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.

Trinseo to sell its share in AmSty by early 2025

Trinseo to sell its share in AmSty by early 2025

Trinseo PLC (Wayne, Pennsylvania) has advanced plans to divest its styrenics businesses by initiating the sale of its 50% stake in Americas Styrenics LLC (AmSty; The Woodlands, Texas), said the company.

the company announced on March 13. Trinseo, which expects to find a buyer within a year, said the proceeds will be used to pay down a portion of the recently issued $1.077 billion of term loans maturing in 2028.

The loans, obtained in September 2023 to refinance debt due in 2024 and 2025, where secured against Trinseo’s stake in AmSty, a joint venture with Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC (The Woodlands). In 2023, AmSty’s polystyrene business accounted for about 88% of Trinseo’s equity earnings, or $57 million, according to Trinseo’s Form 10-K.

“The sale of our ownership in AmSty is a logical step in our transformation as a specialty materials and sustainable solutions provider,” said Frank Bozich, president and CEO. “By executing the contractual ownership exit provision, we have a clear pathway to divest our interest in the joint venture. We expect the exit process to lead to a definitive arrangement no later than early 2025.”

AmSty’s production assets include 737,000 metric tons per year of polystyrene (PS) capacity in the US, 190,000 metric tons per year of PS capacity divided between Brazil and Columbia, and 953,000 metric tons per year of styrene monomer capacity in the US, according to data from S&P Global Commodity Insights.

Trinseo has for several years been restructuring its portfolio to focus on markets with higher growth, higher margins, and more stable earnings such as engineered materials and coatings, adhesives, sealants, and elastomers (CASE). In 2021, the company sold its synthetic rubber business to Synthos S.A. for $491 million, bought Arkema’s polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) business for $1.38 billion, and bought PMMA producer Aristech for $445 million.

In November 2021, Trinseo announced that it was exploring the sale of its styrenics activities, including the company’s feedstocks and polystyrene reporting segments as well as its stake in AmSty. The effort was put on hold in July 2022, with Trinseo explaining that deteriorating conditions in the financial markets and economic uncertainty, particularly in Europe’s energy markets, had made it difficult to get the right price. In May 2023, however, Trinseo put styrenics back on the block.

Trinseo’s polystyrene and feedstocks segments had combined sales of $909 million in 2023. Trinseo’s wholly owned styrenics assets include 370,000 metric tons per year of polystyrene capacity divided among locations in Schkopau, Germany; Tessenderlo, Belgium; and Cilegon, Indonesia, according to data from S&P Global Commodity Insights. Trinseo shut down its Bohlen, Germany, styrene plant at the end of 2022, and the company plans soon to shut down its only other styrene plant, located at Terneuzen, Netherlands.

Evonik expands sustainable catalyst offerings with new product Octamax

Evonik expands sustainable catalyst offerings with new product Octamax

Evonik has launched a highly sustainable new catalyst product, Octamax, that improves sulfur removal performance for refinery fuel, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The technology consists of uniquely selected NiMo and CoMo catalysts regenerated and enhanced at optimal conditions for use in cracked gasoline hydrodesulfurization units. The cost-effective solution from Evonik maximizes sulfur removal and improves octane level retention to meet current gasoline pool requirements, extending the business line’s sustainable catalyst offerings within refinery applications.

“Refiners face a complex balance of commercial viability in a competitive market, while remaining environmentally conscious. At Evonik, we are committed to creating sustainable, value-added catalytic processes and solutions for our customers,” says John Kennedy, Evonik Catalysts Vice President and General Manager of the Americas region.

He added, “We look forward to better serving refiners with our extended catalyst expertise and product offerings, now across a greater range of refinery applications. The launch of Octamax is a great example of our commitment to Next Generation solutions at Evonik, that also helps customers improve their bottom line.”

Octamax reduces potential landfill waste by regenerating spent catalysts that can be re-used. This reduces reliance on fresh catalysts, helping to save valuable raw materials – and supporting refineries’ sustainability efforts.

Jignesh Fifadara, Global Director of HPC Catalysts at Evonik Catalysts and responsible for sustainability issues in this field, says: “The worldwide push for lower sulfur content in gasoline is putting refiners under pressure to comply with new limits. They are being challenged to find new ways to optimize performance and profitability, while operating units at higher severity.

“Octamax presents a high-performance and cost-effective solution for Fluid Catalytic Cracking [FCC] gasoline post-treatment units, allowing refiners greater flexibility.” The product offers equal or better octane selectivity to alternative fresh catalysts and allows refiners to lower sulfur in gasoline without impacting target cycle length.

