PetroChina's Jieyang refinery to receive first Venezuelan oil cargo

PetroChina's Jieyang refinery to receive first Venezuelan oil cargo

PetroChina's Jieyang refinery will receive its first direct crude oil cargo from Venezuela, according to trade sources and ship tracking data on Kpler, after Washington temporarily lifted sanctions on the OPEC producer, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The 2 million barrels of Venezuelan Merey crude onboard supertanker Elysia is due to arrive at Jieyang on March 24, Kpler data showed. PetroChina did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reuters reported in November that state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) and PetroChina were in talks for a crude supply deal during the six-month reprieve.

Washington last year relaxed sanctions on Venezuela's oil industry in return for promises to open its presidential election to international observers and allow the opposition to choose its candidate, which has not happened.

If the U.S. does not renew next month the license granted in October that lifted sanctions, PDVSA would probably return to using intermediaries to sell its oil to buyers such as China, likely at discounts.

Jieyang, a greenfield 400,000-bpd refinery and petrochemical complex in southern China Guangdong province, is the newest among PetroChina's refining facilities. The plant started trial runs in late 2022 and was designed to process heavy oil such as crude from Venezuela.

PetroChina dropped PDVSA as the partner for the Jieyang complex in 2019 after the United States imposed sanctions on PDVSA to undermine the rule of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

We remind, Petrochina Guangxi has entered into a license agreement with Grace to use its Unipol PP technology for its new 400 kilotons per annum single reactor line in China. With this move, Petrochina Guangxi aims to deliver higher value PP products to the local market. Grace has announced the signing of a new license with Petrochina Guangxi to develop a 400-kilotons per annum single reactor line using its Unipol PP technology.

BASF breaks ground on methyl glycol plant at Zhanjiang Verbund site in China

BASF breaks ground on methyl glycol plant at Zhanjiang Verbund site in China

BASF has broken ground on a methyl glycol plant at its Verbund site in Zhanjiang, China, said the company.

The new facility is designed with an annual capacity of 46,000 metric tons and aims to meet the rapidly growing demand for brake fluids in the region. The plant is scheduled to commence operations by the end of 2025.

“The new facility will be the only fully backward integrated methyl glycols plant into a steam cracker in China, serving the fast-growing brake fluids market,” said Bir Darbar Mehta, Senior Vice President, Petrochemicals Asia Pacific, BASF. “Utilizing BASF's unique process technology, the plant will deliver reliable, competitive and high-quality products to cater to the needs of our downstream business and customers.”

“As a strong player in the automotive fluids industry, BASF built a reputation for delivering high-performance products and exceptional services to our valued partners in the brake fluid industry,” said Matthias Lang, Vice President, Business Management Fuel & Lubricant Solutions Asia Pacific and Performance Chemicals Greater China, BASF. “The capacity expansion demonstrates our commitment to the emerging Asian automotive industry, especially in China, where the demand for high-quality products is continuously increasing.”

The new methyl glycols plant will produce methyl diglycol (MDG), methyl triglycol (MTG), and methyl tetraglycol (MTEG) from methanol and purified ethylene oxide (PEO). Methyl triglycol is the primary raw material for the production of modern brake fluids used in the automotive industry.

We remind, BASF SE announced it has broken ground on a new fermentation plant at Ludwigshafen, Germany, for biological and biotechnology-based crop protection products. The plant is expected to start operations in the second half of 2025 and will manufacture biological fungicides and biological seed treatment products, it said. BASF also plans to produce the main building block of an insecticide derived from a fungal strain at the facility.

Russia considers altering maintenance schedule at oil refineries

Russia considers altering maintenance schedule at oil refineries

Russian Energy Minister Nikolai Shulginov said that the government and companies are in discussions about changes to the schedule of maintenance at oil refineries to tackle damaged downstream capacity, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Shulginov also said there was potential for an increase in fuel production at refineries where output had not been halted.

He said the refining production forecast for 2024 remained unchanged, which put it at a level close to last year's.

We remind, Gazprom is sticking to its goal of achieving 100% of the technically possible level of network gasification by 2030, and is actively working with the regions via five-year programs, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Gazprom Oleg Aksyutin said in an article in the company's corporate magazine.

Eastman achieves on-spec production at Kingsport molecular recycling facility

Eastman achieves on-spec production at Kingsport molecular recycling facility

Eastman announced it has achieved on-spec initial production and is generating revenue from its new molecular recycling facility in Kingsport, Tennessee, said the company.

The company expects to ramp up production of the new facility over the coming months and enable growth across a wide range of markets. Achieving this critical milestone enables the company’s pathway to deliver approximately USD75 million of incremental EBITDA in 2024 from this facility as it builds momentum in its circular economy platform.

“We are thankful for the hard work and dedication of our Eastman team members who have worked tirelessly to build and bring this new facility online,” said Mark Costa, Board Chair and CEO. “By demonstrating molecular recycling at this scale, we have solidified our position as a leader in the creation of a circular economy. Demand for recycled material at virgin-quality levels from our new facility remains strong, and we are excited to announce this significant next milestone in our journey.”

Eastman’s proven polyester renewal technology recycles hard-to-recycle plastic waste bound for landfill or incineration today. The company’s technology allows this waste to be broken down into its molecular building blocks and then reassembled to become virgin-quality material without compromising performance. Eastman is enabling the potentially infinite use of materials by keeping these valuable molecules in production, in a material-to-material high-yield loop. Eastman can transform waste plastic into virgin quality food contact polyesters with lower greenhouse gas emissions than traditional methods.

