India's Russian oil buying hits record high, slashes Mideast, Africa share

India's Russian oil buying hits record high, slashes Mideast, Africa share

MOSCOW (MRC) -- India's oil imports from Russia rose to a fresh record high in April, further reducing the share of Middle Eastern and African grades to their lowest level in at least 22 years, said Reuters.

Refiners in India, the world's third-biggest oil importer and consumer, are on a Russian oil-buying binge after some countries shunned purchases from Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine in February last year.

Asia's third-largest economy imported about 1.9 million barrels per day (bpd) of Russian oil in April, about 4.4% higher than the previous month, the data showed. That accounts for about two-fifths of the nation's overall purchases.

Higher imports from Russian raised the share of oil from the C.I.S. countries - Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Russia - to 43.6% of an overall 4.81 million bpd imported by India last month.

That narrowed the share of the Middle Eastern grades, which traditionally have accounted for the bulk of total oil imports, to about 44% and African oil to 3.4% last month, the data showed.

Russia remained the top oil supplier to India for the sixth-straight month in April, followed by Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

"Indian refiners have cut their spot purchases of Middle Eastern and West African grades as we are getting supply of Russian oil at lower prices," said an Indian refining official at an Indian refinery.

Oil imports from Russia also rose as Indian Oil Corp , the country's top refiner, raised the size of its annual import deal with Rosneft.

India's oil imports from Iraq in April declined by 3.1% from the previous month to a 4-month low of 928,400 bpd, while imports from Saudi Arabia fell by 11% to 723,800 bpd, the least in five months, the data showed.

Lower purchases of oil from the Middle East dragged OPEC's share of India oil imports to a record low of 46%, the data showed.

We remind, Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) unveiled India’s first Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine technology solution for heavy duty trucks flagged off by Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the India Energy Week in Bangalore. The Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine (H2ICE) powered trucks will emit near zero emissions, deliver performance on par with conventional diesel trucks and reduce noise and with projected reductions in operating costs thus redefining the future of Green Mobility.

North American weekly chemical railcar traffic rose by 17%

North American weekly chemical railcar traffic rose by 17%

MOSCOW (MRC) -- North American weekly chemical railcar traffic rose, following three straight declines, with loadings for the week ended 13 May up 1.7% year on year to 45,655, according to the latest freight rail data by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

For the first 19 weeks of 2023 ended 13 May, North American chemical rail traffic was down 2.9% year on year to 862,239, with US traffic down 5.3%, to 592,744 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 fell for a second week, with loadings for the week ended 29 April down 1.3% year on year to 47,654, led by a 1.9% decline in the US. For the first 17 weeks of 2023 ended 29 April, North American chemical rail traffic was down 3.2% year on year to 776,704, with US traffic down 6.0%, to 552,069 loadings.

Henkel opens adhesive technologies centre in Bridgewater, US

Henkel opens adhesive technologies centre in Bridgewater, US

MOSCOW (MRC) -- German adhesives, sealants and functional coatings producer Henkel this week opened a new adhesives technologies centre at Bridgewater, New Jersey, said the company.

The 70,000 square-foot centre will support customers from more than 800 industry segments.

It will focus on innovation and sustainable adhesives solutions in markets such as hygiene, packaging and labelling, tissue and towel, flexible packaging, paper lamination, pressure sensitive tapes, graphics, medical and labels, engineered wood, and furniture and construction markets.

“The central focus of Adhesive Technologies' innovation activities is developing sustainable solutions for our customers,” said Michael Harwell, vice president of Innovation, Consumer Goods Adhesives, at Henkel.

“With the help of digital technologies, many exhibits, and numerous labs, customers from across the US, Canada and Mexico can directly experience our innovative and technological power," Harwell said.

Henkel employs more than 200 people at Bridgewater. Financial details were not disclosed.

We remind, Henkel and Shell Chemical LP have agreed to a five-year collaboration to replace up to 200,000 tonnes of fossil feedstocks used in the manufacture of surfactants with feedstocks that are based on renewable raw materials. The renewable-based surfactants will be used in Henkel’s laundry product brands, including many varieties of Persil®, Purex® and all® brands. Surfactants are an ingredient in cleaning products that help lather and lift dirt.

