Cameroon and oil trader Vitol reach agreement over refinery debt restructure

Cameroon and oil trader Vitol reach agreement over refinery debt restructure

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Cameroon's national oil refining company, SONARA, has reached a deal with oil trader Vitol to restructure its commercial debt towards the Dutch energy and commodity trading company, said Reuters.

The deal could be a step towards improving liquidity and guarantee supply of refined products to Cameroon, which like other countries in the region, has faced shortages due to the Ukraine crisis.

Cameroon's problems have been compounded by its heavily indebted and inactive 42,000-barrel-per-day-capacity refinery, which has been offline since May 2019 after a storage tank exploded, sparking a fire and bringing down four production units.

SONARA, which operates the country's lone refinery and is also responsible for imports of refined products, owes it trading partners around USD391.80 MM out of a total debt of USD1.5 B as at Dec. 31, 2019. The deal signed on Thursday will restructure and reschedule payment of SONARA's debt towards Vitol, its biggest creditor and lead supplier of crude oil and refined products.

SONARA's two debts to Vitol stand at around USD279 MM. Under the agreement, SONARA will repay the debt over a 10-year period at an interest rate of 5.5%, according to the deal document seen by Reuters.

Cameroon's finance minister, Louis Paul Motaze, said during the signing ceremony that the arrangement will help ease the company from distress. "The insolvency of SONARA posed a risk to the country's supply of petroleum products, as well as a threat of breakdown of the national banking system with regards to the volume of commitments at stake," Motaze said.

The deal is the first phase of SONARA's debt repayment towards creditors. Similar conventions will be signed with other oil traders, Motaze said. Pierre Barbe, Vitol's director for Africa, said the deal was welcomed by the financial community.

"The putting in place of a repayment mechanism is well perceived by us and the financial community. This will contribute much to the confidence among foreign investors," Barbe said after the signing of the agreement. The Cameroon government said last week it will launch a tender soon in search of partners to build a new refinery that will include a new hydrocracking unit.

We remind, Vitol has entered into a strategic partnership with Danish company WPU, which recycles waste plastic into plastic oils. Vitol will offtake and market the recycled plastic oils generated by WPU’s new pyrolysis plant in Faarevejle in Odsherred Municipality north of Copenhagen, which is expected to open in early 2023, with an additional two plants to be opened by Q3 2023. The combined capacity of these plants will be 160,000 metric tpy of waste plastic.
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Argentine oil workers strike after refinery explosion kills three

Argentine oil workers strike after refinery explosion kills three

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Argentina's largest oil union said it launched an indefinite strike on Thursday after an explosion at a refinery in the western province of Neuquen killed three, said Reuters.

The Neuquen government said a fire broke out at dawn in a storage tank at the New American Oil (NAO) refinery in the town of Plaza Huincul, in the center of the province. The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

"Fed up with the lack of commitment to the lives of workers, the board of directors of the Private Oil and Gas Union of Rio Negro, Neuquen and La Pampa, decided to launch a total strike of activities in the territorial scope of the organization," the union said, adding they are asking for greater safety measures.

The union is the largest in the country, representing some 25,000 workers. It covers activities in Vaca Muerta, the world's second-largest unconventional gas reserve and fourth-largest oil reserve. A union source told Reuters the blast also burned a fourth worker, who is out of danger, and injured two firefighters.

Ernesto Karstan, second chief of the volunteer firefighters of Plaza Huincul, said in an interview with local radio that they had to evacuate after the burning tank collapsed. "We have burned trucks outside that have already been extinguished and the tank that was on fire has just collapsed," Karstan said in the interview. "We entered and had to evacuate due to the collapse of the tank."

We remind, Argentina's state oil company YPF and its Malaysian counterpart, Petronas, inked a deal on Thursday to build a major liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant and a pipeline to transport the fuel, as demand for the fossil fuel spikes globally. An agreement could be announced as soon as the end of the week, likely ahead of the Gastech conference in Milan that begins on 5 September. Confirmation from YPF and PETRONAS could not be reached before publication.
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Sines refinery to shut down for 25 days in October

Sines refinery to shut down for 25 days in October

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Portugal's 220,000 barrels per day Sines refinery, owned by Galp Energia, will shut down for 25 days starting on a yet unspecified date in October for planned maintenance, said Reuters.

