U.S. energy secretary urges refiners not to increase fuel exports

U.S. energy secretary urges refiners not to increase fuel exports

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The U.S. Energy Secretary urged domestic oil refiners this month to not further increase exports of fuels like gasoline and diesel, adding that the Biden administration may need to consider taking action if the plants do not build inventories, said Reuters.

U.S. refiners have boosted oil product exports this month as domestic crude oil production rose and global fuel demand continued to recover. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, in a letter sent Aug. 18, urged seven refiners including Valero, ExxonMobil and Chevron, to build supplies of fuels as the United States enters peak hurricane season.

"Given the historic level of U.S. refined product exports, I again urge you to focus in the near term on building inventories in the United States, rather than selling down current stocks and further increasing exports," Granholm said in the letter sent to refiners, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.

High U.S. oil product exports have been a concern for the administration of President Joe Biden this summer as gasoline prices briefly hit a record of USD5 a gallon, helping drive inflation to 40-year highs. Gasoline prices have since fallen to about USD3.86 per gallon.

Federal weather forecasters have projected an above-average Atlantic hurricane season, which can be a perilous time for refineries. Still-high gasoline prices remain a threat to Biden's fellow Democrats ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm elections, when they hope to retain control of both chambers of Congress.

Granholm said the administration is talking with state officials along the East Coast, where gasoline levels are at their lowest in nearly a decade. It is putting the gasoline and heating oil reserves in the U.S. Northeast, which hold 2 MM barrels of fuel, on "active standby" for potential release, and preparing other emergency contingency actions, she said.

The administration hopes that companies will "proactively address this need" of building inventories, she said. If that does not happen, the administration "will need to consider additional federal requirements or other emergency measures," Granholm added, without providing details.

In a wide-ranging meeting with the same refiners in June, Granholm backed off a plan to ban U.S. fuel exports, but the idea has never fully left the table. Refiners have said a ban could swamp domestic markets with fuel and cause some plants to cut output, which could decrease supply and put upward pressure on prices. In addition, Northeast refiners import crude and fuels, trade that could be affected by an export ban.

As per MRC, North American chemical railcar traffic rose by 2.3% year on year to 46,132 loadings for the week ended 20 August. For this week, total U.S. weekly rail traffic was 501,548 carloads and intermodal units, up 0.1 percent compared with the same week last year. Total carloads for the week ending August 20 were 237,404 carloads, up 2.9 percent compared with the same week in 2021, while U.S. weekly intermodal volume was 264,144 containers and trailers, down 2.4 percent compared to 2021.


U.S issues fuel, truck driver waivers after bp Whiting shutdown

U.S issues fuel, truck driver waivers after bp Whiting shutdown

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department took steps to help alleviate potential fuel shortages in four states after the unanticipated shutdown of the bp Whiting, Indiana refinery, said Reuters.

Reuters reported Friday the 435,000 barrel-per-day refinery was shut down and undergoing damage assessment following loss of electrical power and cooling water systems in a Wednesday fire. The EPA said Saturday it waived through Sept. 15 federal regulations for fuel volatility on gasoline sold in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, to facilitate the supply of fuel.

EPA said Administrator Michael Regan "determined that extreme and unusual fuel supply circumstances exist and has granted a temporary waiver to help ensure that an adequate supply of gasoline is available in the affected areas until normal supply to the region can be restored."

EPA and the Energy Department are "continuing to actively monitor the fuel supply situation resulting from the bp refinery shutdown and considering additional measures to alleviate the impact," EPA said. The U.S. Transportation Department issued an exemption to maximum driving time rules for truck drivers for those transporting gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other refined petroleum products to the four states.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer's office on Saturday said she was working "to ensure continued access to an adequate supply of motor fuels by waiving regulations on motor vehicle hours-of-service rules, as the effects of the outage at the plant are expected to spread across the region and will impact drivers transporting such fuel."

Whitmer signed an executive order Saturday exempting motor carriers and drivers transporting fuel state maximum driving and on-duty limits. Whitmer also temporarily suspended regulations to accelerate the transition to the fall fuel supply in conjunction with the EPA action.

Whitmer's office said Whiting provides approximately 20% to 25% of the refined gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel used collectively by Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. "While efforts are underway to find ways to replace the supply from the Whiting refinery, disruptions in the fuel supply are likely," Whitmer's office said.

We remind, most of the units at bp Plc’s 435,000 barrel-per-day Whiting, Indiana, refinery were out of production on Thursday following a Wednesday night fire, said sources familiar with plant operations. The company has said some units were shut by the electrical fire and those units would be restarting. The fire affected utilities to multiple units at the refinery, and bp has called in most of the refinery’s employees to work on repairs and restarts, the sources said.
The incident at the Whiting refinery, the largest in the Midwest and bp’s largest anywhere in the world, drove up motor fuel prices in the Chicago market.

Protection from microbes gives plastic products a longer life

Protection from microbes gives plastic products a longer life
MOSCOW (MRC) -- Plastics, like other materials, are constantly exposed to the environment where they are located and, depending on the surrounding conditions, a broad array of microbes can exist on their surfaces, said Sustainableplastics.

This can potentially lead to a range of problems, from unpleasant odours to deterioration, that affect the sustainability of both virgin and recycled plastics in products. Whatever the industry, incorporating built-in antimicrobial additives into plastics to help reduce the growth of microorganisms and odours is one way to offer long-lasting product protection and sustainability.

