Shell to exit Nigeria's troubled onshore oil after nearly a century

Shell to exit Nigeria's troubled onshore oil after nearly a century

Shell is set to conclude nearly a century of operations in Nigerian onshore oil and gas after agreeing to sell its subsidiary there to a consortium of five mostly local companies for up to $2.4 bn, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The British energy giant pioneered Nigeria's oil and gas business beginning in the 1930s. It has struggled for years with hundreds of onshore oil spills as a result of theft, sabotage and operational issues that led to costly repairs and high-profile lawsuits.

Since 2021, Shell has sought to sell its Nigerian oil and gas business but will remain active in Nigeria's more lucrative and less problematic offshore sector. Shell's exit is part of a broader retreat by western energy companies from Nigeria as they focus on newer, more profitable operations. Exxon Mobil, Italy's Eni and Norway's Equinor have struck deals to sell assets in the country in recent years.

The British major will sell The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC) for a consideration of $1.3 billion, it said in a statement, while the buyers will make an additional payment of up to $1.1 billion relating to prior receivables at completion.

"This agreement marks an important milestone for Shell in Nigeria, aligning with our previously announced intent to exit onshore oil production in the Niger Delta, simplifying our portfolio and focusing future disciplined investment in Nigeria on our Deepwater and Integrated Gas positions," Shell head of upstream Zoe Yujnovich said.

The buyer, the Renaissance consortium comprises ND Western, Aradel Energy, First E&P, Waltersmith, all local oil exploration and production companies, and Petrolin, a Swiss-based trading and investment company.

The sale, which Renaissance confirmed, requires the approval of the Nigerian government.

Shell's SPDC Limited operates and has a 30% stake in the SPDC joint venture that holds 18 onshore and shallow water mining leases. Shell's resources in SPDC reached around 458 million barrels of oil equivalent by the end of 2022. Other partners in the joint venture are the state's Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which holds 55%, TotalEnergies, with 10% and Italy's Eni with 5%.

Drawn by low prices, Chinese refiners hunt for oil to replenish stocks

Drawn by low prices, Chinese refiners hunt for oil to replenish stocks

Chinese refiners are actively booking crude oil cargoes for delivery in March and April to replenish stocks, locking-in relatively low prices and in anticipation of stronger demand in the second half of 2024, trade sources said, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Global benchmark Brent futures have stayed under $80 a barrel since December despite rising tensions in the Middle East, making oil attractive, while Beijing has issued fresh quotas for crude imports and fuel exports to refiners, allowing them to boost purchases and operations.

Robust demand from the world's top crude importer is underpinning spot premiums for Middle East crude exports even as Asian refiners plan seasonal maintenance for the second quarter that typically reduces the region's oil demand.

"There will be a stock-building spree over the Q1-Q2, in preparation for the summer," said Kpler analyst Viktor Katona, repeating a trend seen by Chinese refiners in 2023. "This has worked wonders for them last year and this year it seems to have an even better delineation between a weaker H1 and a stronger H2."

China bought record volumes last year to build its biggest ever oil stockpile of more than 1 billion barrels. Refiners started drawing down stocks from late July, helping China to sail through a price rally powered by voluntary output cuts by OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia last year.

China's crude stocks fell to 933-951 million barrels last week, data compiled by analytic firms Vortexa and Kpler showed, after refiners ramped up crude processing in the fourth quarter.

We remind, Borouge Plc launched five new grades to meet the growing demand in the infrastructure and advanced packaging industries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The launch supports Borouge’s growth and innovation strategy by increasing its market share in the piping market in the company’s core territories, valued at nearly $1 billion.

Solvay expands operations across recycling facilities in Europe to enhance circularity in flue gas treatment

Solvay expands operations across recycling facilities in Europe to enhance circularity in flue gas treatment

Solvay has announced capacity expansions at its Resolest and Solval units, specifically designed for recycling residues from the flue gas cleaning process using the market-leading SOLVAir solution, said the company.

The rising demand for this advanced technology stems from the enforcement of stringent environmental standards governing emissions across various industries. By the end of 2025, Resolest is poised to undergo a significant 60% surge in recycling capacity. Likewise, commencing January 2024, Solval is set to witness a substantial 30% increase in its capacity.

