Processing news briefs, Sept. 15

MOL � UOP � Chevron Chemicals � Chinese Petroleum Corp. � Formosa Oil � Uni-President Enterprises � Hsianglu Chemical & Fiber � Grand Pacific Petrochemical � Total Raffinage-Distribution � Pak-Arab Refinery � Total Parco Pakistan

The Hungarian oil and gas company MOL has commissioned UOP LLC, Des Plaines, Ill., to improve the profitability of its refineries in Szazhalombatta and Tiszaujvaros, Hungary. The refineries process a total of 235,000 b/d of oil. UOP will evaluate process operations in order to identify opportunities to increase refining margins. UOP said it projects a refinery margin improvement of 30�/bbl from minor changes.

Chevron Chemicals in August began commercial production at its polystyrene plant at Zhangjiagang in eastern China�s Jiangsu province, near Shanghai. Chevron will export about 50% of the 100,000 tonnes/year of output; the rest will be sold in China. Construction of the $80 million project started in 1998 and finished in April 2000. Chevron plans to expand the plant's capacity to 200,000 tonnes/year in 2003 or 2004.

Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) has announced that it is abolishing the mandated formula under which the state-run Chinese Petroleum Corp. was permitted to set product prices. The formula permitted CPC to adjust its prices by a maximum of 3% within a single month and a maximum of 6% within any 3-month period. With the entry of Formosa Oil Corp. in the market, MOEA has agreed to the request by CPC to end the mandated pricing system. CPC officials said that the price of domestic oil products now will be determined by market forces, including crude and refining costs and the prices being charged by competitors. Analysts do not foresee any immediate significant drop in the price of petroleum products, as both CPC and Formosa Oil (currently the only two major players) both say they intend to compete on quality of service rather than price.

Uni-President Enterprises Corp., Taiwan's largest food processor, announced that it will enter into a joint venture with Hsianglu Chemical & Fiber Co. to build a purified terephthalic acid plant at Xiamen, Fujian, China. Uni-President, through its affiliate, President International Development, will supply $12 million of the project's initial paid-in capital of $40 million. Details of the project have not yet been released.

Taipei-based Grand Pacific Petrochemical Corp. has announced it will spend $12 million to expand production capacity at its Zhenjiang acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) resin plant. The company began construction of the facility in 1997. The first production line began commercial operations in 1998 with a capacity of 40,000 tonnes/year. A second 40,000 tonne/year production line came on stream in February of this year. The new investment is intended to add another 40,000 tonnes of capacity to the plant in the first quarter of 2002.

Total Raffinage-Distribution SA, a subsidiary of TotalFinaElf SA, has signed a joint venture agreement with Pak-Arab Refinery Ltd. (PARCO) to set up a distribution network for petroleum products in Pakistan, with an initial investment of $20 million. Called Total Parco Pakistan Ltd., the JV will be owned 60% by Total and 40% by PARCO. PARCO is a JV of the Pakistan and Abu Dhabi governments. Under the terms of the agreement, PARCO will make available 25% of the refinery's production to Total Parco. TotalFinaElf will contribute its international expertise in the marketing of petroleum products.

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