Sunoco plans to exit the refining business and has begun a
process to sell its refineries located in Philadelphia and
Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania. Sunoco also announced that it is
conducting a company-wide comprehensive strategic review.
Suisse Securities (USA) LLC has been retained to assist in the
review process. Sunoco will
pursue all options to sell its refineries, but if a suitable
transaction cannot be implemented, the company intends to idle
the main processing units at the facilities in July 2012.
We have made progress in increasing the efficiency of
our refineries over the last several years, but, given the
unacceptable financial performance of these assets, it is clear
that it is in the best interests of shareholders to exit this
business and focus on our profitable retail and logistics
businesses which have higher returns, growth potential and
provide steady, ratable cash flow, said Lynn L.
Elsenhans, Sunocos chairman.
Together with the separation of SunCoke Energy and the sale
of the chemicals business, Sunocos decision to exit refining marks a fundamental shift
away from manufacturing that will reposition the company.
BASF has formed a new startup business with Alberta,
Canada-based manufacturing technology firm Quantiam
Technologies, seeking to commercialize advanced catalytic
surface coatings for steam-cracker furnace tubes. The business
is named BASF Qtech. Quantiam had previously developed the
coatings for use in the global petrochemical industry.
Manufacturing, R&D and technical services support for the
new business entity will be provided by the Quantiam team in
Edmonton, while marketing and sales support will be led by
BASFs catalysts division, headquartered in Iselin, New
Jersey. The catalytic surface coatings developed by Quantiam
are applied on the internal surfaces of steam-cracker furnace
tubes and coils, enabling the catalytically-assisted
manufacture of olefins. The coatings are designed to improve
operational profitability of petrochemical furnaces by reducing
carbon formation, increasing online production time and cutting
maintenance times, energy
expenditures and CO2 emissions.
Shell has agreed to sell its interests in natural
gas transport infrastructure joint venture Gassled to
Infragas Norge for about $730 million, based on current
exchange rates. Gassled is Norways integrated gas
transportation system and processing facility which transports
most of the gas
production on the Norwegian Continental Shelf to consumers
on the European continent and in the United Kingdom. The
agreement with Infragas Norge AS relates to Shells 5.0%
interest in Gassled JV and associated interests of 3.3% in the
Dunkerque terminal and 2.5% in the Zeepipe terminal. Gassled is
a joint venture established in 2003. It provides transportation
services on an open access basis to producers on the Norwegian
Continental Shelf. The parties intention is to close in
the fourth quarter of 2011.
Murphy Oil has agreed to sell its 125,000-bpd refinery and related assets in
Meraux, Louisiana, to Valero for $325 million in cash plus the
value of its hydrocarbon inventory, putting the overall sale
value near $625 million. The hydrocarbon inventory will be
valued based on market prices at closing. Currently, that
inventory is valued at around $300 million. The sale is subject
to customary regulatory approvals and conditions and is
expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2011. Following the
sale, Murphy plans to focus on completing the sale of its
assets in the UK.
BP has completed its acquisition of a 30% stake in 21 oil
production sharing contracts (PSCs) that Reliance
Industries operates in India. This significant step will
commence the planned alliance which will operate across the gas
value chain in India, from exploration and production to
distribution and marketing, the companies said. This should
accelerate the creation of infrastructure for receiving,
transporting and marketing natural
gas in India. BP will pay Reliance an
aggregate consideration of $7.2 billion.
Process optimization to grow 9%
The real-time process optimization and training (RPO) market
is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of
over 9% a year over the next five years, according to a new
study from ARC Advisory Group. The market was slightly more
than $1 billion in 2008, but dropped during the global
recession to slightly over $950 million in 2010, the study
says. The market is expected to reach more than $1.5 billion in
2015. The RPO market has rebounded from the lows of 2009, and
is expected to return to pre-2008 growth as the global process
industries need for safer, more efficient operations
The global economy has still not returned to its
pre-2008 optimism, said Dick Hill, a co-author of the
study. The economic slowdown adversely affected growth
but the market will rebound as many of the issues facing
manufacturers, like reducing costs, still require solutions
such as those offered by RPO suppliers.
The RPO market consists of three unique types of
applications: advanced process control, online optimization,
and training simulation and control validation software.
Advanced process control includes model-based software to
direct and control process operations. Online optimization
continually monitors the state of the process and through a
reference model predicts an optimum operation path. Meanwhile,
training simulation and control system validation are real-time
dynamic simulators designed to train process operators and
verify control system functionality.
The recession that began in 2008 affected all corners of the
globe and is still the single biggest influencing factor on
growth of the RPO market. Much of the industrial world was
forced to curtail capital project expenditures and RPO
investments in the short-term.
However, cautious optimism is now returning. Global growth
in the industry is being driven by developing regions of the