Strikes knock already struggling French refined products sector

Strikes knock already struggling French refined products sector

MOSCOW (MRC) -- More than 60% of France's refining capacity is offline as strikes over pay and unplanned maintenance pile pressure on the refined products sector, said Reuters.

The outages come as Europe looks to ease its dependence on Russian fuel. Here are the oil companies and sites affected by strike action and outages:

French unions CGT and Force Ouvriere called for a strike on Sept. 20 following wage negotiations with Exxon Mobil Corp related to rising inflation in Europe. Strike action continued for the 11th day on Sept. 30 after failed wage talks.

We have temporarily put limitations in place for customers in accordance with the terms of our supply contracts. We have a supply response team in place to supply product from unaffected sources," the spokesperson said."

Exxon began gradually closing the 240,000 barrel per day (bpd) Port Jerome-Gravenchon oil refinery on Sept. 20, a process completed on the weekend of Sept. 24.

Exxon began closing the NGD petrochemical site on Sept. 20 as a result of strike action and completed the shutdown on the weekend of Sept. 24.

Strike action spread to Exxon’s 140,000 bpd Fos-Sur-Mer refinery on Sept. 21, leading to a gradual shutdown of the plant, which was completed on the weekend of Sept. 24.

Workers at Exxon’s Toulouse depot joined the strike on Sept. 22 but Exxon said that operations at its terminals have not been impacted.

Strikes over pay disrupted TotalEnergies SE's oil products refining and delivery for a fourth day on Friday, with four of its French plants hit by continuing industrial action by workers.

A TotalEnergies spokesperson said there is no impending fuel shortage due to the strikes as the company has built up stocks and is importing regularly.

"The objective of the strike is not disruption, but to obtain a negotiation on wage measures compensating for inflation," CGT union delegate Thierry Defresne told Reuters. It is possible the strikes will continue past Friday, he added.

France's largest sugar maker Tereos on Thursday said it had to slow output slightly at some factories and TotalEnergies had said the strikes would prevent it from supplying diesel fuel until the end of the week.

TotalEnergies is temporarily halting production at its 240,000 bpd Gonfreville refinery, the company said on Wednesday. Deliveries at Gonfreville have stopped and it is still in the process of being shut down, said Defresne.

Deliveries at the 240,000 bpd Gonfreville refinery in Normandy have stopped and it is being shut down, Defresne said.

TotalEnergies and trade union CGT said that strikes were also underway at the La Mede, Feyzin and Flanders refineries.

TotalEnergies' 119,000 bpd Feyzin oil refinery in southern France was taken offline on Sept. 16 after a leak at the fluid catalytic cracking unit. The refinery is likely to remain closed for four to six weeks from that date, CGT's Defresne said.

We remind, France's refined products sector is under strain as a result of strike action over pay and unplanned maintenance which have led to more than 40% of its refining capacity being taken offline.The outages come at a time where Europe is looking to ease its dependence on Russian fuel.

China manufacturing activities edged higher in September

China manufacturing activities edged higher in September

MOSCOW (MRC) -- According to the latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), manufacturing activities in China picked up in September, registering 50.1 points compared to 49.4 in August, said Commonplast.

The Chinese government introduces more than 50 different economic policies to stimulate growth since May, which all started coming into effect while the heatwaves have ended, allowing the manufacturing sector to come back.

However, the official non-manufacturing data which includes the service and construction sector fell 2 percentage points from the previous month to 50.6. Authorities said construction activities saw a brisk expansion, but the tepid performance in consumer service businesses such as retailing, aviation, transportation, hospitality, catering, and resident services weighed on the market.

A sub-index for new order recovered 0.6 points from the previous month but remained in the contraction territory, standing at 49.8 in September.

We remind, Johnson Matthey (JM), and Dow announced Anqing Shuguang Petrochemical Oxo Co., Ltd. (Anqing), has licensed LP Oxo Technology to produce approximately 200 kta 2-ethylhexanol and 25 kta iso-butyraldehdye. This licence, the second LP Oxo Licence for Anqing and the 23rd licence of LP Oxo? Technology served in China, will support expanding Anqing's oxo business in the growing oxo alcohols' market. The plant is expected to come online in 2024. Anqing first started operating LP Oxo? Technology in 2016 to produce 100kta 2-ethylhexanol, 115 kta nomal butanol and 23 kta iso butanol.

Orlen Unipetrol acquires recycling firm Remaq

Orlen Unipetrol acquires recycling firm Remaq

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The ORLEN Unipetrol Group (Prague, Czech Republic) announced it expansion into the segment of mechanical recycling by acquiring REMAQ, a leading player in the region of Central and Eastern Europe, in its group, sai Chemengonline.

