INEOS Styrolution signs deal with UK firm to develop PS recycling

MOSCOW (MRC) -- INEOS Styrolution, the styrenics subsidiary of Ineos, has signed a joint development agreement with Recycling Technologies (Swindon, UK), a specialist plastic recycling technology provider, to advance the development of polystyrene (PS) recycling in Europe, according to Chemweek.

The agreement recognizes the commercial value of post-consumer plastic waste to prevent it being incinerated or ending up in landfill, the companies say.

Recycling Technologies has completed a detailed research and trial process with Styrolution. This included scientific research and processing of PS on Recycling Technologies’ Mark II test reactor, which has produced “excellent results,” the companies say. They will now further advance this depolymerization process based on Recycling Technologies’ fluidized-bed technology, currently used for mixed plastics, to adapt it for the commercial recycling of PS.

“Recycling Technologies’ fluidized-bed technology is a very promising technology to drive our joint agenda forward,” says Sven Riechers, vice president/business management, standard products, EMEA at Styrolution

“To date we have focused on the recycling of mixed plastic waste, this initiative will allow us to develop and expand our feedstock recycling technology solutions to address a new and important market, recycling polystyrene,” says Adrian Griffiths, CEO and founder of Recycling Technologies.

As MRC reported earlier, in January 2020, INEOS Styrolution, the global leader in styrenics, announced plans to build a world-scale acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) plant in Ningbo, China. The new production site will be adjacent to the recently acquired polystyrene plant in Ningbo. Thus, company plans to construct a green field ABS plant adjacent to the Ningbo PS site in the Zhejiang Province in Eastern China. Its annual capacity is planned to be at 600,000 tonnes. Construction is planned to start in 2020, completion is expected in 2023.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated consumption of PS and styrene plastics was 225,870 tonnes in the first half of 2020, down by 8% year on year. PS consumption increased by 2% year on year in June 2020, totalling 39,590 tonnes.

INEOS Styrolution is the leading, global styrenics supplier with a focus on styrene monomer, polystyrene, ABS Standard and styrenic specialties. With world-class production facilities and more than 85 years of experience, INEOS Styrolution helps its customers succeed by offering the best possible solution, designed to give them a competitive edge in their markets. The company provides styrenic applications for many everyday products across a broad range of industries, including Automotive, Electronics, Household, Construction, Healthcare, Packaging and Toys/ Sports/ Leisure. In 2018, sales were at 5.4 billion euros. INEOS Styrolution employs approximately 3,500 people and operates 20 production sites in ten countries.

July crude stocks in China reach record high, dampens Q3 refinery feedstock demand

MOSCOW (MRC) -- China's crude stockpiles reached a record high level in July as refiners struggle to digest mass crude oil cargoes purchased during the second quarter, while domestic fuel consumption slowed amid widespread flooding across 23 provinces during the month, reported S&P Global.

As a result, the high inventory has dampened China's crude oil demand for delivery in the third quarter as it might take a while to destock, industry officials and market sources said July 29.

Data intelligence firm Kpler said China's crude inventory hit a fresh high of 889.35 million barrels in the week beginning July 20, comparing to 874.84 million barrels in a month ago and 766.21 million barrels in the same week a year ago.

The surge in inventory came as little surprise as Chinese refiners have been aggressively buying crude oil since late first quarter in order to take full advantage of low oil prices.

China's crude oil imports, through both shipping and pipelines, surged 34.4% year on year to hit a record high of 12.99 million b/d in June and this has caused serious port congestion along the Easter provinces, Platts previously reported.

Kpler data showed that China's crude seaborne imports in July hover at about 11.09 million b/d, steady from 11.18 million b/d in June.

Combined with stable domestic crude output at 3.91 million b/d over the first-half of 2020, China's overall crude supplies are set to rise over 16 million b/d in July, according to S&P Global Platts estimates.

Signs of waning Chinese crude oil demand and requirement for Q3 has directly hit price differentials for various OPEC+ export crude grades, as well as the Platts benchmark Dubai price structure.

Chinese refiners' top crude picks, Oman and ESPO Blend grades, have taken a hit recently with price differentials for the Middle Eastern and Russian grades falling to multi-week lows.

The spread between front-month Platts cash Dubai and same-month Dubai swap may also struggle to push above the USD2/b premium threshold in Q3 as Chinese refiners put the brakes on crude procurement activities, trading desk managers in Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul and Singapore said.

The physical Dubai crude market structure has weakened, with the spread between front-month Platts cash Dubai and same-month Dubai swap averaging 80 cents/b to date in July, down from the June average of 84 cents/b, Platts data showed.

Meanwhile, crude throughput in July remained at a high level after hitting all-time-high of 14.14 million b/d in June, as state-run Sinopec and PetroChina's flagship refineries have resumed operations after their scheduled maintenance.

