IOC refineries operating at 95% capacity in April

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Indian Oil Corp Ltd's (IOC) refineries are operating at about 95% of their capacity, down from 100% at the same time last month, reported Reuters with reference to source's statement.

Coronavirus cases have surged in India, leading to curbs on movement across the country, a move analysts say could hit fuel demand in the world's third largest oil importer and consumer.

An official at IOC, India's biggest oil refiner, said the cuts in runs at its refineries were "marginal" but analysts and industry officials say there could deeper reductions in output from the country's refineries in coming days.

"If cases continue to rise and curbs continue or intensify for a longer period, we may see cuts in refinery runs and lower demand after a month," an industry source said. Consultancy FGE said it estimates gasoline demand will drop by 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) in April and by more than 170,000 bpd in May if further restrictions are imposed. India's total gasoline sales came to nearly 747,000 bpd in March.

Diesel demand is expected to contract by 220,000 bpd in April and by another 400,000 bpd in May, according to FGE.

India's diesel consumption, a key indicator linked to economic growth and which accounts for about 40% of overall refined fuel sales in India, was 1.75 million bpd in April.

While curbs to restrict movement are in place in many parts of India, it has not imposed a total shutdown as it did in March last year. Most businesses are still operating normally.

As MRC informed before, Indian Oil has just announced plans to expand the capacity of its refinery at Panipat, India, from 15 million metric tons/year (MMt/y), to 25 MMt/y. The company will also build a polypropylene (PP) unit and a catalytic dewaxing unit at the site. The cost of the project is 329.46 billion Indian rupees (USD4.45 billion). The plan is the latest in a series of projects approved by Indian Oil to improve integration with petrochemicals at the company's refinery sites. The capacity of the planned PP facility has not been disclosed.

Ethylene and propylene are the mail feedstocks for production of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), respectively.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated polyethylene (PE) consumption totalled 356,370 tonnes in the first two month of 2021, down by 9% year on year. Shipments of exclusively low density polyethylene (LDPE) increased. At the same time, polypropylene (PP) shipments to the Russian market was 246,870 tonnes in January-February 2021, up by 30% year on year. Supply of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased.

Valero posts larger Q1 loss due to polar storm

MOSCOW (MRC) -- US refiner Valero Energy Corp posted a larger quarterly loss as a winter storm hit its operations in February, but its top boss shrugged off the rare event to focus on rising fuel demand and fatter refining margins, reported Reuters.

A cold snap in Texas earlier this year disrupted energy supply and sent numerous refineries offline, prompting profit warnings from companies including Exxon Mobil and Phillips 66. But the storm-related disruptions also boosted fuel prices and in turn, margins for refiners, with Valero's Q1 refining margin surging 33% sequentially to USD1.45 billion.

The sector also benefited from rising fuel consumption as an easing of restrictions and the mass rollout of vaccines prompted more people to travel.

"We are encouraged by the substantial increase in products demand and refining margins in the last three months," Chief Executive Officer Joe Gorder said in a statement.

However, rising coronavirus cases in some countries are threatening the fuel demand recovery.

Valero, the first US refiner to post quarterly results, said refining throughput, or the amount of crude it processed, fell nearly 8% sequentially to 2.4 million barrels per day.

Net loss attributable to its stockholders was USD704 million, or USD1.73 per share, for the three months ended March 31, compared with a loss of USD359 million, or 88 cents per share, in the prior quarter. Its results included costs of about USD579 million due to the impacts from Winter Storm Uri.

As MRC wrote before, Valero Energy Corp restarted the large crude distillation unit (CDU) at its 335,000-bpd Port Arthur, Texas, refinery the first week of September, 2020. The 268,000-bpd CDU was shut with all other units at the refinery on Aug. 25 because of the threat from Hurricane Laura.

We remind that in June 2020, Valero Energy Corp’s Memphis, Tennessee, crude oil refinery was operating at two-thirds of its 180,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) capacity because of low demand in the COVID-19 pandemic. The Memphis refinery cut production by as much as 50% in early April and has been raising production gradually since then.

Ethylene and propylene are the main feedstocks for the production of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), respectively.

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.

American Kraton has developed a polymer against coronavirus

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The American company Kraton has announced that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has granted an emergency exemption for the use of its new sulfonated polymer, which rapidly inactivates the coronavirus, said the company.

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued an emergency permit for the use of the polymer in the states of the United States, Georgia, Utah and Minnesota for specific applications to protect against the COVID-19 virus. American Delta Airlines will be the first to use this material in these states.

The material is solid but transparent and can provide long-term antimicrobial protection to surfaces with the ability to kill up to 99.99% of the COVID-19 virus in a laboratory setting. The company named this polymer line BiaXam. According to the specialty polymer manufacturer, BiaXam can provide continuous protection for up to 200 days, depending on use and cleaning methods.

