North American chemical railcar traffic fell 2.1%

North American chemical railcar traffic fell 2.1%

MOSCOW (MRC) -- North American chemical railcar traffic fell 2.1% year on year to 47,515 loadings for the week ended 4 March, with traffic falling in both the US and Canada, according to the latest freight rail data by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

The decline came after in the week before, ended 25 February, chemical rail traffic registered a first increase after 22 straight year on year declines.

For the first nine weeks of 2023 ended 4 March, North American chemical rail traffic was down 3.8% year on year to 404,690, with US traffic down 7.3%, to 287,591 loadings.

In the US, chemical railcar loadings represent about 20% of chemical transportation by tonnage, with trucks, barges and pipelines carrying the rest. In Canada, chemical producers rely on rail to ship more than 70% of their products, with some exclusively using rail.

We remind, North American chemical railcar traffic rose 0.9% year on year to 45,887 loading for the week ended 25 February – marking the first increase after 22 straight declines. Loadings rose in Canada and Mexico but continued to fall in the US. For the first eight weeks of 2023 ended 25 February, North American chemical rail traffic was down 4.0% year on year to 357,193, with US traffic down 8.0%, to 253,310 loadings.

Marathon acquires 49.9% interest in emerging RNG producer

Marathon acquires 49.9% interest in emerging RNG producer

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Marathon Petroleum has acquired a 49.9% interest in renewable natural gas (RNG) company LF Bioenergy for USD50m, said the company.

Marathon may pay a potential additional USD50m, based on certain earn-out targets. Dallas, Texas-based LF Bioenergy is described as an emerging RNG company, focused on developing and growing a portfolio of dairy farm-based, low carbon intensity RNG projects.

Its first facility, located in upstate New York, is nearing completion and expected to come into service in the first half of 2023. Marathon expects to fund its share of LF's capital expenditures as it hits specific project milestones, building out a portfolio to produce more than 6,500 MMBtu/day by the end of 2026, it said.

In a separate statement, LF said that Marathon "has invested in LF at a valuation of USD100m, with the potential to increase to USD200m as LF achieves pre-determined earn-out targets". LF is backed by private equity firm Cresta Fund Management.

In related news, Shell recently acquired 100% of Danish RNG producer Nature Energy, and Canadian energy infrastructure major Enbridge agreed to acquire a 10% stake in Divert, a US company that turns food waste into RNG.

We remind, Marathon Petroleum’s Q3 net income rose more than six-fold year on year to USD4.5bn, with the refining and marketing (R&M) margin more than doubling. Crude capacity utilisation was about 98%, with total throughput of 3.0m bbl/day in Q3 – compared with 93% and 2.8m bbl/day, respectively, in Q3 2021.

HIF Global considers olefins production in Texas

HIF Global considers olefins production in Texas

MOSCOW (MRC) -- HIF Global is considering olefins production for the second phase of the eFuels project that it is developing in Texas, in which the company will convert carbon dioxide (CO2) and green hydrogen into methanol, said the company.

If HIF pursues an olefins project, it would convert the material into jet fuel, said Meg Gentle, executive director of HIF Global. She made her comments during the CERAWeek by S&P Global energy conference. The company still needs to complete testing with aviation agencies to make sure the material produced by HIF can be certified as aviation fuel, Gentle said.

The Texas project is in Matagorda County, and the first phase will convert methanol into gasoline. The electrolysers for the green-hydrogen portion of the project will come from Siemens and they can produce about 300,000 tonnes/year of hydrogen.

Topsoe is providing the technology to convert the hydrogen and CO2 into methanol. Construction on the first phase could start in 2024, and operations could start in 2027. HIF already has a demonstration plant in Punta Arenas, Chile. It started production in 2022.

We remind, HIF Global started producing its first litres of fuel using green hydrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2) at a demonstration plant in southern Chile. The Haru Oni plant is in Punta Arenas, Chile, and it should begin full commercial operations in March 2023, HIF said. It will produce 350 tonnes/year of methanol and 130,000 litres/year of gasoline. Haru Oni relies on electrolysers to produce green hydrogen and direct-air capture (DAC) to extract CO2 from the atmosphere. The two gases are combined to produce methanol.

Schwedt refinery losing out in race from Russian oil

Schwedt refinery losing out in race from Russian oil

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Slashed output at Germany’s Schwedt oil refinery demonstrates the difficulty Berlin faces in turning away from Russian oil, despite plans to work with Poland to find alternative supply, said Reuters.

Schwedt has traditionally supplied 90% of the gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and fuel oil used in Germany's capital city. However, three months after Warsaw and Berlin agreed to work together the refinery is running at 50%–60% of capacity and those alternative supplies remain elusive.

Moscow last month retaliated against their bilateral efforts by halting oil flows to Poland via the Druzhba pipeline, thereby squeezing Poland’s ability to free up oil for Schwedt. Polish state-controlled refiner PKN Orlen now needs to use more capacity at the Gdansk oil terminal to feed its own Plock refinery.

As result, Schwedt can count on one tanker slot in Gdansk per month at most, about 1 million metric tonnes of oil per year, or just a third of the volume earlier plans called for, a Polish source said.

Germany stopped buying Russian oil in January and the 233,000 barrel-per-day Schwedt refinery since has been running at about 55% capacity, or some 130,000 barrels per day, relying on pipeline supplies from the port of Rostock in northern Germany. Supplies via Poland have so far yielded just two tankers, sources in Poland and Germany said.

Rosneft stake. Germany and Poland started discussions about shipping non-Russian oil to Schwedt via the port of Gdansk, Polish pipelines and Druzhba in early spring 2022. Druzhba can deliver both Russian and Kazakh crude. But a major hurdle has been Schwedt’s ownership structure as Russian refiner Rosneft owns a 54.17% stake.

Berlin put the refinery into a trusteeship in September but it was not until mid-February that it drafted legal changes allowing the sale of Rosneft's stake without the need for prior nationalization. Removing the Russian firm from Schwedt was a crucial part of the agreement for Warsaw.

We remind, Rosneft will parnter with Indonesia to contribute USD24 B on a greenfield refinery in East Java province.
The refinery will have 14 refining units for vehicle fuels as well as seven units for petrochemicals. The purpose is to construct a facility which can process heavy crude oil and high sulfur crude oil.

BASF starts bio-based polyol production in India

BASF starts bio-based polyol production in India

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BASF has commenced production of its first bio-based polyol, Sovermol®, in Mangalore, India, said the company.

This is the company’s first bio-based polyol production facility in Asia Pacific, serving the region’s fast-growing demand of eco-friendly products for new energy vehicles (NEV), windmills, flooring and protective industrial coatings, it said.

“Asia Pacific is the world’s fastest growing market for NEV and coatings. The Sovermol production facility is strategically located in Mangalore, close to raw materials supply. This will significantly reduce transportation time and contributes to our ambition to bring “best-in-class” products and services efficiently to our customers in Asia Pacific,” said Dr. Claus Dallner, Senior Vice President, Global Business Unit Resins and Additives, BASF.

The BASF site in Mangalore has been in operation since 1996. Spread across more than 200 hectares, it is BASF’s largest production facility in South Asia and produces polymer dispersions, fine chemical catalysts and coatings for paper, agriculture and automotive industries.

We remind, 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. 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.