27 September 2010 00:00 [Source: ICB]
LA SEDA CLOSE TO SELLING THREE PET PLANTS
Spanish polymer producer La Seda de Barcelona is close to selling three of its polyethylene terephthalate (PET) assets in Europe following the 59% divestment of its facility at Sines, Portugal, a company source said. As part of its restructuring plan, La Seda was in talks with potential buyers for its plants at Portalegre, Portugal; Simpe, Italy and San Roque, Spain. Four other La Seda sites in Spain, Italy, Turkey and Greece are not for sale and are running at full capacity, the source added.
BASF DECLARES FORCE MAJEURE ON EUROPE HIPS
German chemical major BASF has declared force majeure on European high-impact polystyrene (HIPS) because of unforeseen technical issues at its facility in Antwerp, Belgium. BASF's HIPS production site at Antwerp is its only one in Europe. "HIPS suffered unforeseeable problems and the unit is now down. We are not producing a single kilo of HIPS in Europe at the moment," said the source, declining to comment on the capacity. "We are doing everything we can to get production back up," he added.
BASF SEES BETTER-THAN-EXPECTED Q3 RESULTS
German chemical major BASF chairman Jurgen Hambrecht has said the group's third-quarter earnings will be better than expected after it enjoyed strong demand in the summer. The firm experienced good performances in July and August, in particular in its chemical activities, where capacity use was high, Hambrecht said in an interview with newswire Thomson Reuters.
EURO CHLOR APPOINTS TRAGER AS CHAIRMAN
European chlor-alkali industry body Euro Chlor has appointed Michael Trager as its new chairman. Trager, who is managing director and chief operating officer of German polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and caustic soda producer Vestolit, has taken the position for one year. Trager, who has been involved with Euro Chlor activities for more than 10 years, intends to launch an improved sustainability program.
OMNOVA PLANS TO ACQUIRE ELIOKEM FOR €227.5M
US-based chemical firm OMNOVA Solutions has agreed to acquire specialty chemical firm Eliokem International for €227.5m ($303.2m) from AXA Private Equity. France-based Eliokem is a producer of specialty polymers and chemicals, including coating resins, elastomeric modifiers, antioxidants, rubber reinforcing resins, oil and gas drilling chemicals, and latices for specialty applications. For the 12 months through May, Eliokem had sales of about $268m.
TOSOH TO SHUT NO. 1 VCM LINE IN MID-OCTOBER
Japan's Tosoh will shut down its 400,000 tonne/year No. 1 line at its 1.2m tonne/year vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) unit in Nanyo, Yamaguchi prefecture, in mid-October, a source close to the company said. The company's 400,000 tonne/year No. 3 line has been offline since September 13 for maintenance. "Line No. 3 should restart by mid-October, followed by the shutdown at line No. 1," the source said. The scheduled shutdown is expected to last for around 40 days.
ASAHI KASEI EXTENDS START OF ACN, MMA UNITS
Japan-based chemical and industrial firm Asahi Kasei expects construction at its 200,000 tonnes/year acrylonitrile (ACN) and 70,000 tonnes/year methyl methacrylate (MMA) plants in Mab Ta Phut, Thailand, to be completed in the middle of 2011. It was previously estimated that the plants would come on stream at the end of 2010, but a court injunction last year forced the company to amend construction plans. Thailand's Central Administrative Court earlier this month released most of the projects in the Mab Ta Phut industrial estate from suspension, including the Asahi Kasei ACN and MMA joint-venture projects.
MEXICHEM TAKES OVER PVC PIPE MAKER PLASTISUR
Mexican chemical manufacturer Mexichem has acquired Peruvian pipe maker Plastisur. Located in southern Peru, Plastisur has a 45% market share in polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-based pipe and connection production and sales for the South American country. Mexichem, formerly a minority stakeholder in Plastisur, took control of the company only one month after the approval of its acquisition of Plasticos Rex and Polycid, PVC-specialized subsidiaries of Mexico's Cydsa. Plastisur reported $10.6m (€8.2m) in sales in 2009.
US FED WARNS THAT RECOVERY IS SLOWING
The US Federal Reserve Board has given a warning that the nation's recovery has slowed further and that the central bank soon might take additional measures to boost the money supply and rekindle business and consumer spending. In an expected decision, the meeting of the board's rate-setting Federal Open Markets Committee said it would keep the existing record-low federal funds interest rate at 0% to 0.25%. That lowest-ever rate has been in place since December 2008, and the committee statement indicated that there was little short-term prospect of the Fed raising it.
