Global diesel shortage boosts prices

Global diesel shortage boosts prices

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Global distillate fuel oil inventories remain much lower than normal for the time of year which is putting strong upward pressure on fuel prices, said Reuters.

Distillates such as diesel, gasoil and heating oil are the primary fuels used by the industrial economy and inventories are normally strongly correlated with the manufacturing cycle.

But stocks in all the major consuming regions were severely depleted in August, despite a prolonged slowdown in manufacturing activity and freight movements over the previous year.

In every case, the deficit to the prior ten-year average has widened since March and April, putting upward pressure on prices.

Initially, the upward pressure on distillate refining margins was masked by downward pressure on the underlying prices for crude oil.

Since July, however, both crude prices and distillate refining margins have been rising, causing the total price of fuel to surge.

Wholesale prices for heating oil in the New York area were almost 66 cents per gallon or USD28 per barrel higher on average in August than they had been in June.

Nearly USD11 of the increase was attributable to higher crude prices, but more than USD16 was owing to an increase in refining margins.

We remind, Russia's Gazprom said on Tuesday that its Astrakhan gas processing plant had resumed diesel output after maintenance works. Energy Ministry Nikolai Shulginov on Monday mentioned Astrakhan as one of a number of refineries where maintenance was nearing completion, which he said should ease a shortage of fuel on the domestic market.

North America chem rail traffic rises for fourth week

North America chem rail traffic rises for fourth week

MOSCOW (MRC) -- North American chemical rail traffic rose for a fourth consecutive week as railcar loadings for the week ended 9 September were up 2.8% year on year to 43,757, with the US, Canada and Mexico all registering increases, according to Association of American Railroads.

For the first 36 weeks of 2023 ended 9 September, North American chemical rail traffic was down 1.8% year on year to 1,630,304 loadings - with the US down 3.2% to 1,119,971.

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 rail traffic rose for a third consecutive week, with railcar loadings for the week ended 2 September up 7.4% year on year to 47,935.

BP commits to Germany with USD11-B low-carbon investment push

BP commits to Germany with USD11-B low-carbon investment push

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BP plans to invest up to EUR10 B (USD10.7 B) in low-carbon fuels, renewables and EV charging in Germany by the end of the decade to rival local power firms, as competition over the energy transition of Europe's largest economy intensifies, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Germany is one of a handful of countries bp is targeting to roll out at scale its strategy to shift away from fossil fuels towards low-carbon fuels and electricity.

At the heart of the German investment push are plans to expand bp's local network of electric vehicle (EV) fast chargers, decarbonize its refineries, and develop wind power. It is also weighing a local hub to import low-carbon hydrogen.

"We are talking about refineries, we are talking about the largest petrol station network in Germany, we are talking about existing business relationships, about strong brands," Patrick Wendeler, who chairs the board of bp Europe, said. "These are all excellent assets that we can build on and that others do not have in this form. That is an advantage."

The €10 B are new investments, which however include a €678 MM payment bp has to make after being awarded in July two licenses in Germany's recent offshore wind auction. bp plans to spend $55 B–$65 B on its new transition businesses between 2023 and 2030, when the sum will equal its investment in oil and gas.

Former CEO Bernard Looney, who resigned late on Tuesday in a surprise move for failing to fully disclose details of past personal relationships with colleagues, told Reuters recently he would not further scale back his energy transition strategy after ceding some ground earlier this year.

The scale of investment is bound to challenge incumbent power utilities that are struggling to compete with the financial muscle of oil firms.

bp has been operating in Germany for more than a century through predecessor companies and employs about 4,000 people there, around 6% of its total.

Wendeler said there would be areas where bp would bring in new or retain existing expertise, declining to say whether the workforce would grow as a result of the investments.

bp recently opened a new office in Hamburg which will oversee its offshore wind expansion. "We will have areas where we will consolidate, because the existing energy system is one that is declining strongly," he said, adding crude oil capacity in Germany will drop further.

bp operates two refineries in Germany — Lingen and Gelsenkirchen — as well as Aral, Germany's largest petrol station network. It also provides more than 1,700 fast EV loading spots in Germany via its Aral brand.

By 2030, bp plans to have up to 20,000 charging spots, Wendeler said, hoping to cash in on the growing adoption of EV as carmakers from Volkswagen to BMW launch new models. bp's award in Germany's offshore wind tender along with TotalEnergies made headlines, as the oil majors beat out incumbents such as RWE and Orsted.

bp will mainly use the electricity to satisfy its own demand in Germany. Rivals bidders, including Shell, Orsted and RWE, have challenged the economic rationale behind bp's bid, which it says will generate returns of 6%–8%.

RWE, which itself is planning to spend €15 B in Germany by 2030, dropped out of the race because it said the bidding had reached unsustainable levels, its CEO said.

We remind, BP expanded its investment in bioenergy today as bp ventures committed USD10 mln, leading the Series B investment round, in WasteFuel, a California-based biofuels company that will use proven, scalable technologies to convert bio-based municipal and agricultural waste into lower carbon fuels, such as bio-methanol.

