Berlin considers nationalising Rosneft's German business

MRC -- With the German government's temporary seizure of Russian oil firm Rosneft's, opens new tab assets in Germany set to expire, Berlin is looking at nationalising them, said Reuters.

Moscow criticised the potential nationalisation and said it would defend its interests. Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the European Union, the United States, Japan and Canada froze some $300 billion of Russian central bank assets, while Moscow moved to seize some Western assets.

Germany's economy ministry told Rosneft on Tuesday that if Russia regained control over the companies, which include Berlin's main PCK Schwedt refinery, the refineries' operations would be jeopardized because contractual partners would refuse to cooperate, law firm Malmendier Legal said in a statement published on LinkedIn.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that Berlin was preparing for a possible nationalisation of Rosneft's German activities, including its 54.17% stake in Schwedt refinery, which the German government put under a trusteeship in September 2022 in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

We remind, Rosneft-owned Tuapse oil refinery on the Black Sea will not resume operations this month, at the very least, sources, familiar with the maintenance schedule. Rosneft, Russia's largest oil producer, did not reply to a request for immediate comment. Russia has been beset in the past month by a number of refinery outages triggered by fires or suspected drone attacks, prompting authorities to reduce fuel exports to safeguard the domestic market.

Huhtamaki up on Q4 EBIT beat, forecast for easing 2024 conditions

Huhtamaki up on Q4 EBIT beat, forecast for easing 2024 conditions

MRC -- Huhtamaki announced its financial results for 4Q 2023 and full year 2023. For full year 2023, its net sales decreased 7% to EUR4169 M (full year 2022: EUR4479 M), said the company.

Adjusted EBIT was EUR 393 M (EUR 395 M); reported EBIT was EUR381 M (EUR405 M). Adjusted earnings per share (EPS) was EUR2.32 (EUR 2.49); reported EPS was EUR1.97 (EUR 2.65).

Comparable net sales growth at Group level was -2% and -4% in emerging markets. The impact of currency movements on the Group's net sales was EUR -153 M and EUR -15 M on EBIT.

Capital expenditure was EUR319 M (EUR318 M). Free cash flow was EUR321 M (EUR11 M). The Board of Directors proposes a dividend of EUR1.05/share (EUR1.00/share).

We remind, Huhtamaki, a leading global provider of sustainable packaging solutions for consumers around the world, is making a significant investment in its Paris, Texas facility in the U.S, said the company. The investment consists of an expansion of its manufacturing capacity as well as a consolidation of an external warehouse. The investment into production assets is approximately USD 30 million, and the warehouse and manufacturing facility will be leased.

Air Products reports 1Q FY 2024

Air Products reports 1Q FY 2024

MRC -- Air Products has released its first quarter results, reporting sales of USD4bn, down 6% for the prior year, said the company.

The fiscal year of the industrial gases major runs from October to September, so its Q1 figures are for the period to end-December 2023. Seifi Ghasemi, Chairman, President, and CEO, said “significant” geopolitical and economic headwinds had impacted performance.

“Our reported results were lower than our expectations, mainly due to a slowdown in manufacturing in Asia, particularly in China, with lower helium demand, cost headwinds from a sale of equipment project, and currency devaluation in Argentina,” he said.

Read more: Slowing helium demand knocks Air Products quarterly results. Despite the conditions, Air Products’ earnings per share for the quarter were USD2.73, up 6% from the prior year. GAAP net income was also up 6% to reach USD622m.

Adjusted EBITDA of USD1.2bn was up 8% over the prior year, due to higher equity affiliates’ income, higher volumes, and higher pricing, partially offset by higher costs.

Americas sales of USD1.3bn were down 10% versus the prior year, as 3% higher volumes driven by strong hydrogen demand and 2% higher pricing were more than offset by 15% lower energy cost pass-through.

Operating income of USD354m increased 3% and adjusted EBITDA of USD561m increased 9%, in each case primarily due to higher pricing and volumes, partially offset by higher costs.

We remind, on the occasion of Hyvolution 2024, Air Liquide and TotalEnergies announce the creation of TEAL Mobility. Equally owned by the two companies, TEAL Mobility will accelerate the development of hydrogen for heavy duty trucks by offering a network of 100 stations on major European corridors. This approach contributes to reinforce the momentum given to the entire industry, from truck manufacturers to transport operators.

TotalEnergies and ONGC in India join forces to detect and measure methane emissions

TotalEnergies and ONGC in India join forces to detect and measure methane emissions

MRC -- TotalEnergies and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) have signed a cooperation agreement to carry out methane emissions detection and measurement campaigns using TotalEnergies' pioneer AUSEA (Airborne Ultralight Spectrometer for Environmental Applications) technology, said the company.

