Air Liquide to invest USD9.5B in low carbon hydrogen as part of ESG Strategy

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Air Liquide has outlined a series of new objectives in line with its growth trajectory, including firm targets to reduce its absolute CO2 emissions by 2025 and invest EUR8.0 billion (USD9.5 billion) in the hydrogen supply chain to ACT for a sustainable future, according to Kemicalinfo.

The company is aiming to accelerate its hydrogen developments to at least triple its turnover to more than EUR6 billion (USD7.1 billion) by 2035.

The major hydrogen plans were unveiled as part of the company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) objectives.

With a focus on hydrogen, Air Liquide said it will reach its ambitious goals by investing approximately EUR8 billion (USD9.5 billion) in the low-carbon hydrogen supply chain and contributing to the development of a low-carbon hydrogen ecosystem for the industry and clean mobility.

Taking all of the above into consideration, Air Liquide said it hopes to bring its total electrolysis capacity to 3GW by 2030.

Announcing its ESG objectives, the company also said it is targeting carbon neutrality by 2050. As a first step in achieving the goal, the French industrial gas company is hoping to reduce its absolute carbon emissions by approximately 2025.

To decarbonise its assets, Air Liquide will leverage on capturing CO2, accelerating low-carbon hydrogen production through electrolysis or by using renewable feedstock such as biomethane.

Air Liquide will also deploy a broad range of low-carbon solutions for its clients to help them decrease their CO2 footprint. Such move includes low-carbon gases offering, accompanying customers in industrial process transformation, offering carbon capture expertise, and an asset takeover strategy with an objective to decarbonise them.

As MRC informed before, in early February 2021, Air Liquide (Paris:AI) and BASF, a world-leading chemical company, signed a contract in South Korea’s Yeosu National Industrial Complex to extend the term of their existing agreements over the long term. Within this context, Air Liquide leveraged the start-up in 2020 of its fourth hydrogen and carbon monoxide unit in this major industrial complex to increase by 20% the contractual volumes dedicated to BASF. Air Liquide’s first contract with BASF in Yeosu was signed 20 years ago. Since then, Air Liquide has significantly developed its industrial footprint in the Yeosu basin.

Besides, in September 2020, Air Liquide finalised an agreement with Sasol to acquire the biggest oxygen production site in the world with a plan to reduce its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 30%. After the announcement on July 29, the international major industry gas company has now entered into a business purchase agreement with Sasol to acquire the oxygen production site in Secunda, South Africa.

We remind that Sasol's world-scale US ethane cracker with the capacity of 1.5 mln tonnes per year reached beneficial operation on 27 August 2019. Sasol's new cracker, the heart of LCCP, is the third and most significant of the seven LCCP facilities that came online and will provide feedstock to the company's six new derivative units at Sasol's Lake Charles multi-asset site.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 241,030 tonnes in January 2021 versus 217,890 tonnes a year earlier. Only shipments of low density polyethylene (LDPE) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market reached 141,870 tonnes in January 2021 versus 123,520 tonnes a year earlier. Supply of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased.

Ineos Energy to sell its Norwegian business to PGNiG Norway

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Ineos Energy said it has agreed to sell its Norwegian oil and gas business to Poland's PGNiG Upstream Norway AS for USD615 million, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The deal includes all of INEOS' oil and gas interests in production, licenses, fields, facilities and pipelines. INEOS Energy was formed late last year, incorporating the group's existing oil and gas assets, and is chaired by former BP finance chief Brian Gilvary.

"The deal allows us to monetize a non-operated, predominantly gas portfolio at an attractive price compared to our hold value," Gilvary said in a statement. The purchase of INEOS E&P Norge AS, with its estimated 117 million barrels of oil equivalent, would bring PGNiG Upstream Norway's output to about 1.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) annually over the next five years, PGNiG said in a separate statement.

PGNiG expects its annual gas production in Norway to reach 4 bcm in 2027. "Acquisition of the INEOS E&P Norge AS assets means a sharp increase in our gas output in Norway, and will ensure considerable gas volumes for the Baltic Pipe," PGNiG CEO Pawel Majewski said.

The Polish company sees supplies from Norway as an alternative to its gas purchases from Russia beyond 2022. The Baltic Pipe gas pipeline project will connect Poland with Norwegian gas fields via the Baltic Sea and Denmark and is due to begin operations in October 2022 and have an annual capacity of around 10 bcm.