Vietnam's Dung Quat refinery to close for maintenance in March–April

Vietnam's Dung Quat refinery to close for maintenance in March–April

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Vietnam's Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical will shut down its 130,000-bpd Dung Quat refinery in March and April next year for major maintenance, said Reuters.

The maintenance will take about 50 days, an unnamed company source said. This will be the fifth major maintenance for the refinery, which started commercial operations in 2009. Vietnam's other refinery, the 200,000-bpd Nghi Son Refinery, was also shut down from late August for 55 days for maintenance.

Combined, both refineries meet around 70% of Vietnam's refined fuel needs.

We remind, Vietnam's largest oil refinery has shut down some of its units, beginning a 55-day total shutdown for major maintenance. The 200,000-barrel-per-day Nghi Son Refinery and Petrochemical will be totally shutdown on Friday, said the source, who declined to be named as the person is not allowed to speak to media. "We have hired five contractors for the maintenance work, mostly domestic ones," the person said, declining to reveal the value of the contract.

SABIC and partners introduce first in-mold labeling renewable polymers for food packaging containers

SABIC and partners introduce first in-mold labeling renewable polymers for food packaging containers

MOSCOW (MRC) -- SABIC, a global leader in the chemical industry, has partnered with three specialists in the field of in-mold labeling (IML) to demonstrate the use of certified renewable polypropylene (PP) resins in high quality mono-PP thin-wall container packaging without compromising quality, processability, safety or convenience, said the company.

The single-step IML technology achieves a seamless part decoration right in the injection mold, where the label becomes an integral component of the packaging itself. Dedicated label film types and high-definition printing technology result in a very attractive and cost-effective decorative solution. Besides using certified renewable PP resins for both the molded parts and the label film, the resulting packaging can be recycled in existing rigid PP recycling streams.

Abdullah Al-Otaibi, General Manager, ETP & Market Solutions at SABIC, says: “The demand for in-mold labeled packaging is constantly growing across various different consumer market segments, as it provides major opportunities for cost effective and highly sustainable solutions. Together with the responsibly sourced and certified renewable polymers from our TRUCIRCLE™ portfolio, this flexible decoration technology has enormous potential in fully recyclable mono-material packaging with no compromise on shelf visibility and consumer appeal in the retail space. At the same time, it can help manufacturers and brand owners reduce their environmental impact and carbon footprint while addressing the need for preventing valuable used plastic from ending up as waste.”

The label material for the IML containers is a biaxially oriented polyethylene (BOPP) film produced by Taghleef, a leading global supplier of films solutions to customers worldwide, using a SABIC® certified renewable resin tailored to the BOPP process. BOPP films are widely used for in-mold labeled injection molding applications in food, dairy and beverages, home, beauty and personal care packaging. Taghleef offers transparent, white and metalized PP label films, which can all be produced using polymers with bio-based feedstock. Furthermore, they can easily be customized to meet specific needs of gravure or offset printing for desired haptic textures and visual appearance, from glossy, matt, orange peel or velvet feel to an entirely non-label look.

Monica Battistella, Sustainability Manager at Taghleef, adds: “Our BOPP film range for in-mold-labeling gives brand owners a wide choice of premium packaging finishes to enhance brand differentiation and shelf visibility with a low environmental impact. In combination with the sustainable nature of SABIC’s mass balance certified renewable polymer from second-generation feedstock, the exceptional printability, die-cutting, anti-static and non-stick properties of these films deliver maximum value throughout the entire life cycle of the labeled products, including end-of-life recycling.”

As part of the present collaboration, the final BOPP label film is supplied to Karydakis, a leading specialist in optimized printing techniques, ink formulations and conversion technologies tailored to PP-based in-mold labels. The company’s sophisticated process delivers high-quality labels pre-printed with captivating designs and branding elements to match end customer specifications and ensure the effortless integration with the containers throughout the molding process.

Augustinos Kotronis, General Manager at Kotronis Packaging, explains: "In-mold labeling offers substantial productivity benefits, since it eliminates the need for separately applied adhesive labels on the finished packaging product by forming a permanent, tamper proof bond with the container right in the mold. In addition, the renewable container material from SABIC complies with all relevant international standards for food-contact applications, while showing excellent processability on our machines, including high flowability for reduced wall thicknesses. Moreover, it meets with our targets for reducing both CO2 emissions and fossil consumption."

Cut to shape for stacking, the IML labels are finally supplied to Kotronis, a medium-sized family business specializing in injection molded containers for food products. Here, they facilitate the efficient in-mold labeling of cups and tubs in a seamlessly integrated and fully automated, single-step process. This IML solution will be on display at Taghleef’s Booth 4C35 during Labelexpo in Brussels from September 11 to 14.

We remind, the joint project between BASF, SABIC, and Linde to build the world’s first electrically heated steam cracker furnaces hit an important milestone recently with the installation of the last transformers for the demonstration plant. This is one of the final and most crucial steps of the construction and has taken place about a year after construction started. Completion is scheduled for the end of 2023, followed by a stepwise commissioning.