In addition to this recently completed facility in Kingsport, Eastman plans to invest in two additional molecular recycling plants, one in France and another U.S. site.

It was previously reported that Eastman Chemical Co. will invest USD1 billion in the construction of a plastic processing plant in France. Eastman's technology will make it possible to annually recycle up to 160 thousand tons of plastic waste that currently has to be burned. The equipment of the enterprise will allow the processing of plastic for the production, including new packaging. The plant is planned to be commissioned by 2025.

Regulation needed to drive net-zero emissions, plastics circularity, say execs

Regulation needed to drive net-zero emissions, plastics circularity, say execs

Chemical leaders speaking in Houston at the World Petrochemical Conference by S&P Global said the industry has the tools and talent to solve the problems of greenhouse gas emissions and plastics pollution, but doing so will not be possible unless policymakers implement regulations that incentivize the massive investments required, said Chemweek.

The executives were careful to stress that regulations should provide clear targets and long-term certainty while leaving the precise path forward undefined.

“It’s a huge opportunity,” said Peter Vanacker, CEO of LyondellBasell. “We have never been in the business as industry players to produce granules. We’ve always been in the business to listen to our customers and provide solutions to our customers to fulfill their needs. So now, here, we have a huge journey ahead of us in a completely new world with its own supply and demand.”

Some of the technologies required have already been developed and operate at scale, but broad implementation is an economic problem.

“The good news is, technically, it’s a solvable challenge,” said Mark Costa, CEO of Eastman Chemical. He cited his company’s new 100,000 metric tons per year plant for the advanced recycling of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). “The challenge we have is how do you make this work on a more global scale and have the market structure to invest in. The opportunity here is significant, but it’s not going to be for free, right? There’s a price that has to be paid that’s a premium to a very well-established at-scale oil industry to build this kind of capability and be able to solve these problems. So you need a market structure that’s going to support this.”

Regulation is necessary to create the economic incentives that will drive the transition, the executives agreed.

“Policy is very critical,” said Karen McKee, president of ExxonMobil Product Solutions. “The most important things are clarity and certainty. You don’t really get certainty until you get into a rule making. And then you want durable policy, […] because we’re investing in projects with very long lives, and therefore just having confidence in the next two or three years of policy is oftentimes insufficient to drive an optimal answer.”

However, poorly formulated regulation can stifle rather than encourage innovation.

“I think good policy is typically technology agnostic — in other words, it is focused on solving the problem, and any solution that solves the problem should be incentivized and be brought to bear,” said McKee. “That’s very important. And I would also say that we need to be careful that we let the market work. Very often you do need some structured policy that incentivizes scale-up of new or nascent technologies. But in the end, you don’t want to create a world where subsidies are driving a solution set, because that’s not going to be sustainable in the long run.”

Vanacker agreed. “When I talk to regulators, I always try to remind them, what is the end target that you want to achieve? Could you please act as an enabler, so that we have that end target in front of us? As a European myself, we’re fully endorsing [the European Union’s] Fit for 55%, a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, and then net-zero by 2050. But the discussion also has to be on how do we enable that, and how do we encourage the entire value chain — it’s not just our industry, but all the other players in the value chain — to make sure that we can actually achieve those targets, instead of telling us what we cannot do.”

Ongoing negotiations toward a global plastics treaty suggest the message is getting through to policymakers. The negotiations were initiated with the aim of preventing pollution of the ocean with plastic waste. Discussions soon broadened to include proposed caps on plastics production, but the focus seems to have shifted back to the target of eliminating pollution.

“I think we’re getting a better hearing, and I think we’re getting better understood,” said McKee. “We have a lot more common ground with more governments and more [nongovernmental organizations], I think, than we had before. What I got as feedback initially was a lot of suspicion about the industry. When they engaged with us, and we were really demonstrating our firm desire to meet the ambition of the global plastics treaty to eliminate additional plastic waste leaking into the environment by 2040, I think, eventually, they realized we’re sincere. […] But I think the thing that has helped us more than anything is transparency. They’re really craving transparency.”

Dow CEO Jim Fitterling was optimistic that the negotiations will lead to a treaty that allows the chemical industry to fulfill its role as a solutions provider.

“There’s nobody in the industry that I work with or talk to that doesn’t want to tackle the plastic waste problem,” he noted, “but leakage of waste into the environment doesn’t have to be solved by limiting plastic production.” Plastics demand continues to grow because they significantly benefit quality of life. They have a low carbon footprint, they are recyclable, functional and, properly managed, sustainable, he added.

“I think some of the things that will be clearly on the table in Ottawa — where you have a tremendous amount of alignment from the industry, the converters, the brand owners, the retailers and countries — is we need things like designed-for-recyclability and -reuse standards. We need effective extended producer responsibility schemes, where the money goes back to creating the circular economy, which long-term has got to be there to eliminate the plastic pollution. We’re going to need probably recycled content mandates because that will create market demand and that will drive a change in behavior at a social level. We’re going to have to [increase] access to recycling. […] We need to have an all-of-the-above, technology-agnostic approach to mechanical recycling, advanced recycling, biofuels, bio-based raw materials, biodegradable products. We need to look at everything.”

We remind, circular plastics now account for 13.5% of the content in new plastic products manufactured in Europe, according to industry association Plastics Europe (Brussels). The association today published its biennial “The Circular Economy for Plastics: A European Analysis” report, which noted that the figure means the European plastics sector is more than halfway toward the interim ambition of Plastics Europe’s Plastics Transition roadmap to use 25% of plastics from circular sources in new products by 2030.