Aramco opens ARC KAUST to accelerate low-carbon energy research

Aramco opens ARC KAUST to accelerate low-carbon energy research

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Arabian Oil Company (“Aramco”) inaugurated the Aramco Research Center at KAUST (ARC KAUST), which aims to accelerate the development of low-carbon solutions for the energy industry using advanced analytics, said the company.

Strategically located within the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), the newly established research hub deploys artificial intelligence and machine learning to develop innovative ways to advance low-carbon solutions and enable a Circular Carbon Economy.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by Aramco Senior Vice President Upstream, Nasir K. Al-Naimi, KAUST Vice President of Innovation and Economic Development, Dr. Kevin Cullen and senior executives from SABIC, Dow and PetroRabigh.

Ahmad Al-Khowaiter, Aramco Chief Technology Officer, said: “The Aramco Research Center at KAUST offers a unique opportunity to strengthen our collaboration with KAUST and accelerate the development of cutting-edge technologies that will contribute to a low-carbon future. Today energy companies face the dual challenge of delivering sustainability and reliability. The critical research undertaken at this new facility will help us meet our obligations to customers and energy consumers worldwide, while also supporting our ambition of reaching operational net-zero emissions by 2050."

ARC KAUST researchers, engineers and scientists intend to develop new technologies in carbon capture, low-carbon hydrogen/ammonia, non-metallics, e-fuels, liquids-to-chemicals, and advanced transport technologies. The opening of the center represents an important milestone in the growth of Aramco, offering unique collaboration opportunities to leverage KAUST’s capabilities in such areas as super-computing and data analytics.

As per MRC, Aramco is exploring further collaboration with Thailand’s national oil company PTT, as it expands its downstream presence in Asia. The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding at a ceremony in Bangkok on May 11. The companies aim to strengthen cooperation across crude oil sourcing and the marketing of refining and petrochemical products and LNG. Other potential areas of activity include blue and green hydrogen and various clean energy initiatives.

Saudi Aramco, officially the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, is a Saudi Arabian national oil and natural gas company based in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Aramco's value has been estimated at up to USD10 trillion in the Financial Times, making it the world"s most valuable company. Saudi Aramco has both the largest proven crude oil reserves, at more than 260 billion barrels, and largest daily oil production.

PetroChina completes construction of CDUs at Guangdong complex

PetroChina completes construction of CDUs at Guangdong complex

MOSCOW (MRC) -- PetroChina has completed construction of two crude distillation units (CDUs) of its integrated refining and petrochemical complex at Jieyang in Guangdong province, said the company.

The CDUs each can process 10m tonnes/year, or 200,000 bbl/day, of crude oil. Construction work of the complex, which houses a 400,000 bbl/day refinery, a 1.2m tonne/year cracker and a 2.6m tonne/year aromatics facility, has 98% completed.

PetroChina originally targeted to start up the project’s refining part in 2021. However, the COVID-19 outbreaks slowed its progress.

We remind, Honeywell, a leading international supplier and licensor of process technology, has announced in a press release that it will provide technology for an integrated petrochemical complex in China. Accordingly, China’s PetroChina Guangdong will adopt Honeywell’s advanced heavy oil processing at its new complex, which includes an annual crude processing capacity of 20 million tons as well as a 3.7 million tons/year hydro-cracking unit and a 2.6 million tons/year aromatics facility to produce PX.

Petrochina Pdvsa Guandong Petrochemical Jieyang Complex is an upcoming petrochemical complex located in Guangdong, China. The complex is expected to commence commercial operations in 2022 and is likely to have an annual petroc

Canada to toughen, but delay new standard for fuel emissions

Canada to toughen, but delay new standard for fuel emissions

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Canada will delay the start date of its regulation to reduce the carbon intensity of gasoline and diesel by seven months, but increase its stringency, according to a draft of the Clean Fuel Standard (CFS) seen by Reuters.

The CFS is one of the key pieces of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's plan to cut national emissions by 40-45% by 2030, from 2005 levels. The CFS will be officially in place by next week, the source said. The Trudeau government first proposed the CFS in 2016, and initially intended it to cover liquid, gaseous and solid fuels. It later focused on gasoline and diesel. Canada is aiming to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Under the CFS, fuel suppliers will need to cut the carbon intensity - the quantity of carbon per unit of energy - of gasoline and diesel by about 15% by 2030 from 2016 levels, up from 13% in previous drafts of the regulation. Fuel providers need to begin complying with the fuel standard on July 1, 2023, seven months later than the government was planning.

