Iran boosts crude supply to Venezuela for refining, freeing up exportable oil

Iran boosts crude supply to Venezuela for refining, freeing up exportable oil

Iran is increasing supplies of a key crude grade that Venezuela is using to boost its aging refineries' productivity and free domestic oil for exports, documents seen by Reuters showed.

The two U.S.-sanctioned countries have strengthened energy cooperation in recent years, swapping Venezuelan heavy oil and other commodities for Iranian gasoline, condensate, refinery parts and technical assistance. The exchange has grown since May when state companies form both nations struck a contract to revamp Venezuela's El Palito refinery, after earlier work at the country's largest facility.

Venezuela's state-run oil company PDVSA is set to receive 4 MM barrels of Iranian Heavy crude this month, an increase from 1.07 MM barrels imported in June and a volume similar to May, when a supply contract with Iranian state firm Naftiran Intertrade Co (NICO) was signed, one of the documents showed. The cargoes are expected to arrive in Venezuela's Jose port by the end of the month on Iran-flagged supertankers Herby and Serena, according to the document. The vessels' transponders were last recorded passing near Fujairah, in the United Arab Emirates last month, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

PDVSA and Venezuela's oil ministry did not immediately reply to requests for comment. PDVSA is refining the Iranian crude at facilities craving suitable crude to increase output of motor fuels. The supply also is allowing the state-run company to free its lightest grades for blending and exporting.

The Middle Eastern oil is expected to help PDVSA recover stocks of its flagship exportable grade, Merey, the Venezuelan crude preferred by Asian refiners, after falling to about 1 MM barrels in early July, according to the documents. PDVSA also has continued importing about 2 MM barrels per month of Iranian condensate, helping boost output of exportable blends.

Venezuela's oil exports in June fell to the lowest level since October 2020 amid repairs at the country's main oil port and delays to authorize shipments following contract changes imposed by PDVSA demanding cargo prepayment.

As per MRC, Production at Venezuela's largest refinery, which can process about 645,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd), was halted late on Saturday by an electrical fault that caused a blackout, according to five people familiar with the matter. Amuay is the only refinery producing gasoline at the Paraguana Refinery Center (CRP) following a halt in some operations at the neighboring Cardon refinery while a reformer fault is fixed.

BASF stabilizes recycled plastics used to protect pineapples from sunburn in Malaysia

BASF stabilizes recycled plastics used to protect pineapples from sunburn in Malaysia

BASF and 3T Industries Sdn Bhd, a leading recycling company in Malaysia dealing with post-industrial and post-consumer recyclates, are helping pineapple plantations in Malaysia to increase their yields and save resources, said the company.

For the first time, 3T Industries has applied BASF’s IrgaCycleTM UV033 DD to enhance 100% recycled high density polyethylene (HDPE) sheets used as protectors for pineapples. While pineapples require a warm and humid climate, they are susceptible to damage from solar radiation and high temperatures (> 32°C) which can significantly reduce marketable yield and cut deep into a grower’s profit. Symptoms include sunburn or bleaching which are visible as yellow-white skin that turns pale grey or brown upon damage to the tissue underneath. This damaged tissue is susceptible to disease and infestation. The HDPE protector shields the fruit from direct sunlight while still allowing photosynthesis to occur.

“Plastic additives specifically for the agricultural sector are highly customized to fulfil critical customer needs for enhanced crop protection solutions,” says Hermann Althoff, Senior Vice President, Performance Chemicals Asia Pacific. “We offer full customer support in all questions of quality improvement of recyclates to make them viable materials in new applications." Previously, 3T Industries used a combination of antioxidants and light stabilizers to achieve the performance requirements stipulated by the grower – the HDPE protectors needed to last through the intended service lifetime of four seasons.