Plastics are everywhere in our lives and, due to their versatility, have replaced steel in cars, paper in packaging, and wood in furniture. Its revolutionary discovery has led to the development of diverse, flexible and cost-effective materials that have influenced fashion and style, and made previously unattainable products available to all, from everyday necessities to once-in-a-lifetime luxuries. The demand for plastics is therefore continuing to skyrocket. However, single-use, disposable plastics have a long, none too complimentary history, with a bad reputation for posing environmental threats, from being pervasive in landfills and causing toxic pollution, to contributing to global warming and natural resource depletion.

Consequently, pressures from governments and consumers to offer more environmentally friendly plastic solutions are forcing a rise in demand for more durable, reusable or recyclable plastic products that result in less waste. However, plastic surfaces can sometimes succumb to the build-up of bacteria, moulds and mildew, leaving unpleasant odours and an unattractive appearance. This problem is exacerbated by reusing plastics that may already have been affected by microorganisms, for example, in storage containers, bottles and packaging used for products such as food, drinks and cosmetics. If these surfaces are not properly washed and disinfected, substances such as food debris or shampoo can collect in cracks and hard-to-clean corners, creating a nutrient-rich source for microbes. It is an issue that is prevalent in many sectors where manufacturers employ recycled plastics in their products, from toys and shower or hospital curtains to interiors and exteriors in buildings, automobiles and planes, in a move towards sustainability.

We remind, Technip Energies and Agilyx announced today the launch of the TruStyrenyx™ brand, the only all-in-one solution for the chemical recycling of polystyrene. TruStyrenyx™ combines Agilyx’s pyrolysis process and Technip Energies purification technology, yielding a recycled styrene monomer with exceptional high purity. Styrene monomer is used to make numerous plastics and other polymers. It is one of the three primary components of ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene), can make the pure polymer polystyrene, and is an ingredient in various synthetic rubbers.

Shell Catalysts & Technologies and Braskem agree to extend relationship

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Leaders from Braskem and Shell Catalysts & Technologies (SC&T) met at Shell’s research center in Amsterdam recently to participate in a technical exchange, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

During the meeting, SC&T and Braskem agreed to extend their 15-year relationship for an additional five years. SC&T provides technical support and works with Braskem to improve operational performance and maintenance.

“We appreciate the long-standing relationship between SC&T and Braskem,” said Aloisio Souza Azevedo, global process manager for Braskem. “Shell is a key partner to Braskem and this relationship has brought us safety and added value to our operations. We look forward to continuing this relationship for the next five years and to our efforts to explore areas of collaboration and navigate together our transformation agenda."

Braskem and SC&T have been working to define a transformation map of initiatives in order to reach targets for operational excellence and decarbonization. A new technical services agreement will continue to help strengthen facility processes and maintenance.

“We are thrilled and humbled to announce that Braskem and SC&T agreed to build upon their strong relationship with an extended agreement,” said Diego Esposito, SC&T sales director for Latin America. “This is result of the fruitful 15 year relationship based on trust, collaboration and learning from each other. SC&T is committed to continue partnering with Braskem and to working together with them on their energy transition agenda."

As per MRC, Shell said it had to cut output at its German Rhineland refining facility, which makes fuels, heating oil and petrochemicals, citing low Rhine levels that have made the transport of goods via the river more challenging. "Due to the low Rhine water level we have reduced the capacity of Shell Energy and Chemicals Park Rhineland. The situation regarding supply is challenging but carefully managed," the company said in an e-mailed statement. The company did not say to what level capacity of the site which can process up to 17 MMt of crude oil a year, or 345,000 bpd, had been cut.


Sinopec starts first carbon capture, storage facility, plans another two by 2025

Sinopec starts first carbon capture, storage facility, plans another two by 2025

MOSCOW (MRC) -- China's Sinopec Corp said on Monday it has put into operation the country's largest carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) facility in east China, and plans to build two more plants of similar size by 2025, said Reuters.

The state oil giant is one of the leading companies building pilot CCUS projects in China, part of the country's goal to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030.

The new CCUS project, which started construction just over a year ago, involves capturing carbon dioxide produced from Sinopec's Qilu refinery in eastern Shandong province during a hydrogen-making process, and then injecting it into 73 oil wells in the nearby Shengli oilfield.

Sinopec has estimated that 10.68 MMt of carbon dioxide will be injected into the oilfield over the next 15 years, boosting crude oil production by nearly 3 MMt.

Currently the CO2 from the Qilu refinery is transported by trucks to the oilfield, but Sinopec expects to complete a pipeline by the end of the year to move the CO2, which will be the first of its kind in China.

"While China's CCUS remains at an experimental stage, it's on a par with the levels of global peers, although lagging in some key technological know-how," Sinopec said in a press release.

Sinopec will explore setting up a CCUS research and development center by 2025, focusing on developing frontier technologies such as combining CCUS with wind and solar power, CCUS with hydrogen energy and biomass, the company said.

Last year Sinopec captured and stored more than 1.52 MMt of carbon dioxide. It aims to build another two pilot projects over the next few years in nearby Huadong and Jiangsu oilfields.

We remind, Sinopec and PetroChina -- two of the world's biggest energy firms -- will apply for "voluntary delisting" of their American depositary shares, the companies said in separate statements. The Aluminum Corporation of China, also known as Chalco, as well as China Life Insurance and a Shanghai-based Sinopec subsidiary.