Thursday, July 28, 2011

Asahi Kasei opens 2nd plant on Jurong Island

AS demand increases for energy efficient 'green tyres', Asia's No 1 S-SBR synthetic rubber maker Asahi Kasei is riding the wave by opening its second plant on Jurong Island. Estimated to cost 20-30 billion yen (S$307-460 million), it is slated for completion by the first half of 2015.

It will produce solution-polymerised styrene-butadiene rubber (S-SBR), a synthetic rubber used in car tyres to maximise fuel efficiency.

Increasing environmental awareness coupled with fears of a new oil shock has led to a recent surge in demand for 'green' tyres, said Asahi Kasei.

Demand for S-SBR, which enables the production of tyres that provide greater fuel efficiency while enhancing safety performance, is therefore growing briskly.

The company estimates that world demand for S-SBR used in fuel-efficient tyres will reach 500,000 tonnes this year, with a projected increase to 1.1 million tonnes by 2020.

Operated by Asahi Kasei Synthetic Rubber Singapore, a wholly owned subsidiary of Asahi Kasei Chemicals Corporation, the S-SBR plant will be the second plant that Asahi Kasei has on Jurong Island.

In a speech delivered during the groundbreaking ceremony, Asahi Kasei president Taketsugu Fujiwara highlighted the strategic positioning of the S-SBR plant in Singapore.

'Singapore is a great place for international business. It has excellent infrastructure. It has free trade agreements with many countries. There is a highly skilled workforce. The government is very understanding and supportive of business. And there is an excellent supply chain system operated by outstanding companies.'

At full operational capacity, the new S-SBR plant is expected to produce 100,000 tonnes of the synthetic rubber per year.

Asahi Kasei estimates that sales generated from the Jurong Island plant will account for 5 per cent of total revenue for Asahi Kasei Chemicals.

Sinopec to open in Singapore its first lubricants plant outside China by Sept 2012

SINGAPORE (AP) -- Sinopec says it plans to open its first lubricants plant outside China in Singapore as part of the refiner's expansion in Asia.

Sinopec, which is also known as China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., said Thursday the $91 million plant will employ about 80 people. It will have initial production capacity of 100,000 tonnes of lubricants per year when it opens by September 2012.

State-owned Sinopec said the Singapore plant will produce 5 percent of Sinopec's total lubricant output.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Malaysian firms to build refinery, oil storage plant in Johor, Teluk Ramunia, Sinopec buying big stake in venture for developing oil field

Business Times 27 Jul 11;

(KUALA LUMPUR) KNM Group Bhd and Zecon Bhd have entered into an agreement with Gulf Asian Petroleum Sdn Bhd (GAP) to build a refinery and an oil storage terminal worth a combined RM17 billion (S$6.9 billion) in Teluk Ramunia, Johor, Malaysia's Business Times reported.

GAP, which on April 30, 2010, obtained an approval from the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority for the manufacturing licence for the integrated petrochemical plant, is 50 per cent owned by Mubadala Capital Sdn Bhd (MCSB).

The remaining shares in the firm are owned by Abdul Aziz Hamad Al-Dulaimi, the president of Gulf Petroleum Ltd, whose shareholders include Qatar General Insurance and Reinsurance Company, Al-Mana Group, National Petroleum Group and the banking arm of Al-Sari Group.

MCSB's controlling shareholder, Zainal Abidin Ahmad, is also the chief executive and controlling stakeholder of Zecon.

The deal, bound to cause waves of interest in the oil and gas sector here, came on a day when two other oil and gas projects were announced. Petroleum Bhd and Kencana Petroleum Bhd announced an RM11.5 billion merger plan that will become the country's largest oil and gas service provider.

In a statement to the stock exchange, KNM said it was forming a consortium with Zecon and either a Korean or Chinese contractor to undertake both the projects. The projects comprise a RM15 billion oil refinery and a RM2 billion oil storage terminal.

The refinery will have a capacity of up to 200,000 barrels a day and 525,000 tonnes-a-year polypropylene processing plant, while the oil storage terminal will have a capacity of 2.328 million cubic metres.

The refinery and the storage facility are expected to be completed within 40 months and 18 months respectively, KNM said, adding the refinery project will be funded by 30 per cent equity, with the balance funded through project financing or sukuk issuance.

To help cover some of the storage facility's cost, KNM will also try to arrange a sukuk issuance of up to RM1.5 billion to cover project financing during construction, KNM said.

Apart from the KNM-Zecon announcement, Daya Materials Bhd said it had secured two supply and delivery agreements worth RM27.42 million from Petronas Methanol (Labuan) Sdn Bhd.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's Business Times also reported that China's largest petroleum refiner, Sinopec Petroleum Services Corp (Sinopec), is poised to take a major stake in a planned RM2.06 billion venture to help develop a Petronas marginal oil field located off the coast of Terengganu.

Under the deal, Sinopec will hold 40 per cent stake in the consortium, while Sabio Oil & Gas Sdn Bhd (SOG), a unit of Sabio Technology Bhd (STB), and Iranian group International Oil and Design and Construction Sdn Bhd (IODC)) will have 30 per cent stake respectively.

'This is our maiden foray in the oil and gas industry. We have set up SOG solely for this project and we are optimistic to be given a chance by Petronas to develop this project,' said STB executive chairman Ahmad Sukimi Ibrahim.

Since local participation in the consortium must be a listed entity, STB, which is involved in electronic contract manufacturing services, plans to float its shares in the local bourse soon.

Incorporated in November last year, STB has obtained the approval to list on Bursa Malaysia and will soon be issuing its public prospectus.

