North American chemical railcar traffic fell for a ninth straight week

North American chemical railcar traffic fell for a ninth straight week

MOSCOW (MRC) -- North American chemical railcar traffic fell for a ninth straight week, with loadings for the week ended 15 July down 2.0% year on year to 44,025, said according to the freight rail data of Association of American Railroads.

The decline was led by a 10.8% drop in Canada where railways embargoed certain cargoes because of a port strike at Vancouver and other west coast ports.

For the first 28 weeks of 2023 ended 15 July, North American chemical rail traffic was down 2.9% year on year to 1,262,326, with the US down 4.2%, to 870,044 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 fourth straight week, with loadings for the week ended 10 June down 3.8% year on year to 44,469, led by a 14.6% decline in Canada. For the first 23 weeks of 2023 ended 10 June, North American chemical rail traffic was down 2.8% year on year to 1,043,139, with the US down 4.6%, to 717,412 loadings.

Iraq and Lebanon sign MoU on Iraq providing Lebanon with fuel oil and crude oil

Iraq and Lebanon sign MoU on Iraq providing Lebanon with fuel oil and crude oil

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Iraq renewed its agreement to provide Lebanon with up to 2 million tons of crude oil for a year, as per Reuters.

The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on Iraq providing Lebanon with fuel oil and crude oil, the Iraqi state news agency INA also reported on Friday, without elaborating.

In May Lebanon signed deals to secure more fuel supplies from Iraq as Beirut battles to produce more power to help it emerge from years of economic crisis.

Baghdad also agreed to increase the volume of heavy fuel oil supplied under an existing deal by 50% to 1.5 million metric tonnes this year.

We remind, a barter of Iranian natural gas for Iraqi oil as described by the Iraqi prime minister this week would likely violate U.S. sanctions on Tehran unless the U.S. issued a waiver permitting it. Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani on Tuesday said Iraq would begin trading crude oil for Iranian gas to end recurring payment delays to Tehran due to required U.S. approval for such transactions. Sudani said Iran had cut gas exports to Iraq by more than half as of July 1 after Baghdad failed to secure U.S. approval to disburse owed funds, but Tehran had now agreed to resume gas exports in exchange for crude oil.

India, Sri Lanka agree to boost ties through energy, power and port projects

India, Sri Lanka agree to boost ties through energy, power and port projects

MOSCOW (MRC) -- India and Sri Lanka said on Friday that they had agreed to improve economic ties by increasing cooperation in renewable energy and studying the feasibility of building an oil pipeline and a land bridge between the two countries, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

New Delhi will also help develop a port and an economic hub at Trincomalee, a city on Sri Lanka's northeastern coast. The announcements were made by the leaders of the two countries as Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe held talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Friday morning.

India's support of nearly $4 B between January and July last year was critical for Sri Lanka after it almost ran out of dollars and sank into a financial crisis that left it struggling to fund essential imports including fuel and medicine.
Modi said on Friday that the two leaders "adopted a vision document for our Economic Partnership" to strengthen maritime, air, energy and people-to-people connectivity, to accelerate mutual cooperation in tourism, power, trade, higher education, and skill development.

Modi also said the two sides would work quickly to connect their electricity grids and study the feasibility of building a petroleum pipeline and a land bridge between the countries, which are about 50 km (31 miles) apart at one point. The projects to connect the power grids through undersea cables and the oil pipeline are expected to cost around USD4 B in total, according to officials on both sides. Few details were released on the agreements on renewables.

Wickremesinghe said that "constructing a multi-product petroleum pipeline from the southern part of India to Sri Lanka will ensure an affordable and reliable supply of energy to Sri Lanka." The two countries also will soon restart negotiations on a more expansive trade deal known as the Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement.

Wickremesinghe also said that he had updated Modi about the reform measures being taken by his government to resolve the island's financial crisis and expressed appreciation for the support provided by India for the "most challenging period in modern history".

Sri Lanka defaulted on its foreign debt last May and India is part of a common platform established with Japan and other Paris Club members to help the island restructure its debt. India remains a key creditor to the island with USD1.9 B in outstanding debt.

While New Delhi has traditionally had strong ties with its southern neighbor, the small island nation has become a jousting ground between India and China due to its strategic location in the Indian Ocean. The two-day visit to New Delhi is Wickremesinghe's first since he took over as the president a year ago after his predecessor was forced out of office following widespread protests against the economic crisis.

