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Some OPEC members are U.S. ‘tools,’ Iran says
Iran’s oil minister said he believes Trump has worked with certain OPEC members to keep prices inflated in order to support U.S. shale oil growth.
By Daniel J. Graeber
Iranian Minister for Oil Bijan Zanganeh said he believes U.S. President Trump is coordinating with some OPEC members to keep oil prices high. File Photo by Maryam Rahmanian/UPI
| License Photo
(UPI) — There may be certain members of OPEC acting as “tools” for a U.S. government looking to capitalize on shale oil momentum, Iran’s oil minister said.
Crude oil prices are trading in the mid $70 per barrel range, supported in part by geopolitical risk and an effort by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to tighten a once-oversupplied market with coordinated production cuts. Oil prices jumped more than 3 percent this week after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the Iranian nuclear agreement with world partners, sparking concerns about additional supply shortages.
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said in an interview broadcast on Iranian television late Thursday that he believed Trump cut an agreement with certain OPEC members to keep production low in order to support the higher oil prices that stimulate U.S. shale production.
“We [OPEC members] argue that the price of oil at the $60 per barrel range would be better in the long-run, but there are some OPEC members that are acting as tools for carrying out U.S. policies,” he said.
Trump’s decision to leave the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was met with widespread criticism, save for U.S. allies in Israel and Saudi Arabia, the regional arch foe of Iran and de facto head of OPEC. Both sides are locked in a proxy war in Yemen.
Both Saudi Arabia and Iran produced slightly more oil last month when compared with March, a survey from commodity pricing group S&P Global Platts revealed.
Trump in April used Twitter to complain the market was overheated, telling OPEC that “oil prices are artificially very high!” Brent crude oil closed on the day of that message at $74.06, compared with around $77.30 early Friday in New York.
Trump’s decision gives Iranian oil customers 180 days to find other reserves and could eventually limit about 1 million barrels of oil from a market with little spare capacity to work with. Iran’s oil minister said Tehran has a long track record of coping with sanctions pressure and could easily weather the storm.
“I believe America’s withdrawal from the JCPOA would lead to no significant development with regards to Iran’s exports of oil and condensate,” he said.
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US ethylene spot prices slump amid long supply, leading to unit shutdown
HOUSTON (ICIS)–US ethylene spot prices slumped this week on the back of long supply and soft sentiment, causing a unit to be shut down due to poor margins.
US spot ethylene was assessed for the week ended on Friday at 12.000-12.500 ($265-276/tonne) cents/lb, compared with 13.125-14.250 cents/lb in the previous week.
Market sources said the recent fall in prices led Chevron Phillips Chemical (CP Chem) to idle an ethylene unit (No 22) at its complex in Sweeny, Texas this week as cracker economics have become unfavourable. Company sources did not immediately respond for comment.
US spot ethylene prices have been at historic lows as ethylene production, bolstered by new capacity, has overtaken ethylene consumption, which has been hampered by a slower-than-expected ramp up for new polyethylene (PE) units.
Outages at existing PE plants, including a force majeure at an INEOS plant, have further hampered ethylene consumption rates.
Since late 2017, about 3m tonnes/year of new ethylene capacity and about 3.5m tonnes/year of new PE capacity has started up. The new crackers have been running well, but several of the new PE plants have struggled to reach full operating rates.
The new ethylene capacity has also increased demand for ethane, which has driven up feedstock costs for ethylene production and squeezed cracker margins. Although there was some expansion for the week ended 4 May, spot ethylene margins remain tight for ethane feedstocks and negative for most other feedstocks.
Major US ethylene producers include Chevron Phillips Chemical, DowDuPont, ExxonMobil, INEOS Olefins & Polymers, LyondellBasell and Shell Chemical.
NPE2018 New Technology PET Machines Stretch NPE2018 New Technology PET Machines Stretch NPE2018 New Technology PET Machines Stretch NPE2018 New Technology PET Machines Stretch NPE2018 New Technology PET Machines Stretch NPE2018 New Technology PET Machines Stretch NPE2018 New Technology PET Machines Stretch
NPE2018 New Technology Focus: PET Machines Stretch the Limits
A huge variety of new one- and two-stage machines are blowing PET bottles and jars at the show.
