Archive for the ‘petrochemicals’ Category

Shell Chemical woos the neighbors of its still undecided Pa. ethane cracker

Shell’s $4 billion proposal to build a petrochemical complex on the site of the former Horsehead Corp. zinc smelter in Monaca, Pennsylvania, was on display Wednesday at two events at a banquet facility overlooking a golf course near the community, which lies about 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

If constructed, Shell’s ethane cracker would feed production of 1.5 million mt/year of ethylene, 500,000 mt/year of gas-phased high density polyethylene, 500,000 mt/year of slurry HDPE, and 500,000 mt/year of linear low density polyethylene. Shell and Horsehead have extended Shell’s option to buy the Horsehead site along the Ohio River three times, most recently in December.

But the details of the proposal were not the main focus of Wednesday’s event. There was no PowerPoint presentation. No Q&A session. No leaflets. And significantly, still no indication that the project had been clearly decided as a “go.”

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Immigration reform debate not lost on US petrochemical industry

The US petrochemical industry has the money, the cheap feedstocks, the technology and the projects to boom in a way perhaps never seen thanks to shale gas.

What it lacks is enough skilled labor to see these projects through. And as industry players will tell you, that’s a huge problem.

“This problem isn’t going to go away,” Dow Chemical VP Jim Fitterling said at the recently held IHS World Petrochemical Conference in Houston. “In fact, it has the potential to get worse.”

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Petrochemicals infographic: Global polyethylene trade flows

Platts petrochemical analysis team have joined forces with our design & production department to produce what we think is a  beautifully crafted infographic on global trade flows for polyethylene. It also details surplus and deficit totals and includes key trend points, statistics and forecasts going out all the way to 2023. Remember: we’d love to read your thoughts on the impact of shale on both petrochemical and oil markets, so join in on the comments section below.

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Japan’s long-term LPG plans got a bit thrown off this winter

Two recent developments have led Japan to realize that US supplies of LPG may not always be cheaper than supplies from the Persian Gulf, or as available, throwing into some question a strategy to access more US-produced LPG in the future.

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$5/gal benzene: Here to stay, or recurring but shortlived fad?

If you sell, buy or trade benzene or any of its derivatives, you have heard this assertion before:

Five-dollar-a-gallon benzene is a reality. It’s here to stay. Read the rest of this entry »

Do you want to know an oil refinery secret? Look to Twitter

It’s hard to keep the cat in the bag when you’ve got a few hundred people pulling its tail.

Consider what goes on behind the fence at a refinery. Sure, there’s always flaring, and steam being released, and hard-hatted workers rushing to and fro.

But what’s really up? The companies would rather the public didn’t know the nitty-gritty, mainly for the cause of staying competitive in a business where regulation and a general downdraft in gasoline prices always put considerable pressure on the bottom line.

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The latest chances for Shell’s groundbreaking ethane cracker in Appalachia

Shell Chemicals for nearly two years has said its final decision to construct a $4 billion ethane cracker near Pittsburgh wouldn’t come quickly.

Too much due diligence to perform, too much feedstock ethane to lock up in contracts, too many customers to sign for the ethylene the cracker produced.

And now, perhaps too much competition to make the region’s largest construction project in decades viable.

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Is Shell’s decision to scrap GTL project an omen for US petchems?

Shell’s recent decision to abandon plans for a massively expensive gas-to-liquids project in the US Gulf Coast serves to further illustrate the complicated conundrum many petrochemical companies are faced with these days: to build or not to build.

And yet, as 2013 comes to a close, the North American petrochemical industry remains rather bullish on shale gas.

The $100 billion investment figure gets thrown around with wild abandon. Everyone wants to cash in on cheap feedstocks…still. Not one company has abandoned a major petrochemical project, at least not publicly. Read the rest of this entry »

At the Wellhead: New pipelines will deal with Northeast ethane glut

The US shale gas revolution is producing a lot of ethane in the Northeast that doesn’t have an obvious market. New pipeline projects are taking care of that issue, as Bridget Hunsucker discusses in this week’s Oilgram News column, At the Wellhead.

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Lost in translation? Why the US feedstock advantage might not mean lower prices for buyers of polyethylene

Talk to a plastics processor or buyer in South America, and watch their eyes light up when the subject turns to the shale gas boom and resulting petrochemical renaissance to their north.

For the better part of three years, they have heard constantly about how North America, and the United States in particular, will benefit greatly from lower feedstock costs thanks to shale, aggressively expand its production capacities for key chemicals and plastics, and further grow its presence in South America through a sharp increase in exports to the region.

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