Petrochemical process engineers concerned power equipment could affect refinery operations

Petrochemical process engineers concerned power equipment could affect refinery operations

New reports exploring the European petrochemicals industry has discovered over 80% of its process engineering professionals are concerned their current power equipment could affect refinery operations, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The new Aggreko whitepapers, titled Process Matters, included surveys from independent research partner Censuswide, questioning over 600 process engineers working in in the UK, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg petrochemical industries on operational challenges. As well as identifying opportunities for improvement around existing power equipment, respondents were also aware of the age of these solutions could impact facility performance.

Specifically, those surveyed stated their existing on-site power equipment was five years old on average, with a significant number of units being even older. According to Jordi Camanyes, Petrochemical and Refining Sector Leader – Europe for Aggreko, these statistics, combined with findings that half of respondents are experiencing outages between three to ten weeks annually, suggest clear opportunities for action to be taken.

“The European petrochemical sector is highly aware of the challenges it faces if it is to maintain its competitiveness globally,” he explains. “Through this new research and reports, we are looking to provide further insight into how plant process performance can be optimized.

“The results have been eye-opening and shows European refinery operations are in an interesting position. Ageing plant utility equipment is causing concern, as potential situations could arise where whole facilities may be knocked offline for almost 20% of the year. This will require a multi-pronged approach if it is to be resolved, involving identifying process improvements alongside better procurement and maintenance strategies.”

The situation is made even more complex by ongoing pressures for the sector to decarbonize in line with the European Union’s transition pathway for petrochemicals, which was set out in January 2023. Given the pace of regulatory change and increasing feedstock costs, Jordi is advocating the need for short-term bridging solutions for production – especially given the report respondents’ enthusiasm for sustainable alternatives.

“Though it is clear new power equipment is needed to replace existing solutions, tough economic conditions are affecting capex investment choices,” he concludes. “Legislative changes and the rapid development of sustainable generator technologies are also further complicating decisions. However, as our Process Matters reports clearly show, the vast majority (95%) of petrochemical process engineers surveyed said they were willing to pay 25-50% extra for greener utility solutions.

We remind, Royal Dutch Shell, the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas giant, has officially lifted the force majeure on the supply of phenol and acetone to Deer Park, Texas, USA. According to market sources, the line, boasting a substantial capacity of 363,000 tonnes of phenol and 225,000 tonnes of acetone annually, has resumed full operational status. The declaration of force majeure, made in mid-October the previous year, had stemmed from a technical malfunction that temporarily disrupted the supply chain.

Nova Chemicals launches Centre of Excellence for Plastics Circularity

Nova Chemicals launches Centre of Excellence for Plastics Circularity

NOVA Chemicals Corporation announces the launch of its Centre of Excellence for Plastics Circularity, a hub for knowledge exchange and technology development for the circular economy of plastics, said the company.

The Centre of Excellence will serve as a network of industry innovators and Canadian research institutions who have a shared vision of furthering global efforts in sustainable plastics management.

NOVA Chemicals’ Centre of Excellence aims to further Canadian innovation, meet customer needs, and help achieve global plastics sustainability goals by focusing on two key objectives.

Value Chain-Integrated Solutions – Ensuring solutions meet the needs of stakeholders across the value chain by actively working with strategic partners across industry, academia, and government to accelerate and deliver practical and scalable technologies.

“We welcome innovators from across Canada and beyond to join us in developing scalable solutions for the world’s most complex plastics challenges,” said Roger Kearns, President and CEO at NOVA Chemicals. “NOVA has an established reputation for working with others to spearhead innovation, and we are excited to continue bridging gaps between leading-edge ideas and commercially viable technologies.”

Adds Rocky Vermani, SVP of Sustainability and Innovation with NOVA Chemicals, “As the world looks to grow the circular economy, we are committed to investing in the technology and infrastructure needed to achieve global ambitions while ensuring Canada remains at the forefront of petrochemical and plastics innovation.”

Over five decades, NOVA Chemicals has grown from a small pipeline company on the prairies to a significant contributor to the Canadian economy and leading player in the North American petrochemical and plastics industry.

We remnd, Amcor, a global leader in developing and producing responsible packaging solutions, today announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with leading sustainable polyethylene producer NOVA Chemicals Corporation (“NOVA Chemicals”) for the purchase of mechanically recycled polyethylene resin (rPE) for use in flexible packaging films. Increasing the use of rPE in flexible packaging applications is an important element of Amcor’s commitment to support packaging circularity.

Evonik Vland Biotech joint venture commences operations

Evonik Vland Biotech joint venture commences operations

The newly founded joint venture Evonik Vland Biotech, based in Binzhou, China, commenced operations on January 1, 2024, said the company.

The two parent companies, Evonik China and Shandong Vland Biotech, want to jointly expand the market presence of their products, such as probiotics for the gut health of livestock in the Greater China region, and develop new products and solutions. The joint venture was officially opened in Qingdao on March 14.

The partnership with Vland is an essential part of Evonik's strategy to provide the feed industry with biosolutions such as probiotics for animal gut health. “Vland and Evonik have been partnering for nearly 10 years. Through this relationship, we have created a strong foundation on which we can build”, said Johann-Caspar Gammelin, head of Evonik's Nutrition & Care division, which includes the Animal Nutrition business.

Evonik's biotech platform focuses on the development of biosolutions that enable a healthy life for all. This includes innovations at the interface between chemistry, biotechnology, pharmacology and data science, with which the company is opening up new horizons. One example of this is skin applications, which can complement the current activities in Evonik's Care Solutions portfolio.

