Westlake Chemical plans to produce green caustic soda

MOSCOW (MRC) - American Westlake Chemical said it will soon sell "green" caustic soda, which emits 30% less carbon dioxide during its production, the company said.

Westlake President and Chief Executive Officer Albert Chao said the company wants to obtain an environmental compliance certificate for the production of caustic soda using this technology in Europe. Green caustic soda has the same properties as regular sodium hydroxide. The difference lies in the use of renewable energy sources in the production process.

“We buy renewable energy in Europe that combines fossil fuels and coal,” said Albert Chao. “The use of renewable energy sources reduces CO2 content,” he said. The company said these efforts are part of its ongoing efforts to ensure sustainability, although the timing of the project's launch has not yet been clear.

Earlier it was reported that Westlake Chemical in the second half of March resumed production at its complex in Calvert City (Calvert City, Kentucky, USA), which was closed due to a winter storm earlier. A Westlake Chemical facility in Calvert City, Kentucky was hit by a winter storm in mid-February. The company's production capacity at this complex is 250,000 tonnes of chlorine, 280, 000 tonnes of caustic soda, 590,000 tonnes of VCM and 592,000 tonnes of PVC.

Earlier it was reported that the March production of sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) amounted to 118,000 tonnes (100% of the main substance) against 98.4 thousand tons a month earlier. In the first three months of the year, the total production of caustic soda amounted to 329,400 tonnes, which is 0.7% less than the same indicator of the previous year.

The main caustic soda producers in the United States are Olin, Occidental Chemical, Westlake Chemical, Shintech, and Formosa Plastics.

Westlake Chemical Corporation is an American manufacturer and supplier of petroleum products and polymers headquartered in Houston, Texas. The company's products include ethylene, polyethylene, styrene, propylene, caustic, polyvinyl chloride and plastic products.

Shell to reduce its global refinery footprint by selling Puget Sound facility to HollyFrontier

MOSCOW (MRC) -- US refiner HollyFrontier Corp said on Tuesday it would purchase a 149,000-bpd refinery in Washington from Shell as part of the European company's strategy to reduce its global refinery footprint, according to Hydrocarbonprocessing.

HollyFrontier will buy the Puget Sound refinery near Anacortes for USD350 million in cash, plus hydrocarbon inventory to be valued at closing with an estimated current value of USD150 MM-USD180 MM, the companies said.

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2021, subject to regulatory clearance, Shell said.

The sale includes Shell's on-site cogeneration facility and associated logistics infrastructure.

Shell has been planning to shrink its refining and chemicals portfolio from 14 to six sites with chemical business synergies including its Deer Park, Norco, Pernis, Pulau Bukom, Rheinland and Scotford sites.

In 2020, it began shutting its 211,146-bpd Convent, Louisiana refinery after failing to find a buyer for the plant.

Earlier that year, Shell sold its 156,400-bpd Martinez, California, refinery and logistics assets to PBF Energy for USD960 million plus the price for oil and refined products on hand.

HollyFrontier currently operates six North American refineries including El Dorado, Navajo, Tulsa, Woods Cross, Mississauga and Cheyenne, which it is converting into a renewable diesel facility.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 576,270 tonnes in the first three month of 2021, up by 4% year on year. Low density polyethylene (LDPE) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) shipments increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market totalled 410,890 tonnes in January-March 2021, up by 56% year on year. Supply of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased.

Royal Dutch Shell plc is an Anglo-Dutch multinational oil and gas company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands and with its registered office in London, United Kingdom. It is the biggest company in the world in terms of revenue and one of the six oil and gas "supermajors". Shell is vertically integrated and is active in every area of the oil and gas industry, including exploration and production, refining, distribution and marketing, petrochemicals, power generation and trading.

