US offshore oil workers flee as storm Zeta heads toward Gulf of Mexico rigs

US offshore oil workers flee as storm Zeta heads toward Gulf of Mexico rigs

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Oil producers on Monday were evacuating offshore production platforms in the US Gulf of Mexico as the 27th named storm of the season strengthened overnight and looked likely to threaten the United States as a hurricane, reported Reuters.

BP, BHP Group Ltd , Chevron Corp, Equinor and Royal Dutch Shell began withdrawing staff from their US Gulf of Mexico offshore facilities ahead of Tropical Storm Zeta.

The storm could reach hurricane strength before striking the Yucatan Peninsula at mid-day Monday, and approach the northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday at or near hurricane strength, the US National Hurricane Center said.

Zeta was about 175 miles (285 km) south of Cozumel, Mexico, early Monday and moving northwest at nine miles per hour. Mexico’s government issued a hurricane warning for parts of the Yucatan Peninsula.

“With forecasts indicating the storm will move across the Central and/or Northeastern Gulf of Mexico in the next few days, we are taking steps to respond,” BP said in a statement. It pulled oilworkers off all its four production platforms in the Gulf.

BHP, Chevron and Shell also began moving non-essential staff from offshore facilities, spokespeople said. Equinor withdrew workers and shut production on its Titan production platform, a spokesman said.

Occidental Petroleum Corp. , the third largest producer in the offshore Gulf of Mexico, did not reply to a request for comment.

It has been a challenging year for Gulf of Mexico oil producers, with some companies having to withdraw workers and halt production at least six times as storms churned through the Gulf’s offshore production region.

US Gulf of Mexico offshore oil production accounts for about 17% of total US crude oil production and 5% of total US dry natural gas production.

If Zeta strikes the US mainland, it would top the record of 10 named storms to make US landfall in one hurricane season that was set only weeks ago by Hurricane Delta.

Mississippi River ports from Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico were open on Monday but placed on notice of gale force winds from a storm due within 72 hours.

As MRC informed earlier, Royal Dutch Shell plc. said earlier this month that its petrochemical complex of several billion dollars in Western Pennsylvania is about 70% complete and in the process to enter service in the early 2020s. The plant’s costs are estimated to be USD6-USD10 billion, where ethane will be transformed into plastic feedstock. The facility is equipped to produce 1.5 million metric tons per year (mmty) of ethylene and 1.6 mmty of polyethylene (PE), two important constituents of plastics.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing 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.

Chemicals maker Covestro Q3 profit beats on cost-cutting, demand recovery

MOSCOW (MRC) -- German chemicals maker Covestro reported a better-than-expected third-quarter profit on Tuesday, citing cost-cutting measures, improved volumes in Asia-Pacific and demand recovery after a coronavirus-induced slump, said Reuters.

In the second quarter, the company had managed an unexpectedly swift rebound from a pandemic-related slowdown and finance chief Thomas Toepfer had said the trend would continue into the last months of the year.

“In the third quarter, demand from our customer industries experienced a strong rebound,” Chief Executive Markus Steilemann said in a statement on Tuesday.

Covestro, whose main customers include the automotive industry and electronics manufacturers, said its net income for the quarter ended Sept. 30 came in at 179 million euros (USD211.56 million), compared with the 112 million euros expected on average by analysts in a company-provided poll.

The company’s free operating cash flow for the quarter also jumped by almost 50%, helped by increased inflows from operations and lower property, plant and equipment expenditures, it said.

The company confirmed the preliminary figure for third-quarter sales and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) as well as the guidance adjustments it had announced at the beginning of the month.

As MRC informed earlier, Covestro says it has received its first delivery of certified renewable phenol from Borealis, to be used as a drop-in feedstock for the production of polycarbonate plastic. The phenol is manufactured by Borealis using renewable hydrocarbons feedstock supplied by Neste, sourced from waste and residual oils and fats.

As MRC reported earlier, Covestro has closed the sale of its European polycarbonates (PC) sheets business to the Munich-based Serafin Group effective January 2, 2020. This includes key management and sales functions throughout Europe as well as production sites in Belgium and Italy.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, overall estimated consumption of PC granules in the Russian market reached 58,000 tonnes in January-July 2020, up by 22% year on year (47,500 tonnes).

