Sonatrach inks USD1.5-bln deal with Petrofac to build petrochemical project

Sonatrach inks USD1.5-bln deal with Petrofac to build petrochemical project

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Algeria's state-owned energy company Sonatrach announced in a statement on Thursday that it has inked a contract worth USD1.5 bn dollars with Britain-headquartered Petrofac to build a petrochemical project in Arzew Industrial Zone, west of Algiers, said Xinhua.

The project consists of two major integrated processing units to produce 550,000 tons of polypropylene per year, and is expected to be completed in 42 months, according to the statement.

The project aims to boost Algeria's petrochemical industry and contribute to the country's industrial diversification efforts in a bid to boost economic growth, it added.

Petrofac has been active and awarded several energy projects in Algeria since 1997, when it opened its first office in Algiers.

Toufik Hakkar, CEO of Sonatrach, announced in January 2023 that the energy giant will invest 40 billion U.S. dollars in five years, 30 billion U.S. dollars of which will be used for oil and gas exploration and production, with the goal of safeguarding Algeria's energy security and ensuring a dependable supply to the global market.

We remind, a joint-venture (JV) between Total and Sonatrach is expected to begin construction of its Algerian polypropylene (PP) plant in July 2023. There is very little domestic PP production in North Africa compared to demand, and the region mostly relies on exports from Europe and the Middle East. The STEP PP plant will have a nameplate capacity of 550,000 tonnes/year of homopolymer.

Arkema to acquire German Polytec PT

Arkema to acquire German Polytec PT

MOSCOW (MRC) -- French chemicals company Arkema plans to acquire Polytec PT, a Germany-based company that develops thermal interface materials for batteries and engineering adhesives for the electronics market, it said.

The acquisition would strengthen the product offering of Arkema’s Bostik adhesives business to the fast-growing batteries and electronics markets, it said.

“We are convinced that the combination of Arkema’s expertise in batteries, its global adhesives footprint and Polytec PT’s technologies will enable us to become a recognised partner for our customers in batteries and electronics,” said Vincent Legros, executive vice president, Adhesive Solutions, at Bostik.

Polytec PT, with annual sales of about EUR15m, has a manufacturing site at Karlsbad, northwest of Stuttgart.

The acquisition's financial or other terms were not disclosed. The batteries and electric vehicle markets are important growth opportunities for the chemicals and plastics industries, with players developing battery materials as well as specialty polymers and adhesives.

We remind, Arkema announces the doubling of its polyester resins capacity in its Navi Mumbai facility in India, reinforcing the Group’s leadership position in the global powder coatings market and its commitment to developing very low-VOC technologies. Arkema invested in the Navi Mumbai facility in early 2019 to expand geographic coverage of its high performance, more sustainable, low-VOC products, and to support its customers in their development. The site includes a modern manufacturing unit and a dedicated laboratory to provide application development and technical support in the region.

Cepsa reports EBITDA of EUR556 mln in 1Q 2023, down 8% from 2022

Cepsa reports EBITDA of EUR556 mln in 1Q 2023, down 8% from 2022

MOSCOW (MRC) -- CCS EBITDA was EUR 556 M in 1Q 2023 versus EUR 605 M in the same period of 2022, driven by lower crude prices and lower refining production due to scheduled maintenance turnarounds at both energy parks, weighing on strong refining margins and positive commercial and clean energies earnings, said the company.

CCS net income was EUR 176 M versus EUR 58 M in 1Q 2022, helped by an improvement in refining margins. However, Cepsa registered a IFRS net income loss for the period of EUR 297 M versus a EUR 265 M profit in 1Q 2022, due to a EUR 323 M charge as a result of the extraordinary tax imposed on energy companies in Spain, with the loss also reflecting changes in stock valuations.

Cash flow from operations before working capital reached EUR 285 M, above the 1Q 2022 figure of EUR 205 M, mainly driven by higher refining margins. Capex spend reached EUR 114 M in 1Q 2023 versus EUR 89 M in 1Q 2022, of which 30% was in sustainable businesses compared with 17% in 1Q 2023 period, as Cepsa firmly moves forward with its Positive Motion strategy to lead green hydrogen, biofuels and e-mobility in Spain and Portugal. Continued deleveraging, with net debt to EBITDA ratio decreasing to 0.8x driven by reduced debt following the cash-in of the Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates assets divestment.

