Mono propylene glycol (MPG)

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Discover the factors influencing mono propylene glycol (MPG) markets

Commonly used in unsaturated polyester resins (UPR) and coatings, antifreeze and de-icing applications on an industrial scale, mono propylene glycol (MPG) demand responds to activity levels in the construction, aviation and automotive sectors. The MPG USP grade is used in pharmaceutical, cosmetics and other consumer related applications. Seasonal factors and consumer trends can also cause noticeable market movements – as can upstream fluctuations in feedstocks and crude oil. This level of volatility highlights the importance of accurate and timely information. The most success comes from informed decision-making.

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Mono propylene glycol (MPG) news

ExxonMobil to close Gravenchon, France cracker and related derivative units in 2024

LONDON (ICIS)—ExxonMobil Chemical France has announced plans to close its chemical production at Gravenchon, in Normandy in France in 2024, subject to the relevant government approvals. According to a press release, the steamcracker and related derivatives units and logistics facilities will be shut down. The company said the site has lost more than €500 million since 2018 and despite efforts to improve the site’s economics, it remains uncompetitive. According to the ICIS Supply & Demand database, the cracker has the capacity to produce 425,000 tonnes/year of ethylene and 290,000 tonnes/year of propylene and was started up in 1967. A butadiene (BD) unit is also at the site and associated derivatives include polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP). ExxonMobil's nearby Port Jerome refinery will continue to operate supplying fuels, lubricants, basestocks and asphalt. The closure will impact 677 jobs through 2025. ExxonMobil said this planned closure is entirely separate from the Esso S.A.F. announcement regarding its proposed sale of the Esso Fos-sur-Mer refinery and South France logistics assets. Charles Amyot, president of ExxonMobil companies in France said: “It has been a very difficult decision for us to take, but we cannot continue to operate at such a loss.” This week Saudi Arabia's Sabic also revealed plans to permanently close its Olefins 3 cracker – one of two at their Geleen, Netherlands site.

11-Apr-2024

PODCAST: China PDH run rates to rebound in Q2 from record low

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–The average run rate of China's propane dehydrogenation (PDH) units declined on 3 April to 47.6%, down from 58.7% from a week before, marking the biggest week-on-week decrease ever and hitting the lowest point on record, according to ICIS data. Plant utilization should pick up from late April as facilities restart from maintenance, with expectations that the propylene-propane price spread will widen into Q3. In this podcast, ICIS analyst Wang Yan shares insights on the challenges being faced by PDH operators.

11-Apr-2024

INVISTA to explore alternatives for nylon fibers business

HOUSTON (ICIS)–INVISTA plans to explore strategic alternatives for its nylon fibers business and has engaged Barclays as exclusive financial advisor during the exploration process, the US-based manufacturer of chemical intermediates, polymers and fibers said in a statement late on Tuesday. The nylon fibers business includes: INVISTA’s fiber-focused portfolio: airbag and industrial fibers The CORDURA businesses Five supporting global manufacturing locations: Seaford, Delaware and Martinsville, Virginia, both in the US; Kingston, Ontario, Canada; Gloucester, UK; and Qingpu, China INVISTA believes that there are other companies with a different focus and capabilities that could create greater value with those assets, said CEO Francis Murphy. If, however, through the process INVISTA finds that other companies do not value the nylon business more highly, it will continue to operate it, Murphy said. If INVISTA proceeds with a transaction, it would also result in a simplification and strengthened focus on its long-term competitive positions in the upstream nylon and propylene value chain businesses, it said. The nylon fiber assets are a major part of the current INVISTA footprint, “and it would be premature to speculate on the final structure of a potential deal”, it said, adding that details of the business and exploration process are confidential. Regardless of a potential transaction to divest its nylon fibers business, INVISTA will continue to supply its global nylon and propylene value chain customers with intermediates, polymers and specialty chemicals, the company said. Photo source: Attapon Thana/Shutterstock

10-Apr-2024

‘Extremely active’ 2024 Atlantic hurricane season could mirror 2020, threaten US Gulf chem production