An Italian-Czech company, REMAQ, s.r.o. was established in 2004. It focuses on production and trading with plastic recyclates, especially polypropylene, polyethylene and polystyrene. In 2009 the company opened a production plant in the Otrokovice industrial zone. It operates four modern regranulation lines with a total capacity of 2,400 tons per month. REMAQ is the most important and fastest-growing company that recycles plastic in the Czech Republic and also holds a significant position in the European market. It employs 80 people, and its revenue exceeds half a billion korunas. Completion of the acquisition is expected by the end of March 2023 at the latest.

"Our projects in the field of chemical recycling of plastics will allow us not only to implement the assumptions of the circular economy, but also to reduce the demand for oil and gas in petrochemical production. The acquisition of REMAQ will enable the expansion of the ORLEN Group’s competences in the field of mechanical recycling. Our goal is to properly link all waste recycling methods and create a fully functional chain in which local governments, waste distributors and final processors work together efficiently. In line with the ORLEN Group’s Strategy, we strive to have a recycling capacity of plastics and natural waste of up to 400 thousand tonnes in 2030. It is also our contribution to the protection of the environment and the planet, which will also contribute to building the value of the concern in the long term,” said Daniel Obajtek, President of the Management Board of PKN ORLEN.

We remind, in August 2022, ORLEN Group has finalised its merger with Grupa LOTOS, strengthening its leading role in the fuel and energy industry in Central and Eastern Europe. The final step in the process that has been successfully completed was the registration of the merger by the District Court of Lodz. The merger paves the way for unlocking synergies inherent in leveraging the potential of the two companies.

Orthex Group moves toward more sustainable raw materials in cooperation with INEOS Styrolution and BASF

Orthex Group moves toward more sustainable raw materials in cooperation with INEOS Styrolution and BASF

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Orthex, a leading Nordic producer of household products, has selected a range of INEOS Styrolution’s sustainable Luran ECO raw materials for its range of SmartStoreTM Compact storage products, said the company.

Luran ECO is a styrene acrylonitrile copolymer (SAN) resulting from a cooperation between INEOS Styrolution and BASF. It is built on BASF’s production of styrene monomer derived from renewable feedstock based on a mass balance approach. INEOS Styrolution uses the material as feedstock in its production of new sustainable styrenics solutions. According to an independent third-party assessment, the carbon footprint of the new material is 93% lower compared to the fossil-based Luran version.

Orthex Group is a leading Nordic houseware producer that strives to make consumers’ everyday lives easier with its products. The company has long championed sustainability with a focus on long-lasting products and increasing the use of recycled and bio-based materials to replace fossil-based plastic.

As a next step, Orthex’s storage solutions brand SmartStore will start using new biomass balance based Luran ECO raw material for the entire SmartStore Compact storage range. Orthex Group’s main criteria for selecting this material by INEOS Styrolution are easy processability, compliance with food contact regulations, and a reduced carbon footprint.

Alexander Rosenlew, CEO of Orthex Group, comments: “This new raw material solution will support our long-term carbon neutrality target. INEOS Styrolution and BASF make it possible for us to offer consumers more sustainable products. This supports our target to increase the share of sustainable raw materials in our production to 80% by 2030."

BASF’s biomass balance (BMB) based styrene is used by INEOS Styrolution in the production of bio-attributed styrenics specialties, mainly transparent styrenics materials such as the company’s NAS® family of styrene methyl methacrylate (SMMA) products and the Luran family of SAN products.

The BASF and INEOS Styrolution processes within the end-to-end mass balance based production of the new solution portfolio are certified by ISCC PLUS.

Artur Sokolowski, Director Sales Electronics & Household EMEA at INEOS Styrolution, comments: “Orthex is an innovative and fast-moving company. I am pleased to see that we have been able to provide a solution to Orthex that helps them to reach their ambitious sustainability target."

We remind, INEOS is announcing a huge step forward in its drive to deliver sustainable net zero manufacturing operations with the awarding of a contract to Atkins, a member of the SNC Lavalin Group, to design a world scale low carbon hydrogen plant at its site in Grangemouth. The new hydrogen plant, slated for operation in 2030, will see INEOS remove more than 1million tonnes of carbon emissions from its already improving performance since it acquired the site in 2005 and comes on top of other significant investments at its site in Grangemouth.

LANXESS certified values for the carbon footprint of the base resins

LANXESS certified values for the carbon footprint of the base resins

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The specialty chemicals company LANXESS is one of the world’s first plastics manufacturers to offer its customers – processors of its Durethan polyamides and Pocan polyesters (PBT) – certified values for the carbon footprint of the base resins, said the company.

Certification was done by an accredited verification body and includes not only the polyamide 6 precursor caprolactam but also the glass fibers manufactured by LANXESS in Antwerp. Glass fibers are used for reinforcing plastics if necessary.

