Trinseo raises September PS, ABS, and SAN prices in Europe

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Trinseo, a global materials company and manufacturer of plastics, latex binders, and synthetic rubber, and its affiliate companies in Europe, have announced a price increase for all polystyrene (PS), acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and acrylonitrile-styrene copolymer (SAN) in Europe, according to the company's press release as of 4 September.

Effective September 1, 2020, or as existing contract terms allow, the contract and spot prices for the products listed below rose as follows:

- STYRON general purpose polystyrene grades (GPPS) -- by EUR30 per metric ton;
- STYRON and STYRON A-Tech and STYRON X- Tech and STYRON C- Tech high impact polystyrene grades (HIPS) - by EUR30 per metric ton;
- MAGNUM ABS resins - by EUR35 per metric ton;
- TYRIL SAN resins - by EUR30 per metric ton.

As MRC informed before, Trinseo raised its prices for all PS grades on 1 August 2020, as stated below:

- STYRON GPPS -- by EUR30 per metric ton;
- STYRON and STYRON A-Tech and STYRON X- Tech and STYRON C- Tech HIPS - by EUR30 per metric ton;
- MAGNUM ABS resins - by EUR50 per metric ton;
- TYRIL SAN resins - by EUR40 per metric ton.

According to ICIS-MRC Price report, prices of Russian PS went up in September. Demand for material still significantly exceeded supply. Buyers reported an increase of Rb5,000/tonne in prices of Nizhnekamskneftekhim's PS this month. Penoplex's selling GPPS prices also rose by Rb5,000/tonne in September to Rb88,000-90,000/tonne CPT Moscow, including VAT.

Trinseo is a global materials company and manufacturer of plastics, latex and rubber. Trinseo's technology is used by customers in industries such as home appliances, automotive, building & construction, carpet, consumer electronics, consumer goods, electrical & lighting, medical, packaging, paper & paperboard, rubber goods and tires. Formerly known as Styron, Trinseo completed its renaming process in 1Q 2015. Trinseo had approximately USD3.8 billion in net sales in 2019, with 17 manufacturing sites around the world, and approximately 2,700 employees.

Power outage after Hurricane Laura prevents return to normal operations at US oil reserve site

MOSCOW (MRC) -- An ongoing power outage due to Hurricane Laura has prevented a return to normal operations at a Louisiana site of the US emergency oil reserve, reported Reuters with reference to a US Energy Department official said.

The West Hackberry site, one of four locations of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, was shut before Laura hit the region to evacuate personnel. On Monday, the department said the site had “sustained considerable damage” from the storm but that there was “no threat to the integrity of the geologically sealed underground caverns” that store crude oil.

The site is staffed and secured, and damage assessment has begun, the official said. Estimates on repair times, costs and when the facility would be back to normal were not available.

West Hackberry has 21 caverns and a storage capacity of 220 million barrels of crude. The SPR currently holds nearly 650 million barrels of mostly sour crude, well over the level required by international agreements.

The SPR can still facilitate any emergency exchanges requests from refineries through its Big Hill, Bryan Mound and Bayou Choctaw sites, the department has said, though the reserve has not received any such requests.

Washington funded the building of the SPR in the 1970s, after the Arab oil embargo spiked gasoline prices and damaged the U.S. economy. The Energy Department has occasionally held emergency sales and loans of oil to companies in the wake of storms. Most recently it loaned oil after Hurricane Harvey inundated Texas in 2017.

As MRC informed earlier, most chemical production facilities in the region between Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas, and Lake Charles, Louisiana, have shut down in preparation for Hurricane Laura, which was forecast to make landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border last Wednesday night or early Thursday. Several olefin crackers and associated derivative polymer units have been shut down, as has about 2.5 million b/d of refining capacity.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's overall PE production totalled 1,712,400 tonnes in the first seven months of 2020, up by 58% year on year. Linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) accounted for the greatest increase in the output. At the same time, overall PP production in Russia increased in January-July 2020 by 24% year on year to 1,063,700 tonne. ZapSibNeftekhim accounted for the main increase in the output.

Sonatrach says it controlled oil leaks

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Algeria's state-owned energy company Sonatrach announced it had controlled two oil leaks that occurred earlier in the OK1 pipeline due to bad weather, said Reuters.

Sonatrach had said earlier in a statement on Facebook that the pipeline connects Hassi Messaoud to Skikda.

As MRC informed before, in January 2020, Turkey and Algeria announced that they will jointly establish a petrochemicals plant in Adana on the Mediterranean coast. Turkey’s Ronesans Holding and Algeria’s state-owned energy company Sonatrach will take part in the project, Arkab said on the margins of the Turkey-Algeria Business Forum. The petrochemical facility is estimated to cost around USD1.4 billion, according to the Algerian minister, who also said stakes of Ronesans Holding and Sonatrach in the project will be 66 percent and 34 percent, respectively. The facility is planned in Seyhan industrial zone for petrochemical development and will have production capacity of 450,000 tons per year of polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russian plants' total PP production grew to 158,800 tonnes in July, compared to 149,400 tonnes a month earlier; ZapSibNeftekhim, Nizhnekamskneftekhim and Poliom increased their capacity utilisation. Russia"s overall PP production reached 1,063,700 tonnes in January-July 2020, compared to 854,500 tonnes a year earlier. Five out of eight producers raised their capacity utilisation, with a new producer - ZapSibNeftekhim - accounting for the main increase in the output.

