Shell projects Q1 loss for chems ops on higher costs

Shell projects Q1 loss for chems ops on higher costs

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Shell expects its chemicals division to post a loss for the first three months of 2023, the oil and gas major said on Thursday, amid potential higher tax and depreciation costs, lower utilisation rates and slower than expected ramp-up of its Pennsylvania petrochemicals complex, said the company.

Pre-tax depreciation costs are expected to be USD800m-1bn compared to USD800m during the fourth quarter of 2022, while tax charges for the division are expected to be USD100m-600m for the period compared to zero in the prior quarter.

Realised chemicals margins are expected to be below USD100/tonne despite the indicative margin for the first quarter standing at USD140/tonne, a substantial increase on the USD37/tonne generated in the fourth quarter and USD27/tonne loss during the third quarter 2022.

The disparity between indicative and realised chemicals margins is due to lower utilisation as a result of slower than projected capacity ramp-ups at the firm’s newly-completed Pennsylvania complex.

Refining margins are expected to be USD15/bbl compared to USD19/bbl during the fourth quarter of 2022, while utilisation levels are expected to 70-74% compared to 75% during the preceding three months.

We remind, CNOOC and Shell Petrochemicals Company Ltd (CSPC), a joint venture established by China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) and Royal Dutch Shell, signed a framework agreement worth USD5.6-bn with China’s Huizhou city government to expand its ethylene project in the city. CSPC is expected to add 1.5 million tons per annum ethylene production capacity on top of its existed 2.2 million tons in Huizhou, according to a statement issued by CNOOC on Sunday night.

Biden administration proposes protections from chemical used to sterilize equipment, spices

Biden administration proposes protections from chemical used to sterilize equipment, spices

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The Biden administration proposed new health protections to reduce exposure of U.S. workers and communities to ethylene oxide, a toxic, colorless gas mainly used to sterilize medical equipment and spices, said Reuters.

The Environmental Protection Agency issued a proposed rule with new requirements at 86 sterilizer facilities across the country, that if finalized, aims to reduce ethylene oxide (EtO) emissions by 80%. Long-term exposure to EtO can have health implications, including certain cancers, studies say. The proposed rule is part of President Joe Biden's initiative to cut the death rate from cancer and create new treatments to fight it.

"At EPA, we recognize that ensuring that all people have clean air to breathe is not just an important responsibility and our job under the law, but it's also a moral imperative," Janet McCabe, the agency's deputy administrator, told reporters in a teleconference.

The rules aim to reduce use of EtO at the facilities to 500 milligrams per liter (about a half teaspoon per quarter gallon) while working with the Food and Drug Administration to make sure all sterility requirements are met. An EPA official told reporters that some facilities have already reduced use of EtO to appropriate levels while others use up to twice the proposed amount.

The agency also proposed prohibiting certain uses of EtO where it is used to a lesser extent and alternatives exist, including in museums, archives, beekeeping, cosmetics and musical instruments. The proposed rule will be open for a 60-day public comment period and the EPA aims to finalize it in 2024.

We remind, it could take years for the United States to refill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the energy secretary told lawmakers on Thursday, after sales directed by President Joe Biden last year pushed the stockpile to its lowest level since 1983.

Making ethanol more efficiently - INEOS

Making ethanol more efficiently - INEOS

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Continuously improving efficiency and reducing carbon emissions is standard practice across INEOS. We know that a lot of small improvements will amount to a big difference, said the company.

On paper, converting ethylene to ethanol is relatively simple - just add water. In practice, the industrial chemistry that underlies the process is somewhat more complex, requiring large amounts of water, steam and energy. But here’s how our team in Grangemouth recently both improved plant efficiency and made a major cut to emissions.

The INEOS Grangemouth ethanol plant was commissioned in 1983 and has been significantly upgraded over the last 5 years to improve performance and reliability. The production process requires an excess amount of water for the reaction to take place, but needs the right balance be struck. Using more water in the reaction will decrease impurities, while further down the line more steam is needed to purify and ‘dry’ the product by boiling off the water – a costly process. Conversely, too little water increases production of unwanted by-products and not enough ethylene is converted into ethanol.

The technical team decided to review the entire manufacturing process. Was there a way to be more efficient, reducing water and steam usage, with a reduction in carbon emissions per tonne of product too.

