Saudi Arabia extends voluntary oil output cut of 1 MM bpd to end in 2023

Saudi Arabia extends voluntary oil output cut of 1 MM bpd to end in 2023

Saudi Arabia will extend its voluntary oil output cut of 1 million bpd for another three months until the end of December 2023, as per Reuters.

Oil prices rose sharply following the news of the Saudi cut extension, with Brent prices rising above $90 a barrel for the first time since Nov. 18.

The voluntary cut decision will be reviewed monthly to consider deepening the cut or increasing production depending on market conditions, SPA said, citing a Saudi energy ministry official.

The Saudi voluntary cut is on top of a previous production cut agreed by several producers in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries along with Russia and other allies known as OPEC+, in April that extends to the end of 2024.

Russia on Tuesday also extended its voluntary decision to reduce its oil exports by 300,000 bpd to the end of this year, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said in a statement on Tuesday. Moscow will also review the voluntary reduction monthly and may deepen it or raise it, Novak said.

LyondellBasell starts union consultation with the intent to close one of two production units in Brindisi, Italy

LyondellBasell starts union consultation with the intent to close one of two production units in Brindisi, Italy

LyondellBasell started consultations with territorial trade unions for the management of potential redundancies in relation to the intended closure of the one of its two polypropylene production units at its Brindisi location in Italy, said the company.

"After thorough analysis, we believe that closure of this unit is the most sustainable solution from a strategic and financial standpoint,” said Jim Guilfoyle, senior vice president Olefins and Polyolefins EAMEI of LyondellBasell. “We understand the intended closure may impact some of our employees. We are committed to discuss solutions with unions and social parties to support them in the best way possible. The supply to our customers will continue.”

Guilfoyle added, “This unit is the oldest of its kind in the world and it has become uncompetitive. The market environment for our polypropylene products of this Brindisi unit has become increasingly challenging, and the outlook provides little improvement. The intention of our group is to strengthen the position of the company's other assets in higher value markets.”

LyondellBasell’s Brindisi, Italy site produces materials for the production of textiles, food packaging, and other applications.

We remind, LyondellBasell announced that Jiangsu Fenghai High-Tech Materials Co., Ltd. (Jiangsu Fenghai) has selected the LyondellBasell Lupotech T high-pressure polyethylene technology for a new production site. The Lupotech T process technology will be used for a 200 kiloton per year (KTA) vinyl acetate copolymer (EVA) line. The new line will be located in Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province, P.R. of China.

Berry Global Announces Yet More Plant Closures

Berry Global Announces Yet More Plant Closures

Berry Global CEO Tom Salmon announced during the company’s Q3 earnings webcast this week that the packaging giant would be shutting down 20 facilities, said Plasticstoday.

That’s five more than were mentioned in the Q2 earnings call in May. The company is not revealing the plant locations at the present time. When PlasticsToday asked Berry Global about that, Marketing Communications Manager Amy Waterman responded that the company is unable to release the list of facilities, adding that “our divisions continually review our overall manufacturing footprint to ensure efficient service to our customers.”

Writing for Powder & Bulk Solids, Kristen Kazarian did note that one recent closure happened in Scotland. Berry BPI, a division of Berry Global, announced that its plant in Greenrock, Renfrewshire, shut down as a result of a reduction in demand from customers in the healthcare, construction, and industrial packaging markets, as reported by Scottish media outlet The National.

During the Q3 earnings call, Salmon said, “We’re going to be in a position in 2024 where we see growth in the general market environments improve, and we’re going to benefit from having executed against 20 facilities that have been shut down... it's exciting going forward with an optimized footprint and lower cost structure that will benefit the bottom line, as well."

Salmon, incidentally, will retire from the company effective Dec. 31, 2023. Kazarian notes in her article that the Berry Global website has already changed the number of facilities from “300 plants around the world” to “more than 265 plants.” The math is a bit squishy, but that comes out to a reduction of around 30 facilities.

We remind, China has issued 15 MMt of oil products export quotas to companies in its third batch for 2023, according to three trading sources and two domestic consultancies. The volume consists of 12 million tons of refined products quotas, made up of kerosene, diesel and gasoline exports, and 3 million tons of marine fuel.

PP Compound First to Receive UL Certification for Thermal Runaway Protection of EV Batteries

PP Compound First to Receive UL Certification for Thermal Runaway Protection of EV Batteries

Sabic’s Stamax 30YH570 resin for use in electric vehicle (EV) battery systems has earned the UL Verified Mark from Underwriters Laboratories, said Plasticstoday.

The compound is reportedly the first-ever polymer to pass the thermal runaway box test, according to UL 2596, Test Method for Thermal and Mechanical Performance of Battery Enclosure Materials.

This 30% glass fiber–reinforced polypropylene (PP) copolymer resin, offered under Sabic’s Bluehero electrification initiative, is the first EV-grade polymer to receive UL verification for marketing claims of thermal and mechanical performance. UL verification, based on an objective, scientific assessment by a respected third party, can give customers high confidence in the flame delay performance of this product, said Sabic.

The vast majority of EV batteries perform without issues throughout their useful life. Although thermal runaway incidents are rare, the safety-conscious automotive industry is highly focused on ensuring that the design and performance of EV battery systems prolong the time available to exit a vehicle by delaying propagation of a fire beyond the battery pack. A key consideration is the proper selection and deployment of fire-protection materials used for battery pack components, including enclosures and covers, trays, and thermal barriers that separate cells into groups.

We remind, Russia's seaborne diesel and gasoil exports in August rose by 2% from a month earlier to about 3.85 million metric tons on healthy fuel production, data from traders and LSEG showed. Idle primary oil refining capacity for August was estimated at 3.1 million metric tons versus 2.458 million metric tons in July, Refinitiv Eikon data and Reuters calculations showed.

Trinseo Eyes More Shutdowns to Balance Books

Trinseo Eyes More Shutdowns to Balance Books

Having reported a loss of USD349 million on sales of USD963 million in three months to June 2023, polycarbonate (PC), styrenic, and acrylic (PMMA) resin supplier Trinseo is eyeing further plant closures as part of a restructuring plan that has garnered management team approval, said Plasticstoday.

The closures affect the following operations:

The Bronderslev, Denmark, plant that makes PMMA cast sheets;
PMMA extruded sheet production line in Rho, Italy;
batch polyester tray casting plant in Belen, NM.

The potential closure of the Terneuzen, Netherlands, styrene plant is pending final approval from the board. The plan also entails non-manufacturing job cuts in order to streamline general and administrative operations. Trinseo said most of the restructuring plan should be completed by the end of 2024.

In December 2022, Trinseo announced that it was shuttering its styrene production facility in Boehlen, Germany, and shutting down a PC production line in Stade, Germany. It also said that it would consolidate PMMA sheet manufacturing in Matamoros, Mexico, at the Aristech Surfaces production line in Florence, KY, and reduce styrene-butadiene (SB) latex capacity at its site in Hamina, Finland.

Trinseo acquired Arkema’s PMMA business in May 2021. The company’s existing PMMA offerings serve several end markets including automotive, building and construction, medical, and consumer electronics.

One area where sales held up last quarter was automotive, which is part of the company’s Plastics Solutions business. This business unit was adversely affected by the PC sheet line shutdown as well as sales of copolymers for building and construction, industrial, and consumer durables applications.