MATTHEW H. NAITOVE
Executive Editor, Plastics Technology
At NPE, Nissei ASB is molding (l. to r.) thick-wall PET cosmetic bottles (two different designs in a family mold); pasteurizable beer bottles; airline liquor miniatures in 48 cavities; sports bottles of Tritan copolyester; and heat-set, hot-fill jars that can accept a metal lug cap.
PET stretch-blow systems are the largest single category of blow molding machines at the show. New versions offer higher outputs, increased flexibility, easier changeovers, and greater versatility to handle complex or “difficult” bottle shapes.
In one-stage injection-stretch-blow (ISBM) systems, Pet All Manufacturing (Booth W6545) is exhibiting for the first time its new ISBM-180E all-electric unit. The four-station rotary machine has a 15-ton clamp and handles six to 10 cavities for containers from 10 to 100 ml.
Kiefel Technologies (Booth W2727) is showing for the first time in the U.S. the Blowliner single-stage ISBM machine from its subsidiary Mould & Matic Solutions. Major advantages of this machine are said to be its compactness and versatility. It can process PET, PP, and HDPE; it can also be upgraded to multilayer barrier applications. It can mold containers from 10 ml to 5 L on the same machine.
In its largest NPE booth ever (Booth S19045), Nissei ASB Machine Co. is bringing five stretch-blow machines—both one-stage and two-stage—to Orlando, demonstrating a number of upgrades and special options that enhance productivity and allow production of a wide range of specialty PT containers from beer bottles, airline liquor miniatures, and sports drinks to premium cosmetics and wide-mouth jars that can accept a metal lug cap. One new model, ASB-150DPX, is said to be the “world’s first triple-row, one-step injection stretch-blow machine.” Making its debut in the Americas, this machine is molding 50-ml airline liquor miniatures in what ASB says is an “unprecedented” 48 cavities with a cycle time of 8.6 sec, for output greater than 20,000 bph.
In two-stage (reheat) machines, Pet All is showing the new CPSB-1000 LLE all-electric machine from Chum Power in Taiwan. This linear machine has continuous motion of preforms. It molds large containers of 10-20 L.
KHS Group (Booth S12045) has developed a new version of its high-output InnoPET Blowmax rotary RSBM system to meet rising demand for single-serve beverage bottles in the 250- to 800-ml size range. The system is more compact, but its small mold carriers process up to 2500 bottles/hr per station.
KHS also is showing off its Factor 100 PET bottle that debuted last fall at the Drinktec show in Germany. At 5 g, it’s said to be the lightest known half-liter PET bottle for still water.
W. Amsler Equipment (Booth S21067) has introduced the next generation of its linear stretch-blow molder as well as a newly enhanced leak tester. The L42X all-electric reheat machine offers several new features for custom PET blow molders, including preferential heating, neck orientation, and hot-fill capability. It can make containers up to 2 L in four cavities at up to 6500/hr. It can also run two-cavity molds for containers up to 5 L. Neck finishes range from 18 to 70 mm.
SIDE S.A. of Spain (Booth S16084) is presenting its new generation of linear reheat machines. These include the model 2006e, which takes up to six cavities for products from 250 ml to 3 L and output up to 10,000 bph. Model 2003eG is a two-cavity unit for up to 10 L containers and outputs from 2200 to 2600 bph.
SIDE will also feature its T-handle technology (also shown at NPE2015), which produces PET jugs with a pinched handle up to 36 mm deep through compression molding in the tool.
1Blow of France (Booth S14089), which supplies extremely compact RSBM systems, will highlight its next-generation Model 4LO for custom PET bottles. This all-electric system runs up to four cavities and bottles up to 2.5 L. It can accommodate preferential and offset-neck heating; neck orientation for flip-top caps (without requiring a tab or notch in the preform neck); heat setting; base inversion for hot filling; and Sure Grip, which imparts a deeper grip into the bottle than can be produced in standard stretch-blow systems.
Terekas UAB of Lithuania (Booth S10196) will present the newest version of its highly versatile FlexBlow RSBM system. The FlexBlow 2 WM is able to produce both wide-mouth (up to 110 mm) and narrow-neck (18-mm) containers. It can mold up to 73-mm necks in two cavities and wider in one cavity. Bottles from 1.5 to 3 L can be molded at 700 to 750/hr. Changing the bottle format, including molds, neck, and gripper parts, and fine-tuning the machine settings afterward, reportedly takes no longer than 30 min. Another new feature is customized preform grippers made by 3D printing. They allow for very precise detailing in custom designs.
PET Technologies GmbH of Austria (Booth S10057) has brought to market its fourth generation of reheat machines, called APF-Max, with output range 6000 to 14000 bph for bottles of 0.2–3 L. The series has 4, 6, or 8 cavities. A machine can be upgraded from 7000 bph to 14000 bph by installing extra ovens and mold cavities. The company says 15 min are enough to change the blow mold and start production of another bottle format. Only 2 hr are needed for changeover to another preform neck standard.
Thai Company Israeli Fabric Firm Avgol Indorama Thai Company Israeli Fabric Firm Avgol Indorama Thai Company Israeli Fabric Firm Avgol Indorama Thai Company Israeli Fabric Firm Avgol Indorama Thai Company Israeli Fabric Firm Avgol Indorama Thai Company Israeli Fabric Firm Avgol Indorama Thai Company Israeli Fabric Firm Avgol Indorama
Thai Company in Talks to Buy Israeli Fabric Firm Avgol for $470 Million
The news sent shares of Avgol up 6.5% to 3.85 shekels on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange
Michael Rochvarger and Ora Coren
Avgol Industries, an Israeli maker of nonwoven fabrics used in disposable diapers and other products, said on Tuesday its two controlling shareholders were in talks to sell their stakes.
The announcement didn’t offer further details, but sources said the buyer was Thailand’s Indorama Ventures, which is offering to buy control in a deal valuing the entire company at 1.7 billion shekels ($470 million).
That works out to 5.80 shekels a share, a 60% premium on Avgol’s closing price on Monday before the announcement. The news sent shares of Avgol up 6.5% to 3.85 shekels on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, although Avgol said there was no certainty the talks would lead to a sale.
The news came a day after another Israeli manufacturer, Frutarom, a maker of flavors and fragrances, agreed to be acquired by International Flavors & Fragrances for $7 billion, making it the second-biggest takeover of an Israeli company after Intel purchased Mobileye last year for $15.3 billion.
Avgol has been through a difficult period, with its share price down 20% in the 12 months through Monday. The last year has seen prices for resin, its chief raw material, rise sharply, cutting pre-tax profits 80%, to just $1.8 million, in the fourth quarter of 2017.
However, its sales have continued rising, and after a 12.7% increase year on year in the quarter, it breached the $100 million mark for the first time in the company’s history.
A source close to the talks told TheMarker that Indorama, a publicly traded industrial group based in Bangkok, is prepared to a pay a premium for Avgol. “It has factories all over the world and a global customer base, so it has room to grow,” said the source, who asked not to be named.
Indorama, a global chemicals company controlled by the by Indian businessman Aloke Lohia with 75 production sites in 25 countries and 2017 revenue of $8.4 billion, had not commented on any talks by press time.
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Rising crude oil price threat to SA economy
ENERGY / SISEKO NJOBENI
JOHANNESBURG – The rising crude oil price presented a huge threat to the South African economy, Department of Energy deputy director-general for petroleum and petroleum regulation Tseliso Maqubela said this week.
Oil prices have been increasing as a result of a number of factors including heightened demand and the crisis in Venezuela. The oil prices look set to to remain at elevated levels following the US decision to re-impose sanctions on Iran, the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter.
The US has pulled out of a July 2015 nuclear deal with Iran in terms of which Iran undertook not to seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons. Other signatories of the deal are China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom (UK).
Brent crude oil price was US$77.01 at 17.28pm on Thursday.
Maqubela said the the rising crude oil price presented the biggest threat to the South African economy. He said the oil price was unlikely to fall below US$70 a barrel in the near future. “We were at $30 a barrel in December 2015 and we are at $76 a barrel (on Thursday morning).
Bloomberg last month reported that oil exporter Saudi Arabia wanted the oil price to range between $80 and $100.
“So once the price gets to $80, it is unlikely to come down. So we must find ways of dealing with that. We must find our own oil. That is the only way. We should explore for oil,” said Maqubela.
Maqubela said even though South Africa did not import oil from Iran, South Africans would feel the impact of the high oil prices in fuel prices.
Meanwhile, Maqubela said the Department of Energy would involve other departments in its dealings with the petroleum industry with regard to the refinery upgrades needed for the move to clean fuels. There is lingering uncertainty about how the oil companies would recoup the costs of upgrades. The South African Petroleum Industry Association (Sapia) had previously estimated that upgrades could cost R40 billion.
“We have resolved that we cannot do the clean fuels support programme without the involvement of the (Department of Trade and Industry) and the Department of Economic Development because we do not believe that the motorists should shoulder the support programme alone,” said Maqubela.
He said the government had already taken steps to support the industry. For instance, National Treasury has introduced accelerated depreciation as one of the options to compensate for the investment in clean fuels.
“There was a commitment from former Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan. The industry came back, saying (the accelerated depreciation) does not go far enough. We now have to at the available mechanisms at (dti) to support re-industrialisation. If we allow these refineries to close, we are de-industrialising,” he said.
Sidel launches EvoDECO labelling solution for faster product and format change-overs
Sidel has launched the EvoDECO labelling solution for faster product and format change-overs, using the same equipment for different label types.
Based on a common core and optimised design, they enable producers to deliver different stock keeping units (SKUs).
They might either include several labelling applications in one multi-technology machine or a single labelling application through dedicated equipment, for optimised uptime, reduced footprint and low total cost of ownership (TCO).
The EvoDECO platform is built using the latest technologies regardless of model or configura-tion. This gives beverage producers the ability to choose solutions based on their specific labelling needs and output levels, without compromising on flexibility, efficiency or sustainability.
It brings modularity into labelling, offering a standardised carousel that can be equipped with up to four different labelling technologies: roll-fed, self-adhesive, cold glue and hot melt.
This allows manufacturers to set up the machine for their unique labelling needs, as they can easily apply several types of labels to different types of containers and packaging materials (PET, HDPE, glass), of varying formats and dimensions (from 0.1L to 5L), on a single machine at speeds from 6,000 up to 81,000 containers per hour.
Switching between various labelling modules is quick and easy, thanks to Plug & Play connections, offering producers the freedom of labelling choice and total flexibility.
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NPE ’18: ” not always right decision – US automation firm
ORLANDO (ICIS)–The trend to upgrade technology and go digital, also known as Industry 4.0, can have unforeseen inefficiencies and possible security vulnerabilities, a US-based industrial automation services firm said on Friday.
“I’m not saying, ‘don’t do it’,” Automation & Control Inc president Ron Iannacone said on the sidelines of this year’s National Plastics Exposition (NPE). “We’re in the innovation field. But don’t make it out that everybody’s going to have it.”
Despite advances in technology, there is no 100% foolproof system, Iannacone noted.
“I think the problem is, people want 100%,” he said. “They want a computer to tell them everything that can go wrong with a machine. It’s not going to happen, probably ever.”
Simple human error is the largest variable to complicate predictive analytics, he noted.
“The machinery is so complex, and there are so many things that can affect the operation of equipment,” Iannacone said. “You can’t put robots on everything. You still need a human operator.”
He was also critical of relying on industrial internet of things (IoT) for one or two portions of a facility floor.
“Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) ask me my opinion on the internet of things as it applies to manufacturing,” Iannacone explained. “I said, ‘it’s a joke’. Unless you do what we do and tie everything together in the whole plant floor, you’re only going to get it (IoT) on that one machine,” he said.
Iannacone compared the situation to owning a Tesla electric vehicle (EV) with diagnostic readouts, next to a 1974 Chevrolet. Having one smart vehicle doesn’t increase the amount of data you can monitor for both, he said.
In addition, some company information is sensitive enough that utilising ditigalisation techniques reduces security instead of the intended effect of increasing it, he said.
“We do data collection. We collect machine and process data for major companies,” he said. “Customer information. Lot number. Critical process information that is key to the business. A lot of which is proprietary.”
Industrial information can be sensitive enough, Iannacone said, that certain customers will say outright they’re not interested in trends such as cloud computing, the act of hosting information on a remote network of servers offsite from company property.
“The trend is to put data on the cloud,” he said. “But our customers don’t want anything on the cloud. Some customers won’t even let you remote connect to information. One of our customers doesn’t even want to exhibit here because their information is so proprietary.”
Collecting data for companies who serve customers in the automotive industry is a particular issue, he said, noting the competitiveness in the automotive sector.