St. Croix refinery cannot restart without new permit, air pollution tech

St. Croix refinery cannot restart without new permit, air pollution tech

MOSCOW (MRC) -- U.S. regulators will require a new Clean Air Act permit for a troubled oil refinery in the U.S. Virgin Islands, which could cost its owners hundreds of millions of dollars and take three years or more to obtain, as per Reuters.

The idled St. Croix refinery, formerly the largest in the Western Hemisphere, was expected to boost overall supply in the Caribbean, a key transit point for petroleum shipments, but was shut after just a few months of operation.

The EPA shut down the refinery, formerly called Limetree Bay, in May 2021 after a series of chemical releases into the environment sickened neighboring residents. The refinery was sold for $62 MM in December 2021 to West Indies Petroleum and Port Hamilton Refining and Transportation, following the bankruptcy of its former private equity owners.

The plant owners intend to restart the facility, but have let it fall into disrepair, the EPA said last month. The agency cited equipment corrosion that presents risk of fire, explosion or other "catastrophic" releases of hazardous substances.

An August 2022 fire within the petroleum coke conveyor loading system burned for two weeks, prompting the inspection. The new Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit would require detailed air-quality analyses and the use of the best available air pollution control technology, the EPA said Thursday.

A PSD permit limits emissions to levels that would result from the best available air pollution control technology, which the EPA said would likely result in significant reductions of emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic chemicals, and reductions in sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide and particulate matter at the facility.

The EPA said the company may choose to install a low NOx burner, sulfur recovery units or scrubbers and carbon monoxide catalysts. The owners could also consider using low sulfur fuel oil and better combustion practices. The new owners must also negotiate a new consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and operate a flare gas recovery system, the agency said in March.

An earlier owner, Hovensa, was required to spend USD700 million on pollution control equipment, among other obligations after violating the Clean Air Act by increasing emissions without first obtaining pre-construction permits and installing required pollution control equipment.

Hovensa went bankrupt and shut down the plant the following year; later Limetree Bay Ventures bought the refinery in December 2015.

Trinseo offers sustainable solution for building and construction

Trinseo offers sustainable solution for building and construction

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Trinseo, a specialty materials and sustainable solutions provider, and one of the largest producers of polystyrene in Europe, announced thecommercialization of its STYRON X-TECH™ 4660 Polystyrene Resins for Extruded Polystyrene (XPS), said the company.

The material allows customers in the Building & Construction industry to reduce material consumption in foam insulation boards through Trinseo’s patented cross-linked polystyrene technology.

“Customers are able to lower foam insulation board density without compromising compression strength with our STYRON X-TECH™ 4660 material,” said Alain Minelli, business manager of copolymers and polystyrene. “With extruded polystyrene insulation board, its closed cell foam structure is responsible for providing the long-term durability and rigidity that is needed. Trinseo’s new material impacts this structure by introducing increased melt strength to enhance performance and allow for raw material and cost savings.

“This innovative material was developed by Trinseo’s polystyrene R&D team, and it truly sets a new industry standard.”

STYRON X-TECH™ 4660 Polystyrene Resin offers the same reliability and performance as previous resin formulations with greater sustainability advantage. It has been validated by several Trinseo partners who have been able to reduce weight of insulation board by approximately five percent, reducing carbon emisssions by a corresponding amount.

Trinseo is a significant innovator and investor in polystyrene technologies, recognizing the material’s recyclability and circularity potential. STYRON X-TECH™ 4660 Polystyrene Resin is the latest sustainable innovation that serves a growing demand in the marketplace resulting from the European Green Deal, which was adopted by the European Commission to focus on sustainability strategies on the continent.

As per MRC, Trinseo reported a Q3 net loss and lowered its guidance for the full year, said the company.
The company swung to a net loss because sales fell and costs rose. The company noted declines in sales volumes and customer destocking, particularly in Europe, as well as in consumer durables and building and construction.

Trinseo, a specialty material solutions provider, partners with companies to bring ideas to life in an imaginative, smart, and sustainability-focused manner by combining its premier expertise, forward-looking innovations and best-in-class materials to unlock value for companies and consumers.

Plastics machinery shipments drop, but up from 2021

Plastics machinery shipments drop, but up from 2021

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The shipments of primary plastics machinery (injection molding and extrusion) in North America slowed in the third quarter according to the statistics compiled and reported by the Plastics Industry Association’s (PLASTICS) Committee on Equipment Statistics (CES).

The preliminary estimate of shipment value from reporting companies totaled $353.8 million in the third quarter of 2022. While this is a decrease of 14.4% from the previous quarter, the estimate increased by 6.0% from a year earlier. Of the three primary plastics type of machinery, the value of injection molding shipments fell 17.1% in the third quarter. Shipments of single-and twin-screw extruders rose by 4.9% and 12.4%, respectively, in the third quarter. Compared to the third quarter last year, shipments of single-screw extruders fell by 13.1% while shipments of twin-screw extruders rose by 19.3%.