As per MRC, Zhuhai Ineos, a subsidiary of oil company Ineos, on March 17 halted production on its third purified terephthalic acid (PTA) line at its Zhuhai plant in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, South China for unscheduled activities. The production with a capacity of 1.25 million tonnes of PTA was closed due to a technical breakdown. According to market sources, it was originally planned to carry out maintenance from late March to late April.

PTA is one of the main raw materials for the production of polyesters, which are widely used for the manufacture of textiles, packaging and film, as well as for the production of polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

According to MRC's ScanPlast, in Russia the total estimated PET consumption in December amounted to 71.830 tonnes, which is 8% higher than the consumption indicator for the same month of 2019. In total, in 2020, the volume of PET consumption in all sectors (casting, threads / fibers, films) decreased by 17% compared to the level of 2019 and amounted to 717,310 tonnes.

Ineos Group manufactures and markets a wide range of petroleum products and specialty chemicals, including acetone, acrylonitrile, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene, cyclic olefin copolymers, ethylene, ethylene glycol, ethylene oxide, low pressure polyethylene, polypropylene and other aromatic compounds, polystyrene, polyvinylchloride propylene, propylene glycol, propylene oxide, PVC compounds, styrene.

Biaxplen discussed the situation in the Russian PP market with clients

MOSCOW (MRC) - SIBUR's Biaxplen held a customer day on March 12, where they discussed the situation on the polypropylene (PP) market with customers, the manufacturer said.

The following topics were discussed: prerequisites for the growth of the cost of basic raw materials for the production of BOPP films, forecast of changes in prices for finished products and solutions to stabilize the situation on the market. The meeting was attended by over 100 Biaxplen client companies from Russia and the CIS countries.

It is noted that the company was forced to correlate prices for its products due to the rise in the cost of basic raw materials, which causes concern among consumers. In this situation, it was important for the company to explain to customers the true reasons for the rise in prices and discuss joint actions to respond to the situation and find solutions to stabilize the Russian BOPP film market.

Georgy Martirosyan, Senior Marketing Manager of the Basic Polymers Directorate of SIBUR, in his speech described the situation in the polypropylene and BOPP films market and predicted the development of events in the short term: “Polypropylene is now a very popular product all over the world. part of the capacity in Europe and America, the rise in prices for chemical products in the world and other factors, prices for it have skyrocketed. "

Alexey Gich, Head of Sales in Russia and the CIS at Biaxplen, assured the partners that the Russian market remains a priority for the company, and noted that it is already using various tools to curb the rise in film prices (for example, price fixing for up to 2 months) in order to give partners time to orient themselves in the changing economic situation. "This is a good platform to travel together the path of new challenges," Alexey Gich shared his opinion on the meeting. "In such a dialogue, issues that are significant for the industry can be resolved. Such events improve communication with the market, help to discuss with clients various models of fair and correct distribution of price increases. throughout the flexible packaging industry. "

Earlier it was reported that since the beginning of January, the Russian polypropylene (PP) market has been showing a stable rise in prices under the pressure of the situation in foreign markets. High PP prices in certain regions of the world and, as a result, a good export alternative put serious pressure on PP prices in Russia. Since the beginning of the year, prices for propylene homopolymer (PP-homo) have increased by more than 10%.

According to MRC's ScanPlast, the total volume of PP production in Russia increased by 8% in the first two months of this year compared to the same indicator in 2020 and amounted to about 350,000 tonnes. All manufacturers, except for Nizhnekamskneftekhim, have increased their operating time.

Biaxplen is a subsidiary of the SIBUR petrochemical holding, the leader of BOPP in Russia. Production capacity - 180 thousand tons per year, 8 high-speed lines. Brand assortment - over 40 types. Production sites are located in five regions. The products are exported to 27 countries.

Oil edges higher on bargain-hunting but oversupply fears cap gains

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Oil prices rises as investors looked for bargains following the previous day's plunge, but gains were capped as pandemic lockdowns in Europe and a build in US crude stocks curbed risk appetite and raised oversupply fears, reported Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Brent crude futures rose 27 cents, or 0.4%, to USD61.06 a barrel by 0108 GMT, after tumbling 5.9% and hitting a low of USD60.50 the previous day.

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures climbed 19 cents, or 0.3%, to USD57.95 a barrel, having lost 6.2% and touched a low of USD57.32 on Tuesday.

Both benchmarks touched their lowest levels since early February on Tuesday and have now fallen more than 14% from their recent highs earlier this month.

The front-month spread for both Brent and WTI slipped into contango, where front-month contracts are lower than the later months, a sign that demand for prompt crude is declining.

