22 November 2010 00:00 [Source: ICB]
DNP GREEN TECH ACQUIRES BIOAMBER JV
US-based renewable chemicals producer DNP Green Technology has restructured its Bioamber succinic acid joint venture (JV)with France's Agro-industrie Recherches et Developpements (ARD), acquiring 100% of Bioamber. ARD now becomes a stakeholder in DNP. And DNP Green has changed its name to BioAmber. Financial terms were not disclosed. Bioamber was established in 2008 as a 50:50 JV to produce bio-based succinic acid. Earlier this year, it commissioned a bio-based succinic acid plant in Pomacle, France.
CLARIANT STARTS POLYETHERAMINES
Switzerland-based specialty chemical firm Clariant will add polyetheramines to its range of industrial and consumer speciality products, because of increasing demand. Clariant said demand for polyetheramines, which are used in a variety of applications such as agricultural chemical formulations, the preparation of polyurea and modified urethane resins, is currently showing significant growth. The company started production to facilitate the portfolio extension at its nitril-amine plant at Gendorf, Germany.
EUROPE IMPOSES DUTIES ON CHINESE MELAMINE
The European Commission has imposed provisional antidumping duties of 44.9-65.2% on melamine imports from China for the next six months. Chinese exporters of the product had raised the volume of their sales in the EU market by 30% between 2006 and 2009, while total EU melamine market consumption during the same period had declined by 12% to 323,638 tonnes, the Commission said. European producers, which make up more than half of melamine output in the EU, had complained of the impact of imports of Chinese melamine on the European market.
INEOS DELAYS RESTART OF COLOGNE LDPE LINE
The restart of UK-based chemical major INEOS's 200,000 tonne/year low density polyethylene (LDPE) line at Cologne in Germany has been delayed because of technical problems following an unplanned shutdown, a company source said. It was rescheduled to be be back up on November 17 or 18. No exact date was revealed as to when the line failed, but the outage was thought to have lasted around two weeks. INEOS produces 400,000 tonnes/year of LDPE and 230,000 tonnes/year of linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) at the Cologne site.
JAPAN'S ABS RESIN SHIPMENTS FALL by 9%
Japan's total domestic shipments of acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) resin decreased by 9% to 21,573 tonnes in October 2010 from October 2009, reflecting a drop in shipments for most applications, statistics from Japan's ABS resin industry association showed. Japan's exports of ABS resin totaled 14,170 tonnes in October, equivalent to the same period a year ago.
TORAY POLYTECH TO BUILD PP SPUNBOND PLANT
Japanese fiber producer Toray Polytech (Nantong) (TPN) plans to build a new 20,000 tonne/year facility that will produce high-performance polypropylene (PP) staple nonwoven material (PP spunbond) in Nantong, China. The start-up of the yen 5bn ($61m) facility - TPN's third high-performance PP spunbond unit - is scheduled for July 2012. Upon completion of the third plant, TPN's total capacity for high-performance PP spunbond in Nantong will increase to 58,000 tonnes/year.
CHINA EXTENDS ADD ON ETHANOLAMINE IMPORTS
China has extended antidumping (ADD) duties on imports of monoethanolamine and diethanolamine from the US, Japan, Malaysia and Taiwan for another five years, the country's Ministry of Commerce said. The measure came into effect from November 14 after a one-year final review investigation indicated that withdrawing the duties would harm the domestic ethanolamine sector. China started to levy the duties on the imports from the US, Japan, Iran, Malaysia, Taiwan and Mexico from November 14, 2004, which ended in November last year. Under the latest decision, the imports from Iran and Mexico were exempted from this round of ADD duties. The ADD levied in the above four countries range from 5.3-74%.
SINOPEC YANGZI PETCHEM EYES REFINERY EXPANSION
China's Sinopec Yangzi Petrochemical is planning to invest yuan 8.47bn ($1.27bn) to expand its refinery in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, within the next five years, a source close to the company said. The company will increase its crude processing capacity to 12.5m tonnes/year from the current 9m tonnes/year during 2011-2015. Sinopec Yangzi Petrochemical also runs a 650,000 tonne/year naphtha cracker, a 1.4m tonne/year aromatics facility and a 1m tonne/year purified terephthalic acid (PTA) unit at the same site in Nanjing.
