INEOS, unions reach tentative deal over strike

INEOS, unions reach tentative deal over strike

MOSCOW (MRC) -- INEOS reached a three-year labour agreement with two unions at one of its pigment plants in Ohio, the company said.

It reached the three-year tentative collective bargaining agreement on Friday with Teamsters Local Union 377 and Local 1033C of the International Chemical Workers Union Council of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

The company said that ratification of its tentative agreement is pending approval by the workers and that it was looking forward to Plant 2 at Ashtabula, Ohio, returning to operation. INEOS did not comment on when production at Plant 2 would resume or the status of the ratification process.

INEOS Pigments had previously confirmed that hourly workers at Plant 2 have been on strike since 12 March. The company has two production facilities in Ashtabula. The second plant - where workers went on strike - produces titanium dioxide (TiO2) and chlorine.

Last week, INEOS said that this plant had been taken offline, ahead of a scheduled maintenance.

We remind, INEOS has secured EUR3.5bn in financing for its Antwerp, Belgium, cracker project, set to have the lowest CO2 output of any unit in the continent. The plant, expected onstream in 2026, has the capacity to operate entirely on low-carbon hydrogen, with scope for the addition of a carbon capture facility and electric furnaces in future, according to INEOS. The estimated budget for the project, which INEOS made a final investment decision (FID) on last year, currently stands at EUR4.0bn.

Italy poised to decide whether to block Lukoil refinery sale

Italy poised to decide whether to block Lukoil refinery sale

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Italy's cabinet is expected to decide next week whether to use its anti-takeover powers to block the sale of a Lukoil-owned refinery to Cypriot private equity firm G.O.I. Energy, two sources close to the matter told Reuters on Friday, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's government wants to have a say in the negotiation as Lukoil's ISAB plant in Sicily refines 320,000 barrels of crude per day, accounting for a fifth of Italy's refining capacity and employing around 1,000 people.

The government has the power to veto the transaction under "golden power" regulation designed to shield industries deemed of strategic importance in sectors such as banking, energy, telecoms and health. Lukoil said in January it had reached a preliminary deal to sell the refinery to G.O.I Energy, paving the way for its first significant asset disposal since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

With backing from commodity trader Trafigura, G.O.I. Energy has so far prevailed over several suitors for the refinery, including U.S. investment platform Crossbridge. The decision on ISAB will likely be on the agenda of next week's cabinet, one of the sources said, asking not to be named due to the matter's sensitivity. Meloni's government ministers usually meet on Thursday.

Industry Minister Adolfo Urso has repeatedly said Rome would ensure that jobs are protected, and environmental standards maintained in the sale of the plant. Since the golden power was introduced in 2012, government authorities have blocked foreign forays into Italy just eight times.

In six cases, the vetoes stopped Chinese bids, while another last year rejected an attempt by Russia's state-owned atomic company Rosatom to acquire Faber Industrie, a hydrogen company. Some media outlets have speculated that the United States is concerned over the sale of the Priolo refinery because the plant is only about 50 Km away from a NATO base in Sigonella.

In response, G.O.I Energy issued a statement last month saying neither the company nor its CEO, Michael Bobrov, has any connection with Russia.

We remind, Lukoil completes reconstruction of several units at Volgograd refinery. A large-scale reconstruction has been completed at the Volgograd refinery. The project included modernization of the CDU-VDU-5 crude distillation unit with production capacity of 3.5 MMtpy and the solvent extraction unit with production capacity of 300, 000 tpy. Over 230 core equipment items were installed and technologically outdated units were decommissioned. The share of Russia-made equipment installed during the reconstruction exceeded 70%. The construction site spanned the area of 34 thousand square metres; investments into the project exceeded 12 B roubles.

Russian Urals crude supply to EU via southern Druzhba rises

Russian Urals crude supply to EU via southern Druzhba rises

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Russia's piped supply of Urals crude to the European Union via the southern spur of the Druzhba pipeline is set to rise 6% on a daily basis in the first quarter from the three months before, data from industry sources and Reuters calculations showed, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The EU pledged to stop buying Russian oil via maritime routes from Dec. 5. Supply via the Druzhba pipeline remains exempt from sanctions, though flows via its northern spur, which supplies Poland and Germany, dried up last month.

The southern branch of the Druzhba pipeline runs via Ukraine to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, and has been the primary source of supply for their refineries for years.

Flows via Druzhba to those three countries will rise to about 3.1 M tons in the first quarter from some 3 M the quarter before, according to trade and industry sources and Reuters calculations. Alternative oil suppliers to their plants include the Adria pipeline connecting Croatia's Omisalj port to Hungary and the Transalpine pipeline (TAL) that connects Italy's Trieste to Czech refineries.

Russian oil exports via Druzhba's southern spur over the last six month have been lower compared to the period from March to September last year, sources told Reuters. "Average oil exports along the southern branch (of the Druzhba pipeline) in March-September 2022 stood above 300,000 bpd but went down to average some 250,000 bpd in October 2022 to March 2023," an industry source said.

The main buyer of Urals crude in Slovakia and Hungary is Hungarian oil and gas company MOL. The Czech Republic's sole buyer Unipetrol is controlled by Polish firm PKN Orlen. Rosneft, Lukoil and Tatneft were the main Russian exporters via the route. MOL and Russia's pipeline monopoly Transneft did not reply to requests for comment. Russia's Energy Ministry declined to comment.

"The Czech Republic has a negotiated exemption for oil from the Druzhba pipeline, which is valid until the implementation of an alternative solution is completed," Orlen Unipetrol told Reuters. Unipetrol has "secured sufficient supplies of crude oil for both our refineries in Litvinov and Kralupy nad Vltavou", the firm's representative said, with its refineries sourcing crude from "various regions".