But the throughput levels are capped as the widespread flooding in about 23 provinces forced refineries, especially those located along the Yangtze river line, to lower their operation rates amid weakening consumer and industrial fuel consumption.

In total, at least 20 state-owned refineries across the country, which have no maintenance plan, have cut run rates in July by 1-17 percentage points from June. These comprise seven refineries under PetroChina, 12 from Sinopec, and Sinochem's only refinery Quanzhou Petrochemical, Platts data showed.

On the other hand, independent refineries' run rates declined about six percentage points from June amid narrowing margins and slowing sales.

Independent and state-owned non-major refineries account for about 31% of China's refining capacity, with the oil giants accounting for about 69%.

In addition, the volume of floating crude cargoes in Chinese waters remains at four times of the levels in normal days, despite easing slightly from the record high, port sources said on July 29.

There were 88.26 million barrels of crude on tankers idled in Chinese waters for seven or more days in the week beginning July 27, edging down from the all-time high of 88.4 million barrels seen in the week beginning June 29, Kpler said on July 29.

This means the volume of new arrivals still exceeds China's port handling capacity, leaving the cargoes to be discharged in August which will sustain China's crude imports and inventory levels in the month.

As MRC reported earlier, Sinopec SABIC Tianjin Petrochemical Co. (SSTPC), a 50-50 joint venture of Sinopec and SABIC, completed the debottlenecking of its ethylene cracker on 11 July 2020, adding another 30,000 tons/year output to its current capacity. Followed the expansion, the Tianjin based plant become the country's largest compressor unit, producing 1.3 million tons of ethylene annually.

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

According to MRC's DataScope report, PE imports to Russia dropped in January-June 2020 by 7% year on year to 328,000 tonnes. High density polyethylene (HDPE) accounted for the main decrease in imports. At the same time, PP imports into Russia rose in the first six months of 2020 by 21% year on year to 105,300 tonnes. Propylene homopolymer (homopolymer PP) accounted for the main increase in imports.

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) ranks among the world"s top petrochemical companies. The company is among the world"s market leaders in the production of polyethylene, polypropylene and other advanced thermoplastics, glycols, methanol and fertilizers.

ADNOC adds CNOOC as new partner in two offshore concessions

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. has added China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) as a new partner in two offshore concessions as the UAE's biggest energy producer continues to court Asian oil and gas companies to invest in its assets, reported S&P Global.

ADNOC will transfer the rights in Lower Zakum, and Umm Shaif and Nasr offshore concessions from China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) to CNOOC, the national oil company said on July 27. ADNOC did not disclose the value of the transaction.

After the transfer of rights, CNOOC will hold a 4% interest in Lower Zakum and the same amount in Umm Shaif and Nasr concessions, while CNPC will keep a 6% stake in the assets. CNPC owned 10% of both concessions prior to the transfer.

"This agreement follows the signing of a comprehensive framework agreement between ADNOC and CNOOC in July 2019 to explore new opportunities for collaboration in both the upstream and downstream sectors as well as in liquefied natural gas," ADNOC said.

CNOOC joins an ONGC Videsh-led consortium (10%), INPEX Corp. (10%), CNPC (6%), Eni (5%), and Total (5%) as participants in the Lower Zakum concession. It is also a new partner to Eni (10%), Total (20%), and CNPC (6%) in the Umm Shaif and Nasr concession. ADNOC retains 60% of both concessions.

As MRC informed before, ADNOC Logistics and Services (ADNOC L&S), a subsidiary of ADNOC, said on Tuesday it had formed a shipping joint venture with Wanhua Chemical Group. The new company, AW Shipping Limited, is incorporated in Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), a statement by ADNOC said.

We remind that in late July 2019, ADNOC said its Ruwais refinery west cracker was offline for maintenance.

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

According to MRC's DataScope report, PE imports to Russia dropped in January-June 2020 by 7% year on year to 328,000 tonnes. High density polyethylene (HDPE) accounted for the main decrease in imports. At the same time, PP imports into Russia rose in the first six months of 2020 by 21% year on year to 105,300 tonnes. Propylene homopolymer (homopolymer PP) accounted for the main increase in imports.

Univar earnings tumble on lower sales, industrial demand; reorganization announced

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Univar reported second-quarter net income down 89.0% year-on-year (YOY), to USD1.8 million, on net sales down 22.3%, to USD2.01 billion, said Chemweek.

Adjusted earnings totaled 33 cents/share, down 21.4% YOY and ahead of analysts’ consensus estimate of 23 cents/share, as reported by Refinitiv (New York, New York). Sales declined due to lower demand in industrial end markets, price decreases, and a divestiture.

USA segment net sales fell 27.4% YOY, to USD1.17 billion, while segment adjusted EBITDA was down 25.4%, to USD95.2 million, on lower demand from the industrial end market and the divestiture of Univar’s environmental sciences business. EMEA segment net sales fell 10.5% YOY, to USD409.6 million, while segment adjusted EBITDA was up 3.9%, to USD39.7 million, with lower industrial end-market demand offset by higher demand in other areas.

