May industrial output falls 7.2% on month in Japan

May industrial output falls 7.2% on month in Japan

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Japan’s factory output posted the biggest monthly drop in two years in May as China’s COVID-19 lockdowns and semiconductor and other parts shortages hit manufacturers, adding more pressure on an economy struggling to mount a strong recovery, said Reuters.

Japan's industrial output in May marked the steepest fall in two years, down 7.2 percent from the previous month, as the auto industry was hit by parts shortages due to a COVID-19 lockdown in Shanghai, government data showed Thursday. The seasonally adjusted index of production at factories and mines stood at 88.3 against the 2015 base of 100, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said. The decline followed a decrease of 1.5 percent in April.

With the sharpest fall since May 2020, the ministry also downgraded its basic assessment of industrial production for the second straight month to "weakening," compared with "was pausing" in April. "Many Japanese companies said they were affected more severely by the lockdown in Shanghai in May than in April," said a ministry official.

The ministry assumed logistics were disrupted for a full month in May, although the early part of April is believed to have escaped the lockdown's impact as some parts for manufacturers had already been shipped out when the measure was put in place in the Chinese commercial hub in late March.

Of the 15 industries covered by the survey, production in 13 declined. Automobile output dropped 8.0 percent from the previous month, including a 33.2 percent plunge in truck manufacturing, according to the data. Output of electronic components, such as lithium-ion batteries including those for automobiles, plummeted 11.3 percent and that of construction and production machinery fell 5.1 percent, the data showed.

Meanwhile, output of organic and inorganic chemical compounds rose 3.9 percent, and that of petroleum and coal products, such as diesel fuel and jet fuel, grew 8.9 percent. The index of industrial shipments declined 4.3 percent to 89.0, while that of inventories was down 0.1 percent at 98.5 for the third straight month of decline.

"We will continue to closely watch the effects of the development of coronavirus infections for domestic and overseas economies, shortages of parts, rising prices and the situation of Ukraine," the official said. Based on a poll of manufacturers, the ministry expects output to grow 12.0 percent in June and climb 2.5 percent in July.

As per 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. 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%.

Jiangsu Honggang Petrochemical plans to invest to build PTA phase III project

Jiangsu Honggang Petrochemical plans to invest to build PTA phase III project

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Jiangsu Honggang Petrochemical is planning to construct a third phase purified terephthalic acid (PTA) project with a capacity of 2.4m tonne/year at Lianyungang in Jiangsu province, said the company.

The project will involve an investment of around yuan (CNY) 3.9bn (USD582m) and take 28 months for construction, according to Jiangsu Eastern Shenghong. Honggang currently has 3.9m tonne/year of PTA capacity.

The project will further enhance the company’s scale advantage in PTA and boost its overall competitiveness.

In May, Shenghong Petrochemical began trial operation at its new greenfield refining chemical integration project in Lianyungang Port, Jiangsu Province, China. The USD9.93 bn complex, originally expected to begin operation in late 2021, has a crude oil processing capacity of 320,000 b/d. It also includes a 1.1 M tonnes/y ethylene facility and a 2.8 M tonnes/y aromatics plant.

Strike underway at Exxon refinery in France

Strike underway at Exxon refinery in France

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Workers at Exxon's Esso refinery in Fos-sur-Mer in southern France have gone on strike demanding higher wages, a CGT union representative told Reuters.

A company spokeswoman confirmed that a strike was under way but gave no details on its impact on production. The union representative said the strike would lead to a shutdown of the refining units, adding that the process to shut them down began on Tuesday around 8 p.m. local time.

Workers are demanding wage hikes to cover inflation. Wage negotiations are scheduled for September but the CGT wants management to also commit to a bonus. Exxon's Fos site has a refining capacity of 7 MMtpy which corresponds to about 10% of national capacity, according to the company.

The walkouts were part of wider union efforts this week that have hit other energy companies such as state-owned electric power utility EDF. At EDF, strikes have halted production of up to three gigawatts this week at a time when supply is already tight because several nuclear plants are under maintenance.

The industrial action in the energy sector comes as French President Emmanuel Macron is under pressure to alleviate pressure on household budgets from surging inflation. Next week, the government is due to introduce new legislation aimed at boosting the purchasing power of families.

As per MRC, ExxonMobil, Grieg Edge, North Ammonia, and GreenH have signed a memorandum of understanding to study potential production and distribution of green hydrogen and ammonia for lower-emission marine fuels at ExxonMobil’s Slagen terminal in Norway. The study will explore the potential for the terminal, which is powered by hydroelectricity, to produce up to 20,000 metric tons of green hydrogen per year and distribute up to 100,000 metric tons of green ammonia per year. The hydrogen would be produced from hydro-powered electrolysis.

Chemical railcar traffic in North America continued downward trend

Chemical railcar traffic in North America continued downward trend

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending June 25, 2022, said AAR.

For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 493,374 carloads and intermodal units, down 4.4 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending June 25 were 229,857 carloads, down 3.1 percent compared with the same week in 2021, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 263,517 containers and trailers, down 5.5 percent compared to 2021.

