Venezuela oil exports plummet to lowest in 19 months on port delays

Venezuela oil exports plummet to lowest in 19 months on port delays

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Venezuela's oil exports last month fell to the lowest level since October 2020 as repairs at the country's main oil port added to delays shipping cargoes, documents from state-run PDVSA and vessel tracking data showed, said Reuters.

Exports from the U.S.-sanctioned country were recovering this year following a pact with Iran that provided a stable supply of diluents needed for producing exportable grades and lighter crudes for making refined products.

But shipping delays linked to oil quality issues, port maintenance that shut Jose port's two largest berths, and slower authorizations for vessels to set sail reversed the trend last month, the documents and data showed.

Two of PDVSA's four upgraders, which turn its extra heavy crude into exportable grades, also were temporarily shut due to outages since April, the documents showed.

PDVSA, its joint ventures and other state companies shipped a total of 21 cargoes in May, carrying an average of 391,452 bpd of crude and fuel, a 49%-fall from April and 34% below exports of the same month last year.

Most cargoes headed to Asia, while allies of President Nicolas Maduro's administration, including Iran and Cuba, also received Venezuelan crude and fuel.

The May exports included 103,500 bpd of fuel oil to Asia and the Middle East. Venezuela also shipped about 135,000 metric tons of petroleum coke and methanol, below the 242,000 tons of the previous month.

As per MRC, Iranian state firms have started preparations to revamp Venezuela's largest oil refinery, the 955,000-bpd Paraguana Refining Center, four people close to the talks said, following a contract to repair its smallest facility.
A deal would deepen an energy relationship that has become a lifeline for Venezuela's dilapidated oil industry amid a crisis caused by decades of mismanagement and underinvestment, and aggravated by U.S. sanctions on the South American country.

We remind, Venezuela has begun importing Iranian heavy crude to feed its domestic refineries, documents from the state-run oil company PDVSA showed, a deal that widens a swap agreement signed last year by the U.S. sanctioned countries. The two nations last year initially agreed to a swap deal, with PDVSA importing Iranian condensate to dilute and process its extra heavy oil for export. In return, Venezuelan crude is being shipped via the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).

As per MRC, Venezuela's exports of oil and refined products last month recovered to mid-2021 levels, boosted by sales of its flagship crude grade and fuel oil bound for Asia, according to tracking data and documents from state-run oil company PDVSA. Higher exports come as Russia's invasion of Ukraine and resulting shipping bans and financial sanctions could spur demand for Venezuela's crude and residual products, traders said. Oil importers this week have rejected Russian vessels, sending buyers searching for new crude and fuel supplies.

U.S. EPA expected to release retroactive biofuel blending mandates for 2020-2022

U.S. EPA expected to release retroactive biofuel blending mandates for 2020-2022

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release on Friday retroactive mandates for the volume of biofuels oil refiners were required to blend into their fuel for the years 2020 through 2022, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The mandates, typically set ahead of time each year, were delayed due to the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic which severely reduced U.S. energy demand. Reuters reported earlier this week that the EPA is likely to raise ethanol blending mandates for 2021 above a figure it proposed in December to align with actual U.S. consumption levels.

The mandates for 2020 and 2022 are expected to be within range of the December proposals. The decision on the mandates involved White House staff, who have had to weigh how the policy could affect record-high gasoline prices, surging food costs and inflation, and Farm Belt constituents. Higher mandates can raise demand for corn and impose costs on fuel producers.

Under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), oil refiners must blend billions of gallons of biofuels into the nation's fuel pool, or buy credits from those that do. Small refiners can receive an exemption from the requirements if they can prove financial harm from the mandates.

The law has been a hotbed of controversy, typically pitting the powerful oil and corn lobbies against each other. The EPA in December proposed rejecting numerous pending applications for small refinery exemptions, following a court decision that narrowed the situations in which the agency can grant them. As a response to the likely denials, the EPA is expected to release a proposed rule that would extend RFS compliance for small refiners for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing sources.

As per MRC, refiners worldwide are struggling to meet global demand for diesel and gasoline, exacerbating high prices and aggravating shortages from big consumers like the United States and Brazil to smaller countries like war-ravaged Ukraine and Sri Lanka.

Norway oil and gas workers threaten strike, some crude output at risk

Norway oil and gas workers threaten strike, some crude output at risk

MOSCOW (MRC) -- At least 647 Norwegian oil workers plan to strike from June 12 if state-brokered wage mediation fails, labor unions said on Friday, putting some crude output at risk of shutdown although gas may not be affected, said Reuters.

Workers are seeking above-inflation pay increases and other changes to their contracts but have not released details of their demands. Members of the Industri Energi and Lederne unions plan strike action at 10 permanent offshore installations, including the Njord A, Valhall, Gudrun and several Oseberg platforms, as well as three mobile service units, the unions said.

Lederne would initially involve 74 mostly senior offshore workers in a strike, likely hitting oil production at the Equinor-operated Gudrun, Oseberg South and Oseberg East platforms, the union said. Gas production should remain unaffected however, Lederne chief Audun Ingvartsen told Reuters. "We will try to avoid affecting gas production as we are mindful about the situation with gas supplies in Europe," he said.

"I hope we can find the best solution both for Norway and the oil companies, and at the same time give something back to the workers. I hope we can avoid a strike." Lederne is negotiating on behalf of some 1,300 union members. Equinor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gudrun produced 45,700 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed) in 2021, Oseberg East 5,600 boed and Oseberg South 32,000 boed, official data shows, around two percent of Norway's overall daily oil and gas output. The Industri Energi union meanwhile said it would initially seek to avoid hitting production altogether, even as 573 of its members could go on strike.