GURIT WINS MAJOR CORE PET CHINA CONTRACT
Swiss composite material maker Gurit has won its first major contract in China to supply core polyethylene terephthalate (PET) for wind energy applications. The company did not disclose financial details or who had awarded the two-year contract, but said it was worth "a medium single-digit Swiss francs million" amount. Starting in 2011, the core material will be produced locally. Gurit is currently installing a PET extruder in Tianjin. "The installation of the new equipment, scheduled to be finished before the end of the year, will allow Gurit to produce the same quality and grades of PET core materials in and for China as we are currently producing in Europe," said Rudolf Gerber, general manager of wind energy.
MANALI PETRO DELAYS POLYOLS EXPANSION
India's Manali Petrochemicals has again postponed completing the expansion of its Chennai-based polyether polyols facility - this time to December from October because of rain and floods, a company source said. "The delay was due to recent floods and heavy rain that slowed down construction. Also, we are still waiting for some technical parts to arrive to assemble," the source said. After the expansion, capacity will be 50,000 tonnes/year, where 60% of the nameplate capacity will produce flexible slabstock polyether polyols, from the original capacity of 18,000 tonnes/year. Manali Petrochemicals is India's sole producer of polyether polyols.
NESTE OIL STARTS UP BIODIESEL PLANT
Finland's Neste oil has started up its 800,000 tonne/year renewable diesel plant in Singapore and will ramp up its run rate on a "phased basis," the company said. "The plant was completed on schedule and on budget and marks a major step forward in Neste Oil's clean traffic fuel strategy," it said. The plant cost around €550m ($753.4m) to build and will mostly use palm oil as feedstock to produce renewable diesel.
EVONIK Q3 NET SURGES
Germany-based industrial conglomerate Evonik Industries posted third-quarter (Q3) net profit of €260m ($356m), up by 55% year on year as sales rose by 24% to €4.09bn. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose by 18% year on year to €744m. "The good business trend seen in the first six months continued unabated in the third quarter of 2010," said Evonik. Evonik's chemical business posted a 26% year-on-year increase in Q3 sales to €3.32bn, while EBITDA was up by 23% to €638m. In its outlook, Evonik expected the positive business trends to continue in Q4. "Thanks to sustained high global demand, [Evonik] expects to grow sales by more than 20% over the full year. EBITDA and EBIT [earnings before interest and tax] will be considerably higher than in the previous year," the company said. "The group anticipates that the chemicals business area will post an especially successful development and report a historical EBIT record."
KPX RAMPS UP KOREAN TDI
South Korea's KPX Fine Chemical has ramped up production at its two Yesou-based toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) facilities after they were restarted on November 10, a company source said. Each TDI facility has nameplate capacity of 50,000 tonnes/year and the two lines were shut on November 1, in tandem with the turnaround of the upstream units. "The plants are running close to full tilt and we need to build up some inventories as we had good sales in October and the first half of November," the source said.
NEW CAR REGISTRATIONS IN EUROPE FALL IN OCTOBER
New registrations for passenger vehicles in the 27-member EU fell for the seventh consecutive month in October, down by 16.6% compared with the same month last year as demand for new cars continued to deteriorate throughout 2010, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA). A total of 1,027,036 new passenger vehicles were registered in October, following a 9.6% year-on-year decrease in September. Over the first 10 months of 2010, registrations were 5.5% lower compared with the same period of 2009, totaling 11,279,542 vehicles.
EMETHANEX'S EGYPT UNIT MAY START BY EARLY 2011
EMethanex's 1.3m tonne/year methanol plant at Damietta, on the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt could start commercial production by early next year, a company source said. The production hub will primarily supply European and Asian methanol markets. EMethanex (Egyptian Methanex Methanol Company) is the Egyptian joint-venture operation of Canada's Methanex, which holds a 60% interest.
PACIFIC ETHANOL TO RESTART CALIFORNIA PLANT
US-based Pacific Ethanol will resume operations at its 60m gal/year (227m liter/year) Stockton facility in California in December amid enhanced environmental standards from the state's government. Pacific Ethanol announced in February 2009 that it was temporarily suspending operations at the facility because of extended unfavorable market conditions. In its third-quarter (Q3) earnings release, the company noted that production margins in the ethanol industry had improved throughout the quarter and looked even more positive heading toward 2011. "With our supply portfolio, representing a majority of the low-carbon ethanol produced in California, we are now contracting sales of high-value low-carbon ethanol for 2011 in anticipation of the start of the California Low-Carbon Fuel Standard in January," the company said.
MITSUBISHI RAYON NIXES MMA TURNAROUND
Japan's Mitsubishi Rayon's China subsidiary, Huizhou MMA, has canceled a turnaround of its 90,000 tonne/year MMA plant in Huizhou, China. The company originally planned to shut the plant for more than 20 days in December to "adjust its annual production rate," a company source said. However, Mistubishi Rayon had obtained an operational permit from the authorities to maintain full operation and there was no need to carry out the shutdown, said the source.
ANALYST EXPECTS PTT TO POST HIGHER Q4 EARNINGS
Thailand's state-owned energy and petrochemical giant PTT Group can expect higher profits in the fourth quarter (Q4), after a 28% jump in Q3 profit, said an analyst. On November 12, PTT posted a Thai baht 21.7bn ($728.7m) net profit in Q3, up from baht17bn a year earlier. Earnings from its petrochemical business are likely to increase in Q4 on the back of higher sales volumes, said Naphat Chantar-aserekul, analyst with DBS Vickers Securities in Bangkok.
US HOME BUILDERS HAVE LITTLE HOPE FOR RECOVERY
US home builders showed little or no improvement in November in their expectations for a housing sector recovery, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Its housing market index (HMI) was at 16 in November, up from the revised figure of 15 for October. On a scale of 1-100, the housing market index measures home builders' responses to questions about their current sales of single-family homes, the number of prospective buyers visiting their housing developments or model homes, and their expectations for sales over the next six months. A reading of 50 or above indicates that home builders are confident about their prospects over the next six months.
FORMOSA MULLS US OLEFINS EXPANSION
Taiwan-based Formosa Plastics Corp. is considering expanding its US olefins capacity as a result of cost advantages for feedstock natural gas. Formosa declined to confirm a report in Taiwan's Taipei Times claiming the company planned to invest between $800m (€592m) and $1bn to increase capacity at its Texas, US, complex. "Formosa Plastics is considering all of our options given the anticipated long-term natural gas advantage in the US, though no final decisions or approvals have yet been made," said company spokesman Steve Rice. The company has two crackers in Point Comfort, Texas, with a combined ethylene capacity of 1.5m tonnes/year.
ARKEMA TO SPEND $110M AT TEXAS SITES
France-based chemical company Arkema plans to spend $110m (€81m) at two Texas, US, acrylics sites to expand, improve and convert production. One project will add a methyl acrylate plant at the Clear Lake site. The plant should start up in the second quarter of 2013 with a nameplate capacity of 45,000 tonnes/year. At another project in Clear Lake, Arkema said it would improve the "reliability and competitiveness" of the site's acrylic acid production. When work is completed in early 2013, acrylic acid capacity at the site will be 270,000 tonnes/year.
OMV CEO CHARGED WITH INSIDER TRADING
Wolfgang Ruttenstorfer, the CEO of Austrian oil, gas and petrochemical group OMV, has been charged with insider trading, the Vienna prosecutors' office said. Ruttenstorfer was surprised the charges had been brought against him and maintained his innocence, OMV said shortly after the charges were filed. The charges stem from a stock purchase that Ruttenstorfer allegedly made just before OMV sold its 21.2% stake in Hungarian oil, gas and petrochemical group MOL to Russia's Surgutneftegaz in March 2009. Austria's Financial Market Authority examined claims that Ruttenstorfer bought €620,000 ($837,840) worth of OMV shares on the same day in which he gave an interview saying that OMV would retain the MOL stake until the end of 2009. A week later, OMV sold the stake, causing the price of its shares to rise, the authority said.
CHEMTURA EYES DEVELOPING WORLD
US specialty chemical producer Chemtura will consider acquisitions, plants and ventures in developing markets in Asia and Latin America, said CEO Craig Rogerson. Chemtura makes most of its products in North America and Europe and exports to Latin America and Asia. In the future, Chemtura aims to meet that demand from local plants, Rogerson said at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Credit Conference in New York. "So, as you look forward and see where we are going to invest in bolt-on acquisitions and greenfield plants and ventures and alliances, you will see a lot of that in the developing markets," Rogerson said. "It could be in India, China or Latin America, like Brazil."
ACC EYES PROGRESS WITH NEW US CONGRESS
The US chemical industry has an opportunity to make major progress on key regulatory issues with the new 112th Congress that will convene in January, said Cal Dooley, the president of the American Chemistry Council (ACC). He said that the November 2 elections that gave Republicans majority control of the House and swept more Republicans into the Senate "will have some bearing on how we continue to advance our industry's priorities." Dooley said the ACC would work with the new Congress to advance policies "that will allow the chemicals industry to remain at the forefront of developing technology, advancing our economy and ensuring that we maintain jobs and our industry's international competitiveness."