HOUSTON (ICIS)–The 2024 Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be extremely active, and has similar characteristics to the 2020 season, meaning it could threaten offshore oil and natural gas production in the US Gulf and chemical producers along the Gulf Coast. Source: Colorado State University (CSU)  A report late last week from researchers at CSU follows a report released on 27 March by US meteorology firm AccuWeather that also predicted an active hurricane season. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will issue its first seasonal hurricane report in late May. So far, the CSU team said it is seeing similar characteristics to hurricane seasons in 1998, 2010 and 2020. The 2020 season saw 30 named storms, of which 13 became hurricanes and six of those were major storms. Storms in 2020 that impacted chemical operations included: Tropical Storm Marco hit Louisiana on 24 August. Days later, Hurricane Laura made landfall as a powerful category 4 storm in Louisiana near the border of Texas. Then, Hurricane Sally made landfall on 16 September in Alabama as a category 2 storm, followed by Tropical Storm Beta which made landfall less than a week later in Texas. Hurricane Delta followed a similar path as Hurricane Laura, making landfall on 9 October as a category 2 storm in Louisiana. Weeks later, Hurricane Zeta hit Cocodrie, Louisiana, as a category 2 storm. Hurricane Laura knocked 16% of total US ethylene capacity and 11% of total US propylene capacity offline, according to the ICIS Supply and Demand Database. About 18% of polyethylene (PE) production was offline, and 26% of polypropylene (PP) production was offline. Styrene butadiene rubber (SBR), a synthetic rubber used to make tires, had 46% of its US capacity offline. The CSU team said record warm tropical and eastern subtropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures are the primary factor for the active season prediction. “When waters in the eastern and central tropical and subtropical Atlantic are much warmer than normal in the spring, it tends to force a weaker subtropical high and associated weaker winds blowing across the tropical Atlantic,” researchers said. “These conditions will likely lead to a continuation of well above-average water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic for the peak of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season.” Warm ocean waters serve as the fuel source for hurricanes, the CSU team said. “In addition, a warm Atlantic leads to lower atmospheric pressure and a more unstable atmosphere,” they said. “Both conditions favor hurricanes.” The current El Nino is likely to transition to a La Nina by the peak of the season – from August to October. Hurricane season begins on 1 June and runs through the end of November. Hurricanes and tropical storms can disrupt the North American petrochemical industry, because oil and gas production are concentrated in the Gulf of Mexico. Also, many of the nation's refineries and petrochemical plants are along the US Gulf Coast in the states of Texas and Louisiana. Even the threat of a major storm can disrupt oil and natural gas production, because companies must evacuate US Gulf platforms as a precaution. Thumbnail image shows a weather satellite orbiting over a hurricane. Photo by John Pulsipher/image from Shutterstock