Germany, Europe's biggest oil consumer, extended its lockdown to April 18, and Chancellor Angela Merkel urged citizens to stay at home for five days over the Easter holiday.

Worries over the pace of the recovery from the pandemic were also heightened after a US health agency said the AstraZeneca Plc vaccine developed with Oxford University may have included outdated information in its data.

Adding to pressure, US crude oil stocks jumped by 2.9 million barrels in the week to March 19, against analysts' expectations in a Reuters' poll for a decline of about 300,000 barrels, according to trading sources citing data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute.

As MRC informed previously, oil producers face an unprecedented challenge to balance supply and demand as factors including the pace and response to COVID-19 vaccines cloud the outlook, according to an official with International Energy Agency's (IEA) statement.

We remind that the COVID-19 outbreak has led to an unprecedented decline in demand affecting all sections of the Russian economy, which has impacted the demand for petrochemicals in the short-term. However, the pandemic triggered an increase in the demand for polymers in food packaging, and cleaning and hygiene products, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company. With Russian petrochemical companies having the advantage of access to low-cost feedstock, and proximity to demand-rich Asian (primarily China) and European markets for the supply of petrochemical products, these companies appear to be well-positioned to derive full benefits from an improving market environment and global economy post-COVID-19, says GlobalData.

We also remind that in December 2020, Sibur, Gazprom Neft, and Uzbekneftegaz agreed to cooperate on potential investments in Uzbekistan including a major expansion of Uzbekneftegaz’s existing Shurtan Gas Chemical Complex (SGCC) and the proposed construction of a new gas chemicals facility. The signed cooperation agreement for the projects includes “the creation of a gas chemical complex using methanol-to-olefins (MTO) technology, and the expansion of the production capacity of the Shurtan Gas Chemical Complex”.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 241,030 tonnes in January 2021 versus 217,890 tonnes a year earlier. Only shipments of low density polyethylene (LDPE) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market reached 141,870 tonnes in January 2021 versus 123,520 tonnes a year earlier. Supply of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased.

Plastic Energy and ExxonMobil to start up new recycling plant in France in 2023

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Plastic Energy (London, UK) is collaborating with ExxonMobil on a new recycling plant in France, which is anticipate to start up in 2023 according to EPPM.

The new facility will convert post-consumer plastic waste into raw materials for the manufacture of virgin-quality polymers.

Plastic Energy and ExxonMobil have been developing plans since 2018. A final investment decision on this project is expected in mid-2021 with startup anticipated in 2023.

Under terms of the agreements with affiliates of ExxonMobil, Plastic Energy will build, own and operate an advanced recycling plant adjacent to ExxonMobil’s Notre Dame de Gravenchon petrochemical complex. The plant will convert difficult-to-recycle mixed plastic waste into raw materials that can be transformed into certified circular polymers and other high-value products at ExxonMobil’s petrochemical complex.

The construction of this new advanced recycling plant will support the circular economy in Europe and will add to Plastic Energy’s growing portfolio of recycling units.

Plastic Energy’s patented, innovative technology transforms plastic waste into raw materials that can be used to create virgin-quality polymers.

The project is expected to be one of the largest advanced recycling plants in Europe, with an initial capacity of 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste per year, and plans to scale up to 33,000 tonnes in the near future.

Karen McKee, President, ExxonMobil Chemical, said: “Our plans with Plastic Energy demonstrate how industry, government and consumers can work together to build a more circular system to capture value from post-use plastic. We’re well-positioned to add value through our expertise in plastic manufacturing and high-performance products to help advance projects like this, which deliver sustainable solutions at scale.”

As MRC wrote previously, ExxonMobil is to shut its aromatics plant in Rotterdam-Botlek, Netherlands, for a six-week maintenance in March-April 2021. This turnaround is part of a larger repairs program at ExxonMobil"s interconnected 191,000-b/d Botlek refinery and Rotterdam aromatics plant beginning in the first quarter. The Rotterdam aromatics plant is one of the largest aromatics production facilities globally and produces pure aromatics such as benzene, orthoxylene, paraxylene (PX), and cyclohexane.

Benzene is a feedstock for the production of styrene monomer (SM), which, in its turn, is a feedstock for manufacturing polystyrene (PS).

According to MRC"s ScanPlast report, January 2021 estimated consumption of PS and styrene plastics in Russia rose by 12% year on year, totalling 45,640 tonnes. The estimated consumption increased year on year for all PS grades.

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.