27 September 2004 00:01 [Source: ACN]
From stories supplied by the CNI and ACN teams.
17 September. Unionised workers at Yeochun NCC started a strike today after failing to resolve outstanding issues with the company’s management yesterday.
A YNCC official said about 670 out of YNCC’s total staff of 960 were taking part in the strike. He said they were demanding increased bonuses that would be based on the company’s earnings. He added that non-unionised staff would be able to maintain operations at its three crackers. YNCC has a total ethylene capacity of 1.445m tonne/year.
17 September. International Methanol Co (IMC) is expected to complete its plan to build a second 1.05m tonne/year methanol plant in Al-Jubail, Saudi Arabia, after the commissioning of the first plant at the same site, an industry source said.
IMC planned to start up the first plant, also of 1.05m tonne/year capacity, at end-November, two months ahead of schedule, he said.The firm is a joint venture by Saudi International Petrochemical Co and Japan-Arabia Methanol Co (JAMC). JAMC is 55% owned by Mitsui & Co, with Mitsubishi Corp, Daicel Chemical Industries and Iino Kaiun Kaisha holding 15% each.
17 September. Three engineering companies are expected to compete for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts from Eastern Petrochemical Co (Sharq) for its petrochemical projects in Saudi Arabia, industry sources said.
They are Chiyoda, Stone & Webster and Technip Benelux.
17 September. Palm Oleo is considering buying a mothballed oleochemicals facility in the Philippines as well as building a new fatty alcohol plant in Malaysia, a company official said.
The official confirmed the company was considering buying Prime Chem’s mothballed 30 000 tonne/year fatty alcohol and 30 000 tonne/year fatty acids plants in the Philippines as one option, although he said negotiations with the Filipino company had not yet started.
He said plans for Palm Oleo to build its own fatty alcohol plant in Malaysia were well advanced, although he would not reveal the capacity of the project or where it would be located.
17 September. Shanghai Petrochemical Co (SPC) is considering downstream units for its proposed new cracker in Jinshan, near Shanghai, China.
A company official said the cracker, which would produce 500 000–600 000 tonne/year of ethylene, was part of a broader expansion that would include other units. He said a polypropylene (PP) plant was among the projects being considered, although concrete plans had not been made.
17 September. Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has proposed setting up its second olefins complex in Mangalore, Karnataka, India, with a product mix identical to that of its proposed first complex in Dahej, Gujarat.
The Mangalore complex would comprise a cracker with an ethylene capacity of 780 000 tonne/year and a propylene capacity of 350 000 tonne/year.
The cracker would be dual-fed with naphtha from ONGC subsidiary Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL) and ethane and propane fractions from imported liquefied natural gas (LNG). MRPL operates a 9m tonne/year refinery in Mangalore.
The complex would also have a facility to import 200 000 tonne/year of ethylene and 100 000 tonne/year of propane to supplement its supplies to downstream units. It would also have two polyethylene (PE) swing plants with a total capacity of 600 000 tonne/year of linear low-density PE (lldPE)/high-density PE (hdPE).
The complex would also have a 150 000 tonne/year low-density PE (ldPE) plant and a dedicated 150 000 tonne/year hdPE unit, a 350 000 tonne/year polypropylene plant and a 100 000 tonne/year acrylonitrile unit.
The total cost of the complex is tentatively estimated at Rs100.33bn (US$2.18bn), inclusive of the Rs11bn cost of a gas-processing unit that would extract ethane, propane and liquefied petroleum gas from 10m tonne/year of LNG.
17 September. Yukos suffered another legal blow today when the Moscow Arbitration Court rejected its appeal against the recent seizure of the assets of 24 subsidiaries, including petrochemical units.
The ruling came shortly before today’s conference call by Yukos, sparking speculation that the company could declare itself bankrupt. Yukos has warned for several months that it could be forced into bankruptcy if production assets and other facilities were seized or frozen.
20 September. President George Bush today formally ended the broad US trade embargo on Libya to reward it for giving up weapons of mass destruction, but left in place some US terrorism-related sanctions.
The president’s action was partly symbolic because it simply made permanent his April decision to suspend most commercial sanctions and allow US firms to invest in Libya and buy its oil for the first time since 1986.
But the moves, which take effect tomorrow, would also end remaining restrictions on US-Libyan aviation and the State Department said it would unblock about US$1.3bn in frozen Libyan and other assets — steps Bush did not take in April.
20 September. Sinochem has reached an agreement to take over South Korea’s Inchon Oil Refinery, and the deal is now pending court approval.
An Inchon Oil official said the two companies completed their agreement last week and were hoping to obtain the court’s approval by the end of this week. He said the approval was required because Inchon Oil was subject to a court-governed restructuring scheme.The final purchase price was ‘slightly less’ than the initial Won644bn (US$556m) offered by Sinochem.
20 September. Vopak Terminals Singapore has awarded Chiyoda Singapore the first of two construction contracts for the first phase of its new Singapore terminal in the Banyan sector of Jurong Island.
The scope of the contract will cover engineering, procurement and construction work for the onshore terminal infrastructure, including storage tanks and pipelines. The second contract, covering the construction of the terminal’s jetty structure, will be awarded in October.
