Fire breaks out at Bathinda refinery, brought under control soon

Fire breaks out at Bathinda refinery, brought under control soon

A fire broke out at a refinery in Bathinda early on Friday but was soon brought under control by the refinery’s firefighting department, said Indianexpress.

No casualties or injuries were reported. Villagers in nearby areas saw thick smoke coming out of HPCL Mittal Energy Limited (HMEL) Guru Gobind Singh refinery in the early hours.

According to a press statement issued by the refinery, “Friday early morning a fire incident had been reported near the Quench Oil Pump of the cracker unit at Guru Gobind Singh Refinery, Bathinda due to an oil leak. The HMEL Emergency Team immediately reached the spot and started to control the fire. District Administration and other concerned statutory authorities were informed immediately about the incident. No casualties were reported."

“The fire is localised and has been brought under control after concerted efforts. The spilled oil generated thick smoke. The unit was shut down and the maintenance team is working on the restoration work. There is no impact to other units,” the release added.

Meanwhile, the area around the refinery has been cordoned off as a precautionary measure. Though firefighting teams at the refinery controlled the fire, a fire response team from the Bathinda Municipal Corporation reached the spot along with fire tenders. Police force was also deployed in the area.

Phulokhari and Kanakwal are the nearest villages, while a few villages are also there on the Haryana side of the refinery located on the border of Punjab’s Bathinda district and Haryana’s Dabwali district. Villagers said they heard the sound of siren triggered by the refinery and got on top of their roofs on seeing the plumes of smoke.

As MRC reported earlier, HMEL took off-stream its PP plant in Bathinda for an unscheduled 10-12 turnaround on 11 February, 2022.

HPCL-Mittal Energy Limited (HMEL) is a joint venture between India's Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and Singapore's Mittal Energy Investment Pte Ltd. Both partners each own 49% of the shares in the joint venture, the remaining 2% is held by financial institutions. HMEL operates a 9 mln tpa refinery at Guru Gobind Singh.

Air Liquide turnover at its highest, boosted by soaring energy prices

Air Liquide turnover at its highest, boosted by soaring energy prices
Air Liquide posted a record high revenue growth of 28.3% at EUR 29.93 bn thanks to increasing energy costs that was passed on to buyers, said the company.

The hydrogen and industrial gases company additionally emphasized that it aimed to expedite its investment for 2023, with a 40% increase for projects related to the energy transition. The increase was mainly thanks to industrial merchants, especially sales of hydrogen or oxygen to the chemical and steel industries in North America and Europe, and electronics. The company has invested nearly EUR 500 M in 2022 at three additional very high purity industrial gas manufacturing lines for two of the globally biggest semiconductor producers in Taiwan.

Air Liquide has further commenced an investment of over EUR 300 M in four Japanese units, along with semiconductor producers. In the US, the company intends to develop a semiconductor manufacturing facility in Arizona, US, and has intended to spend EUR 40 M in India for a new air gas separation line.

The group, which has developed its biggest biomethane manufacturing line in the US, also intends to expedite its investments in the US in 2023. It commissioned a hydrogen liquefier in Nevada to serve the mobility market in the US west coast, and formed a joint venture with TotalEnergies to establish a hydrogen station network in Europe. Finally, Air Liquide entered a letter of intent to exit from its activities in Russia, which will be divested to its managers. The company has not consolidated its Russian businesses since 1 Sep 2022.

We remind, TotalEnergies plans to supply renewable energy to Sasol and Air Liquide at the Secunda chemical site in South Africa. The companies signed power purchase agreements for the supply of 260MW capacity of renewable electricity over 20 years. The French energy and petrochemicals major will develop a 120MW solar plant and a 140MW wind farm in the Western Cape province to supply around 850GWh of green electricity per year to the Sasol’s Secunda site, located 700km further northeast, where Air Liquide operates the world's biggest oxygen production site, it said. The two projects, expected to be operational in 2025, will provide renewable electricity to decarbonise Sasol and Air Liquide’s production.

SK Materials and ExxonMobil team up for blue ammonia

SK Materials and ExxonMobil team up for blue ammonia

SK Holdings Materials, a South Korea-based company specialising in material technology, has signed an agreement with ExxonMobil, a US energy and petrochemical company, with the main aim of introducing blue ammonia to SK Materials in Korea, said Offshore-energy.

The company noted that ExxonMobil plans to build a facility to produce blue ammonia in Baytown, Texas, USA, and SK Materials plans to support the transition to clean energy in the domestic coal power generation market by introducing blue ammonia and supplying it as a power generation fuel in time for co-fired power generation in Korea.

SK Materials said it also plans to expand cooperation with ExxonMobil to develop a carbon reduction solution business.

We remind, ExxonMobil awarded a front-end engineering and design (FEED) contract to Technip Energies for a blue hydrogen project at its complex in Baytown, Texas. ExxonMobil described the contract as the largest of its kind in the world. The company could make a final investment decision (FID) on the project in 2024. If ExxonMobil proceeds, it could start operations in 2027-2028. Financial details were not disclosed.