"The first instance of a potential strike would only involve a limited number of members, but we can escalate if necessary," Industri Energi's chief negotiator Lill-Heidi Bakkerud said. Industri Energi is Norway's biggest oil and gas union, negotiating on behalf of some 4,300 members. The Safe labour union, which will also take part in the June 10-11 mediation, has yet to outline its response.

As per MRC, U.S. crude oil and fuel stockpiles fell last week, as demand continued to outstrip supply, with commercial crude inventories drawing down even as more strategic reserves entered the market. Crude inventories fell by 5.1 MM barrels in the week to May 27 to 414.7 MM barrels, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.3 MM-barrel drop. The fall comes even though the U.S. government released more than 5 million barrels of reserves in the most recent week and as net crude imports rose by 83,000 bpd, the EIA said.

Slovakia says hardest hit by Russia oil sanctions, expects solidarity

Slovakia says hardest hit by Russia oil sanctions, expects solidarity

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Slovakia said on Friday it would be hardest hit by European Union sanctions on Russian oil and it expected solidarity from Brussels to mitigate the impact, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The economy ministry said Slovakia had sought a three-year derogation on trade in piped Russian oil and oil products, but was unsuccessful as tough sanctions were approved with the aim of hitting Russian revenues following its invasion of Ukraine.

"The embargo ... was approved in a version with direct impact on the market for motor fuels and their production in Slovakia," the ministry said in a statement. "Within the declared solidarity we expect individual access to resources from REPower EU," it said, referring to the EU's plan to end dependence on Russian fossil fuels and tackle the climate crisis.

The ministry said the final version of the sanctions meant Slovakia could keep importing crude from Russia via the Druzhba pipeline, but after eight months this could only be used for production for the domestic market and oil product exports to the neighboring Czech Republic, which would be possible for further 10 months.

Slovakia's only domestic refiner, Slovnaft, runs on Russian oil. It said on Thursday the sanctions would have a severe impact on its production and create market shortages in fuels in the region as it could not make technological changes in time. The 124,000 bpd refinery, owned by Hungary's MOL , is based near Slovakia's borders with Hungary and Austria, and also has a product pipeline to the Czech Republic.

It exports the majority of its output, including diesel, petrol, jet fuel, sulphur and plastics to a number of central and west European countries and said forced a reduction in capacity may also threaten supplies to the domestic market.

We remind, Linde Engineering announced it has been selected by Slovnaft, a member of the MOL Group, a leading integrated Central Eastern European oil and gas corporation, to conduct a complex large-scale revamp of a polypropylene (PP3) plant in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Slovnaft is a crude oil refining enterprise located in Bratislava, Slovakia. The maximum annual refining capacity is 6 million tons of crude oil, which is primarily supplied via the "Druzhba" pipeline. The dominating place in the production portfolio belongs to motor fuel (about 4.5 million tons/year), chemicals (200 thousand tons/year) and primary plastic materials (400 thousand tons/year).

Borealis received a binding offer from AGROFERT for the acquisition of nitrogen business

Borealis received a binding offer from AGROFERT for the acquisition of nitrogen business

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Borealis, one of the world’s leading providers of advanced and circular polyolefin solutions and a European market leader in base chemicals, fertilizers and the mechanical recycling of plastics, has received a binding offer from AGROFERT, a.s. for the acquisition of Borealis’ nitrogen business including fertilizer, melamine and technical nitrogen products, said the company.

The offer values the business on an enterprise value basis at EUR 810 million. AGROFERT is a Czech-based group active in a number of industries in the countries of Central Europe, with activities spanning from chemicals and agriculture to food production. Generating a consolidated turnover of EUR 7.5 billion in 2021, the group comprises more than 200 companies and employs approximately 31.000. AGROFERT is also one of the leading European nitrogen fertilizer producers, with manufacturing facilities in Germany, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.

By adding Borealis’ production assets in Austria, Germany and France as well as a comprehensive sales and distribution network utilising the Danube River, this business combination would well complement AGROFERT’s existing capabilities in serving its customers across Europe.

Borealis will initiate mandatory information and consultation procedures with employee representatives shortly. The transaction is also subject to certain closing conditions and regulatory approvals, with closing expected for the second half of 2022. Borealis will continue to focus on its core activities of providing innovative and sustainable solutions in the fields of polyolefins and base chemicals and on the transformation towards a circular economy.

As per MRC, Borealis and Austria's leading energy company, VERBUND, are pleased to announce the installation of a new photovoltaic (PV) array at Borealis production location in Linz, Austria. The investment is in line with the Borealis aim to enhance the sustainability of its own operations while also supporting the Upper Austria Photovoltaic Strategy for 2030. Rooftop PV arrays are among the cleanest ways to generate renewable energy.

We remind, Borealis (Vienna), a leading producer of polyolefins, has delayed the start-up of a new, world-scale propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant at its existing production site at Kallo, Belgium, which is the company's biggest investment in Europe, until Q3 2023, citing Covid-19. The plant in Kallo in the port of Antwerp was previously targeted to begin operations by the end of next year.

As per MRC, Adnoc and Mubadala Mubadala announced a strategic transaction involving Borealis, one of Europe’s leading petrochemical companies. Under this agreement, Adnoc will acquire a 25% shareholding in Borealis from Mubadala. Upon completion of the transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, Borealis will be owned 25% by Adnoc and 75% by OMV, an Austrian multi-national integrated oil, gas and petrochemical company listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange.