Sumitomo Chemical to establish innovative and highly efficient technology for producing methanol from CO2

Sumitomo Chemical to establish innovative and highly efficient technology for producing methanol from CO2

MRC -- Sumitomo Chemical has completed the construction of a pilot facility to establish a highly efficient process for producing methanol from CO2 at its Ehime Works, located in Niihama City, Ehime Prefecture, Japan, and has commenced operations at the facility, said the company.

This facility was built with the support of NEDO’s Green Innovation (GI) Fund. The Company aims to complete the demonstration of this technology by 2028, as well as start commercial production using the new process and license the technology to other companies in the 2030s.

Carbon capture and utilization (CCU) technology is expected to serve as a game-changing solution to halt global warming and achieve a circular economy for carbon by recovering CO2 and utilizing it in products, and Sumitomo Chemical is accelerating the development and spread of various new CCU processes. Among them is a technology that uses CO2 to produce methanol, a raw material for a wide range of products, from plastics to adhesives, chemical agents, and paints. It is often cited as a key example of CCU technology. However, conventional CO2-to-methanol conversion processes have faced challenges, such as low yield due to the reversible nature of the reaction and catalyst degradation caused by byproduct water.

Sumitomo Chemical has resolved these issues through joint development with Professor Koji Omata of Shimane University Interdisciplinary Faculty of Science and Engineering, leveraging the internal condensation reactor (ICR), a technology that Professor Omata has been developing. The ICR enables the condensation and separation of methanol and water within the reactor, which is impossible with conventional technologies. This helps to improve yield, downsize equipment, and achieve higher energy efficiency, while it is also expected to prevent catalyst degradation.

We remind, Sumitomo Chemical has decided to close down its production facilities for cyclohexanone (also known as anone) at its Ehime Works located in Niihama City, Ehime, Japan and exit the business, said the company. The closure of the production facilities is scheduled for the end of March 2024.

BP restarts pipeline after gasoline spill in Washington state

BP restarts pipeline after gasoline spill in Washington state

MRC -- bp has restarted its Olympic Pipeline that had leaked roughly 25,000 gallons of gasoline near Mount Vernon in Washington state, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The pipeline was restarted following repairs, integrity testing, and regulatory approval of the restart plan, the source said. The company has been cleaning up the spill since Sunday with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and local officials.

Nearly 7,000 gallons had been recovered, according to the latest update from bp and the EPA on Wednesday, which added that at least one American beaver, one pine siskin bird, and one mallard duck died due to the spill.

The leak was caused by a tubing failure inside a concrete vault that connected one of the pipelines to a pressure sensor, and the main pipeline was shut down by Monday after detecting a loss in pressure.

Gasoline was 2 cents stronger at 5 cents a gallon under NYMEX January gasoline futures in the Pacific Northwest market, traders said on Thursday.

Around 2,100 feet (640 meters) of boom remained deployed to contain the spill and no gasoline or sheen has been seen on the Skagit River, while State Route 534 reopened to one-way traffic, according to bp and the EPA.

The Olympic Pipeline had ruptured in June 1999, spilling over 230,000 gallons of gasoline that caught fire near Bellingham, Washington, and killed three young people.

The explosion of bp's Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 led to the largest oil spill in U.S. history that left 11 rig workers dead and caused $70 billion in damages.

We remind, bp has been working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and local officials since Sunday to clean up a roughly 25,000-gallon gasoline spill from its Olympic Pipeline near Mount Vernon in Washington state. Nearly 7,000 gallons had been recovered, according to the latest update on Wednesday, which added that at least one American beaver, one pine siskin bird, and one mallard duck died due to the spill.

Singapore November petrochemical exports fall 7.4%

Singapore November petrochemical exports fall 7.4%

MRC -- Singapore’s petrochemical exports in November fell by 7.4% year on year to Singapore dollar (S$) 1.16bn ($872m)), reversing the 3.4% expansion in the previous month, official data showed on Monday.

The country's overall non-oil domestic (NODX) for the month inched up by 1.0% year on year to S$14.5bn, reversing the 3.5% decline in the preceding month, Enterprise Singapore data showed.

