Houston tanker queues grow; India’s Bharat eyes US ethane; Total plans new Texan cracker

Petrochemicals news you need to know.

Chemical tanker delays grow along the Houston Ship Channel: Study

Logistics hiccups and increased traffic largely linked to growing petrochemical and chemical production in Texas are leading to costly delays for chemical tankers looking to load and unload at the Houston Ship Channel, according to a new study by the Texas A&M's Center for Ports & Waterways.

Of the about 19,000 transits at the Channel in 2014, almost 1,400 were "non-productive moves," or transits where a ship moves to a layberth site or an anchorage area to get out of the way of other traffic rather than to load or discharge. The study, published earlier this month, expects the number of “non-productive moves” to grow significantly over the next few years.

The downtime could cost shippers and vessel operators hundreds of millions of dollars a year, according to the report.

With the Houston Channel traffic growing 1%-2% per year, the rising costs of prolonged wait times are hitting the chemical tanker industry, which makes up 39% of the Channel's overall transit.

US industrial crafts face significant age attrition

Age attrition in the US industrial construction sector is set to rise as about 17% of the industrial craft workers are likely to retire over the next five years, according to the latest data by the Construction Labor Market Analyzer.

The high attrition rate means that the exodus among workers in the industrial craft market in the next five to 10 years is expected to be 6% to 10% higher than in the overall construction industry.

Over the last 10 years, the number of construction workers aged 55 and above rose from 12% to 19%, while the number of young people aged 16-24 entering the construction trades fell 65%.

Indian oil and gas giant ponders US ethane imports

Indian state-run oil & gas company Bharat Petroleum Corporation (BPCL) is considering importing ethane from the United States to power its refineries, Business Standard reported.

BPCL is expanding its refinery complex at Kochi, in the state of Kerala, to increase its refining capacity from 9.5 million tons per annum to about 15.5 mtpa.

If BPCL goes ahead with the plan, it will be the second Indian company to import US ethane after Mumbai-based Reliance Industries, which has long-term agreements to ship 1.5 million tons a year of liquefied ethane from the United States as feedstock for its crackers.

Reliance has executed storage and capacity agreements with a North American terminal for the liquefaction and export of ethane. The terminal is expected to begin operating in the second half of 2016, and Reliance is yet to name the facility.

New service contract wins for CB&I, Fluor, Technip, SK E&C, Air Liquide, Amec Foster Wheeler

Total Petrochemicals & Refining USA has awarded CB&I a contract to provide its proprietary ethylene technology and front-end engineering and design (FEED) services for a proposed new 1 mtpa ethane cracker located in Port Arthur, Texas.

Earlier in September, CB&I also won an early works contract to provide additional detailed engineering and early procurement services for Axiall and Lotte Chemical’s proposed 1 mtpa ethane cracker in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

This new scope of work follows CB&I's previous supply of its proprietary ethylene technology and FEED services to the project, which is still being evaluated.

Meanwhile, PTT Global Chemical has awarded Fluor, Technip and SK E&C a contract to perform FEED work for the company’s proposed petrochemical complex in Belmont County, Ohio.

In late August, Yuhuang Chemical Inc (YCI) awarded Air Liquide Global E&C Solutions detailed engineering and procurement services for its 1.7 mtpa methanol plant in St. James Parish, Louisiana.

Under this agreement, Air Liquide will also provide YCI with procurement services for long lead and other equipment required for the $1.85 billion world-scale methanol manufacturing complex.

In September, YCI also awarded an engineering contract to Amec Foster Wheeler to provide engineering, project management, procurement and early construction services at the St. James Parish site, with the intention to extend this into a full-scope EPC contract in 2016.