make it more attractive with other incentives.

This may be jeopardized if there is a change of hands, although Inpex is likely to have first right of refusal for a change in ownership.

The Abadi LNG terminal was listed by Indonesia as a national strategic project in June 2017 and as a priority infrastructure project in September 2017. It would be key to plugging the country's falling gas production and boost its position as an LNG exporter.

As MRC wrote before, in May 2020, CNOOC Oil & Petrochemicals Co. Ltd (CNOOC), Shell Nanhai B.V (Shell) and the Huizhou Government have announced a strategic cooperation agreement to further expand the CNOOC and Shell Petrochemical Company (CSPC) 50:50 joint venture in Huizhou, Guangdong Province, China.

The expansion is planned to serve the growing number of intermediate and performance chemicals customers in the key market of China, supplying products including SMPO, polyols, ethylene glycol, polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP). These chemicals are used in a wide range of end products, in healthcare, construction, fabrics, packaging, transport and electronics. For the first time in Asia, Shell would apply its advanced technology for linear alpha olefins. The project is intended to include construction of a new 1.5 million-tonnes-per-year ethylene cracker, with the mega-site bringing economies of scale and enhanced competitiveness.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 595,170 tonnes in the first five month of 2020, up by 10% year on year. Deliveries of all ethylene polymers, except for linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), rose partially because of an increase in capacity utilisation at ZapSibNeftekhim. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market was 457,930 tonnes in January-May 2020 (calculated by the formula production minus export plus import). Deliveris of exclusively PP random copolymer 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.

Sasol abandons exploration blocks offshore Mozambique

MOSCOW (MRC) -- South Africa's Sasol said July 6 it has decided to relinquish two licenses offshore Mozambique to the government in a new setback for the southeast African country's upstream sector, reported S&P Global.

Sasol held licenses for offshore blocks 16 and 19 since 2005, but has now opted to hand back the licenses.

"Following an evaluation of the exploration potential of the blocks and an assessment of the report of the pre-feasibility phase of the Environmental Impact Assessment, Sasol has decided to relinquish its exploration license in Blocks 16 and 19 offshore Mozambique," it said.

Sasol carried out some deepwater exploration activities in the license areas, but relinquished the deepwater part of the license in 2013.

It kept the shallow water area of the license with a view to assessing the remaining hydrocarbon potential.

"Sasol will relinquish Blocks 16 and 19 in their entirety to the government of Mozambique and a withdrawal notification has been issued to the relevant Mozambican authorities," it said.

Sasol remains a key player in Mozambique with a stake in Eni's A5-A offshore block.

It also processes gas from the Pande and Temane gas fields at its Central Processing Facility and transports the gas to markets in Mozambique and South Africa.

Mozambique is best known for its huge offshore gas discoveries, which are set to transform the country into a major LNG exporter.

Over 30 million mt/year of LNG production capacity is in development, but the industry is under threat from an increasing Islamist insurgency, very low LNG prices and swingeing cuts in company spending.

ExxonMobil has said it is delaying final investment decision on the 15.2 million mt/year Rovuma LNG project, the biggest of three LNG projects under development in Mozambique.

It had been expected to begin operations in 2025, though that start date is now almost certain to be pushed back.

The two others are the Total-operated, 12.9 million mt/year capacity Mozambique LNG project - expected to start up in 2024 - and the Eni-operated, 3.4 million mt/year capacity floating Coral LNG project.

First LNG at Coral is expected in 2022.

As MRC wrote previously, Sasol"s world-scale US ethane cracker with the capacity of 1.5 mln tonnes per year reached beneficial operation on 27 August 2019. SasolпїЅs new cracker, the heart of LCCP, is the third and most significant of the seven LCCP facilities to come online and will provide feedstock to our six new derivative units at the company"s Lake Charles multi-asset site.

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

According to MRC"s ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 595,170 tonnes in the first five month of 2020, up by 10% year on year. Deliveries of all ethylene polymers, except for linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), rose partially because of an increase in capacity utilisation at ZapSibNeftekhim. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market was 457,930 tonnes in January-May 2020 (calculated by the formula production minus export plus import). Deliveris of exclusively PP random copolymer increased.

Sasol is an international integrated chemicals and energy company that leverages technologies and the expertise of our 31 270 people working in 32 countries. The company develops and commercialises technologies, and builds and operates world-scale facilities to produce a range of high-value product stream, including liquid fuels, petrochemicals and low-carbon electricity.