IrgaCycle offers a one-pack solution that is immediately available for the recycler without the need for further premixing. It is also more efficient at lower concentrations compared to traditional antioxidant systems and reduces the overall quantity of additives required. This results in easy and accurate dosing, improved product quality, as well as upgraded recyclate for use in long-term applications. “We use our expertise in recycling technology and post-consumer resins to provide better solutions to consumers and communities,” says PH Tan, Managing Director of 3T Industries. “With IrgaCycle, we were able to use recycled feedstock to design a new product that features a high amount of recyclate content and makes more sustainable agricultural plastics possible."

BASF not only provided 3T Industries with the suitable additive solution, but also the technical recommendations to stabilize the recycled polymers during processing and outdoor weathering. This is important as an effective and sustainable application of recycled materials depends on, amongst others, the optimization of process conditions and modifying agents.

Launched in 2021, IrgaCycle consists of a series of plastic additive formulations, which enable recycled plastics to be reused for the production of high-value plastics in combination with virgin materials. The additive solution addresses specific quality issues associated with recycled resins, such as limited processability, poor long-term thermal stability and insufficient protection from outdoor weathering.

The IrgaCycle range is offered as part of the VALERAS™ portfolio. In addition to enabling plastics circularity with IrgaCycle, VALERAS solutions bring significant sustainability value to plastic applications by improving durability, saving energy, as well as reducing waste and emissions.

As per MRC, BASF gave final approval for the construction of its Zhanjiang chemical complex with the focus now on building a steam cracker and several plants for producing petrochemicals and intermediates. The site, which will be the company's third-largest globally once complete, is due to be fully operational by 2030. The company will focus on building the core of the site, which will include a steam cracker and several other petrochemicals and intermediates.

BASF is the leading chemical company. It produces a wide range of chemicals, for example solvents, amines, resins, glues, electronic-grade chemicals, industrial gases, basic petrochemicals and inorganic chemicals. The most important customers for this segment are the pharmaceutical, construction, textile and automotive industries.

Petrobras set to cut gasoline prices

Petrobras set to cut gasoline prices

Brazil's Petrobras will reduce gasoline prices at its refineries by about 5% on Wednesday, the state-run oil company said in a statement, its first price cut since late 2021, making analysts review projections for the country's inflation, said Reuters.

Federal lawmakers and President Jair Bolsonaro have been putting intense pressure on the company's leadership to bring down prices at the pump ahead of an October election. The government has already provided some relief to consumers by effectively capping state fuel taxes and subsidizing truckers, a key constituency for Bolsonaro, who trails leftist former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in the polls.

Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as the company is formally known, said average prices will drop to 3.86 reais (USD0.714) per liter from 4.06 reais. It characterized the move as consistent with its official policy of pegging domestic fuel rates to international prices, with some room for variation during periods of unusual volatility. "This reduction follows international benchmark prices, which have stabilized at a lower level for gasoline, and is in line with Petrobras' pricing policies," the company said.

The move comes after three consecutive price hikes this year, including one of roughly 20% in mid-March, and takes the average prices back to levels last seen in June. Brazil-listed preferred shares in Petrobras were up 0.9% in afternoon trade, slightly outperforming the nation's benchmark Bovespa equities index. JP Morgan revised down Brazil's 2022 inflation outlook due to the announcement, which it called a "surprise". "We now look for inflation to end the year at 7.4% over year ago instead of the 7.6% we were forecasting before," it said. The revised projection remains far above the central bank's official target of inflation at 3.5% this year.

As per MRC, Petrobras’ PBR eligibility committee recently stated that two of the Brazilian government's seven nominees for a refurbished board at the company did not meet the requirements to hold the position. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro picked the two ineligible nominees – Jonathas Assuncao Salvador Nery de Castro and Ricardo Soriano de Alencar. Both of them, however, are not qualified to become the board members of PBR based on the company’s internal bylaws, the committee established, per the minutes of its last meeting.

As per MRC, Petrobras’ PBR eligibility committee recently stated that two of the Brazilian government's seven nominees for a refurbished board at the company did not meet the requirements to hold the position. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro picked the two ineligible nominees – Jonathas Assuncao Salvador Nery de Castro and Ricardo Soriano de Alencar. Both of them, however, are not qualified to become the board members of PBR based on the company’s internal bylaws, the committee established, per the minutes of its last meeting.