DOW'S BRAZIL CAUSTIC PLANT AT REDUCED RATES
US-based Dow Chemical's caustic soda plant in Aratu, Brazil, is running at reduced rates, following maintenance performed in August, a company source said. The 415,000 dry metric tonne/year plant has been running at approximately 80% of capacity for unspecified reasons, the source said. Dow has communicated to customers that the caustic soda plant is producing at reduced volumes.
AMERICAN CHEMISTRY COUNCIL ADDS MEMBERS
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has added major chemical producers Netherlands-headquartered LyondellBasell Industries and Braskem of Brazil to its list of member companies. In addition, LyondellBasell CEO Jim Gallogly and Braskem PP (polypropylene) Americas senior vice president Bruce Rubin were appointed to the ACC's board of directors, the group said. The ACC also added US-based styrenics producer Styron to its member list. In all, the ACC has added 18 new member companies in 2010.
CZECH FAME CONSUMPTION GROWS UNDER LAW
Czech consumption of fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) grew by 13% year on year to 68,837 tonnes in the first half of 2010, driven by tightened biofuels regulation, according to data from the Czech trade and industry ministry. Domestic production of FAME, a component that is added to petrol to make biofuel, rose by 30% in the first six months of the year to 91,000 tonnes. In June, Czech legislation increased the amount of petrol output that producers had to replace with biocomponents to 4.1% from 3.5%.
CIA: HANDOUTS WILL NOT SUSTAIN UK GROWTH
The Chemical Industries Association (CIA's) CEO, Steve Elliott, said that government handouts would not sustain growth in the UK's economy. During a speech at the CIA's annual business conference in London, Elliot added that the country's recovery was far from secure. "Political encouragement, the positive and coordinated attraction of inward investment, a business-supportive regulatory climate and urgent action on energy security are the key factors in enhancing Britain's international competitiveness," Elliot said. "In a cash-strapped world it is these actions that will make a real difference, rather than the piecemeal public financing of projects."
UNIPETROL BRINGS FORWARD TURNAROUND
Czech petrochemical producer Unipetrol has brought forward a planned shutdown of its Litvinov ethylene steam cracker by three weeks to the end of September. The two-week shutdown, during which engineers will look to increase the efficiency of the cracker, will take place sooner for technical reasons. "The work will affect a limited number of customers only. Unipetrol has undertaken measures to reduce the work's influence on the availability of its products," said the company. The Litvinov cracker's capacity stands at 480,000 tonnes/year.
SHAW ADDS TECHS TO YIELD MORE PROPYLENE
US-based engineering firm Shaw is adding two technologies developed by China's energy and chemicals major Sinopec to its portfolio to help refiners increase yields for propylene and iso-paraffins while meeting increasingly tough environmental rules for gasoline. The technologies, which could be installed in either existing or grassroots fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) units, will reduce undesirable components, such as olefins, sulfur and benzene in gasoline. At the same time, the technologies More Iso-Paraffins and Clean Gasoline and Propylene provide operators with flexibility to switch their operation mode based on market demand, to either operate in maximum gasoline mode or increased propylene mode, Shaw said.
BRASKEM TO DEBUT IN ASIA WITH SINGAPORE OFFICE
Brazilian petrochemical giant Braskem plans to open an office in Singapore in November as part of a strategy to enter the Asian market. The company estimates that 60% of global demand for petrochemicals will come from the region by 2012. The office intends to supply the region with basic petrochemicals and resins through traders. Braskem expects sales to be mainly in Singapore, China, Indonesia and Thailand.
EVONIK TO DIVEST GLOBAL CARBON BLACK BUSINESS
Germany-based specialty chemical company Evonik Industries will divest its global carbon black business, as it continues to focus investment on key growth markets. The group is selling the business, which has annual sales of around €1.0bn ($1.3bn), as part of its strategic focus - first announced at the end of 2009 - to further streamline its portfolio and concentrate investment on areas with above-average growth potential.
RADICIGROUP TO INVEST IN NYLON SPINNING LINES
Italy's RadiciGroup will invest around €10m ($13m) in new spinning lines for nylon 6 and 6,6 solution-dyed bulked continuous filament (BCF) yarn at its plant at Casnigo, Italy. The investment is an effort to bolster RadiciGroup's market position in the quality flooring sector, and the new lines will come into operation in the middle of 2011. The new lines will increase the plant's nameplate capacity by 2,000-3,000 tonnes/year from 32,000 tonnes/year, and will replace some existing capacity.