The polymer can also be applied to other plastics, metals, glass, and can also be used as a film. Delta Airlines will build kiosks from this polymer in Atlanta, Salt Lake City and Minneapolis. The airline plans to expand its use at other airports. "We believe BiaXam is unique in both its performance, durability and residual properties that differentiate it from other technologies that require more frequent use or processing,” said Kraton CEO Kevin Fogarty.

"While other antimicrobial products are based on a chemical as an active ingredient, BiaXam is a polymer, and antimicrobial properties are inherent in the design of the polymer,” he added. Kraton is currently awaiting regulatory approval in other jurisdictions, including countries outside the United States.

Earlier it was reported that the American company Kraton Performance Polymers, a leading global manufacturer of styrene block copolymers (SBCs) and other complex polymer products, announced that the company changed its name to Kraton Corporation on September 14, 2016.

It was also reported that Kraton announced the release of two new styrenic block copolymers (HSBC). The new Kraton MD6951 and MD1648 resins offer high elasticity, tensile strength, and extremely low melt viscosity, giving access to a whole host of new processing areas.

Kraton Performance Polymers, Inc., comprised of the functional division of Kraton Polymers LLC and its subsidiaries, is the world's leading manufacturer of specialty polymers and styrene block copolymers (SBCs). The company's manufacturing base consists of five factories, including a central plant in Belpre, Ohio, as well as factories in Germany, France, Brazil and a joint manufacturing venture in Japan.

ExxonMobil expands renewable fuels agreement with Global Clean Energy

MOSCOW (MRC) -- ExxonMobil, one of the world's petrochemical majors, and Global Clean Energy have expanded their five-year agreement to increase ExxonMobil’s purchase of renewable diesel up to 5 million barrels per year, reported Reuters.

ExxonMobil will be the exclusive buyer of renewable diesel from Global Clean Energy’s biorefinery in Bakersfield, California, which is on schedule to begin production in early 2022. The renewable diesel leverages Global Clean Energy’s patented camelina crop, which can significantly reduce life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our expanded agreement with Global Clean Energy reinforces ExxonMobil’s longstanding efforts to support society’s ambitions for lower-emission fuels,” said Ian Carr, president of ExxonMobil Fuels and Lubricants Company. “Through our growing relationship, we remain focused on bringing renewable fuels to market that make meaningful contributions to help consumers reduce their emissions.”

The Bakersfield biorefinery will process up to 15,000 barrels per day of renewable feedstocks, including Global Clean Energy’s proprietary camelina. The balance of renewable diesel will be produced using various non-petroleum feedstocks, including used cooking oil, soybean oil, distillers’ corn oil and other renewable sources.

The original agreement signed in August 2020 committed ExxonMobil to purchase 2.5 million barrels of renewable diesel per year. Following production startup, ExxonMobil plans to distribute the renewable diesel within California and potentially other US and international markets.

As MRC informed previously, Sinopec Engineering (Group) and ExxonMobil (Huizhou) Chemical (EMHCC) have just entered into a BEPC (basic design, engineering, procurement and construction) contract for the proposed Huizhou Chemical Complex Project (Phase I). The main units of the project include a 1.6 million tonnes/year ethylene flexible feed steam cracker, downstream polymer and derivative units and utilities. The main product units include two performance polyethylene (PE) lines and two differentiated performance polypropylene (PP) lines.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated polyethylene (PE) consumption totalled 356,370 tonnes in the first two month of 2021, down by 9% year on year. Shipments of exclusively low density polyethylene (LDPE) increased. At the same time, polypropylene (PP) shipments to the Russian market was 246,870 tonnes in January-February 2021, up by 30% year on year. Supply of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased.

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.

Index of chemical production in Russia grew by 6.7% in Q1 2021

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Russia's output of chemical products rose in March 2021 by 5.4% year on year. Thus, production of basic chemicals increased year on year by 6.7% in the first moths months of 2021, according to Rosstat's data.

According to the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, mineral fertilizers accounted for the greatest increase in the January-March output. Production of benzene grew up to 121,000 tonnes in March, compared to 113,000 tonnes a month earlier.

Overall output of this product reached 362,000 tonnes over the stated period, down by 8.2% year on year.
March production of sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) was 118,000 tonnes (100% of the basic substance) versus 98,400 tonnes a month earlier. Overall output of caustic soda totalled 329,400 tonnes in the first three months of 2021, down by 0.7% year on year.

2,327,000 tonnes of mineral fertilizers (in terms of 100% nutrients) were produced in March 2021 versus 2,098,000 tonnes a month earlier. Overall, Russian plants produced about 6,743,000 tonnes of fertilizers in January-March 2021, up by 12% year on year.

Last month's production of polymers in primary form was 958,000 tonnes versus 861,000 tonnes in February.
Overall output of polymers in primary form totalled 2,740,000 tonnes over the stated period, up by 8.5% year on year.

151,000 tonnes of synthetic rubbers were produced in March, compared to 141,000 tonnes a month earlier.
Overall, Russian plants produced about 447,000 tonnes of synthetic rubbers in January-March 2021, up by 10.2% year on year.