Mexico Alpek Q2 earnings rise

Mexico Alpek Q2 earnings rise

Mexican polyester producer Alpek reported on Tuesday a rise in Q2 earnings because sales rose faster than costs, said the company.

The company attributed the increase to high demand and costs for marine freight, which restricted imports.Volumes rose because of the recent acquisition of OCTAL. Excluding that deal, volumes would have been down 2% quarter on quarter and flat year on year because of scheduled maintenance at a plant.

Earnings rose because of higher margins.

Volumes fell because of slightly lower demand for polypropylene (PP). This was partially offset by higher volumes for expandable polystyrene (EPS).

Earnings rose year on year because of higher margins for PP.

Looking ahead, Alpek raised its guidance because margins were higher than expected during the first half of the year for PET, PP and EPS. Overall, Alpek's outlook remains positive for the rest of 2022.

We remind, Alpek, Indorama and FENC announced earlier that Corpus Christi Polymers (CCP) will resume construction on the facility in August. The plant is expected to begin production of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and purified terephthalic acid (PTA) in early 2025. Construction of the state-of-the-art plan is resuming following a period of pandemic-related disruptions. The new facility is expected to be the largest vertically integrated PTA-PET production plant in the Americas, with annual capacities of 1.1m tonnes of PET and 1.3m tonnes of PTA. It will employ three state-of-the-art technologies.

LyondellBasell looks at boosting capacity of Channelview plant

LyondellBasell looks at boosting capacity of Channelview plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- LyondellBasell's sprawling chemical plant in Channelview may get even bigger, said Houstonchronicle.

The international chemical giant, operated out of Houston, said Wednesday it is evaluating an expansion to potentially boost the Channelview plant's ethylene capacity by 550 million pounds per year. Preliminary engineering work has begun to determine the feasibility of the project. If LyondellBasell decides to proceed, the expansion could be finished by 2017.

Among the largest petro­chemical plants along the Gulf Coast, the Channelview facility covers 3,900 acres and employs 2,000 people. The north side of the complex makes feedstocks such as ethylene, propylene and benzene for operations at the south plant, which makes propylene oxide, styrene monomer and other chemical building blocks for the manufacturing of clothing, bedding, packaging and automotive parts.

The proposed expansion project would be the latest investment for the company, which has announced a series of expansions and construction projects in recent years. The U.S. shale boom touched off a petrochemical resurgence along the Gulf Coast, thanks to vast supplies of natural gas, which have created cheap and abundant fuel and feedstock for chemical plants. Nearly 200 projects worth USD124 billion have been announced in the past four years.

At Channelview, Lyondell has work underway to install two large cracking furnaces slated to boost production by 250 million pounds per year. Construction is set to finish early next year. The company recently completed a project in La Porte to add 800 million pounds of ethylene capacity and the same amount of capacity is being added to its Corpus Christi plant, with work slated to be done in late 2015.

The capacity boost provided by those projects is equal to building a new stand-alone cracking unit, the company said. Combined, these expansions will boost LyondellBasell's ethylene capacity to1.85 billion pounds per year. Adding to the Channelview plant could raise that number up to 2.4 billion pounds per year.

As per MRC, LyondellBasell, the world's largest polyolefins producer, has shut its Equistar Chemicals polypropylene (PP) plant in Lake Charles, Louisiana, following a lightning strike. The lightning strike occurred July 13.

Equistar Chemicals, LP, headquartered in Houston, Texas, is a joint venture between Lyondell Chemical Company and Millennium Chemicals Inc. and combines their olefins, polymers and oxygenated chemicals businesses. Equistar is one of the world's largest producers of ethylene, propylene and polyethylene and a leading producer of ethylene oxide, ethylene glycol, polypropylene, specialty polymers, wire and cable resins, and polyolefin powders. Equistar was formed in December 1997 and has 17 manufacturing sites located primarily along the U.S. Gulf Coast and in the Midwest.