Canada segment sales decreased 18.1% YOY, to USD332.2 million, while segment adjusted EBITDA fell 25.4%, to USD25.2 million, on reduced industrial demand and energy headwinds. Latin America segment sales were down 15.4% YOY, to USD98.7 million, while segment adjusted EBITDA increased 17.0%, to USD11.0 million, with higher demand partly offset by negative currency impacts.

Univar also announced a reorganization program, aimed at reducing leverage and boosting EBITDA margins by 2022. The program will involve a major emphasis on digital capabilities, as well as operational efficiencies and cost reductions. The company is also adopting “a global approach to certain of the company’s end market verticals."

The reorganization may include sales of some noncore assets, although Univar did not provide further details on any potential asset sales. A leadership reshuffle has been announced as part of the program. Jennifer MacIntyre will assume the role of senior vice president and head of North American operations, while Brian Herington will become senior vice president and head of North American chemical distribution, Nick Powell will take the post of senior vice president/EMEA and APAC and head of consumer and industrial solutions. MacIntyre will also hold the title of chief streamline officer, while Herington will hold the title of chief commercial officer.

Jorge Backup will remain president/Latin America, while Mark Fisher, president/USA and Canada, has stepped down “to pursue other opportunities,” Univar says. Univar expects to incur USD50 million in incremental charges connected with the plan.

MRC earlier said, Nexeo Univar Inc., has announced that it has completed the acquisition of Nexeo Solutions, creating a leading global chemical and ingredients solutions provider. The combined company will conduct business as Univar Solutions, reflecting a commitment to combining the 'best of the best' from each legacy organization.

As MRC informed earlier, Russia's output of chemical products rose in June 2020 by 2.6% year on year. However, production of basic chemicals increased year on year by 4.9% in the first six months of 2020. According to the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, polymers in primary form accounted for the greatest increase in the output in January-June. Production of benzene was 106,000 tonnes in June 2020, compared to 110,000 tonnes a month earlier. Overall output of this product reached 721,000 tonnes over the stated period, up by 3.9% year on year.

Univar Solutions is a leading global chemical and ingredient distributor and provider of value added services to customers across a wide range of industries. With the industry's largest private transportation fleet and North American sales force, a vast supplier network, deep market and regulatory knowledge, world-class formulation and recipe development, unparalleled logistics know-how, and industry-leading digital tools, Univar Solutions is a committed ally to customers and suppliers, helping them anticipate, navigate, and leverage meaningful growth opportunities.

Exxon to suspend company match to employee retirement plans in October

MOSCOW (MRC) -- ExxonMobil Corp told employees it would begin suspending the employer match to retirement savings plans beginning in early October, said sources who received a message from the company, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

"Given the current business environment, the corporation is taking steps to reduce costs," according to a copy of the message seen by Reuters. "The company intends to suspend the company match contribution to the U.S. Exxon Mobil Savings Plan for all employees covered by the Savings Plan, effective around Oct. 1, 2020."

Exxon spokesmen did not reply to messages seeking comment. On Friday, Exxon reported its first back-to-back quarterly loss in 36 years because of the drop in demand during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Exxon Senior Vice President Neil Chapman said on Friday the company was planning both capital and operating expense cuts to defend its dividend, adding that investors “come to view that dividend as a source of stability in their income."

Under the plan the company matches a 6% contribution by an employee with a contribution equal to 7% of the employee’s pay. Exxon will suspend the contribution beginning in early October. "As business conditions continue to evolve, company match contributions to the savings plan will be reassessed," Exxon told employees on Tuesday.

At Exxon’s Baytown, Texas, refinery and chemical plant, the United Steelworkers (USW) local union plans file a demand to negotiate over the change in the savings plan, said four sources familiar with the matter. At Exxon’s refineries and chemical plants in Beaumont, Texas, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Billings, Montana, no decision had been made on how to proceed, said the sources who are familiar with the union’s plans.

As MRC informed before, boiler work at the ExxonMobil-operated 830,000-metric tons/year ethylene plant at Mossmorran, UK, was scheduled for completion in June, 2020. Two of the three boilers at the plant exploded in August 2019, resulting in the plant being taken offline until the end of February. OPIS sources said in May that the plant was currently able to operate at full capacity with two boilers in operation but that the third boiler would be working by June.

We remind that in September 2019, ExxonMobil announced plans to spend GBP140 million over the next two years in an additional investment program at its Fife ethylene plant, which has a capacity of more than 800,000 t/y.

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

According to MRC's DataScope report, PE imports to Russia dropped in January-June 2020 by 7% year on year to 328,000 tonnes. High density polyethylene (HDPE) accounted for the main decrease in imports. At the same time, PP imports into Russia rose in the first six months of 2020 by 21% year on year to 105,300 tonnes. Propylene homopolymer (homopolymer PP) accounted for the main increase in imports.