08-Apr-2024

Latin America stories: weekly summary

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Here are some of the stories from ICIS Latin America for the week ended on 5 April. NEWS Mexico’s automotive output falls nearly 13% in March Mexico’s automotive sector output fell by 12.75% in March, month on month, to just over 300,000 units, the country’s statistical office Inegi said on Wednesday. Sanitation framework, nascent LatAm lithium industry keeping Brazil’s chloralkali afloat – Abiclor Brazil’s chlorine and caustic soda sectors have kept afloat in better health than the wider chemicals industry as sanitation plans and new lithium exploitations across Latin America keep demand high, according to the director general at the country’s trade group Abiclor. Brazil’s chemicals, industrial output falls in February Brazil’s chemicals output fell in February by 3.5%, month on month, one of the largest falls among the subsectors measured, the country’s statistical office IBGE said on Wednesday. Petrobras ‘proactively’ engaging with Federal auditor about tolling contract with Unigel Petrobras continues to “clarify in a timely manner” all the information requested by the Federal auditor regarding its tolling contract with Unigel, a spokesperson for the Brazilian energy major said to ICIS on Tuesday. Brazil’s Unigel postpones Q4 results amid debt restructuring Unigel has postponed the publication of its Q4 and 2023 financial results as its debt restructuring is ongoing, the Brazilian chemicals and fertilizers producer said on Tuesday. MOVES: Brazil’s Unipar appoints Alexandre Jerussalmy as CFO Unipar has appointed Alexandre Jerussalmy as CFO and investor relations officer, effective immediately, the Brazilian chemicals producer said on Tuesday. Colombia’s manufacturing slows down in March on lower sales Colombia’s manufacturing output growth slowed down in March on the back of lower sales, although it marked its third month in expansion territory, analysts at S&P Global said on Monday. Brazil's manufacturing March output healthy on new orders, fueling job creation Brazil’s manufacturing continued expanding at pace in March on the back of a healthy new order book, prompting firms to increase workforces, S&P Global said on Monday. Mexico’s manufacturing steady in March but subdued US demand causes concern Mexico’s manufacturing output stayed stable in March but firms are getting increasingly worried about lower demand from the US, the key market for the country’s export-intensive manufacturers, analysts at S&P Global said on Monday. PRICING Lat Am PP domestic prices down in Argentina, Mexico on lower US PGP spot prices, weak demand Domestic polypropylene (PP) prices dropped in Argentina and Mexico on the back of lower US spot propylene prices and weak demand. In other Latin American countries, prices remained steady. LatAm PE international prices steady to lower on lower US export offers International polyethylene (PE) prices were assessed as steady to lower on the back of lower US export offers. Ethanol prices in Brazil experiencing surges during April The prices of hydrous ethanol surged during the initial week of April, propelled by consistent strong sales in Brazil. Unigel to raise PS April prices in Brazil Unigel is seeking an 11% price increase on all grades of polystyrene (PS) sold in Brazil starting on 1 April, according to a customer letter. Innova seeks April PS price increase in Brazil Innova is seeking a real (R) 1,000/tonne ($200/tonne) price increase, excluding local taxes, on all grades of polystyrene (PS) sold in Brazil starting on 1 April, according to a customer letter.

08-Apr-2024

LOGISTICS: Asia-US container rates slide; USACE plans to open Baltimore port by 1 May

HOUSTON (ICIS)–Rates for shipping containers from east Asia and China to the US continue to slide, liquid chem tanker rates surged from the US Gulf to Europe and Asia, and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) plans to open the Port of Baltimore by the end of the month after the Francis Scott Key bridge collapsed on 26 March, highlighting this week’s logistics roundup. PORT OF BALTIMORE US President Joe Biden toured the site on Friday and noted that the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has announced a plan to have the channel open by the end of April. “In collaboration with industry partners, USACE expects to open a limited access channel 280 feet wide and 35 feet deep,” USACE said on Thursday. “This channel would support one-way traffic in and out of the Port of Baltimore for barge container service and some roll on/roll off vessels that move automobiles and farm equipment to and from the port.” USACE engineers are aiming to reopen the permanent, 700-foot-wide by 50-foot-deep federal navigation channel by the end of May, restoring port access to normal capacity. While not a big hub for chemical imports/exports, the closure of the Port of Baltimore because of the bridge collapse will have some ripple effects for logistics in the region. US-based catalyst producer WR Grace said operations at its Curtis Bay Manufacturing site, located to the northwest of the collapsed bridge, have been unaffected despite its proximity to the accident site. Chemicals make up only about 4% of total tonnage that moves through the port, according to data from the American Chemistry Council (ACC). The ACC said less than 1% of all chemicals involved in waterborne commerce, both domestic and trade volumes, pass through Baltimore. The value of chems that pass through the port is significant, the ACC said, totaling $954 million in 2023, which averages about $3 million/day or $18 million/week. CONTAINER RATES CONTINUE TO SLIDE Rates for shipping containers from Asia to the US continue to fall, in line with the decline in average global rates. The following charts from supply chain advisors Drewry show the decrease in average global rates and from Shanghai to the US and Europe. Judah Levine, head of research at online freight shipping marketplace and platform provider Freightos, said rates could be nearing “a diversion-adjusted floor”. “Decreases from January/February peaks on the impacted ex-Asia lanes have slowed in recent weeks, and recent rate announcements by some carriers suggest they are hoping to keep rates at the $3,000-$3,500/FEU (40-foot equivalent unit) level to Europe and $3,500-$4,300/FEU level to the Mediterranean this month,” Levine said. LIQUID TANKER RATES SURGE US chemical tanker freight rates assessed by ICIS rose this week on the major trade lanes – from the US Gulf (USG) to ARA and to Asia. For larger parcels, spot rates ticked higher to both regions as several outside vessels have expressed interest to come on berth for this route in April and for May. This in turn, has curbed the rates from rising any further and somewhat modest. Premiums for discharge in China have also closed the gap on main port rates, as China’s activity buying glycol has picked up. From the USG to Rotterdam also has strengthened following the recent Easter holiday, as strong interest in EDC has been seen in the market. There has been activity on the spot market, but owners are still working with COA customers to finalize their needs before committing to others. PANAMA CANAL Wait times for non-booked vessels ready for transit fell to below one day in both directions this week, according to the PCA's vessel tracker and as shown in the following image. Wait times last week were 2.7 days for northbound traffic and four days for southbound traffic. Additional reporting by Kevin Callahan

