Shell to acquire stake in Enerkem renewable chemicals and biofuels plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Shell will take a 40% interest in a waste-to-fuels plant using technology developed by Enerkem, a leading Canadian clean tech company, accoridng to Kemicalinfo.

Enerkem announced the project in December 2020, subject to finalization of commercial agreements.

The approximately CD875 million (USD686 million) commercial-scale facility will be constructed in Varennes, Quebec, and will produce low-carbon fuels and renewable chemicals products from non-recyclable waste using Enerkem’s proprietary technology.

Commissioning of the first phase of the facility is scheduled for 2023.

Critical investment in the plant comes from Shell, Enerkem, Suncor, Proman and Hydro-Quebec, as well as from the Quebec and Canadian governments.

“Building a commercial-scale low-carbon fuels plant is one of the ways Shell is advancing cleaner fuels and evolving to meet the changing expectations of our customers,” said Michael Crothers, Shell Canada President and Country Chair.

“Canada is well suited to capitalize on the energy transition thanks to the ingenuity of Canadians and our willingness to work together. We’re grateful for the collaboration between industry and government that has been instrumental in making this project a reality.”

Once completed, the plant will treat more than 200,000 tons of non-recyclable waste and wood waste per year with an annual production of nearly 125 million liters of low carbon fuels.

“The Varennes Carbon Recycling plant demonstrates our commitment and ability to use wastes as a feedstock to provide our customers with low carbon, high quality and affordable products,” added Crothers.

Shell has been a significant producer of ethanol as a low carbon fuel for the last ten years through Raizen, its joint venture in Brazil. Bioethanol is an effective way to reduce road transport emissions today, without the need to invest in new vehicles or infrastructure and already play a significant role in helping to decarbonise road transport in the Americas and in Europe.

As MRC reported earlier, Royal Dutch Shell plc. said in November 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 DataScope report, PE imports to Russia decreased in January-November 2020 by 17% year on year and reached 569,900 tonnes. High density polyethylene (HDPE) accounted for the greatest reduction in imports. At the same time, PP imports into Russia increased by 21% year on year to about 202,000 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2020. Propylene homopolymer (homopolymer PP) accounted for the main increase in imports.

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.

Polynt increases composite prices on rising costs

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Polynt Composites has announced a price increase for resins for the composite materials industry, effective from January 15 in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), said Chemweek.

In detail, the increase will be equal to 100 euros per ton for the entire range of unsaturated polyester resins and gelcoats, while for the vinylester ones it will reach 180 euros / ton. "Extraordinary rise" in raw material, logistics costs sees company impose third price hike since November 2020.

The increases - the Italian manufacturer said - are linked to extraordinary costs of raw materials and logistics. Similar increases were announced in December and entered into force on January 1st.

As MRC informed earlier, in early March, 2020, Polynt announced that all its sites and activities in Italy were running smoothly and according to plan, despite the news about the Italian situation related to the spreading of the coronavirus in the country.

Polynt runs two maleic anhydride (MA) plants in northern Italy, including Bergamo’s 36,000 tonne unit in Lombardy and Ravenna’s 60,000 tonne plant on the east coast. The bigger production line at Ravenna had been operating at a reduced rate since March 2019 due to technical issues, the firm previously said. A new reactor ordered is expected to be operational in 2021. Polynt also produces phthalic anhydride at Bergamo and its San Giovanni Valdarno site, as well as plasticizers at San Giovanni Valdarno.

Maleic anhydride is a feedstock for the production of tetrahydrofuran, tetrahydrophthalic anhydride, films and synthetic fibers, pharmaceuticals, detergents, plasticizers, maleic, succinic, fumaric and malic acids and a number of chemicals for agriculture.

Plasticizers are substances introduced into a polymeric material to give it elasticity and plasticity during processing and operation. In particular, plasticizers are used to produce polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The share of plasticizers used for the production of PVC products is about 80%.

As per MRC, despite the coronavirus pandemic, the demand for unmixed polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in Russia did not decrease at the end of 2020, but actually remained at the level a year earlier. At the same time, prices hit record highs and continue to rise.

Methanol facility to remain idled indefinitely

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Methanex Corporation announced that it expects its Titan methanol facility (“Titan”) in Trinidad (875,000 annual operating capacity) will remain idled indefinitely, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

As a result, the Company has made the decision to restructure its Trinidad operations to support a one-plant operation and reduce its Trinidad workforce by approximately 60 positions filled by employees and long-term contractors.

To date, the facility has not able to reach an agreement for an economic longer-term natural gas agreement and given that the economic recovery path remains uncertain the company believes it is prudent to reduce costs while continuing efforts to secure longer-term gas supply. The Atlas methanol facility (Methanex interest 63.1%) is not affected by the change and continues to operate as it is underpinned by a separate natural gas supply agreement that expires in 2024.

John Floren, President and CEO, Methanex Corporation, commented, “We remain committed to doing business in Trinidad and Tobago and we believe that we will be able to secure an economic longer-term natural gas agreement for Titan in the coming years. Our operations in Trinidad are well located to supply global methanol markets and are an important component of our global production network. We are taking the necessary steps to maintain Titan to ensure a safe and efficient restart of the plant when a longer-term gas agreement is reached."