US HOMEBUILDERS SEE LITTLE OR NO IMPROVEMENT
US homebuilders see little prospect of improvement in the nation's long-depressed housing sector, said industry trade group the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Its monthly survey of member contractors, called the Housing Market Index (HMI), showed that builder confidence remains at 13 in September, unchanged from the August reading. The housing market index is measured on a scale of 0 to 100. The index hit an all-time low of 8 in January 2009. It reached 70 at times during the housing boom years of 2002-2005.
JIANGSU SANMU TO BRING ECH ON STREAM IN 2011
China's Jiangsu Sanmu Group expects to bring on stream its joint-venture 120,000 tonne/year epichlorohydrin (ECH) unit in eastern Shandong province in the fourth quarter of 2011, a company source said. Jiangsu Sanmu and its partner, Shandong Lubei Enterprise Group General, began construction of the ECH unit on September 19. Once operational, the unit will help Jiangsu reduce its reliance on ECH purchases for use in epoxy resin production.
BRENNTAG SETS ANNUAL M&A BUDGET AT €150M
Germany-based chemical distributor Brenntag has set its annual acquisitions budget at €150m ($195m). "Acquisitions at this amount would allow us additional annual EBITDA [earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization] generation of €20m-25m," said Brenntag spokesman Hubertus Spethmann. "It's a worldwide budget. Brenntag continuously pursues mergers and acquisitions growth in Europe, North America, Latin America and Asia-Pacific," he added. One of its largest acquisitions this year was that of Thailand-based chemical distributor EAC Industrial Ingredients, which Brenntag bought outright for €160m.
AND BUYS PRODUCTOS RIBA DISTRIBUTION ASSETS
Brenntag has acquired the food, water treatment and paper activities of Spanish chemical distributor Productos Riba. "This acquisition will increase our share in the Iberian food ingredients market, by strengthening our relationship with key suppliers and extending our food product portfolio," said Brenntag Iberia CEO Frederic Pierre. The agreement will be effective from October 1. Sales of the acquired activities amounted to €11m ($14m) in 2009.
GMG GLOBAL EYES ASIA RUBBER ACQUISITION
Singapore-based rubber producer GMG Global is in talks to acquire a company engaged in rubber production and trading in Southeast Asia and is embarking on a new "rubber-related project" in Africa. However, the company did not provide further details on its acquisition targets or its African project in its statement to the Singapore Bourse. "No agreement has been reached on the proposed acquisition, and there is no certainty as to whether such [a] proposed acquisition will take place," the company said. GMG Global is 51% owned by Chinese chemical major Sinochem.
PCC SEES DOUBLING OF CHINA PLASTICS DEMAND
Iran's Petrochemical Commercial Co. (PCC) has strong hopes that China, its major export market, will continue to increase its plastics consumption over the long term. Y Mosafer, PCC planning and IT director, said China's per capita consumption of plastics could double by 2025 from the current 19kg because of the rapid growth of the country's urban population. China took in 27.8% of the 7.2m tonnes of chemical and petrochemical products that PCC exported in the first six months of the Iranian calendar year beginning March 21, 2010, Mosafer said. PCC aims to export 13m tonnes of chemicals for the full calendar year, valued at $7bn, he said (€5bn).
LANXESS BREAKS GROUND AT SHANGHAI RUBBER SITE
German specialty chemical firm LANXESS held a groundbreaking ceremony in Nantong for the building of its new 30,000 tonne/year nitrile rubber (NBR) joint venture plant in northwestern Shanghai. The $50m (€39m) plant, which will have an initial capacity of 30,000 tonnes/year, is scheduled to start production in the first half of 2012. The plant is a 50:50 partnership between LANXESS and Taiwanese synthetic rubber producer TSRC.
JILIN PETCHEM RAMPS UP OXO-ALCOHOLS PLANT
Jilin Petrochemical, a subsidiary of PetroChina, has ramped up operating rates at its 240,000 tonne/year oxo-alcohols facility at Shenyang city, in northeastern China, to 100%, company sources said. Jilin Petrochemical had been operating the facility at 50% from September 7-18 as the plant was undergoing a catalyst change. The oxo-alcohols facility has a nameplate capacity of 120,000 tonnes/year of 2-ethylhexanol (2-EH) and 120,000 tonnes/year of n-butanol.
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