05-Apr-2024

S Korea's Hyosung TNC to invest $1bn in Vietnam bio-BDO production

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–South Korea's Hyosung TNC is investing $1 billion to build multiple bio-textile materials plants in Vietnam's Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, starting with a new 50,000 tonnes/year bio-butanediol (bio-BDO) plant slated for start-up in 2026. The company aims to eventually boost its overall bio-BDO production capacity in Vietnam to 200,000 tonnes/year and will be establishing a vertically integrated production system for bio-spandex, from raw material to fiber, the company said in a statement on 2 April. Hyosung TNC is the fiber production unit of South Korean industrial giant Hyosung Group. BDO is a chemical used as a raw material for poly tetramethylene glycol (PTMG), which is used to make spandex fiber. Bio-BDO is produced by fermenting sugars derived from sugarcane, replacing traditional fossil raw materials such as coal. In addition to spandex fiber, BDO applications include engineering plastics, biodegradable packaging, and footwear soles. Hyosung TNC will produce bio-BDO at its factory in the southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau province, manufacture PTMG at a nearby factory in Dong Nai, located south of Ho Chi Minh City, and then use this to mass-produce its regen bio-spandex at the Dong Nai Spandex factory. As of this year, the global sustainable textile and fashion market is valued at around $23 billion, with an average annual growth rate exceeding 12.5%, according to Hyosung TNC. It is expected to grow to about $75 billion by 2030, including upstream and downstream businesses, it said. Hyosung TNC plans to increase the sales volume of sustainable spandex, which currently accounts for 4% of its total spandex sales, to about 20% by 2030. "The bio business will become a core pillar of Hyosung for the next 100 years. We will strengthen our global market presence based on sustainable bio materials,” Hyosung TNC chairman Hyun-Joon Cho said. The company’s future bio-BDO plants will be powered by technology from Geno, a US-based sustainable materials firm. Vietnam is the fourth-biggest economy in southeast Asia and is a net importer of petrochemicals. The southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau province is home to the country's first integrated petrochemical complex, which was recently completed and can produce around 1.4m tonnes/year of polyolefins. Thumbnail image: At a spandex production site in Asia, 18 March 2024 (Costfoto/NurPhoto/Shutterstock)

