Exclusive: Petronas in Talks with Oil Majors for Petchem Tie-up

December 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Niluksi Koswanage and Liau Y-Sing

2011-12-23T044657Z_1_BTRE7BM0DAB00_RTROPTP_3_BUSINESS-US-PETRONAS

Petronas advertising boards are seen near the grandstand ahead of the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit outside Kuala Lumpur April 7, 2011.

REUTERS/Tim Chong

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Petronas is in talks with several global oil majors including Shell <RDSa.L> and Exxon Mobil <XOM.N> to develop petrochemical plants within its $20 billion refinery complex in southern Malaysia, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Malaysia’s national oil company is also talking to Japanese firms Itochu Corp <8001.T> and Mitsubishi Corp <8058.T> as well as to Dow Chemical Co <DOW.N> — the largest U.S. chemical maker — as it seeks to tap surging Asian demand and diversify its earnings, the sources told Reuters.

Petronas <PETR.UL> is expected to make a decision on the partnerships by mid-2012, which signals it is quickly moving beyond the feasibility stage of the project.

“Petronas is getting a lot of interest for the joint venture undertakings,” said one source who declined to be identified as the talks are ongoing.

“They have moved to the basic engineering and design stage and after this the tendering process for building the complex will start,” the source added.

Petronas, Shell and Mitsubishi officials in Malaysia declined to comment. Itochu, Dow Chemical and Exxon Mobil were not immediately available to comment.

Petronas first unveiled the Refinery and Petrochemicals Integrated Development (RAPID) project in May and has said the complex will be commissioned by end-2016, which both sources said was on track.

The $20 billion complex is to be built in southern Johor state which borders Singapore — the largest oil trading hub in Asia.

The project is key to Petronas’ plan to join the likes of India’s Reliance Industries <RELI.NS> in grabbing a larger share in the $395 billion global market for specialty chemicals — high value raw materials used in products from diapers to higher performance tires and LCD televisions.

“In terms of markets for petrochemicals coming from RAPID, Petronas is aiming for Myanmar, Bangladesh and parts of the subcontinent,” said a second source.

“The potential is there as these are huge markets or in the case of Myanmar, just opening up.”

RAPID REACH

The RAPID project will include a 300,000 barrel-per-day refinery that produces naphtha, gasoline, jet fuel, diesel and fuel oil. The first source said the crude feedstock would come mostly from Petronas’ equity projects in Sudan, Chad and eventually Venezuela instead of Malaysia’s own higher quality and expensive crude, domestic production of which is slowing.

The crude feedstock from Petronas equity projects will also be channeled into the petrochemicals and polymer complex, including a 3 million ton-per-year (tpy) naphtha cracker and petrochemical derivatives facility focusing on synthetic rubber.

“Over 1 million tons will be for ethylene and propylene and the rest for high grade specialty chemicals,” said the first source.

“Synthetic rubber is a big thing. Nearly 90 percent of a tire is made of synthetic rubber because natural rubber production is declining in Asia, so there is an opportunity for Petronas,” the source added.

STRUGGLE OR SURVIVE

The RAPID project gives Petronas’ downstream operations a better chance of staying afloat in times of economic downturns and poor margins as it allows Malaysia’s only Fortune 500 company to tap into its global feedstock sources, analysts say.

“From a Petronas perspective, there is vertical integration opportunity,” said Andrew Wong, lead analyst covering Petronas at Standard & Poor’s in Singapore.

“I think the expectation for a recovery in the petrochemical sector in 2011 did not quite happen due to the external factors and there is concern whether the project will come on-stream at a good point in time of the global economic cycle,” he added.

Industry players have said Malaysia and Petronas’ ramp-up of oil infrastructure in the southernmost tip of the country will create a “Greater Singapore” trading hub that allows the region to keep up with competitors like China.

Petronas is counting on interest from Japanese firms which are looking to relocate their plants or re-invest outside their home base after the March tsunami and earthquake triggered uncertainty over future energy supply, the second source said.

“The interest has particularly been strong from the usual Japanese players in the petrochemical market. This project has started at the right time,” the source added.

(Editing by Himani Sarkar)

14-1

Hot Air Balloons

November 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

tufail

In 1783, two French brothers, Jacques Etienne and Joseph Michel Montgolfier, invented the hot-air balloon and sent one to an altitude of 6,000 ft (1,800 m). Later that year, the French physicist Jean Pilatre de Rozier made the first manned balloon flight. While balloons could travel to high elevations, they could not travel on their own propulsion and were at the mercy of the prevailing winds. The shape of the balloon was determined by the pressure of the air or gas (such as hydrogen or helium).

In 1852, Henri Giffard built the first powered airship, which consisted of a 143-ft (44-m) long, cigar-shaped, gas-filled bag with a propeller, powered by a 3-horsepower (2.2-kW) steam engine. Later, in 1900, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin of Germany invented the first rigid airship.

The rigid airship had a metal framework — 420 ft (123 m) in length, 28 ft (12 m) in diameter — containing hydrogen-gas-filled rubber bags. The first Zeppelin had tail fins and rudders, and was powered by internal combustion engines. It carried five people to an altitude of 1,300 ft (396 m) and flew a distance of 3.75 mi (6 km). Several models of Zeppelins were built in the early 1900s. These vehicles were used for military and civilian purposes, including transatlantic travel. The most famous Zeppelin was the Hindenburg, which was destroyed by a fire in 1937 while landing at Lakehurst, New Jersey. See Fall of the Hindenburg to learn about the ship and the crash.

In 1925, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company began building airships of the blimp design. These aircraft were used for advertising and military purposes (such as surveillance and anti-submarine warfare) throughout World War II. In 1962, the U.S. military stopped using blimps in their operations. Today, blimps are used mainly for advertising, TV coverage, tourism and some research purposes. However, the airship is coming back.

Airships are called lighter-than-air (LTA) craft because to generatelift, they use gases that are lighter than air. The most common gas in use today is helium, which has a lifting capacity of 0.064 lb/ft3 (1.02 kg/m3). Hydrogen was commonly used in the early days of airships because it was even lighter, with a lifting capacity of 0.070 lb/ft3 (1.1 kg/m3) and was easier and cheaper to acquire than helium. However, the Hindenburg disasterended the use of hydrogen in airships because hydrogen burns so easily. Helium, on the other hand, is not flammable.
While these lifting capacities might not seem like much, airships carry incredibly large volumes of gas — up to hundreds of thousands of cubic feet (thousands of cubic meters). With this much lifting power, airships can carry heavy loads easily.

Because gas provides the lift in an airship or blimp, rather than a wing with an engine as in an airplane, airships can fly and hover without expending fuel or energy. Furthermore, airships can stay aloft anywhere from hours to days — much longer than airplanes orhelicopters. These properties make blimps ideal for such uses as covering sporting events, advertising and some research, like scouting for whales.

Recently, there has been renewed interest in using rigid airships for lifting and/or transporting heavy cargo loads, like ships, tanks and oil rigs, for military and civilian purposes. Modern airships, such as theZeppelin NT and CargoLifter, use lightweight, carbon-composite frames that allow them to be huge, light and structurally sound. In addition to hauling cargo, airships may once again be used for tourism. So, the sight of a large airship moving across the sky may become more common in the near future.

13-48

Rubber

August 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

sci“Rubber” means the natural rubber which comes from the latex contained by some trees and other plants – as opposed to synthetic rubber (elastomer) which is generally an oil byproduct. In this description we use the terms elastomer and rubber as synonyms.

Elastomers are a class of materials which differ quite obviously from all other solid materials in that they can be stretched, easily and almost completely reversibly, to high extensions. An ordinary postal rubber band illustrates this behavior. It will generally be made from natural rubber, and can be stretched perhaps 600% (i.e. to seven times its original length), after which – before reaching its ultimate breaking elongation – it can be released and will rapidly recover to almost exactly the original length it had before stretching. The material is said to be elastic.

Most synthetic elastomers are not as elastic as natural rubber, but all can be stretched (or otherwise deformed) in a reversible manner to an extent which easily distinguishes them from all other solid materials. (n.b. a metal spring exhibits high reversible elasticity, but this is a feature of its wound shape. The actual metal itself of which the spring is made only deforms slightly, by twisting locally, at any particular point – nothing like the high deformations of which elastomers are capable.)

Elastomers are a special case of the wider group of materials known as polymers. Polymers are not made up of discrete compact molecules like most materials, but are made of long, flexible, chain-like or string-like, molecules. At this scale the inside of a piece of rubber can be thought of as resembling a pile of cooked spaghetti. In spaghetti, however, the chains, though intertwined, are all separate. But in most practical elastomers each chain will be joined together occasionally along its length to one or more nearby chains with just a very few chemical bridges, known as crosslinks. So the whole structure forms a coherent network which stops the chains from sliding past one another indefinitely – although leaving the long sections of chain between crosslinks free to move. The process by which crosslinks are added is known as vulcanization. To achieve vulcanization the raw rubber is mechanically mixed with a number of compounding ingredients carefully chosen to give the properties required for the particular application. The reason why elastomers behave as they do is associated with the type of molecular structure described above.

Against this background the reason why rubber can stretch so much is that, at normal temperatures, each long chain-like molecule (like any molecule) is in a constant state of agitation (thermal motion). For these flexible long-chain molecules the movement is considerable, and the molecule is agitated so much that it can take up a highly kinked shape. Because of this kinking, the distance between the two ends of the chain is very much less than its fully stretched length. This gives the rubber its flexibility. When a rubber band is stretched some of the highly kinked chains are simply being stretched out. Stretching can then continue until many of the chains are fully extended, or until the rubber breaks.

Polysort is a portal for the plastics and rubber industry, providing news, information about plastics and rubber industry trade shows, company links, as well as plastics and rubber classified advertising.
Our site also enables plastics and rubber industry members to share ideas and information via company news releases and our technical discussion forums on topics such as injection molding, blow molding, rotational molding and extrusion.

Polysort helps manufacturers of plastic resin and rubber materials, machinery & equipment, products and services leverage the popularity of our site to reach prospects through link advertising programs and search engine optimization. 

13-33