19 July 2010 00:45 [Source: ICB]
LYONDELLBASELL CALLS FORCE MAJEURE ON PP
Netherlands-based Lyondell-Basell has declared force majeure on polypropylene (PP) deliveries from its Brindisi, Italy, site, a company source said. The company is reported to have two PP lines at its Brindisi site, amounting to around 400,000 tonnes/year, but no details were available concerning the issues which led to the force majeure.
EXXONMOBIL, PARTNERS TO BUILD ALGAE GREENHOUSE
US oil major ExxonMobil and Synthetic Genomics opened a greenhouse to raise algae as the next step in their plan to develop algae that can produce oil on a large scale. The greenhouse is at Synthetic Genomics's headquarters in La Jolla, California, US. To produce oil, the algae need carbon dioxide, which will be supplied from tanks, said Craig Venter, CEO of Synthetic Genomics. Ultimately, the gas could come from carbon sequestration. The algae also rely on saltwater, Venter said.
BLUE OCEAN OPENS HOUSTON OFFICE
US gasoline and aromatics broker Blue Ocean Brokerage will open an office in Houston, Texas. On July 19, two of the company's brokers - Kevin Kilkeary and Alan Jones - will begin brokering US Gulf aromatics, gasoline components and naphtha from the Houston location. "The move will enable Blue Ocean to maintain closer contact with its customers and allow for strategic growth opportunities in other products," the company said. Blue Ocean currently has offices in New York City and Omaha, Nebraska.
BOREALIS DECLARES FORCE MAJEURE ON LDPE
Austria's Borealis has declared force majeure on deliveries of low density polyethylene (LDPE) from its 140,000 tonne/year plant at Schwechat, Austria, market sources said. Borealis was not available to comment on the declaration. One buyer said it expects the force majeure to be in place for several weeks.
MITSUI ELASTOMERS RUNS PLANT AT FULL CAPACITY
Mitsui Elastomers Singapore has been running its new alpha-olefin copolymer plant on Singapore's Jurong Island at full capacity since starting commercial operations in March, a senior company official said. The 100,000 tonne/year plant, in which the company invested $200m (€158m), produces a high-performance elastomer under the brand name TAFMER. The company's total production capacity in Singapore for the product now stands at 200,000 tonnes/year.
US ABS IMPORTS MORE THAN DOUBLE IN MAY
US acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) imports for May were 12,896 tonnes, more than double the 6,367 tonnes brought in during the same month the year before, the US International Trade Commission said. ABS imports were up 5% from 12,257 tonnes in April. US ABS sales grew amid resurgent demand in the automotive market, while two of the major North American ABS producers - INEOS and BASF - underwent force majeure (FM) at their plants for the first six months of this year. Mexico was the largest supplier of ABS imports, shipping 5,009 tonnes in May. Taiwan, Korea and Japan sent a combined 6,752 tonnes.
US ACETIC ACID EXPORTS IN MAY DECLINE 18%
US exports of acetic acid in May totaled 80,938 tonnes, down by 18% from 98,570 tonnes during the same month of 2009, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) said. For the year through May, acetic acid exports have fallen by 15% to 376,467 tonnes year on year, according to the ITC. Weak demand continued to characterize acetic acid exports. Mexico, Belgium and Brazil continued to dominate acetic exports in the first five months this year, accounting for a collective 333,650 tonnes - almost 89% of total shipments.
US JANUARY-MAY PHENOL EXPORTS RISE BY 69%
US exports of phenol in January to May were 151,821 tonnes, 69% more than the 89,699 tonnes exported during the same period one year ago, according to data released by the US International Trade Commission. US sellers have worked several phenol and acetone cargoes to Asia during the first half of the year due to tight supply, a trader said. China and South Korea led export destinations, accounting for over 60,000 tonnes collectively.
ITC ADDS DOCKS ON HOUSTON WATERWAY
Petrochemical terminal operator Intercontinental Terminals Co. (ITC) plans to build more docks on the Houston Ship Channel. ITC has purchased 180 acres (73ha) of land on the waterway in Pasadena, Texas. "It's going to change our footprint on the Houston Ship Channel," said senior vice president Rich Merz. ITC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitsui USA, now operates five ship docks and 10 barge docks on the ship channel in Deer Park, Texas. Its tank farm of 216 units has capacity of 10m bbl for petrochemical exports and imports.
TRONOX FILES TO EMERGE FROM BANKRUPTCY
US-based titanium dioxide producer Tronox filed on July 8 a reorganization plan to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The plan involves setting up trusts to handle the substantial environmental claims against the company, which are estimated at $1.4bn-5.2bn (€1.1bn-4.1bn). Unsecured creditors would recoup 80-100% of their $470.6m in claims. Tronox would exit bankruptcy with total debt of no more than $510m-517m, it said in the filing.
AIR PRODUCTS RAISES AIRGAS BID TO $5.3BN
US industrial gases major Air Products has increased its takeover bid for Airgas by 5.8%, to $5.3bn (€4.2bn). The cash offer was raised to $63.50/share from an initial $60/share bid. The latest bid represents a premium of 46% over the closing share price of Airgas on February 4, the day before Air Products first announced its proposal. The board of Airgas had repeatedly turned away the $60/share offer, but Air Products continued to pursue the bid by nominating three executives to the Airgas board for the company's annual shareholder meeting, to be held no later than September 17. "We are convinced we will have widespread support from Airgas shareholders for this transaction and for our board nominees and proposals," Air Products CEO John McGlade said.
BORSODCHEM SHUTS DOWN HUNGARY TDI UNIT
Hungary's BorsodChem has shut down its toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) plant in Kazincbarcika, northeastern Hungary, following a technical failure. "During the failure, neither personal injury nor any environmental contamination occurred. The environmental and health authorities have been informed accordingly," said a BorsodChem statement. The plant has capacity of 90,000 tonne/year. BorsodChem has plans to launch a second TDI plant, with a 200,000 tonne/year capacity, by utilizing fresh investment committed by new stakeholder - China's Wanhua Industrial Group.
EUROPE'S SMES SUFFER CONFUSION OVER REACH
European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are struggling with the complexity of the registration process of substances under the new Reach chemicals legislation, said Guido Lena, sustainable development director of UEAPME (European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises). He added that there is a serious risk that some companies might have to discontinue operations due to issues created by Reach regulation. "The general point of view from SMEs is that the regulation itself is really a monster to apply for," Lena said.
EMS-CHEMIE H1 EBITDA RISES 83% TO €134M
Switzerland-based EMS-Chemie's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for the first half (H1) of the year increased by 82.9% year on year to Swiss francs (Swfr) 180 million ($171m, €134m). The company posted net sales for the same period of Swfr836m, up by 54.4% year on year, citing an improved economic environment and customers increasing their inventory levels.
PETROLOGISTICS DELAYS US PROPYLENE START-UP
Petrologistics will begin operations at its propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant in Texas in the latter part of August, a company official said. The 544,000 tonne/year unit in Houston, which will produce chemical and polymer grade propylene, was originally expected to come on stream at the end of July.
US FEDERAL RESERVE LOWERS 2010 OUTLOOK
US Federal Reserve officials lowered their expectations of economic growth for the year, citing less favorable financial conditions stemming from European fiscal problems, according to records released last Wednesday. The Federal Open Market Committee found that "financial conditions have become less supportive of economic growth on balance, largely reflecting developments abroad," according to a statement accompanying the release of the committee's June 22-23 meeting minutes. "Bank lending has continued to contract in recent months." US Fed officials' projections for real GDP growth in 2010 "had a central tendency of 3.0-3.5%, slightly lower than in April," it said.
HANWHA CHEMICAL TO EXPAND EVA CAPACITY
South Korea's Hanwha Chemical plans to expand the capacity of its 70,000 tonne/year ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) plant at Ulsan to 110,000 tonnes/year by the end of 2012 to meet growing demand. Construction will begin in the third quarter to raise the plant capacity to 110,000 tonnes per year by the end of 2012.
EPA PROPOSES CHANGES TO RENEWABLES STANDARD
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said unavailability forced it to reduce its cellulosic biofuels requirement to 17.1m gal in 2011, down from the original target of 250m gal set in the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007. "Based on analysis of market availability, EPA is proposing a 2011 cellulosic volume that is lower than the EISA target. EPA will continue to evaluate the market as it works to finalize the cellulosic standard in the coming months," the agency said. The EPA said it would keep the original 2011 EISA target blending levels for biodiesel and advanced biofuels, set at 800m gals and 1.35bn gals, respectively.
US MAY SOON REQUIRE IST CONSIDERATION, REPORTING
The US may soon require that chemical plants consider, document and report on the potential role for inherently safer technologies (IST) in site security, said Lawrence Stanton, senior technical advisor to the Department of Homeland Security on infrastructure security compliance. Under existing regulations for site security, formally known as the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS), the department sets criteria for security at plant sites deemed to be at high risk for terrorist attack. The agency may not dictate what security measures an operator implements to meet those criteria, Stanton said. "But there is nothing in CFATS that says we are barred from considering IST" as a security measure, he added. "In fact, CFATS is constructed to encourage the application of IST-like measures to questions of security risk management."
ROCKWOOD TO DOUBLE NEVADA LITHIUM OUTPUT
Rockwood Holdings has begun a three-year expansion that could double its lithium production capacity in Silver Peak, Nevada, the US producer said. The expansion, run through Rockwood's Chemetall Foote subsidiary, would be funded in part by a $28.4m (€22.4m) grant from the US Department of Energy to upgrade the production of lithium materials for automobile batteries.
SUD-CHEMIE TO INVEST IN LITHIUM IRON PHOSPHATE
Germany's Sud-Chemie will invest €60m ($76m) in the expanded production of lithium iron phosphate (LFP), a high-performance energy storage material used in batteries, to meet high demand. Sud-Chemie said the 2,500 tonne/year plant, to be built at wholly owned Canadian subsidiary Phostech Lithium in Quebec, would be the first to use a new, proprietary production process based on wet chemistry.
KOREA CENTRAL BANK RAISES GROWTH FORECAST
South Korea's central bank on July 12 raised its forecast for the country's economic growth in 2010 to 5.9% from an earlier estimate of 5.2%, citing improved exports and capital spending. Last year the country recorded growth of just 0.2%. "The Korean economy is expected to maintain its upward trend into next year," the Bank of Korea (BOK) said in a statement.
SIBUR STARTS BUILDING KSTOVO PVC PLANT
Russian petrochemical company Sibur last Monday launched a project to build a 330,000 tonne/year plant polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant in the Nizhny Novgorod region. The €750m ($949m) facility is being built at the site of Sibur's Kstovo plant.
CHINA EXPORTS JUMP IN JUNE; MAY SLOW IN H2
China's exports surged by 44% year on year in June on a recovery in global demand, but the strong numbers may not be sustained through the second half of 2010, analysts said on July 12. The country's decision to remove tax rebates on exports, as well as an expected weakening of demand from Europe would weigh on China's overall shipments, they added. "We estimate that exports had peaked last month with resilient international demand for Chinese goods and there would be a gradual decrease in the coming six months," said Zhu Jianfang, chief economist at Beijing-based brokerage CITIC Securities.
SAFCO Q2 NET PROFIT UP
Saudi Arabian Fertilizer Co. (SAFCO) , a subsidiary of petrochemical major SABIC, reported an 89% year-on-year surge in its second-quarter net profit to Saudi riyal (SR) 907m ($242m), as prices of its products rallied.
HUALU-HENGSHENG TO BUILD NEW ADIPIC ACID PLANT
Shandong Hualu-Hengsheng Chemical plans to build a 160,000 tonne/year adipic acid plant at Dezhou, in eastern China, to take advantage of rising demand for the material. Construction work at the yuan 1.6bn ($236m) plant is expected to start by the end of 2010 and to take two years.
CHEMTURA CANADA TO JOIN US PARENT IN BANKRUPTCY
A Canadian subsidiary of Chemtura plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, part of a plan to help its parent address claims connected to diacetyl. The US operations filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009. Chemtura Canada's filing is part of the parent's amended reorganization plan, under which Chemtura Canada will pay in full all creditors but those holding diacetyl claims.
TOC GLYCOL FM ON MEG
Thailand's TOC Glycol declared force majeure (FM) on monoethylene glycol (MEG) shipments on July 7 after mechanical problems shut its 390,000 tonne/year plant in Rayong province. The plant is to restart on 24 July, with production loss estimated at 15,000 tonnes during the 20-day outage.
EVONIK TO SPIN OFF CARBON BLACK BUSINESS
Germany's Evonik Industries has put its carbon black business into an independent company, Evonik Carbon Black, and will decide among optimization as an independent market unit, a partnership solution, or sale by year end.
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