As per MRC, Air Liquide said on Wednesday that it has agreed with Methanex Corp. to supply oxygen, nitrogen and utilities to its upcoming methanol plant expansion project at Geismar, Louisiana. Air Liquide will invest more than USD270 million in two new large air separation units (ASUs) and infrastructure assets connected to its Mississippi River pipeline, and significantly increase its production capacity in the US Gulf Coast region to serve Methanex and its other customers in the industrial basin that encompases Geismar and Baton Rouge.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated polyethylene (PE) consumption totalled 1,990,280 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2020, up by 1% year on year. Only high density polyethylene (HDPE) shipments increased. At the same time, polypropylene (PP) shipments to the Russian market reached 1 090,900 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2020 (calculated using the formula: production, minus exports, plus imports, excluding producers' inventories as of 1 January, 2020). Supply of exclusively PP random copolymer increased.

China November crude throughput hits daily record as private refiner starts new unit

MOSCOW (MRC) -- China's crude oil throughput in November rose 3.2% on year, setting a record high on a daily basis, as a huge private refiner started trials of a new refining unit and state-owned refineries raised processing rates to meet annual targets, reported Reuters.

The country processed 58.35 million tonnes of crude oil last month, equivalent to 14.2 MMbpd, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on 15 December, 2020.

That exceeded the October record of 14.09 MMbpd.

January-November throughput was 614.41 MMt, or 13.39 MMbpd, up 3.1% from the same period in 2019.

Zhejiang Petrochemical Corp in early November started a 200,000 bpd crude unit, in addition to its existing 400,000 bpd refining capacity in eastern China.

State-backed oil refineries also stepped up operation rates to meet solid demand for diesel and low-sulphur marine fuel.

According to data compiled by S&P Platts, the average crude throughput rate at Chinese state-controlled firms rose by 1 percentage point from October to 79.8% in November.

Meanwhile, PetroChina Co's Yunnan refinery shut a 260,000 bpd crude processing facility on Dec. 5 for a 50-day overhaul. Sinopec's Qingdao and Qilu facilities are scheduled to resume operations later this month after maintenance.

The NBS data also showed China's crude oil output in November at 15.96 million tonnes, or 3.88 MMbpd, up 1.2% from a year earlier.

Output for the first 11 months rose 1.6% to 180 million tonnes.

Natural gas output last month increased 11.8% from a year earlier to 16.9 billion cubic metres (bcm), the data showed, with January-to-November production jumping 9.3% on year to 170.2 bcm.

As MRC wrote previously, in January 2020, Zhejiang Petroleum & Chemical Co Ltd, one of two new major refineries built in China in 2019, started up the remaining units in the first phase of its refinery and petrochemical complex. The complex is situated in east China’s Zhoushan city. The company, 51% owned by private chemical group Zhejiang Rongsheng Holdings, said it ha started test production at ethylene, aromatics and other downstream facilities, without giving further details.

Zhejiang Petrochemical started a first 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) crude processing unit in late May, 2019, following on from the start of a 400,000-bpd refinery owned by another private chemical major Hengli Petrochemical. The newly started units at Zhejiang Petrochemical should include a second 200,000-bpd crude unit, a 1.2 million tonnes per year (tpy) ethylene unit and a 2 million tpy paraxylene unit, according to several industry sources with knowledge of the plant’s operations.

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

According to MRC's DataScope report, PE imports to Russia decreased in January-November 2020 by 17% year on year and reached 569,900 tonnes. High density polyethylene (HDPE) accounted for the greatest reduction in imports. At the same time, PP imports into Russia increased by 21% year on year to about 202,000 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2020. Propylene homopolymer (homopolymer PP) accounted for the main increase in imports.

Clariant to conclude talks on pigments divestment within weeks, workforce reductions on track

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Clariant said in last week's presentation to analysts that talks for the previously announced sale of the company's pigments business will conclude in the coming weeks and an agreement is expected to be signed in the second quarter, according to Chemweek.

In addition, a reduction of the company's workforce by approximately 600, part of efficiency measures announced in February 2020, and a similar plan for its regional organizations and service units that will reduce Clariant’s workforce by a further 1,000, are on schedule, the company said.

Stephan Lynen, CFO at Clariant, said during the presentation that Clariant is in talks with potential buyers, including financial and industry companies, for the pigments business, and that the divestment is expected to close by the fourth quarter of 2021.

Conrad Keijzer, who assumed responsibility as Clariant’s new CEO on 1 January 2021, noted that restructuring the company is a priority and the workforce-reduction programs are on track and need to be completed.

Lynen said that the plan to reduce the company’s workforce by 600 is expected to be completed by the end of 2021. Meanwhile, the effects of the reorganization that will result in 1,000 job cuts, equivalent to about 6% of the company's total workforce - of which one third will be lost as a result of planned divestments - will be felt in 2021 and 2022, he said.

As MRC informed before, in October 2020, Clariant (Muttenz, Switzerland) announced the construction of a new state-of-the-art catalyst production site in China. 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.

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

According to MRC's DataScope report, PP imports into Russia increased by 21% year on year to about 202,000 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2020. Propylene homopolymer (homopolymer PP) accounted for the main increase in imports.

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.