London — China's state-owned refineries Sinopec, PetroChina, CNOOC and Sinochem have ramped up crude throughput to average 80% of capacity in June from 76% in May as profit margins increased, a monthly survey by S&P Global Platts showed.
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The refineries' June runs are also higher than the 79% recorded in the survey a year earlier, the data showed. The survey included the 8.5 million mt/year Sinopec-SK Wuhan Petrochemical refinery in Hubei, the province most affected by the coronavirus pandemic, which planned to run at 105% of its capacity in June. Seven refineries with a combined capacity of 1.49 million b/d reported operating above 100% capacity in June, accounting for 17% of the surveyed capacity.
In the independent sector, Zhejiang Petroleum & Chemical continued to boost run rates to nearly 130% of its nameplate capacity of 20 million mt/year in June, up from around 120% in May, while the 20 million mt/year Hengli Petrochemical (Dalian) facility maintained rates at around 115% in June, stable from May.
Japan's demand for gasoline and gasoil has recovered faster than expected following the lifting of the state of emergency restrictions, but refiners may not be able to ramp up its refinery run rate to meet demand in July mainly due to the slow revival in jet fuel demand. This means that Japan will look overseas to bring in cargoes to plug any shortfall arising from the low refinery runs at home.
Separately, China's Zhejiang Petrochemical Co., or ZPC has selected Axens catalysts for its Pygas selective hydrogenation units as part of the grassroot ethylene cracker Phase 1, Axens said June 24.
ZPC has also selected Axens for the supply of catalysts for the Phase 2. The new ethylene cracker with two trains will raise the total ethylene capacity of ZPC to 4.2 million mt/year.
When completed the new plant will be "the largest steam cracker in China and one of the largest in the world," Axens said in a statement. The refinery started in 2019 by gradually commissioning its primary and secondary units. At the end of 2019 Phase 1 steam cracker was also started up.
NEW AND ONGOING MAINTENANCE, UPGRADES UPDATE
Near term maintenance
New and revised entries
--Japan's largest refiner ENEOS, previously known as JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy, has shut its sole 145,000 b/d crude distillation unit at its Sendai refinery in the northeast of Japan as a secondary unit at the refinery is undergoing maintenance, a company spokesman said July 3. ENEOS had shut the CDU on June 7, the spokesman said, but did not elaborate when it plans to restart, or which secondary unit is undergoing maintenance.
--ENEOS has delayed the planned restart of two crude distillation units at its 235,000 b/d Kawasaki refinery in Tokyo Bay to late July. The No. 3, 65,000 b/d CDU at the Kawasaki refinery was initially scheduled to restart in late June, while the No. 2, 170,000 b/d CDU was to restart in early July.
--PetroChina's Jinxi Petrochemical will shut for a full turnaround over July 9-Sep. 28.
--PetroChina's Dalian Petrochemical in northeastern Liaoning province has restarted after overall maintenance. It shut in early April.
--Japanese refiner Idemitsu Kosan on June 15 started scheduled maintenance at Hokkaido in northern Japan until mid-September after having shut the sole 150,000 b/d crude distillation unit on June 11, a company spokesman said.
--Japanese refiner Taiyo Oil will keep running its sole 138,000 b/d Kikuma refinery in western Japan at around 60% capacity during June-July when it had earlier planned scheduled maintenance. Taiyo Oil had earlier planned to shut the 106,000 b/d No. 1 crude distillation unit at the refinery from early June and then shut the 32,000 b/d No. 2 CDU throughout July after having finished work on the No. 1 CDU. The company postponed the repairs that involve shutting down the CDUs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, but is currently conducting some of the statutory inspections with the CDUs still running. "We only carry out inspections that are legally required and that cannot be postponed. However, for other inspections, we plan to carry out next year or two years later at the time of large-scale regular repairs," a source said June 11.
--Japan's ENEOS will take more than one year to resume operations at its sole 136,000 b/d crude distillation unit at its Oita refinery in the southwest of Japan after it was hit from a fire May 26, 2020, a company official said June 18. The fire broke out during maintenance works, which started May 12. The crude distillation tower at the sole CDU was bent from around the middle by the fire.
--ENEOS has decided to terminate its refining operations at the 115,000 b/d Osaka refinery in western Japan and turn the facility into an asphalt-fueled power plant in October 2020, it said.
--China's Sinopec Zhenhai Refining & Chemical is expected to complete a turnaround at a 10 million mt/year CDU at its integrated complex in July or August, after it was shut early June. The refiner had shut the 10 million mt/year CDU for maintenance after restarting its 8 million mt/year CDU early May, S&P Global Platts previously reported.
--The 8 million mt/year CDU and 1.8 million mt/year fluid catalytic cracking unit were shut for a turnaround between mid-March and early May, but it is unclear whether the FCC has resumed operations. The refinery is slated to undergo a major overhaul this year that involves 39 units, and the turnaround program is divided into two phases, the group company had said mid-March.
--PetroChina's Fushun Petrochemical shut for a full turnaround over late June to mid-August.
--PetroChina's Ningxia Petrochemical will shut for a full turnaround over July 1-August 15.
--PetroChina's Yunnan Petrochemical will shut for a full turnaround from around mid-October.
--Sinopec Tianjin Petrochemical shut its 2.5 million mt/year CDU, and a 10 million mt/year CDU for maintenance from late April or early May, to last until July.
New and revised entries
--Japan's second largest refiner, Idemitsu Kosan, has put its upgraded residue hydrodesulfurizing unit into operation and plans to start work this summer to boost the residue cracking capacity at a fluid catalytic cracking unit at the Chiba refinery in Tokyo Bay, a company spokeswoman said July 1. Following the May 26 startup of the upgraded residue hydrodesulfurizing unit, which previously had a capacity of 40,000 b/d, Idemitsu Kosan will be able to reduce high sulfur fuel oil output by 600,000 kiloliters or 3.77 million barrels/year and boost low sulfur fuel oil production by 500,000 kl or 3.14 million barrels/year. Idemitsu Kosan, however, declined to elaborate on the capacity of the upgraded residue hydro desulfurizing unit, other than saying the unit's efficiency had been improved. In a related development, Idemitsu Kosan plans to start work this summer on raising the residue cracking capacity at its 45,000 b/d FCC as it aims to increase LSFO output. Idemitsu Kosan's upgrade at the Chiba refinery was part of its response to the International Maritime Organization's global low sulfur mandate for marine fuels from January.
--China's Sinopec is looking to start commercial operation at its four newly built units in the central China located Luoyang Petrochemical in August, but the startup of the 2 million mt/year CDU expansion would be delayed to H1 2021, a refinery source said. The newly built residual hydrotreater, continuous reformer, aromatics extraction unit and hydrogen concentration unit have completed construction and were delivered May 30 to turn into commissioning, the company's official media Sinopec News reported. The project will facilitate the refinery to crack high sulfur crude oil in addition to current sweet crudes preference, and to extract every barrel into profit. Luoyang Petrochemical usually crack crudes from Middle East, West Africa, Latin America, and occasionally processes US crudes like WTI Mid-land, Mars, the refinery source said.
--Axens said its Paramax technology has been selected by state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp. for the petrochemical expansion at the plant. The project aims at increasing the high-purity aromatics production capacity to 3 million mt/yr. The new aromatics complex will produce 1.5 million mt/yr of paraxylene in a single train, Axens said. The Huizhou petrochemical complex has been operating an Axens Paramax complex since 2009 with 1.3 million mt/yr of aromatics production.
--Construction of a new 1 million mt/yr coker at Chinese independent refinery Haiyou Petrochemical, in eastern Shandong, has been put on hold, according to sources close to the refinery. The new coker was expected to come on stream in 2019.
--Sinopec's Jingmen Petrochemical in central Hubei province targets to start up its newly built 2.8 million mt/year heavy oil catalytic cracker on May 30, which is the key project for the refinery in 2020, according to the company's official social wechat platform. The 200,000 mt/year alkylation unit and the 550,000 mt/year lubricant hydrogenation unit have been online in H2 2019, according to company wechat. The alkylation unit was started up in July/August, and the lube unit in November.
--Sinopec's 21 million mt/year Jinling Petrochemical refinery in eastern China will build a new 600,000 mt/year vacuum distillation unit. It has reconfigured its No.3 gasoline hydrotreater to a 360,000 mt/year hydrotreater to produce RMG 380 CST bunker fuel oil with sulfur content no higher than 0.5%.
--Sinopec's Zhenhai refinery in Ningbo, eastern Zhejiang province, China, has issued four tenders for pre-construction works of its 1.2 million mt/year ethylene expansion project. The project also includes 15 million mt/year of refining capacity.
--China's Sinopec has officially started up its greenfield 10 million mt a year Zhongke (Guangdong) refinery in Zhanjiang, Sinopec said on its WeChat platform on June 16. The 10 million mt/year crude distillation unit, 1.5 million mt/year kerosene hydrotreater and other four core facilities were successfully fed with feedstocks, signaling Zhongke's official startup, Sinopec said on WeChat. The CDU and kerosene hydrotreater were initially ignited to heat up on May 30, which was a step toward starting. Sinopec expected the new integrated plant to produce its first batch of on-spec oil product from all the refining units by end-July, and petrochemical products by end-August, according to the WeChat platform. Sinopec added that the project is crucial for the company developing a refining and petrochemical base in the Zhanjiang and Maoming region, helping the refiner to optimize its product and feedstock slate. Zhongke received its first crude cargoes -- 633,063 barrels of Arab Light and 683,470 barrels of Arab Heavy -- on May 8 from its newly built VLCC terminal.
--China's independent Shenghong Group has opened a trading office in Singapore ahead of the start-up in the second half of 2021 of its 320,000 b/d refinery in Jiangsu province. Shenghong's refinery will only have one crude distillation unit with a processing capacity of 16 million mt/year, which will become the single largest distillation unit in China.
--Saudi Aramco is boosting its downstream investments in China, creating a joint venture to build a $10 billion refinery.
--PetroChina officially started construction work at its greenfield 20 million mt/year Guangdong petrochemical refinery in the southern Guangdong province on December 5, 2018. Trial operations at the refining complex are expected to start in October 2021.
--China's coal chemical producer Xuyang Group has announced plans to build a greenfield 15 million mt/year refining and petrochemical complex in Tangshang in central Hebei province.