We remind, Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IndianOil) and Praj Industries Limited (Praj) signed a term sheet to advance plans to strengthen biofuels production capacities in India. Various biofuels covered under this MoU include Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), Ethanol, Compressed Bio-Gas (CBG), Biodiesel and Bio-bitumen among others. Earlier in October 2021, both the Companies had entered into an agreement to form a 50:50 Joint Venture to this end.

Aramco completes USD3.4 bn purchase of Rongsheng Petrochemical stake

Aramco completes USD3.4 bn purchase of Rongsheng Petrochemical stake

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Aramco, one of the world’s leading integrated energy and chemicals companies, has successfully closed a landmark transaction to acquire a 10% interest in Rongsheng Petrochemical Co. Ltd. for USD3.4 B through its subsidiary Aramco Overseas Company BV, based in the Netherlands, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The acquisition follows the signing of definitive strategic agreements by both parties announced on March 27, 2023. It represents the continued growth of Aramco’s downstream presence in China and includes the supply of 480,000 barrels per day of Arabian crude to the largest Chinese integrated refining and chemicals complex, which is owned by Rongsheng affiliate Zhejiang Petroleum and Chemical Co. Ltd (ZPC).

Mohammed Y. Al Qahtani, Aramco Downstream President, said: “Our strategic partnership with Rongsheng advances Aramco’s liquids to chemicals strategy while growing our presence in China and showcases our importance as a reliable supplier of crude oil. This key acquisition is an important part of Aramco’s long-term growth strategy, expanding our presence in a vital market."

Li Shuirong, Chairman of Rongsheng, said: “The completion of this transaction marks the entry of Rongsheng and Aramco into a new era together, and also signifies an important step forward in Rongsheng's internationalization strategy.” Rongsheng owns a 51% equity interest in ZPC, whose complex has the capacity to process 800,000 barrels per day of crude oil and to produce 4.2 million metric tons of ethylene per year.

We remind, Aramco, TotalEnergies, and SABIC have for the first time in the Middle East and North Africa successfully converted oil derived from plastic waste into ISCC+ certified circular polymers. The plastic pyrolysis oil, also called plastic waste derived oil (PDO), was processed at the SATORP refinery jointly owned by Aramco and TotalEnergies, in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. It was then used as a feedstock by PETROKEMYA, a SABIC affiliate, to produce certified circular polymers.

U.S. Senate backs measure barring oil sales to China from SPR

U.S. Senate backs measure barring oil sales to China from SPR

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed an amendment to an annual defense bill on Thursday that would ban exports to China of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, said Reuters.

The tally was 85 to 14 in favor of the measure, beyond the 60 votes needed in the 100-member Senate to add the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, legislation that sets policy for the Department of Defense that is expected to be passed later this year.

The desire for a hard line on China is one of the few truly bipartisan sentiments in the divided U.S. Congress, and members of Congress have introduced dozens of bills seeking to address competition with China's communist government. The amendment was sponsored by Senators Joe Manchin, a Democrat, and Ted Cruz, a Republican, who say the ban would protect national security.

The issue of SPR sales to China heated up after President Joe Biden, a Democrat, announced the sale last year of 180 million barrels from the SPR to tame gasoline prices that spiked on Russia's war on Ukraine. The sale pushed levels in the SPR to the lowest in 40 years. Critics in Congress say the low level reduces U.S. energy security even though the country produces much more oil than it did in 1983, thanks to advances in fracking.

Last July, in a sale of 39 million barrels from the SPR that was part of the 180 million-barrel release, 1 million barrels went to UNIPEC America, a Houston-based arm of China's Sinopec. In 2017, under former President Donald Trump, some SPR oil was sold to PetroChina International, a subsidiary of Chinese state oil company PetroChina Co Ltd.

Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat who opposed the ban, said it "creates the illusion of solving a problem while having very little political impact and likely doing more harm than good." Last year U.S. oil companies sold more than 83 million barrels to China. This year the trend is up with oil exports to China through April totaling more than 76 million barrels.

The House and Senate will next go to conference to work out a final bill that has to be passed by both chambers and be passed by Biden to become law. Benjamin Salisbury, an analyst at Height Capital Markets, said it was unlikely that a ban would have "any systemic impact on the functioning of the SPR which is done through a competitive bid in a relatively liquid market."

We remind, Sinopec has completed trial runs at a one million tonnes-per-year ethylene plant in the southern Chinese province of Hainan that will boost exports. The facility is part of a 28.6 billion-yuan (USD4.15 billion) complex built at the site and is the second major petrochemical plant starting this year after a similar-sized facility was announced last week by PetroChina in Guangdong province.