ExxonMobil may permanently shut its oil refinery in Norway

MOSCOW (MRC) -- ExxonMobil, the US energy major, is considering whether to close down its Slagen oil refinery in Norway, which has a capacity to process 120,000 barrels of crude per day, turning the site into an import terminal, reported Reuters with reference to the company's statement.

The refinery at Slagentangen near Toensberg in south-east Norway was built in 1961 and process crude oil from the North Sea, exporting about 60% of the output, according to Exxon.

It was too early to say when a final decision would be made, the company’s Esso unit in Norway said. “In practise it means that we would stop producing oil products at the refinery and instead we will import them,” Esso spokeswoman Anne Fougner said.

“Refineries in Europe operate in an increasingly challenging market, characterized by falling demand and strong competition, leading to overcapacity in the market,” Esso said in a statement.

As MRC wrote previously, ExxonMobil has 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.

US energy-related CO2 emissions down 11% in 2020 mainly due to COVID-19 pandemic

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Based on data in EIA’s Monthly Energy Review, energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions dropped by 11% in the United States in 2020 primarily because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions, according to Hydrocarbonprocessing.

US energy-related CO2 emissions fell in every end-use sector for the first time since 2012.

Within the US power sector, emissions from coal declined the most, at 19%. Natural gas-related CO2 rose by 3%. In 2020, as fossil fuel generation declined, generation from renewables continued to grow. Generation from wind and solar together increased by 17% in 2020.

This shift in the United States toward renewable generation sources helped to lower the carbon emissions per unit of electricity generated, also known as carbon intensity. In the country's end-use sector CO2 emissions series, emissions from the power sector are distributed to each sector based on the sector’s share of total electricity consumption.

Thus, industrial: Energy-related CO2 emissions fell by 8% in the industrial sector in 2020. Most of this decline came from a slowing of manufacturing operations because of responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Emissions from coal fell by 15%, from electricity by 15%, from petroleum by 8%, and from natural gas by 2%.

As MRC reported earlier, Russian oil producers reduced gas flaring only slightly last year and failed to reach a targeted level by a large margin, hampered by a lack of necessary infrastructure at new oilfields, a draft government document showed.

We remind that 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 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.

Clariant opens new process and light stabilisers facility in China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Clariant announced the opening of a new world-class production facility for process and light stabilizers, said the company.

The facility is jointly owned by Clariant and Beijing Tiangang Auxiliary Co., Ltd. (Tiangang), a privately owned producer and leading supplier of light stabilizers in China. Located within the Cangzhou National Coastal-Port Economy & Technology Development Zone in Cangzhou (Hebei Province), the facility forms the centerpiece of the partnership between both companies. It enables Clariant and Tiangang to continue their successful cooperation with an enhanced ability to fulfill the growing demand in China for high-end process and light stabilizers from local growth industries like automotive, textiles and coatings.

China represents a key growth region for Clariant, and the company is committed to further enhancing its local production and R&D capabilities. In addition to this newly opened facility in Cangzhou, Clariant recently inaugurated its new One Clariant Campus in Shanghai, which includes a dedicated China Innovation Center.

Furthermore, the company announced the construction of a new CATOFIN catalysts production facility in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, and considers initiating additional expansions in the near future. Combined with other components of its dedicated China strategy, these expansions will enable Clariant to grow its China sales (core business) beyond the current level of CHF 402 million in 2020, which represents approximately 10% of the Group’s continuing operations sales.

The joint venture between Clariant and Tiangang was established in September 2017 and combines the technology and production knowledge of both companies to provide even better process and light stabilizers for various growing industries in China. These industries seek to develop in accordance with China’s economic and climate-related goals and Clariant is able to provide advanced technologies and sustainable products needed to do so. Furthermore, as the drive for sustainability is becoming a truly global movement, Clariant is confident that its production facilities in China will help fulfil a worldwide growing demand for innovative and sustainable products.

