CNOOC successfully completes performance test for DuPont IsoTherming hydrotreating unit

MOSCOW (MRC) -- DuPont Clean Technologies (DuPont) has announced that an IsoTherming hydrotreating unit installed at the CNOOC Huizhou Refinery in Guangdong Province, China has successfully completed its performance test, certifying that the unit is meeting performance guarantees, according to Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The IsoTherming® VGO hydrotreater at CNOOC is designed to process 51,419 bpsd (2,600 kmta) of a vacuum gasoil feedstock as feed for the FCC unit. The IsoTherming® hydrotreater was designed for output of <1000 wppm sulfur and <600 wppm nitrogen.

The VGO hydrotreater was initially commissioned in late September 2017 but, due to the market-driven, reduced refinery throughput, the IsoTherming VGO hydrotreater ran at various lower rates until recently. The performance test results highlight the IsoTherming technology’s ability to sustain catalyst activity over a long period of time with the unit still satisfying performance guarantees.

CNOOC has indicated the IsoTherming VGO hydrotreater had a lower investment cost and offered greater than USD4,000,000 per year savings in utility costs compared to conventional trickle bed technology. This, along with sustained catalyst performance, has provided CNOOC both an economic and social benefit.

Operating costs savings in the form of reduced consumption of utilities, as well as capital cost advantages when compared to conventional technologies were key drivers for CNOOC to select the IsoTherming® technology for this project. CNOOC also chose the IsoTherming® technology for a 71,637 bpsd (3,400 kmta) ULSD hydrotreating unit (again at the Huizhou refinery) which was also commissioned in September 2017 after passing its performance test in 2018.

It’s great to see how the IsoTherming technology showcased sustained catalyst performance over the past few years with the unit still able to achieve start-of-run performance guarantees,” said Kevin Bockwinkel, global business manager, IsoTherming® hydroprocessing technology.

IsoTherming® hydroprocessing technology utilizes a novel liquid phase reactor system that is superior to conventional hydroprocessing technologies, as it uses the hydrogen and catalyst more efficiently. It also offers lower capital and operating costs compared to conventional hydroprocessing technologies in achieving the desired product quality. This technology is suitable for a wide range of applications, including kerosene hydrotreating, transmix hydrotreating, diesel hydrotreating, FCC feed hydrotreating (VGO hydrotreating), mild hydrocracking, dewaxing, gas-to-liquid (GTL) upgrading, and heavy oil upgrading for both grassroots and revamp configurations.

To date, DuPont has 27 IsoTherming® hydroprocessing technology licenses globally, of which 15 are in commercial operation. These licensed units include a diverse set of applications ranging from 100 percent kerosene to 100 percent light-cycle oil (LCO), and various mixtures of distillates and heavy gas oils, including coker blends, with capacities ranging from 1,500 bpsd to 80,000 bpsd.

Growing global demand for cleaner transportation fuel continues to drive refiners toward operations that maximize hydroprocessing capacity and capability through unit debottlenecks or new unit construction. More stringent environmental regulations and the processing of cost-advantaged sour and heavy feed stocks make meeting this demand even more challenging. Licensed and marketed by DuPont, as part of its Clean Technologies portfolio in Overland Park, Kansas, USA, IsoTherming® hydroprocessing technology provides a proven solution to meet this growing global demand.

As MRC informed earlier, China's top offshore producer CNOOC Ltd reported record-high oil and gas output of 257.9 million barrels of oil equivalent, or 1.42 million boe/d, in the first half of 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic dampening global energy demand.

We remind that CNOOC will trim annual investment by 10% to 15% in 2020, while maintaining its goal of increasing domestic crude oil and natural gas production for the year, according to the company's statement in May, 2020.

We also remind that in early May, 2018, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and Shell Nanhai B.V. (Shell) announced the official start-up of the second ethylene cracker at their Nanhai petrochemicals complex in Huizhou, Guangdong Province, China.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,496,500 tonnes in the first eight months of 2020, up by 5% year on year. Shipments of all ethylene polymers increased, except for linear low desnity polyethylene (LLDPE). At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market reached 767,2900 tonnes in the eight months of 2020 (calculated using the formula - production minus exports plus imports - and not counting producers' inventories as of 1 January, 2020). Supply increased exclusively of PP random copolymer.

