Competition Commission of India approves Grasim, Indorama deal

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Competition Commission of India (CCI) has cleared the proposed acquisition of Indo Gulf Fertilizers by Indorama India Private Ltd (IIPL), according to Kemicalinfo.

Indo Gulf Fertilizers is a part of Grasim Industries Ltd (GIL).

Indorama will acquire the business as a going concern on a slump sale basis, as per a notice filed with the watchdog.

“Commission approves acquisition of Indo Gulf Fertilizers (fertilizer business division of Grasim Industries Limited) by Indorama India Private Limited,” the fair trade regulator said in a tweet.

IIPL is principally engaged in manufacture, trading and sale of fertilisers, primarily, phosphatic fertilisers and speciality plant nutrients.

GIL is engaged in production of viscose staple fibre, chloralkali, fertiliser (through Target Business), textiles and insulators. It is also engaged in producing cement and providing financial services through its subsidiaries.

The target business, Indo Gulf Fertilizers is principally engaged in manufacture, trade and sale of urea, customised fertilisers, agri-inputs, crop protection, plant and soil health products and speciality fertilisers, the release added.

As MRC informed earlier, Indorama Ventures Sines, a subsidiary of Indorama Ventures Company Ltd (IVL), halted production at its purified terephthalic acid (PTA) plant in Sines (Sines, Portugal) in mid-November, 2020, to conduct a scheduled maintenance. The turnaround at this plant with the capacity of 700,000 tonnes/year of PTA continued for one month. Thus, the PTA plant was to return back to operations in mid-December, 2020.

PTA is on of the main feedstocks for the production of polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's overall estimated PET consumption totalled 71,830 tonnes in December 2020, up by 8% year on year. PET consumption in all sectors (injection moulding, fibers/filaments, films) exceeded the level of 2019 by 17% and amounted to 717,310 tonnes.

Indorama Ventures Public Company Limited, listed in Thailand (Bloomberg ticker IVL.TB), is one of the world’s leading petrochemicals producers, with a global manufacturing footprint across Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe and Americas. The company’s portfolio comprises Integrated PET, Olefins, Fibers, Packaging and Specialty Chemicals. Indorama Ventures products serve major FMCG and automotive sectors, i.e. beverages, hygiene, personal care, tire and safety segments. Indorama Ventures has approx. 24,000 employees worldwide and consolidated revenue of US$ 11.4 billion in 2019. The Company is listed in the Dow Jones Emerging Markets and World Sustainability Indices (DJSI).

Clariant catalyst sets production record at Baofeng Energy’s methanol plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Clariant’s methanol synthesis catalyst, MegaMax 800, has recently demonstrated its excellent performance at the methanol synthesis plant in the by-produced coke oven gas to olefin project of Ningxia Baofeng Energy Group Co; Ltd., according to Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The 1.5-million-metric-tons-per-annum methanol unit was loaded for the first time with the MegaMax 800 catalyst in June 2018. The superior catalytical performance enabled Baofeng Energy to increase the plant load to 117% design capacity producing 3.7 million metric tons of MTO (Methanol to Olefin) grade methanol in total. This resulted in an increased methanol yield of 160,000 metric tons compared with previous operation performance.

Stefan Heuser, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Clariant Catalysts stated, “We are very proud that MegaMax 800 performed so extremely well in Baofeng’s methanol synthesis plant in the by-produced coke oven gas to olefin project. We had promised to help Baofeng Energy improve their process efficiency through our innovative solution, and we delivered.”

The MegaMax 800 catalyst exhibited excellent activity at low operating temperatures. The average inlet temperature was 19°C lower at the same steam drum pressure. It also outperformed in carbon efficiency; both inlet and outlet carbon monoxide concentrations were lower by 4-6 points while using similar make-up gas.

Chaoshan Yi, Chief Engineer of Baofeng Energy Group, added, “We were very pleased with the results of the catalyst’s performance, especially the high activity which sets the foundation for the higher yield of the methanol plant. This is the most important reason why we decided to continue with MegaMax 800 and reordered the catalyst for our new load this year.”

Ningxia Baofeng Energy Group Co; Ltd (Baofeng Energy), is one of Chinese leading coal chemical and new materials enterprises in China. The company relies on the region’s substantial coal resources to build a highly integrated product chain including coal, coke, gas, methanol, olefins, polyethylene, polypropylene, and fine chemicals. Baofeng Energy is now focusing on innovation and incorporating novel technologies to pioneer improvements in coal-to-chemicals processes and clean & highly efficient utilization of coal resources.

As MRC reported earlier, 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.

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.

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.

Iraqi oil exports rise in January

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Iraqi oil exports rose to 2.868 million barrels per day (bpd) in January from 2.846 million bpd the previous month, reported Reuters with reference to the Oil Ministry's statement.

Exports from Iraq's southern Basra terminals reached 2.77 million bpd in January, up from 2.75 million bpd the month before, the ministry added. Shipments from Kirkuk through Ceyhan averaged 98,000 bpd in January.

Rising oil prices boosted Iraq's January oil revenue, its main income stream, to about USD4.74 billion with an average price per barrel of USD53.294.

Iraq had sold its crude at an average price of USD47.765 in December.

As MRC wrote before, Indian Oil Corp (IOC) , the country's top refiner, has loaded its first cargo of Iraq's newly introduced Basra Medium crude grade, according to ship tracking data from Refinitiv Eikon. IOC loaded the cargo onto Minerva Kalypso, a suezmax-sized vessel, which left Iraq's southern port of Basra on Jan. 4, the data showed. The ship was expected to arrive at Chennai port in southeastern India for IOC's subsidiary Chennai Petroleum Corp (CPCL) around Jan. 14.