Determined to come up with a solution, they carefully examined every aspect of the manufacturing process alongside the operations team, from the temperature the reactants enter the reactors to the management of energy and steam across the asset.

We remind, INEOS has completed the purchase of Mitsui Phenols Singapore in a USD330m deal, giving the UK-based firm over 1m tonnes/year of additional Asia production capacity. Based on Jurong Island, Singapore, the entire asset base of the Mitsui subsidiary will be transferred to INEOS. The business has a production capacity of 410,000 tonnes/year of cumene, 310,000 tonne/year of phenol and 185,000 tonnes/year of acetone.

China chemical groups seek Beijing nod for USD10 bn Indonesia refinery

China chemical groups seek Beijing nod for USD10 bn Indonesia refinery

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Two Chinese polyester fiber makers are seeking Beijing's approval to build a USD10-B refinery and petrochemical complex in Indonesia, sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The move comes as China ramps up talks on mega investments in Southeast Asia as part of President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative, and as Beijing limits approvals for new domestic refineries to cut carbon emissions and a fuel supply overhang.

East China-based Tongkun Group and Xinfengming Group are planning a refinery-petrochemical complex in North Kalimantan province on Borneo Island, three sources said, to produce feedstocks for chemical fiber. Led by Tongkun, the proposed petrochemical complex would include a 200,000 barrels-per-day refinery and an 800,000 ton per year ethylene unit, which could be expanded in the future, said two of the sources.

The project would be part of a planned industrial park in North Kalimantan where companies broke ground on a USD2.6-B hydropower project last month to attract aluminum, battery and electric vehicle manufacturers.Tongkun has begun feasibility studies for the project, which would partly make paraxylene for its growing production of purified terephthalic acid (PTA) in China, a feedstock for polyester fiber, two sources said.

It is also seeking approval from China's state planner, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), they said. A Tongkun investor relations official said the Indonesia refinery project is at an early planning stage but declined further comment. A Xinfengming investor relations official declined to comment.

We remind, in November, top executives of the two Chinese companies briefed Indonesian President Joko Widodo on their investment plans in North Kalimantan on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali, according to a post dated Nov. 18 on Tongkun's official WeChat account that gave few details.

GAIL Gas Limited decreased CNG and Domestic PNG Prices

GAIL Gas Limited decreased CNG and Domestic PNG Prices

MOSCOW (MRC) -- GAIL Gas Limited is also steering its pricing mechanism in line with the Government of India's guideline to pass on new domestic gas pricing benefits to its customers and has announced a substantial reduction in prices with effect from 9th April 2023, said the company.

GAIL Gas Limited has announced a reduction in its Domestic PNG prices by Rs. 7 per SCM in Bengaluru and Dakshin Kannada and Rs. 6 per SCM in all its other Geographical areas. The new effective Domestic PNG Prices is Rs 52.50 per SCM in Dewas, Meerut, Sonipat, Taj Trapezium Zone, Raisen, Mirzapur, Dhanbad, Adityapur and Rourkela and Rs 51.50 per SCM for Bengaluru & Dakshin Kannada.

Similarly, CNG Prices are also reduced by Rs 7 per kg in Karnataka GAs and Sonipat and Rs 6 per kg in rest of the GAs and by New CNG Price is Rs 85 per kg for Meerut & Sonipat; Rs 92 per Kg for Dewas, Taj Trapezium Zone & Dehradun; Rs.82.50 per kg for Bengaluru & Dakshin Kannada; Rs 87 per kg for Mirzapur, Rs 91 per kg for Raisen, Dhanbad, Adityapur, Puri and Rourkela.

The new guidelines aim to establish a stable pricing regime for domestic gas consumers while providing sufficient protection to producers from adverse market fluctuations, along with incentives to user industries and CGD sector. It will accelerate the expansion of CNG & PNG as a preferred fuel, and will also contribute to reducing the carbon footprint.

GAIL Gas Limited operates in 16 geographical areas across the country and is working towards gas based economy in India.

We remind, Government of India and India's largest gas utility and gas supply company, through a wholly owned MOL subsidiary signed a time charter contract for a newbuilding LNG carrier and a joint ownership of an existing LNG carrier. The new building vessel will be the second MOL Group LNG carrier serving GAIL; the parties signed a contract for the first vessel in 2019. The existing vessel still has been chartered to GAIL through a wholly owned MOL subsidiary from 2021 and even now, MOL’s shipping service is highly regarded by GAIL.