The official said maintenance activities will be mainly on the Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) and Atmospheric Distillation Unit (ADU), but Galp nevertheless maintained its full-year guidance for refining throughput at around 90 million barrels of oil equivalent.

The Sines refinery, south of the capital Lisbon, is the only one in Portugal.

We remind, Spanish energy giant Repsol is investing 100 MM euros to reduce emissions at its 186,000 bpd Tarragona refinery in Spain, which begins two months of maintenance at the end of the week. The distillation and hydrotreating fuel units will stop simultaneously on Sept. 23, while the remaining areas of the Tarragona complex, such as the chemical plants, will continue to operate normally
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Lukoil names new head for Italian refinery amid sale talks

Lukoil names new head for Italian refinery amid sale talks

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Lukoil has named a new top manager at its refinery in Sicily amid efforts by the Italian government to find a buyer for the plant and shield it from sanctions on Russian oil, said Reuters.

The Russian group has picked Eugene Maniakhine as director general at its ISAB plant in the Sicilian town of Priolo, Lukoil's Italian unit said in a statement on Thursday.

The new DG, who has previously held various managerial positions at Lukoil in Switzerland and the Netherlands, was presented to the staff on Tuesday. According to an industrial source, U.S. private equity fund Crossbridge Energy Partners is interested in buying the refinery and is reviewing the plant's business.

Crossbridge and Lukoil declined to comment. A sale to a non-Russian investor would avert the risk of a halt of ISAB, which accounts for around 20% of Italian refining capacity and directly employs some 1,000 workers in one of the poorest areas of Italy.

Unions and local administrations have been asking for the government to intervene after the European union decided an embargo on seaborne Russian oil due to start in December.

Italy's Ecological Transition minister has recently said that Rome favours the sale of ISAB to an international buyer as an alternative to nationalisation.

The plant has recorded a turnover of around 3 B euros (USD2.96 billion) last year.

We remind, LUKOIL approved Energy Saving and Energy Efficiency Improvement Program for entities of the LUKOIL Group for 2023 and for the period of 2024-2025. The Program will help the Company to save about 9 million GJ of fuel and energy resources over the next three years. The Program provides, among other things, for upgrading pump and process equipment, optimizing production processes, patterns of power flow distribution and heat exchange between process facilities as well as introducing modern lighting systems.

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Technip Energies enters engineering services agreement with INEOS Acetyls for acetic acid technology

Technip Energies enters engineering services agreement with INEOS Acetyls for acetic acid technology

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Technip Energies has reached an agreement with INEOS Acetyls as their sole supplier of early engineering services in support of the deployment and application of INEOS Acetyls CATIVA technology, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

This agreement continues Technip Energies long lasting involvement in supporting the deployment of the world leading CATIVA® acetic acid technology, with its proven technology integration expertise and energy efficient processes.

Acetic acid is one of the most versatile organic chemicals manufactured today with applications in almost every industry. It is a significant chemical reagent and industrial chemical used in the production of soft drink bottles (PET), manufacture of vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) and purified terephthalic acid (PTA). It is used to produce many synthetic fibers and fabrics, as well as a host of household, food, and other applications that are essential to everyday life.

Under this agreement, Technip Energies will provide early engineering support to INEOS’ recently announced investment into a world scale acetic acid plant, and associated derivatives, on the US gulf coast.

Bhaskar Patel, SVP Sustainable Fuels, Chemicals & Circularity of Technip Energies commented: “We are pleased to continue our collaboration with INEOS and to contribute to their global expansion plans. Technip Energies is committed to continue supporting their leading CATIVA® acetic acid technology deployment by bringing our engineering and technology expertise. We look forward to integrate this technology into world scale acetic acid plants for INEOS."

Graeme Stewart, INEOS Operations Director, commented: “We are very pleased to continue our well established working relationship with Technip Energies who have a strong record in developing and delivering large scale global projects, and complement very well the INEOS teams capabilities”.

As per MRC, Technip Energies announced the purchase of Biosuccinium technology from DSM, adding a technology solution to its growing Sustainable Chemicals portfolio. This technology synergizes with recently developed proprietary bio-polymer technologies and provides a commercially referenced production of bio-based succinic acid (bio-SAc) that serves as feedstock for the production of polybutylene succinate (PBS).
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