The delay is because the government is allowing a full 12 months for early credit creation that will help refineries lower initial compliance costs, a government source said. Furthermore, exported fossil fuels using technologies that reduce carbon intensity - like carbon capture and storage - will not qualify for CFS compliance credits. In a previous draft, both exported and imported fuels qualified, the source said.

The majority of crude oil and gas extracted in Canada, the world fourth-largest producer of crude, is exported. Compliance credits for technologies like carbon capture were limited to fuels meant for the domestic market because "the intent of the clean fuel regulation is to reduce emissions associated with transportation fuels specifically used in Canada," the source said.

Canadian Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault's office had no immediate comment. "Stringency could have been stronger, but the long-term view is that this sets the framework for more assertive future action," said Ian Thomson, president of Advanced Biofuels Canada, who has seen the final regulation. The industry group's members include grain handler Archer-Daniels-Midland Co and refiner BP Plc. "This reg represents a transition, not a revolution," Thomson said.

As per MRC, Canada will offer a substantial incentive to companies that invest in carbon capture technologies (CCT) and will set aside as much as USD3 B over eight years to accelerate critical mineral exploration, extraction and processing as it seeks to cut carbon emissions. In this year's budget, Canada is introducing a 60% tax credit for equipment used to capture carbon from the air, and 50% for all other capture equipment, plus a 37.5% credit for transportation and storage equipment.

Idemitsu Kosan to close 120,000 BPD Yamaguchi Refinery

Idemitsu Kosan to close 120,000 BPD Yamaguchi Refinery

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd. said it will acquire a majority stake in Seibu Oil Co., Ltd., following a board of directors meeting held on June 14, 2022, said Fuelsandlubes.

Seibu Oil will become a subsidiary of Idemitsu Kosan following the acquisition. The acquisition price was not disclosed for confidentiality purposes. Following the acquisition, Idemitsu Kosan will own 10,705,561 shares of Seibu Oil or 66.9% stake, from 38%.

Seibu Oil’s Yamaguchi Refinery in the Yamaguchi Prefecture in Japan, which has a refining capacity of 120,000 barrels/day (BPD), and 435 employees, will shut down at the end of March 2024. Seibu Oil will continue to operate the oil depot function, storage business, and solar panel power generation business, and consider developing new businesses utilizing the site of the Yamaguchi refinery. Seibu Oil will operate these businesses and Yamaguchi.

Idemitsu Kosan, which currently has a product sales contract with Seibu Oil for approximately five million kilolitres (KL)/year will consequently terminate the contract on March 31, 2024. Domestic demand for petroleum products in Japan is expected to decline further due to structural factors such as aging and declining population, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the global trend toward decarbonisation.

According to the Petroleum Association of Japan, the country’s total refining capacity as of March 31, 2022 is 3.4 million BPD. In addition to the Yamaguchi Refinery, Idemitsu Kosan has refining assets located in Chiba (190,000 BPD), Aichi (160,000 BPD) and Hokkaido (150,000 BPD).

Idemitsu Kosan said that as a “result of comprehensive examination based on such a business environment,” it was necessary to review the manufacturing/supply system of the Group. “With our management vision for 2030 as a ‘responsible transformant,’ we are working on technological innovation and business structure transformation toward the realisation of a carbon-neutral society while fulfilling our social mission of stable energy supply,” the company said.

As MRC wrote before, in early February, Idemitsu Kosan had no plan to give fresh financial aid to Vietnam's Nghi Son Refinery and Petrochemical (NSRP), which ha cut production to 80% of capacity due to a funding problem. Vietnam's largest refinery avoided a lengthy shutdown that month after a major shareholder secured short-term funding following a disagreement between shareholders about financing for crude, having earlier cut its run rate.

We remind that in October 2018, Idemitsu Kosan finalized a deal to buy out Showa Shell Sekiyu through a share swap in a deal worth about USD5.6 billion.

Clariant announces strong sales growth for first quarter

Clariant announces strong sales growth for first quarter

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Clariant announced first quarter 2022 continuing operations sales of CHF 1.262 billion, compared to CHF 1.002 billion in the first quarter of 2021, said the company.

