07 March 2011 00:00 [Source: ICB]
CRUDE FALLS ON LIBYA PEACE PROPOSAL
April ICE Brent futures plunged by more than $3/bbl at one stage last Thursday amid a possible Libyan peace plan put forward by Venezuela. April Brent was trading at $115.10/bbl in the morning, down by $1.25/bbl from the previous close after earlier falling to a session low of $113.09/bbl. April NYMEX light sweet crude futures were trading at $101.13/bbl, down $1.10/bbl, having fallen to a low of $100.37/bbl.
CONOCOPHILLIPS STOPS EXPORTING LIBYAN CRUDE
US-based ConocoPhillips is not exporting any Libyan crude oil in compliance with sanctions. US President Barack Obama ordered that US-based or US-controlled Libyan properties and interests be blocked from being withdrawn or transferred.
MIDEAST UNREST COULD COST GERMANY €15BN
The ongoing problems in Libya and elsewhere in North Africa and the Middle East, and the resulting increase in oil prices, could cost Germany's industrial producers €15bn ($21bn) this year. If oil prices stay at their current levels for the rest of the year, the increase would average 30% from 2010, said Felix Neugart, North Africa analyst at the country's chamber of commerce, DIHK. Each 1% rise in oil prices translates into €500m in additional costs for Germany's industry, resulting in estimated total additional costs of €15bn this year, Neugart said.
ENVIRONMENTAL CHARGES AGAINGULF CHEMICAL
The Texas attorney general has filed a series of environmental charges against Gulf Chemical & Metallurgical (GCMC), claiming the company failed to maintain pollution control equipment at its Freeport plant. It lists 77 violations of the state's clean air and water quality control acts, with Texas attorney general Greg Abbott saying that GCMC's oversight of pollution controls was so lax that the firm exposed state environmental inspectors to toxics.
JIANGSHAN IS EYEING HUNTSMAN TECHNOLOGY
China's Jiangshan Chemical plans to sign a contract with US-based Huntsman Petrochemical to provide engineering technology for its 80,000 tonne/year maleic anhydride (MA) project at Ningbo in Zhejiang province, Jiangshan. The license fee is estimated at $7.3m (€5.3m).
GERMANY CHEMICAL OUTPUT GROWTH TO SLOW
Germany's chemical production will continue to grow this year, but at a significantly slower pace than in 2010, according to Frankfurt-based chemical trade group VCI. Growth rates in the industry would be lower, because the economic recovery was increasingly shifting to sectors that demanded fewer chemicals, said Utz Tillmann, general manager of VCI. It maintained its earlier forecast of full-year 2011 chemical production growth of 2.5%. In 2010 production increased by 11%, after declining by 10% in 2009 from 2008. Germany's chemical industry sales were expected to increase by 4% and prices would rise 1.5% this year, VCI said.
INEOS COMPLETES BUYOUT OF STYRNICS NOVA JV
Switzerland-based INEOS has bought NOVA Chemicals' interest in the 50:50 INEOS NOVA styrenics joint venture, making it a wholly owned business within the INEOS Group. The deal was completed on February 28, and will see the business change its name to INEOS Styrenics.
BASF TO BUILD SODIUM METHYLATE PLANT
Germany's BASF plans to build a 60,000 tonne/year sodium methylate production plant at Rosario, Argentina, to strengthen its presence in South America's growing biodiesel market. BASF expects the plant, which will be located at the company's General Lagos site, to be completed at the end of 2013, said company spokesperson Juliana Ernst. BASF has another 60,000 tonne/year sodium methylate plant at Guaratingueta, Brazil. This is scheduled to start operations at the end of 2011, according to the company.
EVONIK TO SELL STAKE IN STEAG ENERGY BUSINESS
Germany-based international specialty chemical major Evonik has completed a €651m ($892m) deal to sell a 51% majority stake in its Steag energy business. "This step systematically drives forward our focus on specialty chemicals," said Evonik CEO Klaus Engel. Chemicals already account for about 80% of Evonik's total sales and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization. Evonik also agreed to sell the remaining 49% stake to the consortium within five years.
BEIJING BANS HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS TRANSPORT
Beijing authorities have banned the transport of dangerous chemicals into the Chinese capital during the annual meetings of the country's top legislature and political advisory body, because of safety concerns. The National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and the National People's Congress will convene in early March for 10 days to discuss the country's major policies. The Beijing Traffic Management Bureau announced that vehicles registered outside of Beijing and loaded with hazardous chemicals would be prohibited from entering the city until March 15.
PTT CHEMICAL MERGER CREATES MAJOR PLAYER
Thailand's PTT Chemical and PTT Aromatics and Refining have announced merger plans. The new company "will be the largest integrated petrochemical and refining company in Thailand and larger than other southeast Asian peers," they said in a disclosure to the Stock Exchange of Thailand. It will have an 8.2m tonne/year petrochemical production capacity and a 228,000 bbl/day capacity to produce petroleum products. Around $80m-154m (€58m-111m) in cost savings was expected to be generated from the merger, said PTT Chemical. An additional investment of $92m will be needed to build a common product pipeline system and improve supporting facilities of the two companies, it added.
GERMANY'S BAYER SWINGS TO Q4 NET LOSS OF €145M
German major Bayer posted a €145m ($199m) net loss in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2010 because of higher special charges, reversing a €153m profit made in the same period a year earlier. Sales for the three months to December rose by 14.5% year on year to €9.01bn, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) soared 34.9% to €1.51bn, Bayer said. Chairman Marijn Dekkers attributed the sales and EBITDA figures to the strong growth in earnings of Bayer MaterialScience, and to positive currency effects.
EU CHEMICAL OUTPUT SEES 10% GROWTH IN 2010
EU chemical production in December 2010 increased by 3.9% year on year as the sector continued to recover, with annual growth of 10% for the whole of last year, according to the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic). The production growth achieved in 2010 was the result of exports and increased orders from other EU manufacturing sectors. "The EU chemicals sector has enjoyed a strong 2010, but the industry remains about 5.6% below pre-crisis levels," said chief economist Moncef Hadhri.
DSM ACQUIRES MARTEK BIOSCIENCES FOR €790M
Netherlands-based DSM has bought US-based nutritional supplements firm Martek Biosciences in a deal worth around €790m ($1.08bn). The acquisition will add a new growth platform for healthy and natural food ingredients for infant formula and other food and beverage applications, the company said in a statement.
INDIA OPTS TO RETAIN ITS POLYMER CUSTOMS DUTIES
The Indian government's 2011-12 budget announcement revealed that it will maintain duties imposed on polymers. The custom duty on polymers will stay at 5% and the excise duty at 10%. The 4% special additional duty, which many players had expected to be lifted, will also remain. This would have significantly reduced the price of polymer imports.
YNCC RESTARTS CRACKER BUT RUN RATE IS AT 40%
South Korean producer Yeochun NCC (YNCC) has restarted its 857,000 tonne/year cracker in Yeosu, although the No. 1 cracker was running at a low rate of 40%, said a company source. "There is some trouble with six of the 12 furnaces so we cannot increase the operating rate," he said, adding that full operations could resume by March 13-14 at the earliest. The cracker restarted on February 27 after a power failure shut it on February 22.
INDORAMA VENTURES BUYS PET MAKER SK EUROCHEM
Thailand's Indorama Ventures has bought Poland-based polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resin manufacturer SK Eurochem from South Korea's SK Chemicals. SK Eurochem operates a 140,000 tonne/year PET plant at Wloclawek, Poland. The acquired company has now been renamed as Indorama Polymers.
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