Four of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase compared with the same week in 2021. They included chemicals, up 1,103 carloads, to 32,742; farm products excl. grain, and food, up 655 carloads, to 16,396; and nonmetallic minerals, up 500 carloads, to 33,631. Commodity groups that posted decreases compared with the same week in 2021 included coal, down 4,554 carloads, to 62,041; metallic ores and metals, down 1,999 carloads, to 21,907; and miscellaneous carloads, down 1,885 carloads, to 8,928.

For the first 25 weeks of 2022, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 5,759,356 carloads, down 0.1 percent from the same point last year; and 6,613,002 intermodal units, down 6.3 percent from last year. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 25 weeks of 2022 was 12,372,358 carloads and intermodal units, a decrease of 3.5 percent compared to last year.

North American rail volume for the week ending June 25, 2022, on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 324,963 carloads, down 3.8 percent compared with the same week last year, and 348,426 intermodal units, down 5.4 percent compared with last year. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 673,389 carloads and intermodal units, down 4.6 percent. North American rail volume for the first 25 weeks of 2022 was 16,872,272 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.7 percent compared with 2021.

Canadian railroads reported 75,447 carloads for the week, down 3.3 percent, and 70,496 intermodal units, down 1.8 percent compared with the same week in 2021. For the first 25 weeks of 2022, Canadian railroads reported cumulative rail traffic volume of 3,577,573 carloads, containers and trailers, down 5.5 percent.

Mexican railroads reported 19,659 carloads for the week, down 12.9 percent compared with the same week last year, and 14,413 intermodal units, down 17.9 percent. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 25 weeks of 2022 was 922,341 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, up 1.4 percent from the same point last year.

As per MRC, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is expected to meet with refining executives on June 23 as tensions between the White House and the oil industry mount over soaring gasoline prices. The planned talks come as President Joe Biden, under pressure over high gasoline prices, has demanded that oil refining companies explain why they are not putting more fuel on the market as they reap windfall profits.

Mexican president to open oil refinery far short of completion

Mexican president to open oil refinery far short of completion

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Mexico's president will inaugurate a new oil refinery at the heart of his plan to make the country energy self-sufficient even though it is unfinished and two people familiar with the matter said it will only be running near capacity in 2025, said Reuters.

In 2019, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Energy Minister Rocio Nahle said the refinery in the southern port of Dos Bocas would be ready in 2022 for USD8 B, in defiance of oil industry predictions that that goal was not feasible.

Lopez Obrador, a left-leaning energy nationalist, last week conceded the refinery would cost more, putting the price tag at some USD12 B. But he emphasized the refinery would be producing gasoline "at full capacity" next year. Still, three people familiar with the project, including a source at state oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), say it will cost billions more to complete, and take longer.

The Dos Bocas refinery is one of the flagship projects of Lopez Obrador, who said his vision has been vindicated by disruptions in energy supply caused by the war in Ukraine. But the president will only inaugurate the first stage of the complex of 17 plants whose construction Pemex is overseeing. The so-called Olmeca refinery is due to have processing capacity of up to 340,000 barrels per day (bpd).

Two of the sources said the energy ministry does not expect the refinery in the president's home state of Tabasco to reach 80% capacity until late 2025 or even 2026. Neither Pemex nor the ministry replied to requests for comment.

A third source familiar with planning said the refinery would not be completely ready before spring 2024, underlining the risk that it could be producing well short of capacity by the time Lopez Obrador leaves office on Sept. 30, 2024. The Pemex source agreed that it would not be in operation before 2024 even if the infrastructure was complete.

That is because many contracts with companies working on the refinery are due to run until then, the source said. "So it's not going to be ready, and you have to add on months of testing," the source said. Energy Minister Nahle earlier this month declined to say when the refinery would produce its first barrel of gasoline, pointing to the complexity of the project. "I don't want to give a date because it would be irresponsible," she told Mexican radio.

Pressed on whether it could be in a year, she said: "A year is a reasonable amount of time, I'd like to do it sooner". Lopez Obrador wants to ramp up Pemex's total refining capacity to between 1.8 MM and 2 MMbpd, counting Mexico's six refineries, plus Olmeca, and Deer Park in Texas, so he can cease to import gasoline from abroad by next year.

Pemex data show that in the first five months of 2022, average processing output at the six domestic refineries was just shy of 828,493 bpd, barely half of their combined capacity. Deer Park's output meanwhile stood at 282,000 bpd of crude. The six domestic plants produced 288,000 bpd of gasoline, a figure that compared with imports of 368,700 bpd and total domestic sales of the fuel of 656,600 bpd, the data show.

As per MRC, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Wednesday that a new refinery owned by state-run Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) will reach full operating capacity by next year, despite industry experts saying it will take until at least 2024. Lopez Obrador said in a regular news conference that the Olmeca refinery along the coast of Tabasco, set to open July 2, will go through a "trial period" of several months before beginning production next year. The president and Energy Minister Rocio Nahle said three years ago that the 340,000 barrel-a-day refinery would be up and running by 2023.