"The official opening of the facility marks a great milestone in the cooperation between both companies. Built on the expertise of both partners, the production facility will now serve the growing demand for high-end additives solutions in Asia with world-class quality products and exceptional service," Mr. Gang Liu, Executive Director of Tiangang said.

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.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, 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.

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.

Iraq inaugurates project to increase and green Basra refinery output

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Iraq inaugurates project to increase and green Basra refinery output, as per press release at Government of Iraq.

Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi on Sunday laid the cornerstone for a project set to increase the South Refineries Company (SRC) production capacity in Iraq’s key Basra Port while also working towards greater environmental sustainability.

“This project will increase our production capacity by 55,000 barrels per day,” Al-Kadhimi noted during the ceremony, “and give us oil products without leaving us with large volumes of low-value oil”.

The project will build the Continuous Catalytic Cracker (CCR) and Naphtha Hydrotreating (NHT) units. The contract was signed in October between SRC and Iraq’s Ministry of Oil with Japan’s JGC Corporation.

The project is funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as part of an official development assistance loan project. According to a JICA statement issued last year, the project to build Iraq’s first-ever Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) complex will increase Iraq’s potential to produce a larger volume of high-value products and promote the transfer of refining technologies from Japan.

The new plant will also reduce sulfur content in the oil products in line with environmental standards. "We must all create an attractive environment for investment and foreign companies, in order to increase the number of construction and development projects across the entire country" Al-Kadhimi stressed.

The project will improve overall efficiency of the Basrah refinery operations, and it will increase Iraq’s gasoline and diesel supplies, along with other oil products, thus reducing the need for importing refined products. It includes building a new refining plant, adjacent to the existing refinery facility, French petrochemicals technologies company Axens said in an update. Axens will provide catalysts and adsorbents, key technology features, such as proprietary equipment, trainings and technical services.

As MRC informed earlier, The Baltic Chemical Complex (BHK), a subsidiary of JSC Rusgazdobycha, and the international company Axens signed an agreement on the supply of technology for the production of alpha-olefins used for the production of polyethylene.

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.

Azelis opens e-Lab in United Kingdom and Indonesia

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Azelis, an innovation service provider in the specialty chemicals and food ingredients distribution industry, has launched e-Lab for Personal Care and Food & Health customers in the United Kingdom and for Food & Health customers in Indonesia, according to Indian CHEMICAL News.

The launch of this platform is aligned with the company’s ambition to be the world-leading provider of digital services and insights in the industry, leading the way in customer engagement and making its e-Lab the engine for innovation through formulation whereby customers are able to order samples and place an order anytime and on any digital device.

The Azelis e-Lab is an important addition to the company’s customer portal which offers a central place for its customers to access data, order samples and find expert content. In the coming months, more territories and market sectors will be onboarded on this global platform.

The Azelis Americas e-Lab solution was the first digital chemicals platform of this kind in the market at the time of its launch and increased business performance for the Americas, with its optimization of customers’ time-to-market. Leveraging the success and learnings from the Americas, Azelis has now developed the e-Lab solution for global roll-out in multiple markets that will take place gradually over the coming months.

As MRC informed before, in January 2021, chemicals distributor Azelis signed an agreement to acquire Came Chemical Mineral and Engineering (CAME), an Italy-based distributor of chemicals for friction and sintering applications, cosmetics, as well as coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers (CASE).

We remind that Russia's output of chemical products rose in February 2021 by 5.3% year on year. Thus, production of basic chemicals increased year on year by 7.5% in the first two months of 2021, according to Rosstat's data.
February production of polymers in primary form was 861,000 tonnes versus 196,000 tonnes in January. Overall output of polymers in primary form totalled 1,770,000 tonnes over the stated period, up by 8.4% year on year.

Azelis is a leading distributor of speciality chemicals and food ingredients present in over 50 countries across the globe with around 2,200 employees. Our knowledgeable teams of industry, market and technical experts are each dedicated to a specific market within Life Sciences and Industrial Chemicals.