COVID-19 - News digest as of 07.07.2020

1. Mitsui Chemicals expands mask component production in Japan

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Mitsui Chemicals, Inc. (Tokyo) announced the decision to have wholly owned subsidiary Sunrex Industry Co. Ltd. (President: KAWAHITO Koichiro) expand its production facilities for TEKNOROTE™ mask nose clamps, said the company. This comes amid increased demand with mask-wearing now having become more common in the effort to contain novel coronavirus infections. Through this move, the Mitsui Chemicals Group’s production capacity of mask nose clamps will rise by around 150 percent, reaching a level sufficient to supply 3 billion masks per year. Depending on mask demand trends going forward, Mitsui Chemicals will also consider making further expansions to its production facilities for mask nose clamps.


LG Chem pushes for RE100 initiative to reduce carbon emissions

MOSCOW (MRC) -- LG Chem, a petrochemical and battery-making arm of South Korea's LG Group, will push for Renewable Energy 100 (RE100) in all its operations around the world and curb carbon emissions to 10 million tons by 2050, said Ajudaily.

RE100 is an initiative seeking to source 100 percent of electricity consumption from renewables and accelerate change towards zero-carbon grids. Considering its current business growth, LG Chem's carbon emissions are expected to reach about 40 million tons in 2050, but it intends to cut more than 30 million tons. "By using sustainability as a key competitive advantage, we will provide innovative and differentiated sustainable solutions and create sustainable business models," said LG Chem vice chairman and CEO Shin Hak-cheo.

LG Chem will establish a circular economic system that recycles not only products but also waste by developing eco-friendly plastics and biodegradable plastic materials. By 2024, the company will commercialize polybutylene adipate terephthalate (PBAT) and polylactic acid, a corn ingredient. PBAT is a biodegradable random copolymer used such as plastic bags and wraps. PBAT makes it ideal for combination with other biodegradable polymers.

LG Chem will set up an energy storage system (ESS) facility for charging electric vehicles made of reusable batteries. ESS has emerged as an effective means to establish stable and efficient systems for power demand and supply. Energy storage demand is growing thanks to the global transition from carbon-intensive energy sources to natural gas and renewable source solutions.

Battery makers are developing technologies to recycle battery packs for electric vehicles as lithium-ion battery-powered cars are just now coming to the mass market worldwide. LG Chem has partnered with Umicore N.V., a materials technology company headquartered in Brussels, on research and cooperation in battery recycling.

Last year, South Korea revised the law on recycling electric vehicle batteries and designated a special zone for battery recycling in the southeastern city of Pohang. Electric vehicle batteries use chemical energy stored in rechargeable battery packs. They reach an end of life for replacement. Valuable materials and metals in battery packs can be recovered and recycled.

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.

Croatian oil firm INA aims for USD282 million biorefinery investment

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Croatia’s oil and gas firm INA said it aims to invest 250 million euros (USD282.4 million) to build a biorefinery in the central town of Sisak to help reduce its carbon footprint, said Reuters.

The company, whose biggest shareholders are Hungary’s energy group MOL and the Croatian government, has applied for strategic project approval at Croatia’s ministry of economy and entrepreneurship. It is also seeking European Union funding, as the bloc of which Croatia and Hungary are members, aspires to cut emissions to zero by 2050.

“The support of the EU and the Croatian government are key preconditions for the final implementation of this important project ... which fits into the Green Plan and European Energy Strategy," Sandor Fasimon, INA Board President, said in a statement. The Croatian government had no immediate comment.

INA owns two refineries, one in Rijeka and a smaller one in Sisak, where it is developing an industrial facility producing bitumen from 2021. As part of the industrial complex, the refinery would produce advanced bioethanol from second-generation, sustainable biomass, as well as green power, INA said.

In February, INA signed a deal with Axens, awarding the French group the licence to supply cellulose ethanol technology and the basic engineering design for advanced bioethanol production.

Last year, INA also inked a deal with Belgian firm De Smet Engineers & Contractors on the provisional basic design for an ancillary facility and its integration into the existing refinery.

INA plans to invest 50 million euros to establish a raw material supply chain, primarily into plantations of the biomass crop miscanthus, which is regarded as a sustainable source of biofuel.

As it was written earlier, INA has put into trial operation a new propane propylene splitter facility worth 500 million kuna (USD81 million/72 million euro) that aims to boost its competitiveness by expanding product portfolio. The new facility, which is located at INA's Rijeka oil refinery, will produce a high-purity propylene used as a semi-finished product in the petrochemical industry. The splitter's capacity is 84,000 tonnes of propylene per year. The products will be stored in four underground tanks, connected to the upgraded logistics grid for further road, rail and water shipment to the markets of Central Europe and the Mediterranean. Works on the new facility started at the beginning of 2019, during the time of one of the biggest overhauls at the Rijeka oil refinery worth an overall 800 million kuna.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, PP shipments to the Russian market was 457,930 tonnes in January-May 2020 (calculated by the formula production minus export plus import). Deliveris of exclusively PP random copolymer increased.