The word is out that Bechtel have purchased the coker technology section of Conoco Phillips. Several of the senior engineers have been transferred to Bechtel with the purchase, though it isn’t clear yet what this means for COP’s needle coke and specialty coke group.
One can argue that an engineering company is a better place for design and licensing of technology than a user of that technology, though I wouldn’t. I know that with Pechiney technology, the former Pechiney made as much money from sales of technology licences as it did from some other major divisions of the company. Sure, it raises problems that others in the industry have to go to their competitor to gain access to the technology, but there are ways of firewalling the business unit.
To me, this signals that COP is looking to streamline its business, and perhaps gradually lose minor segments such as coke.
In other related news, Yanchang Petroleum, based in Shaanxi province, has announced it will form a JV with KBR to market KBR’s VCC technology. VCC is a process which allows for the use of coal oil, heavy oil and other “bottom of the barrel” stocks to be processed for increased fuel production.
Editor’s update: Conoco Phillips have now supplied us with a copy of the press release on the sale of the technology to Bechtel. In their email, they also make it clear that the sale in no way represents any sort of change of strategy or intention to streamline out of coke sales. Here are the relevant parts of the press release: