LyondellBasell says fate of its Houston oil refinery remains under review

LyondellBasell says fate of its Houston oil refinery remains under review

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Chemical producer LyondellBasell Industries said its Houston refinery would be a better fit with a larger oil processing company and that a sales effort continues, reported Reuters.

The company put its 263,776-bpd plant on the market for a second time last fall. The plant ran at 101% of capacity last quarter on the recovery of motor fuels demand, the company said in a statement accompanying its fourth-quarter earnings announcement.

Interim Chief Executive, Kenneth Lane said LyondellBasell hopes within a few months to reveal the outcome of its strategic review of the plant. The company took a USD264 MM impairment charge in the fourth quarter as part of the decision to exit refining.

"There's really not more that we can say at this time," Lane told Wall Street analysts on a conference call. "We're in the middle of that (strategic review) process as we speak. And with where we are right now, I hope to be able to provide more details of the outcome in the next few months."

When the process began in September, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters the company hoped for a quick sale of the plant on the Houston Ship Channel. But hopes for a fast exit from refining appear to be dwindling, with a number of other refineries also hitting the market.

LyondellBasell plans to operate its Houston refinery above 90% of its capacity during the first quarter of 2022, said Chief Financial Officer Michael McMurray.

As MRC wrote earlier, in July, 2021, Neste and LyondellBasell announced a long-term commercial agreement under which LyondellBasell will source Neste RE, a feedstock from Neste that has been produced from 100% renewable feedstock from bio-based sources, such as waste and residue oils and fats. This feedstock will be processed through the cracker at LyondellBasell’s Wesseling, Germany, plant into polymers and sold under the CirculenRenew brand name.

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 2,265,290 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2021, up by 14% year on year. Shipments of all grades of ethylene polymers increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market were 1,363,850 tonnes in January-November, 2021, up by 25% year on year. Supply of homopolymer PP and block-copolymers of propylene (PP block copolymers) increased, whereas supply of injection moulding PP random copolymers decreased significantly.

Neste (Helsinki) creates solutions for combating climate change and accelerating a shift to a circular economy. The company refines waste, residues and innovative raw materials into renewable fuels and sustainable feedstock for plastics and other materials. The company is the world’s leading producer of renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuel, developing chemical recycling to combat the plastic waste challenge. In 2020, Neste's revenue stood at EUR11.8 billion, with 94% of the company’s comparable operating profit coming from renewable products.

ExxonMobil selects Yokogawa to test open process automation system in real plant

ExxonMobil selects Yokogawa to test open process automation system in real plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Yokogawa announces that it has been selected by ExxonMobil as the system integrator for the first field trial of an open process automation (OPA) system designed to operate an entire production facility, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The field trial will take place at an ExxonMobil manufacturing facility located on the U.S. Gulf Coast, replacing the existing distributed control system (DCS) and programmable logic controllers (PLC) with a single, integrated system that meets the open process automation standard (O-PAS). The project will incorporate enhanced control capabilities enabled through the implementation of OPA technologies and interfaces.

"ExxonMobil is excited to have reached this important milestone with Yokogawa and progress the first field trial of an OPA system at an existing ExxonMobil manufacturing plant,” stated Ryan Smeltzer, OPA program manager for ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company. “The project will take advantage of significant progress made testing OPA components and the O-PAS standards in close collaboration with Yokogawa. The OPA field trial is the next step in commercializing OPA and capturing additional value from our automation and control systems."

Most process industries are burdened with integrating multiple proprietary systems in almost every process plant and facility. These include manufacturing execution systems, DCSs, PLCs, and their respective human-machine interfaces and inputs/outputs (I/O). This can result in elevated capital costs on new projects and a high total cost of ownership, especially in the operation and maintenance of such systems. An OPA system is designed to remedy these challenges by supporting the integration of best-in-class components from different suppliers through configuration and application portability. This enables optimization of the total cost of automation systems.

The field trial is a major milestone in Yokogawa's continued support of ExxonMobil and OPA, and shifts OPA technology from concept to a viable alternative to traditional automation for process industries. The company has commenced work on the front-end engineering design phase of the project. The OPA field trial system, which involves over 2000 I/O, is expected to be commissioned in 2023.

For the past two years, ExxonMobil and Yokogawa have been developing, testing, and improving OPA technologies through the joint operation of an OPA test bed located near ExxonMobil’s Houston, Texas campus. This collaborative work has developed and qualified many of the core OPA functions in preparation for the field trial. In addition to the field trial, test bed engineers at the Houston-area development office will continue to implement and refine OPA technologies in-line with the latest version of the O-PAS standard.

As per MRC, ExxonMobil and Saudi Arabia's Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic), one of the world's largest petrochemicals manufacturers, received commercial production last week at a new joint petrochemical complex in San Patricio (San Patricio, near Corpus Christi, Texas, USA), thereby putting it into operation.

As MRC informed before, ExxonMobil shut down at its cracker in Singapore for maintenance last year. Thus, the company halted operations at the cracker on September 14, 2020. The cracker remained off-line till end-October, 2020. Located at Jurong Island, Singapore, the cracker has an ethylene production capacity of 1 million mt/year and a propylene production capacity of 450,000 mt/year.


COVID-19 - News digest as of 31.01.2022

1. China 2022 crude imports may rise by 6-7% on new refineries, inventory refill

MOSCOW (MRC) -- China's crude oil imports could rebound by 6-7% this year, reversing 2021's rare decline as buyers step up purchases for new refining units and to replenish low inventories, reported Reuters with reference to analysts and oil company officials' statement. Robust demand from China, which accounts for a tenth of the global crude trade, would help underpin global oil prices, keeping supplies tight amid forecasts for a jump in crude prices. Demand recovery, however, is not expected until the second half of the year as China continues to combat COVID-19 outbreaks and limit production by smaller refiners.


Russian producers announce increases in February PE and PP prices

Russian producers announce increases in February PE and PP prices

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Contrary to many market participants' expectations, some Russian producers have announced an increase of Rb2,000-7,000/tonne from January in polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) prices for February deliveries, according to ICIS-MRC Price report.

Spot PE and PP prices in the Russian market peaked in December, and all producers announced a price reduction of Rb5,000-10,000/tonne for January shipments. On the back of weak demand and oversupply in January, many converters expected further price cuts for February deliveries as well. But contrary to their expectations, on Tuesday, some producers announced a price increase of Rb2,000-7,000/tonne depending on the polymer.

Butene linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE C4) accounted for the greatest price rise in the PE segment, prices of polymer with melt flow index (MFI) went up by Rb7,000/tonne from January. High density polyethylene (HDPE) prices grew by Rb2,000-3,000/tonne, whereas low density polyethylene (LDPE) prices virtually remained unchanged, with shrinkable film LDPE being the exception.

Prices of propylene homopolymers (homopolymer PP) rose by Rb5,000/tonne, and prices of propylene copolymers - by Rb2,000-3,000/tonne.

The increase in PE and PP prices is partially caused by the current depreciation of the rouble against the dollar and the euro.

Ineos Styrolution gets ISCC certification for two petrochemical sites in Belgium and Germany

Ineos Styrolution gets ISCC certification for two petrochemical sites in Belgium and Germany

MOSCOW (MRC) -- INEOS Styrolution (Frankfurt, Germany), a global leader in styrenics, has announced that two of its European production sites, namely Antwerp, Belgium and Ludwigshafen, Germany have received the ISCC PLUS certification from ISCC (International Sustainability & Carbon Certification), according to Chemical Engineering.

The certification announced paves the way for the audited production of recycling- and bio-attributed styrenics materials using a mass balance approach.

The ISCC PLUS certificate for Antwerp addresses bio-attributed and recycled-attributed ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), SBC (styrene-butadiene copolymers) and polystyrene (PS).

The respective certificate for Ludwigshafen addresses bio-attributed and recycled-attributed SMMA (styrene methyl methacrylate), SAN (styrene acrylonitrile copolymer) and ABS.

This announcement follows a recent announcement for ISCC PLUS certification of several INEOS Styrolution sites in the Americas. Further certifications for other European INEOS Styrolution production sites are expected soon.

Dr. Eike Jahnke, Vice President Specialties EMEA comments: “We are excited to receive the ISCC PLUS certifications since we will now be able to offer our customers sustainable styrenics solutions that meet all the stringent ISCC requirements. I am looking forward to having sustainable ECO solutions for our broad range of styrenics Specialty products.”

ISCC is an independent multi-stakeholder organization providing a globally applicable certification system for the sustainability of raw materials and products. It has been developed to meet the high demands regarding the implementation of environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable production.

As MRC reported earlier, in August 2021, INEOS Styrolution joined the US Plastics Pact in their support for collaborative, solution-driven initiatives intended to drive significant system change in the design, use, and reuse of plastics. The US Plastic Pact unites cross-sector approaches, setting a national strategy, and creating scalable solutions to create a path forward toward a circular economy for plastics in the United States by 2025.

We remind that in April 2021, INEOS Styrolution, Recycling Technologies and Trinseo announced that they had reached a significant milestone in their plans to build commercial polystyrene (PS) recycling plants in Europe. Recycling Technologies has been selected as the technology partner.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's overall estimated consumption of PS and styrene plastics was 518,560 tonnes in January-November 2021, up by 14% year on year. November estimated consumption of PS and styrene plastics rose by 7% year on year, totalling 48,620 tonnes.

INEOS Styrolution is the leading global styrenics supplier, with a focus on styrene monomer, polystyrene, ABS Standard and styrenic specialties. With world-class production facilities and more than 90 years of experience, INEOS Styrolution helps its customers succeed by offering solutions, designed to give them a competitive edge in their markets. At the same time, these innovative and sustainable best-in-class solutions help make the circular economy for styrenics a reality. The company provides styrenic applications for many everyday products across a broad range of industries, including automotive, electronics, household, construction, healthcare, packaging and toys/sports/leisure. In 2020, sales were at 4 billion euros. INEOS Styrolution employs approximately 3,600 people and operates 20 production sites in ten countries.