COVID-19 - News digest as of 05.05.2021

1. Indian Reliance becomes largest domestic medical-grade liquid oxygen producer

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Amid a surging second wave of COVID-19 in the country, Reliance Industries (RIL) has increased output of medical oxygen to 1,000 mt/day, making it India's largest producer of medical-grade liquid oxygen from a single location, according to IndiaTV. Reliance ramped up production from near-zero to 1,000 tonnes per day and now produces over 11% of the country's oxygen demand. It has rallied its resources to meet the daily need of over 1 lakh people every day. "RIL ramps up production of medical-grade liquid oxygen from near zero to 1000 mt per day free of charge. (It is producing) 1000 mt of oxygen to meet the needs of over 1 lakh people every day on an average," the company said in a statement.


Oil prices grow on eased lockdowns in the US and Europe desire to attract travellers

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Oil prices rose on Tuesday after more US states eased lockdowns and the European Union sought to attract travellers, while soaring COVID-19 cases in India capped gains, reported Reuters.

Brent crude futures were 86 cents, or 1.27%, higher at $68.42 a barrel at 1224 GMT, after climbing 1.2% on Monday.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures also rose 77 cents, or 1.19%, to USD65.26 a barrel, after gaining 1.4% on Monday. Both contracts were up over USD1, or about 2%, in earlier trade.

Prices are being supported by the prospect of a pick-up in fuel demand as New York state, New Jersey and Connecticut were set to ease pandemic curbs and the EU planned to open up to more foreign visitors who have been vaccinated, analysts said.

For further signs of rising US oil demand, traders will be watching for reports on crude and product stockpiles from the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday and the US Energy Information Administration on Wednesday.

Five analysts polled by Reuters estimated on average that US crude inventories fell 2.2 million barrels in the week to April 30. Oil inventories rose in the previous two weeks.

The rate of refinery utilisation was expected to have increased by 0.5 percentage points last week, from 85.4% of total capacity in the week ended April 23, according to the poll.

A weaker dollar, hit by an unexpected slowdown in US manufacturing growth, also helped shore up oil prices on Tuesday. The lower dollar makes oil more attractive to buyers holding other currencies.

In India, the total number of infections so far rose to just short of 20 million after the country saw more than 300,000 new cases for a 12th straight day, which is expected to hit fuel demand in the world's most populous country after China.

As MRC informed earlier, 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 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 576,270 tonnes in the first three month of 2021, up by 4% year on year. Low density polyethylene (LDPE) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) shipments increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market totalled 410,890 tonnes in January-March 2021, up by 56% year on year. Supply of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased.

NOVA Chemicals declares FM on PE supplies from its plants in Canada

MOSCOW (MRC) -- NOVA Chemicals declared force majeure (FM) on all its polyethylene (PE) resins produced in the Sarnia region of Ontario, Canada, because of mechanical failures, reported S&P Global with reference to the company's letter to its customers as of April 27.

"NOVA Chemicals has experienced a mechanical failure beyond our control at our Corunna ethylene cracker in the Sarnia, ON, region, which supplies ethylene to our polyethylene facilities in that region," it said in the letter.

"As a result of the estimated repair timing and current inventory levels, we must declare a force majeure/excuse for nonperformance event for all polyethylene resins produced in the Sarnia region ... effective April 27, 2021," the letter said.

The FM does not affect any of its other PE products, it said. In addition, the letter stated there is no firm indication as to what extent they would be able to supply for customers during the force majeure.

The PE plants affected include Mooretown high density polyethylene (HDPE) at 210,000 mt/year, Mooretown low density polyethylene (LDPE) capacity at 170,000 mt/year, and St. Clair HDPE capacity at 209,000 mt/year.

As MRC informed before, in late 2013, NOVA Chemicals announced plans to expand ethylene production capacity by 20% at its cracker in Corunna, Ontario, from the capacity of about 839,000 tpy. The expansion was to occur between 2014 and 2018, as part of a wave of expansions and upgrades to NOVA's existing facilities near Sarnia, Ontario.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 576,270 tonnes in the first three month of 2021, up by 4% year on year. LDPE and HDPE shipments increased.

NOVA Chemicals Corporation is a plastics and chemical company headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of the International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.