“These certified values enable our customers to more accurately estimate the climate-friendliness of their products and identify ways of further reducing their CO2 emissions,” says Guenter Margraf, Head of Sustainability and Product Management in the High Performance Materials business unit. “The values are also an important part of life cycle analyses, which are increasingly being used in the automotive and electrical and electronics industry to systematically analyze how products impact the environment from manufacturing through to disposal.”

The values were calculated according to the standard ISO 14067:2018 for the carbon footprint of products. The analysis factored in all the major emissions that occur up to the point at which the product leaves the LANXESS factory gate (cradle-to-gate). These include not only direct emissions (scope 1) but also indirect emissions from the purchase of energy (scope 2) as well as the emissions that occur in the upstream supply chain, for example those associated with the raw materials used and transportation processes (scope 3).

“We were especially pleased to learn that, with 3.66 metric tons of CO2 equivalents emitted per metric ton of polyamide 6 produced, the carbon footprint of our polyamide 6 base resin is much smaller than the current published European industry average,” says Margraf. One reason for this is that LANXESS synthesizes the plastic in a highly integrated plant network at its Antwerp site. From 2024 onward, the carbon footprint of polyamide 6 production is set to improve significantly yet again when, in 2023, if all goes to schedule, LANXESS will be opening a second nitrous oxide reduction facility in Antwerp. “Reducing nitrous oxide cuts the direct emissions associated with polyamide 6 production by almost 90%,” says Margraf. LANXESS is also looking to use sustainable raw material sources for Caprolactam with a view to reducing the carbon footprint of its polyamide 6 to less than three metric tons of CO2 equivalents. The certification also revealed that the carbon footprint of the PBT base resin from LANXESS was less than that of many other manufacturers.

In glass fiber production, LANXESS also has a significantly smaller carbon footprint compared with most of its competitors. “This applies in particular to our resource-efficient Eco glass fibers, which, with a carbon footprint of 0.4 metric tons of CO2 equivalents per metric ton of glass fiber, save more than 70% of emissions compared with the published industry average. We use industrial glass waste in our production, which reduces the consumption of raw materials and energy and avoids waste,” says Margraf.

LANXESS is looking to use the certified carbon footprints for identifying ways to reduce the level of greenhouse gases emitted during plastic production. One focus is on the use of sustainable raw materials due to the significant leverage effect that can be achieved here. New product ranges such as Durethan Blue, Durethan Eco or Pocan Eco are currently being extended that contain a significant proportion of circular (recycled or bio-based) raw materials or have a carbon footprint that is considerably smaller than conventional products. The sustainable origin of those raw materials is certified according to the ISCC Plus standard (“International Sustainability and Carbon Certification”). The certification is coupled with mass balancing, which allows the share of sustainable material in the end product to be determined and subsequently indicated in a transparent manner for processors. One product example is the 60%-glass-fiber-reinforced Durethan BLUEBKV60H2.0EF. In this polyamide 6 compound, 92% of the raw materials have been replaced by sustainable alternatives.

LANXESS is now planning to calculate the carbon footprint associated with the compounding of polyamide and PBT (engineering plastics). “We are collaborating closely with our suppliers to not only calculate the carbon footprints of the different compounding raw materials but also leverage further potential for cutting emissions,” says Margraf.

The certified carbon footprint as well as the mass-balanced Eco and Blue product ranges will take center stage for LANXESS at the plastics trade show K 2022 in October (booth C76 - C78 in Hall 6).

In August 2022, the specialty chemicals company announced its mission to make its upstream and downstream supply chains climate-neutral by 2050. This encompasses indirect emissions associated with purchased raw materials in particular, but also emissions associated with its logistics processes and end products. By 2030, the aim is to cut scope 3 emissions by 40% compared with the reference year 2015. For direct emissions in production (scope 1) and energy sources (scope 2), LANXESS announced three years ago its intention to achieve climate neutrality by 2040. The renowned Science Based Targets initiative has validated these targets and confirmed that LANXESS is doing its bit to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 °C.

As per MRC, LANXESS said it was suspending its business activities in Russia due to the war in Ukraine. Thus, the company had “suspended business activities with Russian customers as far as contractually possible until further notice” and had suspended all investments in Russia. Its sales in Russia and Ukraine made up less than 1% of its global sales, it said.

LANXESS is a leading specialty chemicals company with about 19,200 employees in 25 countries. The company is currently represented at 74 production sites worldwide. The core business of LANXESS is the development, manufacturing and marketing of chemical intermediates, additives, specialty chemicals and plastics. Through Arlanxeo, the joint venture with Saudi Aramco, Lanxess is also a leading supplier of synthetic rubber.