Chemical rail traffic in North America rebounded to seasonal highs

Chemical rail traffic in North America rebounded to seasonal highs

North American chemical railcar traffic rose 1.8% year on year to 46,721 loadings in the week ended 19 August, according to data from the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

A 7.5% increase in Canada, where industry is still working off backlogs from the 1-13 July strike at west coast ports, more than offset declines in the US and Mexico.

For the first 33 weeks of 2023 ended 19 August, North American chemical rail traffic was down 2.4% year on year to 1,492,438 - with the US down 3.7% to 1,026,205 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 3.6% year on year to 44,224 loadings in the week ended 12 August - the first decline in four weeks as gains in Canada and Mexico were more than offset by a 5.9% decline in the USA.

Marathon Petroleum implements Topsoe technology at Martinez renewables facility

Marathon Petroleum implements Topsoe technology at Martinez renewables facility

Marathon Petroleum’s former refinery in Martinez, California, has been repurposed to produce renewable diesel through the company’s joint venture with Neste, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The Martinez Renewable Fuels Facility is currently operating with a capacity of 260 MMgal/yr. Additional production capacity is expected to be online by the end of 2023, bringing the total capacity to approximately 730 MMgal/yr of renewable fuels.

The fuels are produced using Topsoe’s licensed HydroFlex technology. Topsoe was selected by Marathon Petroleum as the technology provider for renewable fuels production at the Martinez Renewable Fuels Facility in California. The facility, part of Marathon’s 50/50 joint venture with Neste, utilizes Topsoe’s HydroFlex technology to convert bio-feedstock into renewable diesel.

The continued partnership between Topsoe and Marathon builds upon the successful operation at Marathon’s Dickinson facility in North Dakota, which also uses Topsoe’s HydroFlex renewable fuels technology and achieved design capacity in the second quarter of 2021.

We remind, Marathon Petroleum’s Q3 net income rose more than six-fold year on year to USD4.5bn, with the refining and marketing (R&M) margin more than doubling. Crude capacity utilisation was about 98%, with total throughput of 3.0m bbl/day in Q3 – compared with 93% and 2.8m bbl/day, respectively, in Q3 2021.

Marathon Petroleum Corp (MPC) is a leading, integrated, downstream energy company headquartered in Findlay, Ohio. The company operates the nation's largest refining system. MPC's marketing system includes branded locations across the United States, including Marathon brand retail outlets. MPC also owns the general partner and majority limited partner interest in MPLX LP, a midstream company that owns and operates gathering, processing, and fractionation assets, as well as crude oil and light product transportation and logistics infrastructure.

Reliance increased oil imports in July by 6% to nearly 1.1 MMbpd

Reliance increased oil imports in July by 6% to nearly 1.1 MMbpd

India's Reliance Industries Ltd, the operator of the world's biggest refining complex at Jamnagar in western Gujarat state, increased oil imports in July by about 6% to 1.09 MMbpd, tanker data from trade and industry sources showed, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The sources declined to be named as they are not authorized to speak to media.

We remind, Reliance Industries Ltd has turned its sights on the domestic market, offering a high-performance diesel at a lower price than fuel sold by state-owned retailers. Jio-bp, the retail fuel joint venture of Reliance and bp will sell diesel mixed with detergents and dispersants at 1 rupee cheaper per liter than gasoil sold by the state-run companies, such as, Hindustan Petroleum Corp and Bharat Petroleum.

Shell taps Goldman Sachs to explore Singapore refinery and petchem plant sale

Shell taps Goldman Sachs to explore Singapore refinery and petchem plant sale

Shell is considering a sale of its Singapore refining and petrochemical plants as part of a broader strategic review and has hired investment bank Goldman Sachs to explore a potential deal, said several sources close to the matter, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The global energy major's new CEO, Wael Sawan, is targeting spending cuts over the next two years to boost profitability while remaining committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

Those efforts include the review of energy and chemicals assets on Singapore's Bukom and Jurong islands, announced in June, as the group seeks to repurpose its energy and chemical parks globally to offer more low-carbon solutions to customers.

"Our strategic review is ongoing and we are exploring several options including divestment," a Shell spokesperson told Reuters on Wednesday.

Singapore's position as a regional trading and marketing hub remains important, she added. Companies that are reviewing Shell's Singapore assets include Asia's largest refiner, China's Sinopec, as well as global trading companies Vitol and Trafigura, the sources said.

For trading companies, the site is seen as a potential oil storage and distribution hub, some of the sources said.

Goldman Sachs, Sinopec, Trafigura and Vitol declined to comment.

The Bukom refinery, Shell's only wholly owned refining and petrochemicals center in Asia, can process 237,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude. Built in 1961, it was Singapore's first refinery.

The complex also houses a 1 million metric tons per year (tpy) ethylene cracker and a 155,000 tpy butadiene extraction unit. These are integrated with a monoethylene glycol (MEG) plant at Shell’s petrochemicals site on Jurong Island.

In March, Shell decided not to proceed with two projects it was studying to produce biofuels and base oils in Singapore.

Oil slides on grim manufacturing data

Oil slides on grim manufacturing data

Oil prices slid almost 2% on Wednesday as gloomy global manufacturing data grabbed attention ahead of an annual meeting of central bankers at Jackson Hole in the United States, with interest rates high on the agenda, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Brent crude was down $1.54, or 1.8%, at $82.49 a barrel by 1308 GMT while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was down $1.54, or 1.9%, at $78.10. Manufacturing data emanating from a host of purchasing managers' index (PMI) surveys on Wednesday gave a steer on the health of economies across the globe.

Results so far have been grim. Japan reported shrinking factory activity for a third straight month in August. Euro zone business activity also declined more than expected, particularly in Germany. Britain's economy, meanwhile, looks set to shrink in the current quarter and is in danger of falling into recession. U.S. PMI data is expected later on Wednesday.

"What oil watchers should be concerned with is that all of the predictions of manufacturing PMIs are under 50 ... all in contraction territory," said John Evans of oil broker PVM.

Crude stocks in the United States continued to fall, dropping by about 2.4 million barrels in the week ended Aug. 18, according to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures on Tuesday. That was a slightly smaller draw than the 2.9 million barrel drop expected by analysts in a Reuters poll. The weekly report from the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the U.S. energy department, is due at 1430 GMT on Wednesday.