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Late August downstream news update: USA and South America

Hydrocarbon Engineering,


The US Environmental Protection Agency is to update its two decades old emissions standards for oil refineries and finalise new regulations by 19th December, 2014, to settle a lawsuit brought by environmental and public health groups.

The EPA will propose new standards by 14th February, before finalising them 10 months later. In addition, the EPA will decide by 14th February whether it needs to create residual risk standards for oil refineries under the Clean Air Act.

The Agency said in its Federal Register notice that these actions are part of a consent decree to settle the suit filed by Air Alliance Houston, California Communities Against Toxics, Environmental Integrity Project and other groups in the US District Court for the District of Columbia.


A fire at the largest refinery in the US, the Motiva plant in Port Arthur, Texas has knocked out more than half of its output for at least two weeks, the latest in a string of mishaps following a US$ 10 billion expansion of the plant.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, which owns the refinery with Saudi Aramco, said the fire on Saturday, the second in a week, slowed and shuttered units.

Ultra low sulfur diesel futures strengthened as the refinery was said to be operating several units at reduced rates during repairs.

Futures rose as much as 0.7%. Motiva’s 600 000 bpd site will operate four hydrotreaters and three lube units at reduced rates while a sulfur recovery unit remains shut for repairs after its reactor caught fire on 12th August.

Ultra low sulfur diesel for September delivery rose 1.64 cents, 0.5%, to US$ 3.0995/gal on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Trading volume was 22% above the 100 day average.

ULSD’s crack spread versus West Texas Intermediate crude gained 91 cents to US$ 22.94/bbl. The October contract’s premium over Brent increased 36 cents to US$ 19.76/bbl.

Gasoline for September delivery rose 0.47 cents to US$ 2.9722/gal on the Nymex on trading volume that was little changed from the 100 day average.

Motor fuel’s crack spread versus West Texas Intermediate crude gained 39 cents to US$ 17.97/bbl. October gasoline’s premium over Brent widened to US$ 9.27/bbl.

Pump prices, averaged nationwide, fell 0.2 cents to US$ 3.538/gal. Prices are 18.2 cents below a year ago.

South America


Petrobras will begin production of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resin and polyester fibres at its Petroquimica Suape complex in northeaster Brazil by the end of the year.

In a presentation at a regional development agency in Recife, officials from Petroquimica Suape said that Petrobras is investing 6.7 billion reias (US$ 2.8 billion) in the two units.

Also in Brazil, Petroleo Brasileiro, the most indebted publicly traded oil company, has agreed to sell US$ 2.1 billion of assets that include stakes in the Brazilian and US offshore petroleum fields.

China’s Sinochem Group is buying the Rio de Janeiro based company’s 35% stake in the offshore Parque das Conchas project for US$ 1.54 billion.

Brazil’s state controlled producer also agreed to sell minority stakes in Gulf of Mexico oil fields for US$ 185 million, a stake in a petrochemicals company for 870 million reais (US$ 364 million), and a 20% stake in a power company in Brazil’s Rio Grande do Norte state for 38 million reais.

Petrobras is selling debt and US$ 9.9 billion in assets to help finance approximately US$ 47 billion/year of investments through 2017. It is scaling back its operations abroad and seeking to curb cost growth in Brazil as it develops the largest group of crude discoveries in the last decade and builds refineries.

Edited from various sources by Emma McAleavey.

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