Petronas has been given the mandate to develop 27 marginal oil fields out of the current 106 marginal fields in Malaysia, which are estimated to contain 580 million barrels of oil.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

GMR Energy 800 Mw combined cycle project at Jurong Island, Singapore

GMR power ties up $820 mn debt for Singapore plant
BS Reporter / Chennai/ Bangalore July 18, 2011, 0:21 IST

GMR Energy, the flagship energy wing of GMR Infrastructure, has achieved financial closure for its 800 Mw combined cycle project at Jurong Island, Singapore.

The company has secured term loan facility of Singapore dollar 670 million (around $550 million) along with $270 million of credit as working capital with a tenure of 17 years, a company release said.

According to GMR, six international banks namely Axis Bank, CIMB Bank Behrad, KfW IPEX- Bank Gmbh, National Australia Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and WestLB AG have acted as mandated lead managers to the transaction.

"We have received banking community's strong support for financial closure, which demonstrates their confidence in the project. This is a good start and augurs well for the project," G M Rao, group chairman of GMR Infrastructure, said.

GMR Group acquired complete stake of Island Power, which is developing this 800 Mw natural gas based power project in Jurong Island from Intergen NV in 2009. This is the first independent power project (IPP) of the company outside India.

"At a development cost of over $820 million, this power project is expected to be operational in 2013," a company statement said.

GMR has three completed energy projects — barge mounted power plant at Kakinada, 200 MW power plant in Chennai and Vemagiri plant in Andhra Pradesh.

The projects of GMR Infra, under various phases of implementation, are GMR Orissa power project, Talong power project, Bajoli project, Chhattisgarh project, Upper Karnali hydro-power project, Upper Marsyangadi project among others.

The company has a power generation capacity of 808 Mw by March, 2011, and has 11 projects with a total capacity of 8,448 Mw in its portfolio. Of the total projects, 4,138 Mw is under construction and 4,130 Mw is under development by the end of last financial year.

As per officials of GMR Energy, around 800 Mw is likely to be added to company's present capacity of which 25 Mw will be solar and the rest will come from two gas power machines in the present financial year.

In the coal front, the company expects to add around 4,000 Mw of coal based power to its present capacity in next three years.

GMR posted a loss of Rs 929.64 crore in the last financial year as compared with a profit of Rs 158.4 crore in the corresponding period last year.

Revenue rose by 26 per cent to Rs 5,773.8 crore during this period. Meantime, the company has posted a 14 per cent increase in operating profit to Rs 1,555.5 crore by end of March, 2011.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Jellyfish Invasions Force Shutdowns at 3 Separate Nuclear Plants

Natalie Wolchover Yahoo News 8 Jul 11;

A nuclear power plant on the coast of Israel was forced to shut down this week when its seawater cooling system became clogged with jellyfish. A similar incident temporarily disabled two nuclear reactors at the Torness power station on the Scottish coast last week. A week before, a reactor in Shimane, Japan was crippled by yet another jellyfish infiltration.

Amid speculation that warm waters and ocean acidification — both driven by climate change — are boosting jellyfish populations, are these three incidents signs of a growing trend?

"The several [power plant incidents] that happened recently aren't enough to indicate a global pattern. They certainly could be coincidental," said Monty Graham, a jellyfish biologist and senior marine scientist at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab off the Gulf Coast of Alabama.

Graham said there have been dozens of cases of jellyfish causing partial or complete shutdowns of coastal power plants in the past few decades, as well as shutdowns of desalination plants. Steve Haddock of the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Research Institute said a power plant in Australia was shut down by jellyfish as long ago as 1937. Such events aren't surprising; all these plants draw water out of the ocean, and they are already fitted with filtration devices called flumes that remove jellyfish and other debris.

"Only when you have a huge influx of jellies do they overwhelm the flumes," Graham told Life's Little Mysteries. This happens when a jellyfish bloom — a huge swarm of adult specimens brought together by ocean currents — flows into a power plant's filtration system.

Jellyfish blooming occurs mostly in the spring and summer months, which may partly explain why the three recent power plant incidents happened in close succession. While conditions brought on by climate change may also be creating more jellyfish blooms than there used to be, signifying a worldwide jellyfish population explosion, researchers can't tell whether that's occurring; they began tracking jellyfish populations too recently.

"In some places, there have been some dramatic population increases in the past few decades, but overall, it's hard to identify a trend," Graham said. "We don't have the hard data because we haven't been looking at jellyfish on a long enough timescale."

Claudia Mills, a jellyfish biologist at the University of Washington, said that there are some documented cases of local population increases. For example, an invasive species has been spreading in the Mediterranean for decades, and may be the culprit that clogged the Israeli plant. However, Mills told us, a lot of the concern about rising populations on a larger scale is based on hyperbole. "We don't know what is going on with jellyfish in most parts of the world," she wrote in an email. [Read: Jellyfish Swarms: Menacing or Misunderstood?]

Some researchers do suspect that populations are rising, as jellyfish may thrive in warmer oceans. "Jellyfish populations spike and wane with climate variability, so it's not hard to make the logical leap that if climate is changing long-term, we'll likely see a population change," Graham said. He is conducting research to investigate whether jellyfish populations are increasing globally, and if so, why.

Of course, a higher incidence of power plant-jellyfish standoffs (if, in fact, the incidence is higher) could also reflect the increasing number of coastal power plants, Graham said.

Either way, getting the power plants back online is not such a difficult fix.

"Plants only have to deal with a heavy-duty problem once or twice and they'll realize it's such a huge cost to them that they'll introduce countermeasures," he said. These include additional filters and a jet bubble system that makes incoming jellyfish float to the surface, where they can be skimmed off. "In some cases, the plants can just monitor for jellies and shut down temporarily when there's a bloom."