04-Apr-2024

China petrochemical futures track crude gains on upbeat March factory data

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China’s petrochemical futures markets were tracking gains in crude prices on Monday, with Brent trading at above $87/bbl, on bullish sentiment following a return of the world’s second-biggest economy into manufacturing expansion mode. Official, Caixin March manufacturing PMIs at above 50 China methanol, SM futures prices lead gains External demand picking up for selected goods At the close of morning trade, futures prices of major petrochemicals in Chinese commodity exchanges were up by 0.2% to 1.7%. China petrochemical futures markets Prices as of 03:30 GMT (CNY/tonne) % change vs 29 March Linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) 8,279 0.60% Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) 5,803 0.20% Ethylene glycol (EG) 4,499 0.50% Polypropylene (PP) 7,542 0.80% Styrene monomer (SM) 9,451 1.40% Paraxylene* 8,534 0.70% Purified terephthalic acid (PTA) * 6,016 1.30% Methanol* 2,518 1.70% Sources: Dalian Commodity Exchange, *Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange At midday, Brent crude was up 30 cents at $87.30/bbl, while US crude gained 31 cents at $83.48/bbl. Crude futures were also supported by expectations of tighter supply amid output cuts by OPEC and its allies, which include Russia. Manufacturing activity in China expanded for the first time in six months, based on official data in March, generating a purchasing managers’ index (PMI) reading of 50.8, as companies accelerated production following the Lunar New Year holiday in the previous month. A separate reading by Chinese media group Caixin was more upbeat, with a higher March PMI reading of 51.1, the highest recorded since February 2023. In Caixin’s data, factory output continued to expand for the fifth straight month. The Caixin PMI surveys small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and export-oriented enterprises located in eastern coastal regions, while the official PMI is tilted toward larger state-owned enterprises. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below denotes contraction. “Both supply and demand expanded at a faster pace amid the market upturn. In March, growth in manufacturers’ output and total new orders accelerated, with the former hitting a 10-month high,” Caixin Insight Group senior economist Wang Zhe said. “External demand also picked up pace thanks to the recovery in the global economy, pushing the gauge for new export orders to its highest level since February 2023,” the economist added. “Overall, the manufacturing sector continued to improve in March, with expansion in supply and demand accelerating, and overseas demand picking up,” Wang said. “Manufacturers increased purchases and raw material inventories amid continued improvement in business optimism. However, employment remained in contraction and a depressed price level worsened,” Wang added Besides the seasonal effect, firming overseas demand also helped to push up Chinese factory activities, local brokerage Haitong Securities wrote in a note, citing that furniture, transportation equipment and electronics were enjoying strong demand. China is projected to post around a 5% GDP growth this year, slower than the 5.2% pace recorded in 2023, with a slumping property sector posing a major drag on overall economic prospects. Property and other related sectors account for about a fifth of China’s GDP. While the property slump may persist, other sectors such as electric vehicles, new energy and digital economy are posting healthy growth, said Zhang Junfeng, senior analyst at Shenzhen-based brokerage China Merchant Securities. Focus article by Fanny Zhang ($1 = CNY7.23) Additional reporting by Nurluqman Suratman Thumbnail image: At Lianyungang Port in east China's Jiangsu Province, 26 March 2024. (Shutterstock)

01-Apr-2024

Saudi Aramco eyes further chemical investments in China with local partners

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–China has a "vitally important" place in Saudi Aramco's global investment strategy, with the energy giant actively developing additional investment opportunities with its Chinese partners in the chemicals sector, Aramco president and CEO Amin Nasser said. The global oil major’s strategic goals in chemicals are “well-aligned” with China’s, he said in a keynote speech at the China Development Forum in Beijing on 25 March, noting that the country “is already a powerhouse representing 40% of global [chemical] sales”. Aramco, through its chemicals arm SABIC, is planning to increase its liquids-to-chemicals throughput to 4m barrels per day by 2030, Nasser said. Saudi Aramco accelerated its push into China’s refining and petrochemical sector last year with strategic investments that are aligned with Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 diversification goals. This includes the 10% stake acquisition in Rongsheng Petrochemical Co for $3.4bn last year. Saudi Aramco, together with Chinese partners Norinco Group and Panjin Xincheng Industrial Group (PXIG), is also building a 300,000 bbl/day refining and ethylene-based steam cracking complex in Panjin City, in northeast China's Liaoning province at a cost of around $12bn. The Liaoning project is expected to come online in 2026. “We are also pleased that SABIC’s partnership in Fujian is on-track to commence construction of a major chemicals facility at an estimated cost of $6.4 billion,” Nasser said. The Fujian complex will include a mixed-feed steam cracker with up to 1.8m tonne/year ethylene (C2) capacity and various downstream units producing ethylene glycols (EG), polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and polycarbonate (PC), among other products. SABIC’s other major investments in China include three compounding plants in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing; a joint venture with Sinopec in Tianjin; a technology centre in Shanghai and a customer centre office in Guangzhou. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT Demand for lower greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) materials – especially advanced composites and non-metallics in general – is growing rapidly, Nasser noted. Aramco’s research efforts in developing GHG materials are consistent with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s stance that sustainable development is the “golden key” for future success, he said. “We agree with China’s pragmatic and prudent approach to energy transition…I believe there are wide-ranging opportunities to jointly develop advanced GHG emission reduction technologies.” China has distinct strengths in renewables and critical materials, while Aramco and Saudi Arabia have a clear interest in solar, wind, hydrogen, and electro fuels, Nasser said. “These areas have great long-term potential, and combining our strengths could match our ambitions,” he added. Focus article by Nurluqman Suratman

