Czechs close to buying Shell stake in MiRO refinery

Czechs close to buying Shell stake in MiRO refinery

MRC -- Czech oil pipeline operator MERO is in the final stages of talks to buy Shell Deutschland's 32.5% stake in the Mineraloelraffinerie Oberrhein refinery in Karlsruhe, daily paper Hospodarske Noviny reported without citing sources, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The purchase by state-owned MERO should be approved by the Czech government within weeks, the paper said. "We constantly evaluate opportunities to reshape our portfolio, in line with our business strategy," a Shell Germany spokesperson said.

"Commercial sensitivities prevent us from commenting on portfolio activities that we may or may not currently be engaged in."

A MERO spokesperson said the company is "working on strengthening energy security and evaluates opportunities to achieve that" but does not comment on ongoing business negotiations or development plans.

The Czech industry and finance ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The MiRO refinery is connected to the TAL pipeline from Italy, in which MERO has a stake.

TAL also supplies the Czech Republic and is expected to be the sole Czech source of crude after its MERO-sponsored capacity expansion this year and expected shutdown of the Druzhba pipeline from Russia.

MiRO has processing capacity of 15.8 million metric tons per year. The Czech government has bought gas storage and transit networks while a state-owned company has taken over a network of petrol stations in a drive to increase national energy security since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022.

We remind, shares of Finland's Neste plummeted after the biofuels producer and oil refiner posted fourth-quarter operating profit below expectations and forecast a lower 2024 renewable products sales margin than last year's. With its Singapore plant extension finally up and running, Neste expects 2024 renewables sales volume to grow to around 4.4 million metric tons with a comparable sales margin of $600-800 per ton, well below 2023's average of $863.

Japan's Cosmo expects around 90% refinery run rate in 2024-25

Japan's Cosmo expects around 90% refinery run rate in 2024-25

MRC -- Japanese oil company Cosmo Energy Holdings expects its refinery run rate to hover around 90% in the business year starting in April as it plans maintenance shutdowns at its Chiba and Yokkaichi sites, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The estimated run rate for its three refineries in the current year through March 31 is 87.5%, factoring in the impact of scheduled maintenance, down from 97.8% a year earlier, the company said.

The reduced run rate is attributed to scheduled turnaround at its Chiba and Sakai refineries, coupled with technical problems encountered at refineries, including Yokkaichi, according to a company spokesperson.

"For the next year, our plan includes large-scale maintenance on Yokkaichi and No.2 unit in Chiba, mirroring the work we did this year with Sakai and No.1 unit in Chiba," Senior Managing Executive Officer Takayuki Uematsu told a news conference.

As a result, the utilization ratio is expected to come in at around 90%, he said. "But we aim to enhance earnings by avoiding unplanned outages," he added, saying the company's profit in the April to December period was reduced by 17 billion yen ($114 million) due to unforeseen shutdowns.

Cosmo on Thursday reported a 26% drop in April-December net profit as lower oil prices reduced inventory valuation gains. It posted a profit of 45.8 billion yen in the nine months through Dec. 31 against 62.1 billion yen a year earlier and stuck to its full-year profit forecast of 78 billion yen.

Cosmo has not succeeded in Japan's public auctions for offshore wind power projects, but its goal to develop 600 megawatts of offshore wind farms by 2030 remains unchanged, Uematsu said. "Considering that all the auctioned projects have been granted to consortia involving major trading companies, we acknowledge the significant influence of their network power," he said.

We remind, Shares of Finland's Neste plummeted after the biofuels producer and oil refiner posted fourth-quarter operating profit below expectations and forecast a lower 2024 renewable products sales margin than last year's. With its Singapore plant extension finally up and running, Neste expects 2024 renewables sales volume to grow to around 4.4 million metric tons with a comparable sales margin of $600-800 per ton, well below 2023's average of $863.

Al Rushaid secures Saudi Ethylene plant expansion deal

MRC -- Al Rushaid Construction Company (ARCC), a significant player in the construction industry, has recently announced a significant milestone in its journey – the securing of a subcontract from the Korean group SGC Arabia, said Chemanalyst.

This subcontract is specifically designated for a substantial project involving the development of an ethylene cracker plant located in the dynamic landscape of Saudi Arabia.

ARCC, a noteworthy joint venture between the Al Rushaid Petroleum Investment Company (ARPIC) and EEI Corporation from the Philippines, has been making strides since its inception in 1993. Over the years, the company has carved a niche for itself, emerging as a leading construction entity renowned for its expertise across various sectors, including oil and gas, energy and water, petrochemicals, as well as industrial and manufacturing domains.

The recent announcement of securing the subcontract for the ethylene cracker plant project marks a significant achievement for ARCC. The project entails the expansion of an existing ethylene cracker plant, where ARCC will play a pivotal role as the designated general contractor. This development underscores ARCC's capabilities and reinforces its position as a trusted partner in delivering complex construction projects of substantial scale and importance.

The ethylene cracker plant, which is the focal point of this project, is owned by the Saudi Ethylene and Polyethylene Company (SEPC), a joint venture between Tasnee Sahara Olefins Company (TSOC). With the project slated for completion in 2026 and production scheduled to commence in the first half of the same year, it represents a significant milestone in the region's petrochemical landscape.

Upon completion, the expanded ethylene cracker plant is expected to contribute to a substantial increase in the production of olefins, with an anticipated growth rate of 18%. This enhancement in production capacity not only underscores the strategic importance of the project but also signifies the positive economic impact it is poised to deliver to the region.

The significance of this project extends beyond the mere expansion of a petrochemical facility; it embodies the collaborative efforts of multiple stakeholders, each bringing their expertise and resources to the table. ARCC's involvement as a subcontractor highlights its commitment to excellence and its ability to collaborate seamlessly with international partners to deliver projects of utmost quality and precision.

Moreover, the partnership between ARCC and SGC Arabia reflects the global nature of modern construction projects, where diverse teams come together to execute complex undertakings in diverse geographical locations. This project serves as a testament to the interconnectedness of the global economy and the synergies that arise when organizations from different parts of the world collaborate towards a common goal.

As ARCC embarks on this ambitious endeavor, it underscores its commitment to driving sustainable growth and contributing to the development of Saudi Arabia's petrochemical industry. Through its expertise, innovation, and unwavering dedication to excellence, ARCC is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the region's construction landscape.

We remind, SIBUR-Khimprom's ethylene and propylene production unit in Perm emerged relatively unscathed following a recent fire, with plans underway to swiftly complete the necessary repairs and resume operations in the near future. The company reassured stakeholders that the incident did not result in significant damage to the production unit and outlined its commitment to fulfilling customer obligations without major disruptions.

N America chemical rail traffic rises 3.0%, following two weekly declines

MRC -- North American chemical rail traffic rose 3.0% year on year to 46,427 railcar loadings for the week ended 3 February, following declines in the two preceding weeks, according to the latest freight rail data on Wednesday.

Loadings rose in the US and Canada but fell in Mexico. Chemical railcar loadings are a coincident volume indicator for the industry, which had a rough start to the new year, with weak demand in a number of sectors.

For the first five weeks of 2024 ended 3 February, North American chemical railcar loadings rose 2.8% to 222,228, with US loadings up 2.9% to 152,138.

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 fell by 0.2% year on year to 44,201 railcar loadings for the week ended 27 January – marking a second consecutive decline. The US and Canada recorded declines while loadings in Mexico rose.

Dow's board of directors makes FID for net-zero PC project in Canada

Dow's board of directors makes FID for net-zero PC project in Canada

MRC -- Dow said its board of directors has approved the final investment decision (FID) for its Path2Zero project to build the world's "first" net-zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions integrated ethylene cracker and derivatives facility in Alberta, Canada, said the company.

The $6.5 bn project, excluding governmental incentives and subsidies, involves building a new ethylene cracker and increasing polyethylene (PE) capacity by 2 M tonnes/y, as well as retrofitting the site's existing cracker to net-zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions.

Construction will begin in 2024, with capacity additions expected to come online in phases. The first phase will start up in 2027, adding around 1.3 M tonnes/y of ethylene and PE capacity. The second phase is expected to start up in 2029, adding about 600,000 tonnes/y of capacity.

Dow earlier awarded a contract to Fluor for the front-end engineering and design, and engineering, procurement and construction management services. In order to achieve net-zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions, the project will deploy Linde's air separation and autothermal reformer technology to convert the site's cracker off-gas to hydrogen to supply the site's furnaces. In addition, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions will be captured and stored, reducing existing emissions by about 1 M tonnes/y of CO2 equivalent, while abating all emissions from the addition of the site's new capacity.

We remind, Dow has received International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) PLUS certification at its PO/PG and polyols manufacturing site in Freeport, TX, USw, said the company. An ISCC PLUS certification recognizes Dow's implementation of decoupling fossil feedstocks by using waste-sourced feedstock, following a full independent, external audit. The newly ISCC PLUS certified polyurethanes site will produce products for automotive, construction, consumer, food, fragrances, pharmaceutical and industrial markets.