European refiners to see more consolidation post COVID-19

MOSCOW (MRC) -- More consolidation was expected in the European refining system post COVID-19 as operators had already been facing flat or falling demand and rising competition from new refineries in Asia, according to delegates at the S&P Global European Refining Virtual Conference Sept. 3.

"There will be some consolidation in the refining system in Europe," according to Adi Imsirovic, research associate at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, "we have lost 9 million barrels of demand," Imsirovic said, adding the immediate impact for a few simple refineries was that they "are worried about survival".

In the past few months, commodity trader Gunvor announced its intention to potentially mothball its refinery in Antwerp, while France's Total is likely to close its Grandpuits refinery near Paris and possibly transform it into a bioplastics plant.

Switching to biofuel plants and production of renewable fuels is one of the opportunities for European refiners, with Finland's Neste, Total and Italy's Eni already producing biodiesel at some of their plants.

While that was an opportunity, those "who enter first in this business will survive", according to Spyros Kiartzis, manager of new technologies and alternative energy sources at Greece's Hellenic Petroleum.

There were challenges, such as technological limitations and access to raw material, Kiartzis said.

In addition, the overall conversion capacity "is substantially smaller" than the original, said John Cooper, director general of FuelsEurope.

For refineries to "reinvent themselves and start producing green fuel" they will need help from the government, for which "there is a great opportunity", Imsirovic said. European refiners have "little or no government support" as opposed to the big refineries in Asia, Imsirovic said.

Combining refineries with petrochemical operations was another way to help put European refiners on an equal footing with petrochemically integrated big Asian refineries, according to the delegates at the conference.

"We have to identify high value markets, integrate with petrochemicals, find niche markets," Hellenic Petroleum's Kiartzis said, noting that European refiners have to compete with economies of scale and refiners with much bigger capacity.

However panelists noted that European refiners have an additional cost of some USD2-USD3/b due to carbon regulations which do not impact refineries in Asia.

According to Hellenic Petroleum's Kiartzis, the "carbon market is crucial, but should be equal to all players".

Due to the cost of carbon, European refiners were in a "very disadvantageous position compared with others", said Oxford Institute's Imsirovic.

Uncertainty in the wake of COVID-19 was posing further challenges, he said, adding the "key for survival" will be flexibility, including use of the cheapest feedstock and petrochemical integration. Such options, which could be the way forward for bigger refineries, might not be applicable to simple refineries, said Imsirovic.

But if inefficient refiners shut down, "we won't be able to cover our internal demand in 5-10 years," Hellenic Petroleum's Kiartzis said.

Furthermore the integration with petrochemical plants requires raw materials, such as naphtha, and "if you do not have enough refining capacity you cannot integrate".

Earlier this year, as MRC wrote before, 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.

And 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 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.

ExxonMobil restarting large crude unit, coker

MOSCOW (MRC) -- ExxonMobil Corp’s 369,024 barrel-per-day (bpd) Beaumont, Texas, refinery continues restarting the large crude distillation unit (CDU) and coker, reported Reuters with reference to sources familiar with plant operations.

Exxon began restarting the 240,000-bpd Crude B CDU and 45,000-bpd coker on Tuesday, the sources said. The entire refinery was shut on Aug. 25 because of the threat from Hurricane Laura.

“Exxon Mobil continues to make progress restarting its Beaumont refinery,” said Exxon spokesman Jeremy Eikenberry. “We continue to conduct site assessments. We are communicating with federal, state and local emergency planning officials about our response to the impacts of the storm.”

Exxon planned to restart the refinery by sometime on Friday, the sources said.

Exxon restarted the 110,000-bpd Crude A CDU last Monday. The two CDUs break down crude oil into hydrocarbon feedstocks for all other production units.

The refinery is also restarting the 120,000-bpd gasoline-producing fluid catalytic cracker (FCC) and 80,000-bpd reformer.

Last Monday, Exxon also restarted the 65,000-bpd hydrocracker, 75,000-bpd reformer and 40,000 bpd hydrotreater.

As MRC informed earlier, ExxonMobil has put off for a year work on its refinery expansion in Beaumont, Texas. The expansion project is now slated to be online sometime in 2023, versus the original 2022 proposal. Bloomberg first reported the delay. ExxonMobil declined to confirm the story, noting that it does not comment on the status of individual projects. The company "is evaluating all appropriate steps to significantly reduce capital and operating expenses in the near term as a result of market conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and commodity price decreases," the company said in a statement.

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.

ExxonMobil is the largest non-government owned company in the energy industry and produces about 3% of the world's oil and about 2% of the world's energy.