Non-electronic NODX, which includes pharmaceuticals and petrochemicals, rose by 5.2% year on year to S$11.6bn in November.

Overall NODX to Singapore's top 10 markets declined in November, with shipments to Taiwan and the EU recording the steepest year-on-year falls of 40% and 21.7%, respectively.

Singapore is a major petrochemicals manufacturer and exporter in southeast Asia. Its petrochemicals hub Jurong Island houses more than 100 global chemical firms, including energy majors ExxonMobil and Shell.

Its trade-reliant economy is projected to post a 2023 growth of around 1%, the midpoint of the previous forecast of a 0.5-1.5% expansion, according to the country’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI). For 2024, Singapore’s GDP growth is projected at 1%-3%.

We remind, Singapore's middle distillates inventories fell marginally week-on-week as net exports of both gasoil and jet fuel/kerosene grew. Gasoil and jet fuel/kerosene inventories at the key oil storage hub were at 10.422 million barrels in the week ended Nov. 22 from 10.423 MMbbl a week earlier, data from Enterprise Singapore showed. Net exports of gasoil posted a week-on-week gain for the first time in two months.

Versalis to close Grangemouth plant citing worse market conditions

Versalis to close Grangemouth plant citing worse market conditions

MRC -- Versalis is to close its Grangemouth, UK, synthetic rubber plant, the company confirmed on Friday, on the back of worsening elastomer market conditions and deteriorating profitability, said BBC.

The company has informed UK unions GMB and Unite that the plant is expected to close in April next year, with employee layoffs to take place on a phased basis up to that point.

A spokesperson for union GMB said that the company had been expected to inform workers at the site on Thursday afternoon, with 135 employees potentially affected. Talks about the future of the site had been ongoing for several months, but Versalis informed unions on Thursday morning of the decision.

“We have been in talks with management for some time and, while closure was an option, this news is a body blow for many of our members, their families and the communities where they live," said Dom Pritchard, GMB Scotland organiser. "We will be continuing our discussions with the company," he added.

According to the ICIS Supply & Demand Database, the Versalis site has capacity to produce 60,000 tonnes/year of styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) capacity and 80,000 tonnes/year of polybutadiene (PBR). Changing conditions in the European market have made site economics less viable, according to a spokesperson for parent company Eni.

We remind, Versalis, Eni's chemical company, has published the 2022 Sustainability Report, illustrating its contribution to the development of more sustainable and circular models in line with Eni's strategy and values, said the company.

Grupa Azoty Polyolefins requests EUR55m in support funds amid PDH/PP plant delays

Grupa Azoty Polyolefins requests EUR55m in support funds amid PDH/PP plant delays

MRC -- Grupa Azoty Polyolefins, the special-purpose vehicle overseeing Poland’s delayed $1.8bn world-scale propane dehydrogenation (PDH) and polypropylene (PP) plant, has so far requested support loan tranches amounting to €55m, parent company Grupa Azoty Police said.

Azoty Police made the announcement after it and the group parent company, state-controlled Grupa Azoty, received the latest request for a tranche, of €10m.

Grupa Azoty Polyolefins, said Azoty Police, was faced by insufficient funding to complete the PDH/PP project because general contractor Hyundai Engineering has been delayed in finishing the production complex.

Grupa Azoty announced in late November that commercial operation of the installation that it started up in June had been delayed until the first half of 2024.

In a note to the market on the installation, billed as Europe’s first new PP plant to open in 15 years, Azoty said: “The updated investment schedule provides for an installation integrity test to be carried out in the first quarter of 2024 and the commencement of commercial operation of the plant in the first half of 2024.”

After the delay was announced, one PP buyer told ICIS: “Yes, we have been informed by Azoty [representative], some months ago, about their delay and the new start up scheduling. We do not expect any impact, because the situation was well known. Maybe such delay will [postpone] the pressure on other EU PP suppliers, especially in a moment when the PP demand in EU is quite low.”

Another buyer said: “My feeling is that it’s better [to] not produce than produce and lose money. I don’t expect issues for this delay.”

The plant, in Police, in the far northwest of Poland by the sea-linked river Oder, has capacity to producer 429,000 tonnes/year of polymer-grade propylene (PGP) and 437,000 tonnes/year of PP.