We remind that India’s top refiner Indian Oil Corp has been operating at 100% capacity since early November, 2020, as local fuel demand has recovered, its chairman S.M. Vaidya said late last year. IOC has been gradually raising crude runs at its plants, which plunged to about 39% at the beginning of April, 2020, when a nationwide coronavirus lockdown hit fuel demand.

We also remind that IOC is expanding its petrochemical capacity by more than 70% from its current 3.2 million tonnes a year. It is also on new technologies that reduces the cost of producing petrochemicals.

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.

EIA estimates that global petroleum liquids consumption dropped in 2020

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Responses to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) caused global demand for petroleum products to fall significantly in 2020. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that the world consumed 92.2 MMbpd of petroleum and other liquid fuels in 2020, a 9% decline from the previous year and the largest decline in EIA’s series that dates back to 1980, according to Hydrocarbonprocessing.

A supplement to EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) describes developments in global oil consumption during 2020, methods for estimating and forecasting global oil consumption, and expectations for oil consumption in 2021 and 2022.

In its short-term outlook, EIA forecasts changes in US petroleum consumption in response to variables including economic growth, employment growth, vehicle fleet fuel efficiency, and oil prices. For the rest of the world, EIA uses a combination of available real-time data and models based on the relationship between gross domestic product (GDP) and oil consumption. Because of the unique effects of the pandemic in 2020, EIA relied on a wider set of other indicators to assess non-US energy demand, including third-party indexes that tracked mobility, flights, and government stay-at-home orders and their stringency across countries.

A previous Today in Energy article described how EIA uses data series from our Weekly Petroleum Status Report and our Petroleum Supply Monthly (with a two-month lag in the data) to inform short-term forecasts of US petroleum markets. The United States is the world’s largest consumer of petroleum liquids, accounting for 20% of the global total in 2019.

Other countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) provide monthly consumption data after a two- to three-month lag. Collectively, the 37 OECD member countries consumed 47% of global petroleum liquids in 2019.

Data from non-OECD countries can vary from a two- to three-month lag (in the case of Brazil and India, for example) to a year or more. For this reason, EIA will have near-final data on about half of world oil consumption for 2020 by the first quarter of 2021, with values from the United States, OECD countries, and some non-OECD countries. EIA will add finalized data to its published estimates as information becomes available throughout 2021 and 2022.

The effects of the pandemic continue to present challenges in forecasting global petroleum liquids consumption. More context on these uncertainties is available in the STEO supplement Developments in Global Oil Consumption.

As MRC reported earlier, global oil demand is expected to rise by nearly 7% this year, boosted by quicker vaccine distribution and a better economic outlook, according to consultancy Wood Mackenzie's statement. Total liquids demand is expected to average 96.7 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2021, 6.3 million bpd higher than last year when the Covid-19 pandemic caused an unprecedented oil demand shock. Refineries under the threat of closure could repurpose the facilities to produce liquid renewables instead of converting into a terminal, which could help oil companies’ aim of achieving carbon neutrality.

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.

Cabot beats estimates on broad demand recovery

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Cabot Corporation reported fourth-quarter net income up 46.3% year-on-year (YOY), to USD60 million, on net sales up 2.6%, to USD746 million, said Chemweek.

Adjusted earnings totaled USD1.18/share, up 71.0% YOY and well ahead of analysts’ consensus estimate of 88 cents/share, as reported by Refinitiv (New York, New York). End-market recovery drove the gains in earnings and sales, with substantial recovery on a sequential basis.

"We saw a strengthening recovery in our end markets. Improving demand trends, robust unit margins, disciplined operational execution, and strong performance in our targeted growth initiatives resulted in year-over-year and sequential improvements in financial results,” says Cabot president and CEO Sean Keohane. “Reinforcement materials delivered…strong unit margins and solid volumes. Performance chemicals results improved meaningfully compared to the prior year quarter due to higher sales volumes and improved product mix in our specialty carbons and compounds product lines."

Reinforcement materials segment sales declined 1.1% YOY, to USD375 million, while segment EBIT was up 87.2%, to USD88 million. Performance chemicals segment sales increased 10.3% YOY, to USD267 million, while segment was up 31.7%, to USD54 million. Purification solutions segment sales were flat YOY, at USD59 million, and the segment posted a USD2-million loss, also flat YOY.

As per MRC, Cabot Corp. (Boston, Massachusetts) reports a fiscal fourth-quarter net loss of USD272 million, down from income of USD33 million in the year-ago period. Sales totaled USD659 million, down 20% year-over-year (YOY) from USD827 million. The loss includes USD310 million in after-tax charges, mainly related to the sale and asset impairment of the company’s lignite mine in Texas. Adjusted earnings per share came to USD0.68, down 35% YOY from USD1.05, but well ahead of the average analyst estimate of USD0.58 as compiled by Zacks Investment Research.

We remind that Russia's output of chemical products rose in November 2020 by 9.5% year on year. At the same time, production of basic chemicals increased in the first eleven months of 2020 by 6.6% year on year, 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-November 2020 output. November production of polymers in primary form rose to 896,000 tonnes from 852,000 tonnes in October. Overall output of polymers in primary form totalled 9,240,000 tonnes over the stated period, up by 17.1% year on year.

Cabot Corporation is an American specialty chemicals and performance materials company headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. The company operates in over 20 countries with 36 manufacturing plants, eight research and development facilities and 28 sales offices.