Urals supplies via the northern spur of the Druzhba pipeline were fully suspended in February after Russia halted supplies of oil to Poland's PKN Orlen.

Germany voluntarily stopped importing Russian Urals via Druzhba from Jan. 1, 2023, with Germany and Poland hoping to make up for the shortage of Russian crude by importing Kazakh oil via the same pipeline.

We remind, PKN ORLEN, finalised a transaction to acquire a part of Poland’s largest plastics manufacturer, Basell Orlen Polyolefins, in which the ORLEN holds an equity interest. The acquisition was approved by the antitrust authorities in Poland and the Netherlands. The business segment, acquired by ORLEN, specialises in the production and sale of low-density polyethylene (LDPE) as well as customer service in the Polish market. It is a polymer commonly used to make consumer and industrial products, found in plastic films, bags, canisters, food packaging, as well as components of electronic devices, such as wires and cables.

Pemex to lift crude processing to 1.2 mln bpd this year

Pemex to lift crude processing to 1.2 mln bpd this year

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Mexican state-run oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, also known as Pemex, expects to increase its crude processing to 1.2 M bpd this year, Energy Minister Rocio Nahle said Thursday, said Reuters.

The rise from 922,000 bpd processed currently would come from Mexico's six active refineries along with Pemex's refinery in Deer Park, Texas, Nahle said at President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's regular news conference.

"Our commitment is to process 1.2 M bpd this year," she said.

Nahle added that the Olmeca refinery, which she has previously said will begin to process crude oil in July, is expected to help Mexico become self-sufficient in gasoline and diesel in 2024.

We remind, a fire broke out before noon on 14 March in one of the operating units at the Pemex Deer Park refinery, causing dark smoke that was visible in the community. The fire was extinguished about an hour later by the site’s emergency response team, a spokesperson for Pemex Deer Park said, and members of the team are currently assessing damages at the facility and the cause of the fire.

CPChem invests in Closed Loop Partners Circular Plastics Fund

CPChem invests in Closed Loop Partners Circular Plastics Fund

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Closed Loop Partners’ Circular Plastics Fund announced Tuesday the addition of two new investors–– Chevron Phillips Chemical (CPChem) and Charter Next Generation (CNG)––bringing the fund’s total capital to USD45 M in an effort to support the development of plastics recycling and recovery infrastructure in North America, said Hydracarbonprocessing.

The Circular Plastics Fund, managed by Closed Loop Partners, is focused on meeting the growing need to advance the recycling of rigid and flexible polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) plastics in the United States and Canada. Global companies CPChem and CNG join existing investors Dow, LyondellBasell, NOVA Chemicals, SK geo centric Co. and Sealed Air.

“We saw the speed with which Closed Loop Partners’ Circular Plastics Fund put capital to work and determined that investing in the fund would help address our impact goals,” said Rick Wagner, Sustainability Policy & Program Manager at CPChem. “Collaboration will be a key component in advancing the transition to a circular economy. We look forward to joining the Circular Plastics Fund and furthering work to achieve a more sustainable future."

In just its first year, the Circular Plastics Fund made significant investments in a range of solutions, including cutting-edge sortation technology and recycling infrastructure for plastics. Investments include: SMR (formerly Sims Municipal Recycling), a leading recycling company managing several municipal recycling programs across the United States; Myplas, a new state-of-the-art 170,000-square-foot flexible film recycling plant in Minnesota;

Greyparrot, a leading AI waste analytics platform that improves transparency and automation for plastics sortation in recycling facilities; and additional debt financing to Waste Commission of Scott County, a solid waste district in Northeast Iowa.

“The Closed Loop Circular Plastics Fund’s investments work to catalyze a systemic shift in plastics supply chains, enabling companies to transition from a linear to circular model that utilizes recycled materials,” said Jennifer Louie, Head of the Circular Plastics Fund at Closed Loop Partners. “Looking ahead, we have a strong pipeline of companies across the plastics recycling value chain and need more capital to invest in these critical solutions. This additional $10 M from our new investors will allow us to accelerate our capital deployment and reach our impact goals. We hope to see other companies with circular plastics goals join to help us achieve impact at scale."

Closed Loop Partners launched the Circular Plastics Fund as part of its broader strategy to reduce, reuse and recycle plastics. The fund provides catalytic debt and equity financing, spurring additional mainstream investments into recycling solutions and infrastructure that can help address bottlenecks in the recycling system for PE, PP and flexible plastics––materials deemed critical to ensuring that the industry’s growing demand for high- quality recycled material will be met.

The current supply of recycled plastics meets only 6% of the demand for the most commonly used plastics in the United States and Canada. Increasing the recovery and circularity of plastics, alongside material reduction solutions, scalable reuse systems and innovative new materials, not only can prevent millions of tons of plastics from going to landfills or ending up in the natural environment but can help meet an addressable market for plastics with potential revenue opportunities of USD120 B in the U.S. and Canada alone. With plastic waste expected to triple by 2060, the need for investments has grown even more urgent.

We remind, Chevron Corp. posted a record USD36.5 bn profit for 2022 that was more than double year-earlier earnings but fell shy of Wall Street estimates, undercut by an asset writedowns and a retreat in oil and gas prices.
The second largest U.S. oil producer's adjusted net profit for 2022 beat by about USD10 billion its previous record set in 2011. But USD1.1 B in writedowns in its international oil and gas operations in the fourth quarter left earnings short of forecasts for adjusted net profit of USD37.2 B.