“It can be argued that the slowdown in plastics machinery shipment in the third quarter is in sync with the cooling of the U.S. economy. However, compared to the quarterly shipments in 2021—a stellar year for the plastics industry particularly for plastics equipment suppliers—this year’s third quarter shipments remain above the first three quarters’ shipments last year,” stated Dr. Perc Pineda, PLASTICS Chief Economic Officer. “Historically, there is a bump up in shipments in the fourth quarter. This was the case even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Given supply chain issues due to the pandemic, which have stretched delivery lead time, it would not be surprising to see shipments in the fourth quarter to be above the third quarter. There is also a huge year-end push for businesses to get their manufacturing capacity in gear for the coming year. This should support stable demand for plastics equipment next year, albeit lower than this year because of moderating economic growth”concluded Pineda..

The CES also conducts a quarterly survey of plastics machinery suppliers that asks about present market conditions and expectations for the future. The outlook of the survey participants, particularly for the next 12 months, has not changed significantly. While 31.3% of the survey respondents expect market conditions to either improve or hold steady in the next quarter, 34.4% expect market conditions to be steady-to-better, which was marginally lower than the 35.0% in the second quarter’s survey results. “The outlook for the next 12 months virtually unchanged from the second suggests that plastics equipment suppliers have considered slower economic growth ahead and have not strategized accordingly for the 2023,” said Pineda.

Plastics machinery exports decreased by 10.2% to $198.8 million in the third quarter. Mexico and Canada remained the top export markets of plastics machinery from the U.S. in the third quarter. The combined exports to USMCA partners totaled $109.7 million, which was 65.9% of total plastics machinery exports of the U.S. Imports decreased by 12.1% to USD423.6 million in the third quarter. U.S. plastics machinery trade deficit narrowed from $260.7 million in the second quarter to USD224.7 million in the third quarter. Moderating global economic growth and a strong U.S. dollar is slowing plastics machinery trade.

We remind, Neste, Brightlands Venture Partners, 4 Impact VC and Asahi Kasei announce a combined EUR11 mln investment into Netherlands-based startup Circularise. The goal of the investment is to accelerate the transformation to more sustainable materials within the polymers and chemicals industry by providing new digital solutions to boost traceability and visibility of material flows along value chains.

Petrobras ends talks to sell Regap refinery

Petrobras ends talks to sell Regap refinery

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Petrobras rejected a binding proposal for the Gabriel Passos Refinery (REGAP) in Minas Gerais state, said Reuters.

Petrobras rejected the bid because the proposal was below its "economic and financial evaluation", the company said. It will now consider when it could start a new bidding process.

Petrobras had planned on selling several refineries, including some larger ones. However, it has succeeded in finding buyers for the smaller ones. Out of the five large refineries, it has sold only one, the Landulpho Alves refinery in Bahia state. It has four other large refineries that are still up for sale.

Brazil's president elect, Luiz Inancio Lula da Silva may choose to suspend the sale of the refineries. The Brazilian government can influence Petrobras's policies because it holds a majority of the company's common shares, entitling it to one vote for each share. The government also nominates the CEO and board members.

During his campaign for president, Lula said he opposes the privatisation of Petrobras. Lula's nominations to his cabinets could point to whether his administration will allow Petrobras to proceed with the remaining refinery sales.

We remind, Petrobras said it has signed a contract to sell the REMAN refinery in the northern state of Amazonas for USD189.5 MM to Ream Participacoes S.A., a subsidiary of distributor Atem. In a separate filing, however, the company formally known as Petroleo Brasileiro SA said it had failed to secure a buyer for the Abreu e Lima (RNEST) refinery after the interested firms declined to offer a bid. Petrobras said it would end the sale process, and analyze its next steps.

LG Chem to build plastic recycling plant in Dangjin

LG Chem to build plastic recycling plant in Dangjin

MOSCOW (MRC) -- LG Chem will invest 310 billion won (USD233 million) to build a plastic recycling plant and an aerogel plant in Dangjin, South Chungcheong, said Koreajoongangdaily.

The chemical company signed a memorandum of understanding with the South Gyeongsang provincial office and Dangjin city government Wednesday, with CEO Shin Hak-cheol and South Gyeongsang governor Kim Tae-heum and Dangjin Mayor Oh Seong-hwan, in attendance.

The plastic recycling plant will be a plastic pyrolysis facility that heats plastic waste at above 400 degrees Celsius to convert it into fuel oil. The fuel oil can then be processed and reused as a raw material of chemical products.

The plastic pyrolysis market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 17 percent to reach 3.3 million tons in 2030, according to LG Chem.

Aerogel, known as a next-generation material, is a class of low-density solid gel where the liquid has been replaced with gas or air. It has been explored in a range of applications including catalysis, thermal insulators, solar energy uses, sensors and photocatalysis.

Ground will be broken on both facilities on a 240,000-square-meter site in Dangjin in the first quarter of next year, with the goal of starting mass production in 2024.

Some 150 new jobs will be created through the investment, LG Chem estimated.

We remind, LG Chem may extend maintenance at its naphtha cracker for a month into December, a company official said on Wednesday, to deal with unattractive cracking margins. The company had started planned maintenance for its 1.16-MMt Yeosu cracker at the end of September. It was expected to last until November.