Octamax can be used by refineries processing FCC Naphtha that are looking to maintain or improve octane levels, while producing ultra-low sulfur gasoline. Its application is also suitable for refineries looking to maximize sulfur credits, by taking advantage of improved catalyst HDS activity.

We remind, Evonik Industries AG said it has signed an agreement to sell its superabsorbents business to International Chemical Investors Group for an enterprise value in the low triple-digit million euro range. The agreement also includes the assumption of pension obligations by ICIG, the company said. The final transfer of the business is planned for mid-2024 following approval by the relevant competition authorities

Technip Energies, JGC, and NPCC got limited approval for ADNOC’s Ruwais LNG project in the UAE

Technip Energies, JGC, and NPCC got limited approval for ADNOC’s Ruwais LNG project in the UAE

Technip Energies, leader of a joint venture with JGC and NPCC, have received a Limited Notice To Proceed from ADNOC to commence early engineering, procurement and construction activities at the Ruwais low-carbon LNG project, located in Al Ruwais Industrial City, Abu Dhabi, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The project will consist of two natural gas liquefaction trains with a total LNG production capacity of 9.6 MMtpy. The plant will use electric-driven motors instead of conventional gas turbines and will be powered by nuclear energy.

The plant is set to be the first LNG export facility in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to run on clean power, making it one of the lowest-carbon intensity LNG plants in the world.

The project will significantly enhance ADNOC's LNG production capacity aligning with global natural gas demand and the shift towards decarbonization.

Arnaud Pieton, CEO of Technip Energies, commented, “LNG is a critical source of energy on the world’s pathway to net zero and Technip Energies is committed to supporting its continued development while concretely addressing the necessary demand being placed on the industry for emissions abatement. The Ruwais LNG project reflects the future. It innovates for a decarbonized LNG industry. With zero carbon energy sources to power electrified LNG trains, we are setting a new standard for LNG production. This project not only enhances our strong partnership with ADNOC but also reinforces our position as a leader in low-carbon LNG. We are proud to be part of this project that perfectly aligns with our ambition of enabling net zero solutions and meeting the challenge of an affordable, available and sustainable energy.”

Farhan Mujib, Representative Director, President of JGC, commented, “We are highly honored to participate in this innovative low-carbon LNG Project. With the backdrop of global focus on decarbonization, the JGC Group is accelerating the promotion of energy transition, and the project is firmly in line with the direction of our strategy. We commit to leveraging our capabilities and experience for the Ruwais low-carbon LNG Project, bringing to the project our proven track record in the LNG field. We are convinced this will contribute to the success of the project and enhance economic growth in the UAE.”

Ahmed Al Dhaheri, CEO of NPCC, commented, "We are deeply honored to be selected for the Ruwais low-carbon LNG Project with our esteemed partners, marking a significant step toward environmental sustainability and global energy transition. Utilizing clean energy for LNG production sets a new industry standard, drastically lowering carbon emissions and paving the way for a cleaner future. We're proud to be part of a project that not only secures energy but also showcases the UAE's role in leading the energy transition."

We remind, ADNOC announced that it has formally closed the acquisition of a 24.9% shareholding in OMV AG, a global energy and chemicals group, headquartered and listed in Vienna, Austria, from Mubadala Investment Company. The transaction accelerates delivery of ADNOC’s global chemicals growth strategy, and reinforces its status as a responsible, long-term partner and growth-oriented investor. Financial details were not disclosed.

U.S. crude stocks post surprise drop as refiners ramp up processing

U.S. crude stocks post surprise drop as refiners ramp up processing

Crude inventories fell by 1.5 MM barrels to 447 MM barrels last week, the EIA said, compared with analysts' expectations in a poll for a 1.3 MM-barrel rise, as per Reuters.

Crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub USOICC=ECI fell by 220,000 barrels in the week ended March 8, the EIA said. Refinery crude runs USOICR=ECI rose by 390,000 barrels per day in the week ended March 8, the EIA said.

Refinery utilization rates USOIRU=ECI rose by 1.9 percentage points in the week. U.S. gasoline stocks USOILG=ECI fell by 5.7 million barrels in the week to 234.1 million barrels, the EIA said, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 1.9 million-barrel draw.?

Distillate stockpiles USOILD=ECI, which include diesel and heating oil, rose by 888,000 barrels in the week to 117.9 million barrels, versus expectations for a 150,000-barrel drop, the EIA data showed.

Net U.S. crude imports USOICI=ECI fell last week by 241,000 barrels per day, EIA said.

We remind, a fire at Exxon Mobil's Port Jerome-Gravenchon refinery in northern France, which broke out earlier, has been brought under control, local authorities said. The Seine-Maritime prefecture said in a statement that the fire had started at a gasoline distillation unit around 3:30 p.m. (1430 GMT) and had generated thick plumes of smoke.