For decades, Solvay has been dedicated to establishing a circular economy for the residues generated from flue gas cleaning through SOLVAir technology. More than 80% of SOLVAir residue can be recycled into purified brine, serving as a circular raw material in soda ash manufacturing at Solvay's facilities in Dombasle, France, and Rosignano, Italy. This innovative process empowers both plants to reduce natural brine consumption, actively contributing to resource conservation.

"At Solvay, we're committed to providing sustainable solutions that address humanity’s essential needs. The high demand for our SOLVAir breakthrough technology highlights its unique role in purifying air and preserving natural resources," said Philippe Kehren, Solvay CEO. "We're excited about contributing to the transformation and sustainability of various industries, fostering responsible business growth at Solvay. This aligns seamlessly with our dedication to a circular economy, supporting initiatives such as the European Green Deal and showcasing our unwavering commitment to sustainability."

SOLVAir patented sodium-based solutions enable various industries such as waste-to-energy facilities, power plants, cement production, glass manufacturing and maritime vessels, to efficiently eliminate over 99% of pollutants. This ensures adherence to the strictest air emission regulations in place. In 2016, SOLVAir was recognized as an environmentally-friendly solution by the Solar Impulse Foundation’s World Alliance.

We remind, Solvay will conduct a feasibility study into building the world’s first carbon neutral soda ash plant in NEOM, the city under development in Saudi Arabia. Following the completion of plans to split the business into two companies, with the core business still known as Solvay and the specialties operations now known as Syensqo, the firm is partnering with NEOM energy and water utility ENOWA on the project.

Wacker plans new production site in the Czech Republic

Wacker plans new production site in the Czech Republic

Wacker intends to further expand its silicone specialties business and is reorganizing production in Europe for this purpose, said European-coatings.

A new production site for silicones is to be built in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic, said the company.

The main drivers for the expansion are megatrends such as electromobility and renewable energies, which require silicones. Production is expected to start at the end of 2025. As a first step, the Group would create up to 200 jobs. The investment volume is in the low three-digit million euro range.

The new production site in Karlovy Vary will complement the existing German Wacker Verbund sites in Burghausen and Nunchritz as well as the site in Pilsen. The main drivers for the silicone business are megatrends such as electromobility, renewable energies and the expansion of power grids. The new site in Karlovy Vary will focus on the production of room-temperature-curing specialty silicones. Production is scheduled to start at the end of 2025.

High-temperature-curing silicone compounds will also be produced there at a later date. The Group plans to invest a total sum in the low three-digit million euro range for this and create around 200 jobs by 2028. Further personnel requirements in subsequent years cannot be ruled out. When fully operational, Karlsbad will be able to deliver over 20,000 tons of custom silicones per year.

We remind, Wacker Chemie started the construction of several new production lines to expand its specialty silicone manufacturing capacities at the Zhangjiagang site in Jiangsu Province, China. At the site, which is one of Wacker’s largest fully integrated production sites, the globally operating chemical group will produce functional silicone fluids, silicone emulsions and silicone elastomer gels. Investments of some €150?million are planned for the expansion project, Wacker said.

Altana expands its global presence in the effect pigments business

Altana expands its global presence in the effect pigments business

The specialty chemicals group Altana has entered into an agreement to acquire the Silberline Group, said the company.

The U.S. company specializes in developing and manufacturing effect pigments utilized in various applications, ranging from automotive coatings and printing inks to plastics, protective coatings and packaged consumer goods.

Altana is strategically expanding its Eckart division and strengthening its regional presence, particularly in North America and Asia. Dr. Christian Przybyla, President of Eckart, believes that the local research and production capacities of Silberline and Eckart complement each other. The merger will enable the Group to respond even more flexibly to regional customer needs.

Gary Karnish, CEO of Silberline, said: “The acquisition of Silberline by Eckart creates new potential. Together, we can more intensively drive the development of sustainable product innovations.” Silberline, headquartered in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, was founded in 1945 and currently employs over 450 people globally. In 2022, the company achieved sales of approximately 80 million U.S. dollars.

We remind, Altana is acquiring the business of TLS Technik GmbH & Co. Spezialpulver KG, an internationally leading manufacturer of metal powders for 3D printing, and thus strategically expanding its ECKART division.