Ukrainian PE imports down by 6% in Q1 2021

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Overall polyethylene (PE) imports into the Ukrainian market reached 63,600 tonnes in the first three months of 2021, down by 6% year on year. High density polyethylene (HDPE) accounted for the main decrease in imports, according to MRC's DataScope report.

Last month's PE imports to Ukraine were 28,700 tonnes versus 17,700 tonnes in February, local companies increased their purchases of all PE grades. Thus, overall PE imports reached 63,600 tonnes in January-March 2021, compared to 39,900 tonnes a year earlier. HDPE imports decreased significantly, whereas imports of other PE grades increased.

The structure of PE imports by grades looked the following way over the stated period.

Last month's HDPE imports were 9,000 tonnes, compared to 5,800 tonnes in February, Ukrainian companies increased their purchases of extrusion blow moulding (EBM) PE. Overall HDPE imports totalled 19,600 tonnes in the first three months of 2021 versus 27,500 tonnes a year earlier.

March imports of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) were 8,800 tonnes versus 5,500 tonnes a month earlier, Ukrainian companies raised theipurchasessi Belarus and Russia. Overall LDPE imports reached 20,400 tonnes over the stated period, which corresponded to the last year's figure.

Last month's imports of linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) were 9,500 tonnes, compared to 5,800 tonnes in February, shipments of film grade LLDPE from Saudi Arabia increased. Overall LLDPE imports reached 20,000 tonnes in the first three months of 2021, compared to 16,700 tonnes a year earlier.

Imports of other PE grades, including ethylene-vinyl-acetate (EVA), totalled 3,200 tonnes over the stated period, compared to 2,900 tonnes a year earlier.


Mitsubishi Heavy Industries invests in Starfire Energy

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI)has announced that it has invested in Starfire Energy Inc, a US developer of modular chemical plants for green ammonia and hydrogen production, according to Kemicalinfo with reference to the company's statement.

The partnership with the Colorado-based company will “advance the development of commercial scale applications to decarbonise ammonia production and unlock its potential as a zero-carbon energy carrier”, MHI said in a news release. “The investment has been executed through MHI America, joining a consortium of investors, including AP Ventures, Chevron Technology Ventures, New Energy Technologies and Osaka Gas USA.”

As per the company's press release ammonia is a solution with an energy density comparable to fossil fuels and higher than Li-ion batteries, compressed or liquid hydrogen. Ammonia can be stored and transported, leveraging established infrastructure and shipping networks. It can be used directly as a fuel or it can be ‘cracked’, and its hydrogen harvested, to provide a means of hydrogen storage and transportation.

Starfire Energy’s ‘Rapid Ramp NH3’ ammonia synthesis technology produces zero carbon ammonia using only renewable energy, air and water as inputs. The modular solution is sized to connect directly with renewable energy production, providing a scalable, distributed source of zero carbon ammonia. The company has also developed their carbon-free fire, a system to crack ammonia back into hydrogen, providing an efficient means of green hydrogen storage and transportation.

We remind that, as MRC informed before, Mitsubishi Chemical Corp (MCC) consolidated its headquarter functions for its global methyl methacrylate (MMA) business in Singapore, and renamed its major MMA subsidiaries to Mitsubishi Chemical Methacrylates, effective 1 April, 2021. The move is aimed at optimising the company's global product supply network by utilising digital technologies that connect regional production, costs and supply and demand.

We also remind that in December 2020, Mitsubishi Chemical acquired a greenfield property at a large integrated site in Geismar, Louisiana, and plans to advance its feasibility study for the design and construction of a 350,000-metric tons/year MMA plant. The plant will be the third and largest to employ the Alpha production technology developed by subsidiary Lucite. The company earlier in March this year announced its intent to build the plant.

The main application, consuming approximately 75% MMA, is in the production of polymethyl methacrylate acrylic plastics (PMMA). Methyl methacrylate is also used to produce methyl methacrylate-butadiene-styrene copolymer (MBS), used as a modifier for polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's overall PVC production reached 259,400 tonnes in the first three months of 2021, down by 3% year on year. All producers reduced their output over the stated period.

Advanced Petrochemical net profit increased in Q1

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Advanced Petrochemical's net profit increased by 64.4% year on year to Saudi Riyal (SR) 171m in the first quarter of the year amid higher polypropylene sales, said the company.

Th company reported revenue at SR632 mln, Gross profit SR207 mln, Operational profit SR164 mln, Net profit SR171 mln.

PP sales prices rose by 36% year on year in the quarter ending 31 March 2021. The increase in net profit was despite the decrease in sales volumes by 13% year on year in the first quarter of 2021.

The first-quarter net profit also includes SR16m share of profit on investment in SK Advanced Co in South Korea compared to a loss of SR18m losses for the same quarter of the last year.

As per MRC, Advanced Petrochemical Co. announced April 11, 2021, that operations at its polypropylene plant resumed as of March 28, 2021, and operations at its propylene plant restarted as of April 11, 2021, after the completion of scheduled maintenance works.

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.

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.