Houthi attacks put more oil on the water, boost Singapore bunkering

Houthi attacks put more oil on the water, boost Singapore bunkering

Houthi attacks which have rerouted ships toward longer journeys around Southern Africa have sharply raised cargoes of oil at sea and hiked ship refueling sales at Singapore to all-time highs, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

"In February alone, oil on water surged by 85 million barrels as repeated tanker attacks in the Red Sea diverted more cargoes around the Cape of Good Hope," the Paris-based energy watchdog said in a monthly report. "At nearly 1.9 billion barrels as of end-February, oil on water hit its second highest level since the height of the Covid-19 pandemic."

The attacks in the Middle East contributed to the rise of longer journeys globally, as sanctions on Russian barrels had already been sending cargoes on new routes to reach more distant markets. For Singapore - the world's top center of maritime refueling, or bunkering - the IEA raised its forecast for 2024 deliveries this year by 110,000 barrels per day (bpd), most of it fuel oil.

The rerouting of ships is also increasing bunkering at smaller southern African refueling ports, the IEA added, such as Walvis Bay in Namibia, Richards Bay and Durban in South Africa and Port Louis in Mauritius. "Efforts to make up time by sailing at increased speed act as an additional boost to fuel consumption," the IEA added.

We remind, 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. 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.


Lanxess net loss deepens on weak demand, lower volumes, but EBITDA beats estimates

Lanxess net loss deepens on weak demand, lower volumes, but EBITDA beats estimates

Lanxess AG has reported a fourth-quarter net loss of EUR753 million, compared with a net loss of EUR21 million in the prior-year period, on sales down 27.2% to EUR1.44 billion, said the company.

EBITDA before nonrecurring items declined 44.6%, to EUR97 million, but beat analysts’ consensus estimate of EUR89 million provided by S&P Capital IQ. The EBITDA margin before exceptional items was 2.1 percentage points lower year over year, to 6.8%.

“2023 was a year of multiple crises for the German chemical industry: Weak demand in numerous customer industries and market regions combined with inventory reduction by customers, high energy prices in Germany, and geopolitical tensions,” Lanxess said. This also characterized the financial year 2023 for Lanxess, the company said.

Weaker demand and an associated reduction in sales volumes, as well as higher costs stemming from lower plant operating rates, led to a significant earnings decline, mainly in Lanxess’ specialty additives and advanced intermediates segments, the company said. In addition, lower procurement costs for raw materials and energy in these two segments undermined selling prices, Lanxess said.

Earnings in the company’s consumer protection segment saw a comparatively moderate decline, as the contribution from the microbial control business acquired from IFF in 2022 had a positive effect, Lanxess said.

Lanxess CEO Matthias Zachert said during a press conference earlier today that in the second- and third quarters of 2023, “we saw lots of destocking and weak demand in the customer industries that led to a dramatic decline. Then, we wanted to do our own destocking and that meant that for two to three consecutive quarters, we had a utilization rate of 50% to 60%, which, of course, is rock-bottom for the industry.”

The company added that it is counteracting the effects of the economic downturn with its previously announced plan called Forward, which includes one-time, short-term savings, which totaled €100 million in 2023 through cost reductions and lower investments.

The plan also includes 870 job cuts, 460 of which are in Germany, to support the company’s aim of reducing its annualized costs by about EUR150 million from 2025. “The respective agreements have already been signed for most of the job cuts,” Lanxess said.

Zachert said during the press conference that many parties are exhibiting interest in Lanxess’ urethanes business, but he said that Lanxess will consider its options once a shortlist of potential buyers is in place. The company announced in 2022 its intention to sell the urethanes business.

We remind, Lanxess has successfully completed and put into operation the expansion of its Rhenodiv production line in Jhagadia, Gujarat on February 1, 2024, said the company. With this new facility, the company’s Rhein Chemie business unit has significantly increased its production capabilities and will be able to meet the growing demand of the Indian Sub-continent and the Asian tire and rubber goods markets.


Evonik makes five generations healthier with EUDRAGIT coatings for targeted drug delivery

Evonik makes five generations healthier with EUDRAGIT coatings for targeted drug delivery

EUDRAGIT polymers have been used as coatings to create more effective drugs for 70 years, said the company.

Over the decades, the portfolio of methacrylate polymers has established itself as the industry standard with more than 23,000 patents and 10,000 scientific publications1 mentioning the EUDRAGIT® brand. Today, customers in over 80 countries use EUDRAGIT polymers in their formulations for modified release (Learn more on our 70 years anniversary page).

With its long-standing experience in functional excipients, formulation and application services, Evonik provides EUDRAGIT polymers as key ingredients in multi-component systems that are tailored to a unique and specific customer need. These system solutions are driving a transformation within Evonik’s life sciences division, Nutrition & Care, which is leveraging its expertise in biosolutions to increase its share of system solutions to 70 percent by 2032.

“From baby boomers to generation alpha, we are proud to have been enabling pharmaceutical innovation with EUDRAGIT from day one, improving health outcomes around the world,” said Thomas Riermeier, head of the Health Care business line at Evonik.

EUDRAGIT® is the industry’s preferred portfolio of functional polymers for use with oral drug products. The breadth, versatility and history of EUDRAGIT, combined with Evonik’s range of drug delivery technologies, formulation and cGMP manufacturing services, provides pharmaceutical companies with unrivalled safety, supply security and functional reliability for their oral solid dosage forms.

“Nearly everyone you know will have come into contact with EUDRAGIT at some point in their lives,” said Paul Spencer, head of Drug Delivery & Products at Evonik. “With a growing and aging population, we look forward to continuing to innovate these polymers into next-generation solutions, such as the recently launched EUDRACAP® which is fast becoming a leading choice for enteric capsule protection.”

EUDRAGIT polymers are polymethacrylates suitable for use in drug delivery applications. Since 1954, Evonik has developed more than 20 types of EUDRAGIT polymers that are ideal for all solid oral dosage forms including multi-particulates, regular or matrix tablets and hard or soft-gel capsules. EUDRAGIT polymers can be used individually or in combination to match virtually any target release profile including immediate, delayed and sustained release. They are also compatible with all relevant process technologies including hot melt extrusion and spray drying for solubility enhancement.

Evonik’s Health Care business line, which is part of the Nutrition and Care division of Evonik, is one of the world’s leading integrated CDMOs for complex oral and parenteral drug products that require advanced drug delivery solutions. It is also one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical suppliers of generic APIs, amino acids and cell culture ingredients, and a top CDMO for APIs and intermediates.

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


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.