Covestro (formerly Bayer MaterialScience) is an independent subgroup within Bayer. It was created as part of the restructuring of Bayer AG from the former business group Bayer Polymers, with certain of its activities being spun off to Lanxess AG. Covestro manufactures and develops materials such as coatings, adhesives and sealants, polycarbonates (CDs, DVDs), polyurethanes (automotive seating, insulation for refrigerating appliances) etc. With 2019 sales of EUR12.4 billion, Covestro has 30 production sites worldwide and employs approximately 17,200 people (calculated as full-time equivalents) at the end of 2019.

Project launched to build green methanol, hydrogen plants in Belgium

MOSCOW (MRC) -- A new EUR140-million (USD166-million) project to produce green methanol and hydrogen at Ghent, Belgium, has been unveiled by a consortium of 10 private- and public-sector partners, said Chemweek.

The ‘North-C-Methanol’ project will be located on the Rodenhuize peninsula at Ghent, part of North Sea Port, which combines the cross-border port facilities of Vlissingen and Terneuzen in the Netherlands, with those at Ghent. Up to 44,000-metric tons/year of renewable methanol is planned to start being produced by 2024 at the large-scale demonstration plant, which will be constructed and operated by Proman Group (Wollerau, Switzerland). Proman says it will be the world’s largest green methanol plant.

This will be supplied with green hydrogen by a second unit, a 65-megawatt (MW) electrolyzer to be built on a site owned by Belgian energy producer Engie and powered by wind. Planned future phases include ramping up electrolyzer capacity to 600 MW in 2030, and introducing additional products such as green ammonia.

The green methanol will be used as feedstock by the chemicals and renewables industries, as well as sustainable fuel for ships and trains, according to the companies in a joint statement. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are expected to be reduced by 140,000 metric tons/year, they say.

Proman’s plant—its first in Europe—will use the hydrogen to convert the collected CO2 emissions of local industrial companies, including Yara, ArcelorMittal, and Alco Biofuel, to renewable methanol. Companies including Oiltanking and Fluxys will provide supporting infrastructure such as storage tanks and pipelines, with Mitsubishi Power to oversee the integration and coordination of the overall construction process.

The project is part of a wider collaboration program called North-CCU-Hub, which aims to reduce CO2 emissions at North Sea Port by 1 million metric tons and implement a circular economy process at the port.

Earlier this month Yara and Danish wind farm developer Orsted also announced a separate plan to produce green ammonia based on renewable hydrogen. Yara aims to produce fertilizer based on the renewable ammonia at its production plant in Sluiskil, Netherlands. A 100-MW wind-powered electrolyzer will be installed at Yara’s Sluiskil site, which will substitute hydrogen sourced from fossil fuels with green hydrogen to produce about 75,000 metric tons/year of renewable ammonia, it says. A final investment decision for the construction of the plant will be made in late 2021 or early 2022, with production starting in 2024 or 2025, the companies say.

As MRC informed earlier, The European Commission has recently presented its 2030 climate target plan, in which it sets out a program to reduce EU greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared with 1990, despite a call from the European Parliament in September for GHG emissions to be reduced 60% by 2030. The raised target puts the EU on a balanced pathway to reaching climate neutrality by 2050 and underlines the EU's continued global leadership in this area, ahead of the next UN climate conference (COP26).

As MRC informed earlier, in October, 2020, the European Commission adopted the EU's chemicals strategy for sustainability, describing it as the first step towards a zero-pollution ambition for a toxic-free environment announced in the European Green Deal.

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.

Venezuela PDVSA restarts gasoline output at Cardon refinery

Venezuela PDVSA restarts gasoline output at Cardon refinery

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela has restarted gasoline production at the FCC unit of its 310,000 bpd Cardon refinery, reported Reuters with reference to three people familiar with the matter.

The unit was producing between 15,000 and 20,000 bpd of gasoline, according to union leader Ivan Freites, who said the unit started back up on Wednesday evening. PDVSA earlier in the week began producing at least 25,000 bpd of gasoline at Cardon’s reformer unit.