“Over the past decade, Vland and Evonik have been continuously broadened the scope of our cooperation and deepened our partnership,” said Arron Chen, Chairman and President of the Vland Group. “With the joint venture now fully operational, we are poised to capitalize on our expertise on the animal gut health and deliver effective and efficient products and solutions for our customers in China and worldwide.”

The joint venture is based at the Vland Biotech Park in Qingdao and uses Vland's production facilities in Huimin. It positions itself as an innovative solution provider with a focus on customer proximity, quality and speed.

"Based on the strong innovation capabilities, application technology know-how and excellent reputation of both parent companies, Evonik Vland Biotech will bring innovative products and solutions to the market, always focusing on the value proposition for our customers," said Dr. Xu Wang, General Manager of the joint venture.

Under the agreement with Vland, Evonik will also distribute the joint venture's portfolio outside the Greater China region. The joint venture thus complements Evonik's gut health portfolio with new components for formulated products and enables new solutions for gut health.

Gut health solutions form the core of the specialty business of Evonik's Animal Nutrition business line. Probiotics such as Ecobiol®, Fecinor®, GutPlus® and GutCare® are currently the main products in the gut health portfolio. Probiotics consist of live microorganisms that are added to animal feed to maintain or restore the microbial balance in the gut, thereby increasing the animal's resilience.

Evonik China Co., Ltd. and Shandong Vland Biotech Co., Ltd. announced their intention to establish a joint venture in October 2023. Evonik is the majority shareholder of Evonik Vland Biotech (Shandong) Co., Ltd. with 55 percent of the shares.

We remind, Evonik has launched a highly sustainable new catalyst product, Octamax, that improves sulfur removal performance for refinery fuel. The technology consists of uniquely selected NiMo and CoMo catalysts regenerated and enhanced at optimal conditions for use in cracked gasoline hydrodesulfurization units.

Shell publishes Energy Transition Strategy 2024

Shell publishes Energy Transition Strategy 2024

Shell has published its first energy transition update since the launch of its Powering Progress strategy in 2021, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

At our Capital Markets Day in June 2023, we outlined how our strategy delivers more value with less emissions, emphasizing the “more value” part. In this energy transition update, we are focusing on how the same strategy delivers “less emissions”.

Our target to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 across all our operations and energy products is transforming our business. We believe this target supports the more ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Shell’s strategy supports a balanced and orderly transition away from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy solutions to maintain secure and affordable energy supplies.

“Energy has made an incredible contribution to human development, allowing many people around the world to live more prosperous lives. Today, the world must meet growing demand for energy while tackling the urgent challenge of climate change. I am encouraged by the rapid progress in the energy transition in recent years in many countries and technologies, which reinforces my deep conviction in the direction of our strategy,” said Wael Sawan, Shell’s Chief Executive Officer.

“Shell has a very important role to play in providing the energy the world needs today, and in helping to build the low-carbon energy system of the future. Our focus on performance, discipline and simplification is driving clear choices about where we can have the greatest impact through the energy transition and create the most value for our investors and customers. We believe this focus makes it more, not less, likely that we will achieve our climate targets. By providing the different kinds of energy the world needs, we believe we are the investment case and the partner of choice through the energy transition,” said Sawan.

Our energy transition plans cover all our businesses. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a critical fuel in the energy transition, and we are growing our world-leading LNG business with lower carbon intensity. We are cutting emissions from oil and gas production while keeping oil production stable, and growing sales of low-carbon energy solutions while gradually reducing sales of oil products such as petrol, diesel and jet fuel. As one of the world’s largest energy traders, we can connect the supply of low-carbon energy to demand, as we have done for many years with oil and gas.

We remind, Royal Dutch Shell, the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas giant, has officially lifted the force majeure on the supply of phenol and acetone to Deer Park, Texas, USA. According to market sources, the line, boasting a substantial capacity of 363,000 tonnes of phenol and 225,000 tonnes of acetone annually, has resumed full operational status. The declaration of force majeure, made in mid-October the previous year, had stemmed from a technical malfunction that temporarily disrupted the supply chain.

LyondellBasell sees strong chemical market in North America, while Europe and China lag

LyondellBasell sees strong chemical market in North America, while Europe and China lag

LyondellBasell said it was seeing a better market in North America for its chemicals so far into 2024 due to low ethane feedstock costs and better gasoline spreads, while the markets in Europe and China continue to be weaker, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

With gasoline refining margins improving from the last quarter of 2023, the oxyfuels & refining segment was seeing an uptick, CEO Peter Vanacker said at the J.P.Morgan Industrials Conference. Oxyfuels are a key component of clean-burning, high-octane gasoline, which improves fuel efficiency, engine performance and air quality.

U.S. vehicle miles rising to pre-pandemic levels was also boosting the segment, Vanacker said. LyondellBasell also expects the bipartisan infrastructure law to support its building & construction segment during the second half of 2024.

Chemical companies experienced a lackluster 2023 as they struggled to offload inventory amid a slowdown in demand in major markets such as Europe and China, where recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic has been weaker than expected.

Vanacker added that while disruptions in the Red Sea reduced the availability of imports, volumes were improving in Europe as customers were turning to local supply, with lower natural gas prices also reducing cost pressures.

In China, the targeted stimulus efforts haven't yet resulted in an improvement in demand even after the Lunar New Year, he said.

We remind, LyondellBasell, the world’s largest licensor of polyolefin technologies, today announced that Inner Mongolia Rongxin Co., Ltd. (Inner Mongolia Rongxin), will use the LyondellBasell Spheripol and Hostalen Advanced Cascade Process (Hostalen ACP) technologies for its new facility. The process technology will be used for a 500 kilotons per annum (KTA) Spheripol polypropylene plant and a 400 KTA Hostalen ACP high-density polyethylene plant, to be built in Ordos City, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, P.R. China.