26-Mar-2024

Dow, ExxonMobil among chems picked in US $6 billion CO2 cutting program

HOUSTON (ICIS)–A $6 billion industrial decarbonization program by the US will fund many chemical projects being developed by Dow, ExxonMobil and other companies, featuring projects as diverse as using carbon dioxide (CO2) as a feedstock, recycling plastic and burning hydrogen as a fuel, the Department of Energy (DOE) said on Monday. The following describes the seven chemical projects chosen by the US. ExxonMobil is developing the Baytown Olefins Plant Carbon Reduction Project in Texas. The project will use new burner technologies to combust hydrogen instead of natural gas for ethylene production. The project should cut more 2.5 million tonnes/year of carbon emissions, or more than 50% of the cracker's total emissions. The project will receive up to $331.9 million from the government. A subsidiary of Orsted plans to build a 300,000 tonne/year e-methanol plant on the Gulf Coast in Texas. The subsidiary, Orsted P2X US Holding, expects the e-methanol will be used as fuel for marine shipping and transportation. E-methanol is made with CO2 with green hydrogen. Orsted is already developing such a project in Sweden. The Texas project will receive up to $100 million from the government. BASF plans to develop a project in Freeport, Texas, that will convert liquid byproducts into synthesis gas (syngas) using plasma gasification and renewable power. Syngas is a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide (CO). BASF will use the syngas as feedstock for its operations in Freeport. The project will receive up to $75 million from the government. LanzaTech and T.EN Stone & Webster Process Technology plan to develop a project on the US Gulf Coast that will capture CO2 emissions from crackers. It will then use green hydrogen and a biotech-based process to convert the captured CO2 into ethanol and ethylene. LanzaTech has developed strains of bacteria that ferment CO2 using hydrogen as an energy source. The name of the project is Sustainable Ethylene from CO2 Utilization with Renewable Energy (SECURE), and it will receive up to $200 million from the government. Ashland's subsidiary, ISP Chemicals, plans to replace natural gas boilers with electric heat delivered by a thermal battery at its plant in Calvert City, Kentucky. Other partners in the project include the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and Electrified Thermal Solutions (ETS), which is supplying its Joule Hive system. The project will receive up to $35.2 million from the government. Dow's project will be developed on the US Gulf Coast and it will capture up to 100,000 tonnes/year of CO2 from ethylene oxide (EO) production. The project will then use the CO2 to produce chemicals used in electrolyte solutions to make domestic lithium-ion batteries. The project will receive up to $95 million from the government. Eastman is building a chemical recycling plant in Longview, Texas, that will use its methanolysis technology to break down waste polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) and monoethylene glycol (MEG). The plant plans to use thermal energy storage combined with on-site solar power to reduce the carbon intensity of its process heating operations. It will receive up to $375 million from the government. DETAILS ABOUT THE US PROGRAMThe US expects the program will cut more than 14 million tonnes/year of emissions of CO2 from 33 projects. On average, each of the projects will cut carbon emissions by 77%. Out of the $6 billion, $489 million will come from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and $5.47 billion will come from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The fund will target the following: Seven chemical and refining projects. Six cement and concrete projects. Six iron and steel projects. Five aluminium and metals projects. Three food and beverage projects. Three glass projects. Two process heat-focused projects. One pulp and paper project.

25-Mar-2024

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