China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), the largest offshore oil & gas producer in China. CNOOC businesses cover the main segments of oil & gas exploration and development, engineering & technical services, refining and marketing, natural gas and power generation, and financial services.

LDPE prices decrease in Russia

MOSCOW (MRC) -- A record high price level of low density polyethylene (LDPE) in September led to a drop in demand. In October, the end of shutdowns for maintenance at some plants and weak demand led to a price roll-back, according to ICIS-MRC Price report.

The rise in LDPE prices in Russia began in late June under the pressure of strong demand and the upcoming shutdowns for maintenance at Angarsk Polymers Plant and Gazprom neftekhim Salavat and continued until September, reaching a record level in the past few years. In late August-mid-October, Ufaorgsintez, Tomskneftekhim and Kazanorgsintez shut their production capacities for repairs, thereby reducing supply of LDPE in the market. But the price increase did not continue under the pressure of the reduced supply of polyethylene (PE), on the contrary, record high prices led to weaker demand, and LDPE prices began to gradually go down.

Ufaorgsintez and Kazanorgsintez fully resumed their LDPE production at their production capacities last week, but due to objective reasons, these producers have not reached 100% capacity utilisation yet.

Prices of 108 grade LDPE dropped most dynamically in October, despite tight supply. By the third decade of October, prices of this PE grade had decreased to Rb92,500/tonne CPT Moscow, including VAT, and lower.

Small sellers were selling Tomskneftekhim's 158 grade LDPE at Rb103,000-104,500/tonne CPT Moscow, including VAT, in the second half of October.

US chemical production gains again in September

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Chemical production in the US increased 0.8% on a sequential basis in September, with output expanding in all regions of the country and in a number of end markets, reported Chemweek.

Chemical production was down 4.3% on a year-on-year (YOY) basis, the sixteenth consecutive month of declines, albeit at a lower rate than in recent months.

“In September, chemical production continued to improve in many segments, including, chlor-alkali, organic chemicals, industrial gases, synthetic dyes and pigments, consumer products, synthetic rubber, manufactured fibers, other specialty chemicals, and fertilizers,” ACC says. “Production eased in plastic resins, coatings, adhesives, and crop protection chemicals.”

The recovery in manufacturing output in the US continued in September, helping boost demand for chemicals. Factory activity rose 1.6% on a 3-month-moving-average (3MMA) basis, with production increasing in nearly all chemical end markets tracked by ACC, including strong gains in motor vehicles, aerospace, iron and steel, and tires.

As MRC wrote previously, US chemical volumes are expected to drop nearly 10% this year as global economic activity contracts due to the impacts of COVID-19, according to the American Chemistry Council's (ACC) Mid-Year 2020 Chemical Industry Situation and Outlook. Volumes should recover in 2021 with a return to pre-COVID-19 output levels in the US by the second half of 2021.

We remind that Russia's output of chemical products rose in September 2020 by 6.7% year on year. At the same time, production of basic chemicals increased by 6.1% year on year in the first nine months of 2020, according to Rosstat's data. According to the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, polymers in primary form accounted for the greatest increase in the January-September output. Last month's production of primary polymers decreased to 852,000 tonnes from 888,000 tonnes in August due to shutdowns in Tomsk, Ufa and Kazan. Overall output of polymers in primary form totalled 7,480,000 tonnes over the stated period, up by 16.4% year on year.

Siemens launches local power trading platform with German utility

MOSCOW (MRC) -- German technology group Siemens and utility Allgaeuer Ueberlandwerk (AUEW) have launched a trading platform that allows small rooftop solar energy producers to trade power locally with other households and businesses, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The platform in the Bavarian village of Wildpoldsried, called Pebbles, is aimed at keeping locally produced energy in the community, by helping for instance households with solar panels to sell power to neighbouring businesses like bakeries. Using blockchain technology to link participants via an app, it allows producers to earn money from marketing their excess production, the firms said, while distributing power locally represents a more efficient use of the grid.

Germany's power industry is moving towards integrating more renewable plants to decarbonise its energy systems. As most generate only intermittently according to weather conditions, their volatility can put stress on transport grids. "If we want to achieve the energy transition, we have to get small protagonists on board and integrate them," said the project leader for Siemens, Michael Metzger, in a webcast.

Pebbles will initially run up to November 2021. Siemens delivered the technology, while AUEW operates the platform and will develop a longer-term business model. Network company AllgaeuNetz is also studying grid-stabilising services that participants can offer to earn money, such as installing batteries in their homes to store captured solar power.

In addition to the technical challenges of the green energy roll-out, thousands of wind and solar producers will no longer receive guaranteed fixed payments for their output from next year as 20-year price guarantees expire, and must look for alternative income.

As MRC informed earlier, Siemens Smart Infrastructure and WUN H2 GmbH signed a contract to build one of the largest hydrogen production plants in Germany. It will be built in Wunsiedel in the north of Bavaria. With a power intake of six megawatts in the initial development phase, the plant will run solely on renewable energy and will be CO2-free. The electrolysis plant from Siemens Energy will have the capacity to produce over 900 tons of hydrogen per year in this first phase. When fully expanded, it will be able to supply up to 2,000 tons. Groundbreaking is scheduled for the end of this year and commissioning at the end of 2021.

We remind that Russia's output of chemical products rose in August 2020 by 5% year on year. At the same time, production of basic chemicals increased year on year by 5.3% in the first eight months of 2020, according to Rosstat's data. According to the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, polymers in primary form accounted for the greatest increase in the January-July output. August production of benzene fell to 102,000 tonnes from 95,300 tonnes a month earlier due to scheduled shutdowns for maintenance at several producers. Overall output of this product reached 918,300 tonnes over the stated period, down by 0.9% year on year.

At the same time, August production of primary polymers rose to 888,000 tonnes against 838,000 tonnes in July due to increased capacity utilisation at ZapSibNeftekhim, Stavrolen and Gazprom neftekhim Salavat. Overall output of polymers in primary form totalled 6,630,000 tonnes over the stated period, up by 15.2% year on year.

ABB and MOL Group embark on a collaborative project across four key chemical and refinery sites in Europe

MOSCOW (MRC) -- MOL Group and ABB embark on a three-year collaborative project to transform Asset Integrity Management (AIM) across four key chemical and refinery sites in Europe, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

ABB has been awarded the contract to improve asset integrity across MOL’s downstream assets, through changing mindset, standardizing processes and software and ensuring integrity management is focused on the right equipment. The project spanning MOL DS Production plants in Hungary, Slovakia, and Croatia, will implement standardized asset integrity procedures in a move to drive production efficiency, improve safety and reduce risk.

Leveraging technology and process data, ABB together with Metegrity Visions, will integrate a common digital platform at the Danube, Slovnaft, MOL Petrochemicals plants and INA chemical unit. The new solution, with the adoption of improved integrity management processes being rolled out by ABB will provide advanced risk analysis of assets with a key aim of reducing unplanned outages and lowering maintenance costs.

It is estimated that by controlling all its static equipment through the Asset Integrity Management (AIM) procedures, processes and systems, MOL will increase availability and reduce turnaround duration (TAR) leading to savings and production improvements of approximately 10 million euros a year across MOL’s downstream assets.

The new project builds on a longstanding collaboration between MOL Group and ABB. The ABB team has worked closely with the MOL team over the past two years to develop a business case and ensure it could deliver the right solution. The company will provide a bespoke team to deliver the project across three distinct phases with a key objective of transferring knowledge, upskilling MOL’s employees to use the software with a view to self-sufficiency by 2023.

As MRC informed earlier, MOL Petrochemicals Company (formerly TVK, part of the MOL Group), the only Hungarian producer of olefins and polyolefins, plans to close the maleic anhydride plant in Szazhalombatta (Hungary) in October in order to carry out repair work to eliminate technical problems. prevented the company from increasing the capacity utilization at this production in September. It is expected that repair work at this 22,000 tonnes of maleic anhydride per year facility will continue for several days, but the exact timing of maintenance has not been told.

Plasticizers are substances introduced into a polymer material to make it elastic and plastic during processing and operation. In particular, plasticizers are used for the production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The share of plasticizers used for the production of PVC products is about 80%.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's overall PVC production totalled 718,500 tonnes in January-September 2020, down by 0.3% year on year. At the same time, only two producers managed to increase their PVC output.

MOL is the largest Hungarian oil, gas and petrochemical group, engaged in exploration and production, transportation of hydrocarbons, as well as the operation of a network of trunk gas pipelines. TVK is a 100% subsidiary of MOL. TVK manufactures HDPE, LDPE, and PP.