BASF warns of earnings decline, cuts jobs in battle against costs

BASF warns of earnings decline, cuts jobs in battle against costs

BASF said it would cut 2,600 jobs, halt share buybacks and hike investment to improve competitiveness as it warned of a further decline in earnings due to rising costs, said Reuters.

The German chemicals giant said in a statement that adjusted 2023 earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), would fall to between 4.8-5.4 billion euros (USD5.09-USD5.69 billion) from 6.9 billion euros in 2022, which was down 11.5% from 2021.

BASF, which in October laid out plans to cut annual non-production costs in Europe by 500 million euros, said on Friday this would lead to 2,600 job cuts, or about 2.3% of its global workforce, including about 1,800 job losses at its Ludwigshafen headquarters. It also announced plans to cut another 200 million euros in annual fixed production costs.

A 3 billion euro share buyback programme will be stopped after 1.4 billion euros was spent, due to "profound changes in the global economy", it added. "Europe's competitiveness is increasingly suffering from overregulation, slow and bureaucratic permitting processes, and in particular, high costs for most production input factors," said Chief Executive Martin Brudermueller.

Shares in the company slumped 6.6% to their lowest in almost two months at 1400 GMT, the worst performer on Germany's blue-chip DAX 30 index. BASF kept the 2022 dividend flat at 3.40 euros and did not commit to a longer-term increase. Finance chief Hans-Ulrich Engel said dividends would depend on future cash flows after investment.

"Uncertainty over dividends and a strong increase in investment expenditures are a burden on the share price," Arne Rautenberg, a portfolio manager at German mutual fund firm Union Investment, told Reuters. Investments, driven by an expansion in China and a global bet on automotive battery chemicals, would be 6.3 billion euros this year, up more than 50% from 2022, and rise further for a peak in 2024, BASF said.

BASF's job cuts, which are about 3.9% of its European workforce, come after carmaker Ford (F.N) last week said it would slash 3,800 roles in Europe. Hit by a product recall, Dutch medical device company Philips (PHG.AS) last month announced it would scrap 6,000 jobs.

BASF said it would strive to offer affected staff alternative positions. It has previously flagged the risk of major labour shortages as baby boomers retire in Germany. At the heart of BASF's soaring costs are European natural gas prices which rocketed last year after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. Although European prices have eased to around 50 euros per megawatt hour (MWh) from last August's peak of more than 340 euros, they remain above historic averages.

We remind, Linde Engineering (Pullach, Germany) has signed an agreement with BASF SE (Ludwigshafen, Germany) for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of a synthesis gas (syngas) plant in Zhanjiang, China.

Pemex Deer Park, Texas, small crude unit shut after fire

Pemex Deer Park, Texas, small crude unit shut after fire

Three separate fires at Petroleos Mexicanos facilities on Thursday killed one worker, left at least eight people injured and several others missing, putting the Mexican state oil company’s safety record under scrutiny ahead of its earnings call on Monday, said Bloomberg.

Pemex said at least five people were missing and three were hospitalized after a fire broke out at a storage facility in Ixhuatlan, Veracruz. One of those workers died, Milenio reported in a video citing workers of the company.

Pemex also reported another blaze at the combined Maya unit of its 285,000-barrel-a-day Minatitlan refinery in Veracruz injured five workers. The same day, Pemex issued a community alert noting there was a fire at one of its units in the Deer Park refinery in Texas.

The fire at the Minatitlan refinery was controlled quickly, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said in a press conference Friday morning, while the fire at the Ixhuatlan storage facility is yet to be extinguished. “In the case of Ixhuatlan, it will take more time because it occurred at an oil deposit,” he said. The blast at Ixhuatlan sent huge clouds of smoke into the sky, pictures and videos on Twitter show.

While Pemex has said operations at its Minatitlan and Deer Park refineries are back to normal, the series of incidents has put Pemex’s environment, social and governance record under a spotlight during an already rocky start to the year for the company.

Pemex is under pressure to improve its oil production after it reported another year of declines and to boost refinery output to meet a nationalist goal of making Mexico self-sufficient in energy generation. The company has the most debt of any oil major, at USD105 billion by the end of September, and is searching for funds to repay about $8 billion in debt due this year.

Pemex’s safety issues have attracted international attention. In 2021, a huge gas explosion near its offshore oil platform — dubbed the “eye of fire”— sparked criticism from famed environmental activist Greta Thunberg and US Senator Bernie Sanders. Another offshore platform accident that year resulted in five deaths and Pemex was forced to cut output by a quarter.

We remind, Pemex's newest refinery, which is still under construction in Mexico's southeast, will begin to process crude oil in July 2023. The Olmeca refinery, the cornerstone of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's plan to make the country self-sufficient in gasoline and diesel, was originally slated to come on line early last year.
Meanwhile, the budget for the construction and other infrastructure needed to connect the refinery has more than doubled from an initial USD8 billion.