U.S. refiners build new oil processing as travel rises

U.S. refiners build new oil processing as travel rises

MOSCOW (MRC) -- U.S. oil refiners aim to run at up to 94% of a total 17.9 million bpd processing capacity this quarter, according to company forecasts and analysts, driven in part by expectations of seasonal travel demand, said Reuters.

Strong prices and demand since late 2021 have encouraged refiners to run above 90% of their processing capacity and in a sign that they expect fuel demand to remain high, two refiners have added units or enhanced their output, reviving a once routine practice that disappeared amid COVID-19 closures.

This quarter is traditionally one of the year's hottest for demand as companies build gasoline and jet fuel output for the summer vacation season. Motorist group AAA on Monday predicted the May 27-29 Memorial Day holiday weekend will be the third busiest for auto travel since 2000 and most active at U.S. airports since 2005.

This quarter's pace compares to 91.3% utilization in the year-ago quarter and the 71.5% and 87.8% run-rates in 2020 and 2021 as the industry struggled with COVID-19 lockdowns that reduced fuel consumption and crushed industry profits.

Behind the higher run-rate is the fact that motor fuel stocks are beneath their 5-year averages. Gasoline and distillates inventories are 7% and 16% below, investment firm Tudor Pickering Holt & Co estimated.

"Demand trends are strong in gasoline and jet (fuel)," said Matthew Blair, a managing director at Tudor Pickering. He estimates refiners overall will run at 94% utilization rate this quarter, matching the 2017-19 average for the period. Among larger refiners, Marathon Petroleum plans to run at 91% of capacity, Valero Energy at between 90% and 93%, and Phillips 66 (PSX.N) in the mid-90s, officials said.

"I would expect utilization to go up a couple of points (this quarter)," from the early May run rate of 91%, said David Hackett, chairman of fuel consultancy Stillwater Associates. High prices will keep U.S. refinery utilization rates at levels near last year's about 91.7% this year and next, the U.S. Energy Information Administration forecast in January.

Refiners will add the capacity to process an additional 328,000 bpd in this quarter, increasing gasoline and diesel supplies this summer. ExxonMobil added 250,000 bpd at its Beaumont, Texas, refinery; Citgo Petroleum Inc 38,000 bpd at its Lake Charles, Louisiana, plant; and Marathon Petroleum Corp 40,000 bpd at its Galveston Bay Refinery in Texas City, Texas.

Two others whose refineries were offline last quarter - Suncor's in Commerce City, Colorado and Cenovus' in Superior, Wisconsin, are resuming operations. "Margins are not going to be as robust as they have been in the past year and a half," said John Auers, managing director of Refined Fuels Analytics.

We remind, ConocoPhillips posted significantly lower earnings in 1Q 2023 than in 1Q 2022 because because of declining oil prices, but still surpassed analysts' projections. The US firm announced a net profit of USD2.9 bn, a decline from USD5.8 bn in 1Q 2022. Earnings stood at USD2.38/share, an increase from USD4.39/share in 1Q 2022.

OQ Chemicals starts up new pilot plant for esters in Germany

OQ Chemicals starts up new pilot plant for esters in Germany

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Global chemical company, OQ Chemicals, successfully starts up its new pilot plant for esters in Oberhausen, Germany, said the company.

This state-of-the-art test facility enables the company to manufacture small quantities of esters that are tailored to customer needs for test purposes. The new products can later be produced on a large scale at OQ Chemicals' industrial plants.

The pilot plant is part of OQ Chemicals' investment in research and development and strengthens the company's position as an innovation leader in the field of Oxo Performance Chemicals. Esters are indispensable additives in many applications, especially in the plastics and lubricants industries for the field of electromobility.

We remind, OQ Chemicals carried out a shutdown at its Ruhrchemie plant in Oberhausen, Germany from April 17 to May 12, 2023. This shutdown, also known as a turnaround, is a regular process that occurs every five years and includes routine inspections, maintenance work, and legally required inspections by TUV (a German technical inspection association) to ensure the safety of production facilities. During this time, OQ Chemicals will upgrade its facilities to the latest technical standards, and further optimize them.