US STATES TO ENACT MORE CHEMICAL LAWS IN 2011
At least 18 US states have passed chemical control legislation, and measures seeking broad restrictions or targeting specific substances are expected in as many as 25 other states next year, said the environmental group Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition. It said its first nationwide survey of state-level legislation found that the 18 states enacted 71 chemical safety laws over the past eight years. It said that state legislatures acted in large part because the US Congress failed to modernize the 34-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act, which has not been substantially amended since its enactment in 1976.
POLIMERI'S DUNKIRK LLDPE IS BACK ON STREAM
Italian polyethylene (PE) producer Polimeri Europa's 140,000 tonne/year linear low density PE (LLDPE) plant at Dunkirk, France, is back on stream and running at full capacity following a planned two-month maintenance outage and a subsequent delay that lasted for several days, a company source said. "The LDPE plant will follow at a later date," said the source.
CANADA CHEM FIRMS SLAM HIGH REGULATORY COSTS
High regulatory costs in Ontario, Canada, have become a hurdle to new investment in the country's largest province, said the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC), which joined trade groups in fertilizers, chemical distribution, paint and coatings, rubber and pesticides in a call for changes and more transparency. According to a joint report sponsored by the groups, each Ontarian paid on average about Canadian dollars (C$) 4,500/year ($4,400/year) for the regulatory and permitting system - over C$1,000/year more than they pay for health care. "If Ontario wants to attract new investments it needs to clarify exactly how its regulatory process is going to work," said Jayson Myers, president of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters association.
US OCTOBER NEW HOME CONSTRUCTION PLUMMETS
US new home construction activity fell sharply in October, the Department of Commerce (DOC) said, with housing starts dropping by nearly 12% from September and ending a two-month advance in the key single-family residence sector. The department said that housing starts in October were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 519,000 units, a decline of 11.7% compared with the revised September figure of 588,000. Compared with October last year, overall housing starts were down by 1.9%, and single-family home construction was fully 8.2% lower.
BMS INVESTS €110M IN FIVE FACILITIES IN CHINA
Germany's Bayer MaterialScience will invest €110m ($149m) in five new downstream facilities in China by 2012 in response to increasing demand in the North of the country. The facilities will include three polyurethane (PU) systems houses, to be built in Shanghai, Qingdao and Chongqing. They also include a new polycarbonate (PC) sheet facility in Guangzhou and a PC color compounding and design center, which will be based in Chongqing. Each will be strategically located close to major customers in Shanghai, Qingdao, Chongqing and Guangzhou.
JAPAN OCT PVC EXPORTS FALL 16% FROM SEPTEMBER
Japan's exports of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in October declined by 16% from the previous month to 49,531 tonnes, while its exports of vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) rose by 8.4% to 79,412 tonnes, according to the Vinyl Environmental Council (VEC). Compared to the same period last year, PVC exports were down by 4.2%, while VCM had a hefty 54% jump in volumes shipped abroad. Given a much narrowed price differential between the two products, Japanese producers deemed it more profitable to export the monomer, taking into account the dollar-yen exchange rate at about yen 80, said VEC vice chairman Masaki Miyajima. Japan produced 146,638 tonnes of PVC in October, up by 0.5% sequentially and by 5.3% year on year, according to the VEC.
CANGZHOU PETROCHEMICAL RUNS MTBE UNIT AT 50-60%
China's Cangzhou Petrochemical is operating its newly expanded methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) plant at Cangzhou, in China's Hebei province, at 50-60% of capacity after starting it up earlier in November, a company source said. The company increased the plant's capacity to 50,000 tonnes/year from 20,000 tonnes/year to achieve better margins. The facility started up on November 7 and yielded on-spec product a few days later, the source said, adding that the company could not confirm when the unit would achieve full operating rates.
HENAN SHUNDA PLANS ACETIC ACID SHUTDOWN
China's Henan ShunDa Chemical Technology plans to shut down its 300,000 tonne/year acetic acid plant at Zhumadian, in Henan province, a company source said. The plant was scheduled to shut down from November 20 for around 20 days as part of the central Chinese government's effort to meet carbon reduction targets set in its 11th five-year plan (2006-2010), the source added. The company's cargoes are mainly for spot-market supply and only a small portion is for contract customers.
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