Cardon is the only refinery currently producing gasoline in Venezuela, a once-prosperous OPEC nation which is suffering severe fuel shortages after years of underinvestment and lack of maintenance at PDVSA’s 1.3 MMbpd refining network. US sanctions also complicate the country’s ability to import fuel.

PDVSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As MRC informed before, Russian state oil company Rosneft's decision to cease operations in Venezuela and sell its assets there to a Russian government-owned company was a "maneuver" made in reaction to collapsing oil prices, a US State Department official said earlier this year.

We remind that Angarsk Polymers Plant, part of Russian oil giant Rosneft, has resumed its low density polyethylene (LDPE) production after an unscheduled shutdown because of a technical issues at the ethylene unit. The plant"s customers said Angarsk Polymers Plant had brought on-stream its LDPE production by 28 August after the forced shutdown due to technical problems at its ethylene production. And the first shipments of polyethylene (PE) to customers began on 31 August. The outage lasted slightly over two weeks and began on 10 August The plant"s annual production capacity is about 75,000 tonnes.

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.

We also remind that 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.

Clariant to build catalyst production site in China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Clariant (Muttenz, Switzerland) has announced the construction of a new state-of-the-art catalyst production site in China, reported Chemweek.

This project represents a significant investment which further strengthens Clariant’s position in China and enhances its ability to support its customers in the country’s thriving petrochemicals industry.

The new facility will be primarily responsible for producing the Catofin catalyst for propane dehydrogenation, which is used in the production of olefins such as propylene. Thanks to its excellent reliability and productivity, Catofin delivers superior annual production output compared to alternative technologies, resulting in increased overall profitability for propylene producers, says the company. Construction at the Dushan Port Economic Development Zone in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province was scheduled to commence in Q3 2020, and Clariant expects to be at full production capacity by 2022.

“As we have defined the right portfolio for Clariant’s focused growth strategy, it is now vital that we invest in these core high-value specialty businesses, such as catalysts, to put them in the strongest possible market positions. China continues to be a growth market with attractive prospects for Clariant. This investment will be of great benefit to our company’s positioning and customer proximity in the entire region and hence, together with the One Clariant campus, marks another cornerstone of Clariant’s “Fringe to Core” strategy execution”, says Hans Bohnen, chief operating officer at Clariant.

The new plant in Jiaxing will be Clariant Catalysts’ most digitized facility todate, incorporating sophisticated automation systems throughout the production process. Once completed, it will be Clariant’s third catalyst production plant in China. It will strengthen Catalyst’s existing network, which comprises a joint venture facility with the North Huajin Group in Panjin, as well as a fully-owned Clariant facility in Jinshan, Shanghai.

Stefan Heuser, senior vice president and general manager at Clariant Catalysts, expressed the importance of the new facility, stating, “The Jiaxing Catofin plant is a key component of our China strategy and further improves our commitments to the country’s growing PDH market. It is another example of how we continue to strengthen our presence in the region in order to expand our local capacity to meet our customers’ needs.”

China is the world’s leading producer of on-purpose propylene. The nation’s production volume accounts for around 50% of total global capacity and is expected to continue rising by 8% annually, according to a 2019 IHS Markit report. Consequently, the first phase of the new plant will focus on meeting China’s PDH requirements through Catofin production. In the future, Clariant may expand manufacturing capabilities at the site to offer further catalyst technologies relevant to China’s chemical industry.

Catofin is said to be a highly reliable and efficient dehydrogenation catalyst for the production of olefins, such as propylene or isobutylene, from light paraffin feedstocks. The catalyst is used in combination with Clariant’s Heat Generating Material, which further increases the selectivity and yield of production units.

As MRC informed earlier, in May 2020, Clariant’s CATOFIN catalysts was selected by Advanced Global Investment Co. (AGIC), a joint venture between Advanced Petrochemical Company (APC) and SK Group, to build a PDH facility in the Middle East.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, 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.

Clariant AG is a Swiss chemical company and a world leader in the production of specialty chemicals for the textile, printing, mining and metallurgical industries. It is engaged in processing crude oil products in pigments, plastics and paints.