Russia's Novatek resumes processing at damaged Ust-Luga complex

Russia's Novatek resumes processing at damaged Ust-Luga complex

Russian energy company Novatek resumed gas condensate processing at its Ust-Luga complex on Feb. 11, two industry sources said on Wednesday, after the site was damaged last month by a suspected Ukrainian drone attack, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The complex processed about 18,000 metric tons of gas condensate over Feb. 11-12, the sources said. Novatek did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Novatek was forced to suspend some operations at Ust-Luga, a huge Baltic Sea fuel export terminal and processing complex, due to a fire on Jan. 21 started by what Ukrainian media said was a drone attack.

On Jan. 24, the company resumed fuel loadings at the Ust-Luga terminal, but exported fuel produced before the fire and held in storage tanks as well as gas condensate.

The Ust-Luga complex, launched in 2013, processes gas condensate into light and heavy naphtha, jet fuel, ship fuel component (fuel oil) and gasoil, and enables the company to ship oil products as well as gas condensate to international markets.

Novatek produces mostly naphtha for Asia, including China, Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia, as well as jet fuel with delivery to Istanbul for Turkish Airlines THYAO.IS. In 2023, the Ust-Luga complex processed 7 million metric tons of gas condensate, according to Novatek data.

We remind, the tanker Luggati is being loaded at Novatek's NVTK.MM terminal at the Baltic Sea port of Ust-Luga, where the company's fuel-producing complex was damaged by fire in January, according to industry sources and LSEG data. The tanker is designed for loading dirty oil products and, presumably, can take on fuel oil from the complex’s storage tanks, the sources added.

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N America chem rail traffic rises for second week

N America chem rail traffic rises for second week

North American chemical rail traffic rose 3.9% year on year to 47,576 railcar loadings for the week ended 10 February, as increases in the US and Mexico more than offset a decline in Canada, according to Association of American Railroads.

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 six weeks of 2024 ended 10 February, North American chemical railcar loadings rose 2.8% to 269,296, with US loadings up 3.4% to 185,247.

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.

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Red Sea, Russian refinery attacks tighten Asia naphtha supplies

Red Sea, Russian refinery attacks tighten Asia naphtha supplies

Prices of naphtha, a key petrochemical feedstock, have jumped in Asia as drone attacks on Russian refineries and the Red Sea shipping crisis have disrupted European shipments, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The Asian spot naphtha price rose to $701 per metric ton on Friday after hitting a 10-month high of $747 in late January, well above last June's low around $500, as traders grapple with fallout from the dual conflicts.

Damage in recent weeks to Russian refineries and a key export terminal at Ust-Luga, as well as attacks on Red Sea shipping that have led a growing number of vessels to divert around Africa, follows last year's rejig of global energy shipping in the wake of Western sanctions on Russia.

That is driving up costs for Asian importers such as South Korean petrochemical producers, which were already running plants at lower rates to cope with weak margins caused by oversupply and slower plastics demand growth, trade sources said, a squeeze expected to last through March.

"There will be a lot of prompt tightness if outage at the Russian plants is prolonged, it adds fuel to the (Red Sea) freight diversions, with already longer voyages," said Armaan Ashraf, global head of natural gas liquids at consultancy FGE.

Russia exports about 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) of naphtha, said Kpler analyst Viktor Katona, with significant volumes from Ust-Luga destined for China, Singapore and Taiwan.

"Should Ust-Luga repairs take longer than expected, a third of those flows might not be available in the immediate future," Katona said. Russia's Tuapse refinery, meanwhile, could be offline for all of February, depriving the market of 40,000-50,000 bpd of naphtha, FGE analysts wrote on Feb. 5.

Asia, a net importer of naphtha, relies on western suppliers including Russia for about 2 million tons monthly, equivalent to 600,000 barrels per day.

We remind, Russian energy company Novatek resumed gas condensate processing at its Ust-Luga complex on Feb. 11, two industry sources said on Wednesday, after the site was damaged last month by a suspected Ukrainian drone attack. The complex processed about 18,000 metric tons of gas condensate over Feb. 11-12, the sources said.

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EQUATE announces Feb MEG India contract price

EQUATE announces Feb MEG India contract price

Global monoethylene glycol (MEG) producer EQUATE has nominated its February 2024 MEG India Contract Price (ICP) at USD552/tonne CFR (cost & freight) India Main Ports, said the company.

The February nomination was USD32/tonne higher than January number.

We remind, EQUATE has nominated its January 2024 MEG India Contract Price (ICP) at $520/tonne CFR (cost & freight) India Main Ports, the company said. The January nomination was $43/tonne higher than December number.


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Shell quits Iraqi petrochemicals plant talks

Oil major Shell has withdrawn from talks on building a petrochemicals plant in the southern oil hub of Basra, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Shell in a separate statement confirmed it was leaving the project.

A statement from Iraq's oil ministry said Shell would not continue discussions with the Ministry of Industry and Minerals and the Ministry of Oil regarding its role as "a major investor" in the Nebras Petrochemical Project, although it affirmed its continued support for the project through its partnership with Basra Gas Company.

In 2015, Shell signed an outline deal worth $11 billion with Iraq to build the petrochemical complex that would in theory come online within six years and would make Iraq the largest petrochemical producer in the Middle East.

An Iraqi energy official with knowledge of the project talks said financial and contractual issues delayed reaching a final deal with Shell and "caused the initial deal to collapse".

We remind, in early February, Royal Dutch Shell, a prominent Anglo-Dutch oil and gas company, declared force majeure concerning the supply of butadiene to its facility in Norco, Louisiana, USA. Market reports have confirmed the shutdown of a line with a substantial capacity of 265,000 tonnes of butadiene annually. This operational halt is anticipated to persist at least until the conclusion of February, with the precise cause of the disruption remaining undisclosed.

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