Liquidity position remains strong at EUR 4.3 bn, covering debt maturities until end-2027. Cepsa completed the sale of its upstream assets in Abu Dhabi to Total Energies in line with its commitment to lead the energy transition in Europe. Results include the contribution of these assets until the 15 Mar 2023 closing date. Cepsa signed a number of new partnerships during the quarter to develop the Andalusian Green Hydrogen Valley and entered into a joint venture to build the largest 2G biofuels plant in southern Europe with Bio-Oils, a member of the Apical Group. To help customers mitigate the impact of high inflation and energy prices, Cepsa launched in Apr 2023 and updated fuel loyalty programme that can save customers more than EUR 300/y.

In total, Cepsa?s customers saved EUR 145 M during 2022 and 1Q 2023 thanks to fuel discounts on top of temporary discounts offered by the Spanish government. Despite this, it was another quarter of transformation for Cepsa as we embark further on its Positive Motion journey to lead green hydrogen, biofuels and e-mobility in Spain and Portugal. It has signed a number of important industry partnerships since implementing this strategy, and this period has been no exception with significant agreements with key industry players confirmed to develop and promote the Andalusian Green Hydrogen Valley.

The quarter also saw the sale of its upstream assets in Abu Dhabi to Total Energies, divesting a large proportion of its traditional E&P operations to allow it to streamline its efforts to produce and supply sustainable fuels.

We remind, Cepsa plans to nearly double its investments over the next three years to a total of 3.6 B euros (USD3.82 B), with more than half of that amount going to sustainable energy and mobility. It also posted a full-year net profit at current cost of supplies (CCS) of 790 MM euros for 2022, up sharply from the 310 MM euros reported in 2021. The planned investment increase of 93% for 2023-25 is from the previous three years, Cepsa said.

Solvay opens new development lab in Shanghai, China

Solvay opens new development lab in Shanghai, China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Solvay has opened a new application development lab (ADL) in Shanghai, China, to expand its global footprint of its research and innovation facilities, said the company.

The new facility will develop solutions for applications industries including automotive, new energy, life solutions and pharmacy, smart devices and semiconductors for Solvay’s customers active in local and global end markets.

A team of 30 people including scientists, engineers and technicians will work at the site with coordinated resources use simulations, prototyping and performance evaluation services complemented by process equipment such as 3D printing, extrusion and noise vibration harshness (HNV) improvements.

We remind, Solvay announces the completion of the sale of its 50% stake in the RusVinyl joint venture to its joint venture partner Sibur. At the time of closing, Solvay received EUR433 million in cash proceeds in Belgium which will be reported in the first quarter as cash flow from investing activities (Consolidated statement of cash flows). A capital loss of EUR174 million will be recognized in the first quarter of 2023, mainly reflecting the crystallization of historic currency translation balances.

Evonik EU-funded membrane and catalyst project gains interim approval from auditors

Evonik EU-funded membrane and catalyst project gains interim approval from auditors

MOSCOW (MRC) -- An EU-funded membrane and catalyst project from Evonik has received positive interim evaluation from the Commission, the German specialty producer announced.

The project is the largest EU-funded project coordinated by Evonik, and mechanical completion of the demonstration plant in Marl, Germany, is scheduled for the third quarter. Auditors were satisfied with the progress of the Membrane and Catalysts Beyond Economic and Technological Hurdles (MACBETH) project, which was launched in 2020.

The aim of the project is to develop reactors that make large-scale chemical reactions such as hydroformylation significantly more energy efficient, and has already successfully brought technology of catalytic membrane reactors closer to industrial implementation.

This could see greenhouse gas emissions from large-volume industrial processes reduced by up to 35%, with an increase in resource and energy efficiency of up to 70%, contributing toward the European Green Deal. The project has also been recognised by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and was also included in a list of projects receiving funding under the broad EU framework programme Horizon 2020.

Hydroformylation is an industrial process in which unsaturated hydrocarbons (or olefins) are converted into aldehydes using synthesis gas, which is a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. Aldehydes are intermediate materials used to make higher alcohols, organic acids or esters, which can then be used to produce plasticizers in plastics or as surfactants.

We remind, Evonik introduces a diverse range of additives under the brand name TEGO Cycle to help its customers improve the process and increase the final quality of recycled plastics. Designed to save energy during the mechanical recycling process, the TEGO Cycle portfolio of additives also enhances the quality of polymers, enabling the transition of the plastics value chain into a 'value cycle.'