The first phase will comprise an oil facility with 16 storage tanks totalling 340 000m3 in capacity, and a separate section of ten chemical storage tanks totalling 31 200m3. A twin jetty capable of berthing tankers of up to 120 000 dwt and 80 000 dwt will be built to receive and discharge products.
The first phase of the new terminal, Vopak’s fourth in Singapore, is expected to cost S$120m (US$71.0m).
Construction of the first phase will start in December 2004 this year and is scheduled for completion by April 2006. The completed terminal will have an oil-storage capacity of 900 000m3 and a chemical storage capacity of 550 000m3.
The feasibility study, to be undertaken by Incitec Pivot, together with equal partners Mitsubishi Corp and WestSide, will cover such key issues as gas supply, the cost of utilities and infrastructure, and environmental assessment.
If the US$600m project proceeds, the consortium partners would form a joint venture to build the plant and manage the business. The proposed plant, with a capacity of 1.2m tonne/year of urea, would be the largest urea-manufacturing operation in Asia and equal to the largest operating in the world today. It would take three years to build.
20 September. LG International (LGI) is to sign a deal tomorrow to build a US$3bn joint-venture refinery, cracker and petrochemical complex in Nizhnekamsk, in the Russian republic of Tatarstan, a company spokesman said.
The complex is to be run by a joint-venture firm named Tatar-Korean Petrochemical Co (TKNK). LGI holds a 9.9% stake in TKNK, Nizhnekamskneftekhim Inc holds 36.37%, Tatneft JSC 45.45% and Svyazinvestneftekhim 9.9%.The official could not provide details on the project.
20 September. Striking workers at Yeochun NCC (YNCC) started returning to work late today after the company’s management and union leaders reached an agreement on a wage hike and other benefits over the weekend, a company spokesman said.
All striking workers were expected to return to work by tomorrow, he added.
20 September. Yukos said it would suspend some crude-oil deliveries to China for the time being because it was unable to pay the export fees.
The move, effective from 28 September, will cut Yukos’ direct oil exports to China’s National Petroleum Corporation by about 1m tonne until the end of 2004.
21 September. Former army general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has an overwhelming lead over Megawati Sukarnoputri in Indonesia’s first direct presidential election.
With about two-thirds of votes counted, he has 61% of the vote compared with President Megawati’s 39%.
The Jakarta stock market reacted to Bambang’s apparent win by ending on an all-time high today.
More results will come in over the coming days, but the winner will not officially be known until 5 October.
21 September. SK Corp has raised its operating profit forecast to Won1300bn (US$1.13bn) for its financial year to 31 December 2004 from its Won1060bn projection in May, an official said.
SK Corp said the projected increase was due to a stronger-than-expected performance in the petroleum and chemical industries, as well as higher margins on its investment in oil exploration projects.
The company now expects to post Won1630bn in net sales, compared with Won1320bn it forecast earlier.
21 September. LG MMA has started construction of a 40 000 tonne/year optical-grade methyl methacrylate (MMA) polymer plant in Yeochun, South Korea, joint-venture partner Sumitomo Chemical said.
The plant is expected to come onstream in July 2005. LG MMA already has the capacity to produce 100 000 tonne/year of MMA monomer and 50 000 tonne/year of MMA polymer, which is made through a suspension-polymerisation process. Optical-grade MMA is used in the production of liquid crystal display panels.The new plant is to use Sumitomo Chemical’s continuous bulk-polymerisation process technology.
21 September. Optimal Group has signed agreements to borrow more than US$800m to refinance existing loans.
The company is to issue Rm1.27bn (US$334m) worth of Islamic debt securities and enter into a US$468m syndicated loan programme. The funds will be used to refinance existing debts, including loans granted by Optimal’s two joint owners – Dow Chemical and Petronas.
22 September. Gail India has incorporated a wholly owned subsidiary in Singapore under the name Gail Global Singapore to handle its overseas investments.
Gail’s new subsidiary will act as a holding company to manage its investments in overseas gas, petrochemical projects, consultancies, operations and maintenance.
To start with, Gail will route its US$19m investment to acquire a 15% stake in Egypt’s National Gas Co through the new company.
23 September. Petronas is planning to build a worldscale 1.7m tonne/year methanol plant next to its methanol unit on Labuan island, East Malaysia, the company said.
It said the proposed plant, which would use Lurgi’s ‘megamethanol’ technology, was scheduled to come onstream by the end of 2007. It did not say what the plant would cost or when construction would start.
Gas feedstock for the new plant would be supplied by gasfields offshore of neighbouring Sabah at the rate of 150m standard ft3/day.
23 September. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has received an order from Sohar International Urea and Chemical Industries to build a fertiliser complex in Sohar, Oman.
The order, which is worth about US$500m, marks MHI’s first plant consignment in Oman. It will have support from Sojitz Corp. The contract is to be signed soon and the facility is scheduled to start commercial operations in the first quarter of 2008.The complex will comprise a 660 000 tonne/year ammonia plant and a 1.155m tonne/year urea-granulation plant. MHI will also build supporting facilities. BASF to realign A-P structure
23 September. BASF is to realign its organisational structure in the Asia-Pacific region from 1 October to speed up its response to customer demand after the retirement of Dietmar Nissen as president of the company’s East Asia region.
It will still have two regional presidents in charge of the region, but instead of one president overseeing East Asia and one Southeast Asia, the two will now focus on the whole region, albeit with different responsibilities.
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