ONGC has been inviting international technology partners to help reduce its methane emissions in India by 2030, while TotalEnergies has decided to share its AUSEA technology in an effort to pivot the whole industry towards zero methane emissions by 2030. Both companies are party to the Oil and Gas Decarbonization Charter (OGDC), global industry initiative launched at COP28.

ONGC joins a growing list of national companies who have signed cooperation agreements with TotalEnergies for the use of AUSEA including Petrobras in Brazil, SOCAR in Azerbaijan, Sonangol in Angola and NNPCL in Nigeria. Mounted on a drone, the AUSEA gas analyzer, developed by TotalEnergies and its R&D partners, consists of a dual sensor capable of detecting methane and carbon dioxide emissions, while at the same time identifying their source. This technology marks a step change in methane emissions detection and measurement compared to traditional techniques.

By allowing access to hard-to-reach emission points, on all types of industrial facilities, both offshore and offshore, AUSEA is reputed as one of the most accurate technologies in the industry. After halving its methane emissions from its operated sites between 2010 and 2020, TotalEnergies set ambitious targets to step up its efforts and reduce methane emissions by a further 50% by 2025 - with the ambition to reach this target a year early, in 2024 - and by 80% in 2030, compared to 2020.

TotalEnergies is also committed to promoting the United Nations Oil and Gas Methane Partnership (OGMP 2.0) framework with other national and international oil companies. The company has now held the OGMP Gold standard status for the three years in a row.

We remind, TotalEnergies has not sent ships through the southern strait leading to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal for several weeks, extending its ships' travel time to Europe. The Bab-el-Mandeb strait at the southern end of the Red Sea has been disrupted by Houthi attacks on commercial vessels, driving up freight costs and restricting traffic.

Russia witnesses a 6% rise in masterbatch production

Russia witnesses a 6% rise in masterbatch production

MRC -- As the year progresses, Russia anticipates a potential surge in masterbatch production, with projections suggesting a volume of around 108 thousand tons by the end of 2023, said Chemanalyst.

This estimation reflects a notable increase of 6%, continuing the positive trajectory observed in the sector.

Masterbatches play a pivotal role in enhancing plastics by serving as concentrates of pigments, dyes, and other active substances. These additives contribute to imparting specific properties or colors to plastics. In Russia, several companies are actively involved in masterbatch production. However, it's noteworthy that Russian masterbatch manufacturers currently rely on foreign sources for pigments.

The trend of establishing new masterbatch production facilities in Russia persists. A case in point is the Aleko group of companies, which initiated the production of chalk additives and white masterbatches in December 2022. This facility, located in the Rostov region, boasts an annual production capacity of 25 thousand tons.

Despite a surplus in the market, domestic polymer and polymer product manufacturers in Russia continue to heavily utilize imported masterbatches. Dmitry Zaitsev observed a substantial volume of imported masterbatch usage, albeit noting a gradual decline in imports. Over the period from 2019 to 2022, the share of imported masterbatches in the Russian market decreased from 37% to 30%. A notable shift occurred in 2022 and 2023, as European and American manufacturers withdrew from the Russian market, making way for Asian companies.

In 2021, significant masterbatch imports to Russia were sourced primarily from Spain (29%), Ecuador (20%), Austria (11%), Italy (10%), and Belgium (9%). However, by 2023, the landscape had evolved, with China emerging as a dominant contributor, accounting for 32% of imports. Singapore followed closely with 28%, while Turkey and India contributed 17% and 8%, respectively.

The dynamics in masterbatch imports reflect a changing global landscape, with the market witnessing a shift in major contributors. The adoption of masterbatches from diverse sources indicates a strategic approach by Russian manufacturers to secure the best quality and cost-effective solutions for their polymer and plastic production needs.

Russia's masterbatch sector is undergoing dynamic changes, marked by a forecasted increase in production and notable shifts in the sources of imports. The expansion of domestic production capabilities, as exemplified by the Aleko group, underscores the industry's efforts to achieve self-sufficiency and reduce dependence on foreign supplies. As the sector navigates these changes, the strategic positioning of market players and the evolution of import structures will continue to shape the trajectory of Russia's masterbatch industry.

We remind, EuroPlas (EuP), the leading global filler masterbatch manufacturer headquartered in Vietnam, has initiated the first phase of its production plant in Sadat City, Egypt, marking a significant milestone for the company. This venture represents the first entirely Vietnamese investment in Egypt and was officially inaugurated by Hossam Heiba, CEO of the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI).