The global oil business news in a brief

Published October 13th, 2011 - 07:53 GMT
The refinery is being restarted safely at this time
The refinery is being restarted safely at this time

Laffan refinery restarting

Qatar’s 146,000 barrel per day (bpd) Laffan condensate refinery is being restarted after an outage, a Qatargas spokeswoman said. “The refinery is being restarted safely at this time,” she said. “Qatargas can confirm that there was an outage at Laffan refinery, the refinery was safely shutdown as a result and a full investigation has taken place.”

Taqa plans $1.1bn sukuk

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. (Taqa) plans to tap the Malaysian sukuk market with a 3.5 billion ringgit ($1.1 billion) Islamic bond, or sukuk, programme, the company said in a bourse statement. The bond programme is pending regulatory approval. The statement did not provide any further details. “Once appropriate regulatory approval is received, the programme will allow Taqa to issue quickly if and when market conditions are optimal.” A senior Taqa executive told Reuters in March the company was unlikely to issue a bond this year but could tap debt markets in 2012 ahead of a $1.5 billion maturity.

Showa Shell scraps unit

Japanese oil refiner Showa Shell Sekiyu has scrapped four oil refining units at subsidiary Toa Oil’s Ohgimachi factory following a decision to close the plant, the trade ministry said. Japanese refiners have been cutting capacity in response to declining demand from an ageing population and a rapid shift to more-efficient forms of energy.

Al Jalila field starts in 2011

Dubai’s Al Jalila oilfield is on track to begin operations before the end of 2011, Sheikh Ahmed, chairman of Dubai’s Supreme Energy Council, said. “God willing, it will start this year,” he told reporters in Dubai, declining to give production levels. The UAE is one of the world’s largest oil exporters, producing some 2.6 million barrels a day (mbpd).

Kayan starts up commercially

Saudi Kayan Petrochemical, a unit of Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (Sabic), said it is starting commercial operations at most of its plants. “Kayan announces the start of commercial operations at most of the company’s plants in Jubail Industrial City,” the company said in a statement on the bourse website. Saudi Kayan has an annual production capacity of over 4 million tonnes of petrochemical and chemical products including aminoethanols, aminomethyls, dimethylformamide, choline chloride, dimethylethanol.

Sunoco reports snag at unit

Sunoco has reported a compressor malfunction that led to emissions at its 178,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, Refinery, according to a filing with state pollution regulators. The compressor is used to turn gases into liquid and then recycled though the facility. In September, Sunoco had announced that it would sell or shut its 335,000 bpd Philadelphia refinery and the Marcus Hook refinery.

Colombia bans oil search

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said the Andean nation will not award oil exploration and production contracts off the San Andres archipelago, an important bio-diverse tourist destination. Oil companies in Latin America’s No. 4 oil producer have run into problems over the last year with environmental permit requests and protests by communities even as the country continues to rake in billions of dollars in investment. “I want to give all the inhabitants of San Andres de Providencia this news and the security that there won’t be exploration or production,” Santos said.

Motiva hit by trip at Norco

Motiva Enterprises reported it had reduced feed to a wet gas compressor after the unit tripped offline at its 234,700 barrel-per-day refinery in Norco, Louisiana, according to a filing with US National Response Centre. A company spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment. The compressor trip led to a release of butadiene, benzene, carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide, the filing said. The company had reported a controlled shutdown of a gasoline-making fluid catalytic cracking unit at the refinery.

PDVSA buys into Conosur

Venezuela’s PDVSA bought Uruguay’s 47.19 percent stake in Petrolera del Conosur, which owns 100 service stations in Argentina, the companies told the Argentine securities regulator. The amount of money involved was not disclosed in the statement but the head of Uruguay’s state energy company ANCAP told Reuters the stake had been valued at $11 million.

BNDES okays guarantees

Brazil’s development bank BNDES has accepted the guarantees provided by Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA to remain as a partner in a refinery, Brazil’s state oil giant Petrobras said. PDVSA is a 40 percent partner in the Abreu e Lima refinery being built by Petrobras near Recife on Brazil’s northeast coast, but a conflict over the terms of the project has delayed a final agreement on Venezuela’s participation.

Ecuador signs deal with Enap

Ecuador signed a $45 million service contract with Chile state oil company Enap to explore an offshore and onshore block that the small Andean Opec nation hopes will expand its crude reserves. The agreement lets Enap explore Jambeli Block 3, located in the south of the country near its maritime border with Peru. Ecuador’s Oil Minister Wilson Pastor said Enap would carry out seismic surveys and drill exploration wells over four years.

Iceland opens second round

Iceland opened a second licensing round for oil and gas exploration and production on its continental shelf, potentially opening up the country to offshore hydrocarbon exploration. Reykjavik tried and failed in 2009 to launch a licensing round, attracting little interest from oil companies. The blocks on offer are in the Dreki Area, northeast of Iceland, and cover some 42,700 sq km at depths ranging mostly between 800 and 2,000 metres, the National Energy Authority of Iceland (NEA) said.

No impact from glitch Valero

Valero Energy said production was not impacted by a malfunction that triggered flaring at its 132,000 barrel per day (bpd) San Francisco Bay-area refinery in Benicia, California. The flaring was set off by an instrumentation problem at the refinery, said Valero spokesman Bill Day.

Chevron begins unit overhaul

Chevron’s 245,271 barrel per day (bpd) Richmond, California, refinery has begun overhauling a crude distillation unit and a lube oils plant, sources familiar with refinery operations said. A Chevron spokeswoman confirmed work was underway at the refinery. “What I can comment on is that over the next four to six weeks, the Chevron Richmond Refinery will be conducting planned maintenance work in order to maintain the performance of our equipment,” said Chevron spokeswoman Melissa Ritchie.

Enbridge to expand oil line

Enbridge said it plans to spend C$100 million ($95 million) to add 50,000 barrels per day (bpd) of new capacity on its Wisconsin to Ontario Line 5 oil pipeline. The company, whose lines carry the majority of Canada’s crude exports to the US, said the additional space on the line will accommodate rising production from the prolific Bakken oil field, which lies under North Dakota, Montana and Saskatchewan. The project will boost the size of the line, which serves refineries in Michigan, Ohio and Ontario, from a current 490,000 bpd.

Ozark pipeline shut

The Ozark crude oil pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma, to Wood River, Illinois, remained shut for unscheduled inspection with no target date for restart, an Enbridge Inc spokesman said. “No restart date,” spokesman Larry Springer said by email after a company news release said the work should be finished “in the next few days.” A company news release said the 435-mile, 231,000-barrel-per-day pipeline, which carries oil from the Nymex delivery hub at Cushing to refineries in the Midwest, was shut as a precaution after a section under the Mississippi River was found uncovered.

PBF unit reports emissions

PBF Energy’s Delaware City, Delaware, refinery reported an ongoing release of materials from a cat cracker, according to a filing with the National Response Centre.  “Personnel are working to fix the issues with the boiler,” the firm said in the filing with the regulators.  Before beginning a restart of the refinery in May, PBF undertook a preparatory overhaul because previous owner Valero Energy idled the plant in November 2009 when it was losing $1 million as an economic downturn crushed refining margins.

Exxon to ramp up production

ExxonMobil said it was increasing production rates at its 60,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) refinery in Billings, Montana, more than a week after the restart of a crude oil pipeline that supplies it. “The refinery should resume normal operations very soon,” Exxon spokeswoman Rachael Moore said. The refinery had operated at reduced rates since the Silvertip crude oil pipeline was shut July 1 after leaking about 1,000 barrels of crude into the Yellowstone River. The 40,000 bpd pipeline restarted September 24.

Petrobras lets Shell in 2 blocks

Brazilian state-owned oil giant Petrobras said it has agreed to grant 50 percent of its interest in two blocks in Tanzania to Shell Deepwater Tanzania. The blocks 5 and 6 are located offshore Tanzania, in the Indian Ocean, at water depths ranging from 600 to 3,000 metres, Petrobras said. The company’s local subsidiary owned 100 percent of each block and will now remain as their operator.

‘No impact from fire’

Royal Dutch Shell has not requested to cancel any crude shipments to its Singapore refinery from the Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (Adnoc), an Adnoc source said, following a fire at Shell’s biggest refinery. “We have called them and they told us no impact with regards to cancellation of cargoes,” the Adnoc source said. Shell has cancelled the lifting of four million barrels of Saudi Arab Light crude for loading in October and is in the process of shutting down a chemical complex after the fire forced the closure of the company’s Singapore refinery.

KPC extends imports

Kuwait is to continue importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) in November, extending a seasonal buying programme that usually ends in October and increasing total imports for this year to up to 47 cargoes, a Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) executive said.  Kuwait, which began importing LNG in 2009 to help meet high power demand in the hot summer months, usually stops bringing in LNG in October as temperatures and air conditioning demand fall. But with Kuwaiti power demand rising at 5 percent per year, it needs to maintain imports for longer this year, keeping up Middle East imports when demand for the fuel from buyers in Europe and east Asia typically rises going into winter.

BP to decide on Oman

BP will decide early next year whether to develop Oman’s first major unconventional gas project, a senior official from the UK oil major said. The small oil exporting country is keen to tap unconventional gas fields to meet rapidly rising demand from Omani industry and power plants. BP began appraising the Khazzan Makarem gas project in Central Oman in 2007, but has yet to decide whether to go ahead. “In 2012 we will take a decision whether to go ahead with full field development or abandon it,” Robert Clark, senior petroleum engineer at BP Exploration in Oman told Reuters at a conference in Abu Dhabi.

Rasgas plans shutdowns

Qatari liquefied natural gas (LNG) producer Rasgas plans seven maintenance shutdowns in 2012, a company official from one of the world’s biggest gas exporters said. In June, Rasgas announced plans to shut its 7.8-million tonne per year (mtpa) LNG export facility, known as Train 7, for maintenance in January 2012. But it plans to shut Train 7 again for work as part of a wide-ranging programme of shutdowns next year.

Iraq restarts exports

Iraq resumed oil exports to Turkey through the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline on Friday after fixing a leak that shut down the flow of oil on Wednesday, two North Oil Company sources said. Exports were restarted at a rate of 400,000 to 450,000 barrels per day, said a senior North Oil Co. official who asked not to be named.

Aramco plans solar unit

The chief executive of state-run Saudi Aramco, Khalid Al Falih, aims to begin production of solar cells in Saudi Arabia in two to three years in a joint venture with Japanese thin-film solar cell maker Showa Shell Sekiyu KK, Japan’s Nikkei business daily said. If Aramco can introduce Showa Shell’s technology into Saudi Arabia, that would contribute a lot to the nation’s main goal of industrial diversification, he was quoted as telling the newspaper in an interview.

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