This corresponds to a particularly strong increase of 30 % in local currency and 26 % in Swiss francs. The positive pricing impact of 16 % in part addressed continued cost inflation and also slightly outpaced the volume growth of 14 %. Care Chemicals and Natural Resources grew sales at an accelerated pace, which more than compensated for the expected slightly weaker development in Catalysis.

All geographic regions contributed meaningfully to the sales expansion in the first quarter of 2022, reflecting both continued strong demand as well as supply chain shortages. In Europe, the high 27 % local currency growth was underpinned by strong expansion in Care Chemicals as well as Natural Resources. Sales in Asia-Pacific rose by 31 %, underpinned by expansion in all Business Areas and clearly driven by 34 % higher sales in China. The Americas reported compelling growth as North American sales increased by a resounding 37 %, followed closely by Latin America at 31 %. In the Middle East & Africa, sales rose by 26 %.

In the first quarter of 2022, Care Chemicals increased sales by 44 % in local currency. This progress was supported by double-digit expansion in both Consumer Care and Industrial Applications, in particular Personal Care, Crop Solutions, Aviation, and Coatings. The consolidation of the acquired majority share in Clariant IGL Specialty Chemicals (CISC) and the acquisition of the remaining shares in Beraca further supported this positive development with an addition of 4 % local currency volume growth for the Group. Catalysis sales decreased by a slight 1 % in local currency, despite significantly higher Specialty Catalysts sales, which could not entirely counterbalance the weakness in parts of Petrochemicals and Syngas. Natural Resources sales increased by a resounding 31 % in local currency with growth attributable to all three Business Units, especially Additives.

The continuing operations EBITDA increased to CHF 220 million with a corresponding margin of 17.4 %, slightly exceeding the 17.3 % reported in the first quarter of the previous year. The increase was underpinned by operating leverage from higher sales, cost savings (CHF 4 million savings from efficiency programs), and pricing measures, which largely offset raw material price increases, supply chain constraints, and higher energy and logistics cost. The absolute EBITDA increased by a notable 27 %.

Clariant’s Pigments business was divested to a consortium comprising Heubach Group and SK Capital Partners on 3 January 2022, which resulted in a provisional pretax disposal gain of CHF 168 million and an EBITDA of CHF 160 million for discontinued operations. Total Group (continuing operations and discontinued operations) EBITDA was CHF 380 million in the first quarter of 2022.

Clariant aims to grow above the market to achieve higher profitability through sustainability and innovation. The Group concluded the final step in its significant portfolio transformation in January of 2022. Clariant is now a truly specialty chemicals company and confirms its 2025 ambition to deliver profitable growth (4 – 6 % CAGR), a Group EBITDA margin between 19 – 21 %, and a free cash flow conversion of around 40 %.

In the second quarter of 2022, Clariant expects to generate continued strong sales growth in local currency versus the prior year, underpinned by expansion in all Business Areas despite a normalizing growth environment. Sequential sales are expected to decline moderately as a result of seasonal impacts (aviation, refinery) and demand normalization in Care Chemicals and Natural Resources. Clariant expects to improve on its restated year-on-year margin levels in the second quarter of 2022. Sequentially, the Group expects to be broadly in line with its first quarter 2022 margin level, especially via operating leverage from growth, continuing pricing actions, and cost discipline to counter continued inflation in raw materials, logistics, labor, and energy cost.

For the full year 2022, Clariant expects strong growth in local currency for the Group, driven by a particularly strong first half of 2022. The current high level of uncertainty resulting from the geopolitical conflicts, suspension of business with Russia, and the resurgence of COVID-19 in China are expected to continue to impact global economic growth and consumer demand in the second half of the year. Clariant expects the high inflationary environment with regard to raw material, energy, and logistics cost as well as supply chain challenges to persist in the second half of 2022. Clariant aims to improve its year-on-year Group EBITDA margin levels via solid revenue growth driven by pricing and continued cost discipline, despite the increasingly challenging economic environment.

Lummus Technology announced it and its catalyst partner Clariant have been awarded a major contract by Fujian Meide to supply CATOFIN technology and catalysts for a new, world-scale propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit in Fuzhou, China. Already operating one PDH unit at its Fuzhou petrochemical complex, Fujian Meide is now building one of the largest PDH units in the world and has selected the CATOFIN process and catalysts for the project's second phase. The new unit will produce 900,000 mtons of propylene annually and is scheduled to commence operation in 2023.