This week's news in brief

09 November 2012 16:34  [Source: ICB]

EUROPE

GERMANY'S LANXESS Q3 NET PROFIT FALLS BY 39%
LANXESS's third-quarter 2012 net profit fell by 39% year on year to €94m ($121m) amid weakening demand in the tyre and automotive industries, the German specialty chemicals firm said. Sales fell by 7.6% to €2.16bn because of lower volumes and raw material-driven product price decreases. "The third-quarter result is in line with our expectations and is, at the same time, being compared to a very strong quarter a year earlier," said LANXESS chairman Axel Heitmann.

BASF TO BUILD EMISSIONS CATALYST PLANT IN POLAND
Germany's BASF is investing €150m in a new emissions catalysts plant in Poland that will more than double its European capacity. Construction work on the facility at Sroda Slaska, a special economic zone near Wroclaw, will begin before the end of the year, with production expected in the first quarter of 2014. BASF said it was also currently modernising and expanding its existing emissions catalysts plant at Nienburg, Germany.

NEW DIVISION AT BASF FOR PERFORMANCE
BASF will create a new division called Performance Materials as part of a change in its organisational structure, the Germany-based chemicals major said. As part of the reorganisation, BASF will reduce the number of its segments from six to five and the number of divisions from 15 to 14. The changes will be effective as of 1 January 2013.

GERMANY'S BRENNTAG Q3 NET PROFIT RISES 19.3%
German chemical distributor Brenntag reported strong earnings in the third quarter, with a 19.3% year-on-year increase in its net profit to €79.6m ($102m), backed by an 11.5% year-on-year rise in its sales. Third-quarter sales were €2.47bn compared with €2.22bn in the same period a year earlier. Its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were up by 1.9% year on year to €167.7m in the third quarter. Brenntag does not expect a positive economic lift in demand over the remainder of the year.

GERMANY'S PRODUCTIVE OUTPUT FALLS BY 1.8%
Germany's productive output fell 1.8% in September from August, led by a 2.3% decline in industrial production, the country's economics ministry said. September's decline in productive output came after a revised 0.4% decrease in August from July. Industrial orders fell by 3.3% in September from August, led by a 9.6% drop in orders from eurozone countries. In August, orders declined by a revised 0.8% from July.

SHELL DECLARES FM ON DUTCH MOERDIJK STYRENE
Shell Chemicals has declared force majeure on styrene following an unforeseen technical problem at Moerdijk in the Netherlands, the company said. "As a result of an unforeseen steam leakage in the styrene monomer/propylene oxide plant at Moerdijk, Shell Nederland Chemie B.V. is unable to manufacture and supply its agreed amounts of products," Shell said in a statement. "As a result of these unplanned events, SNC has declared force majeure as of 5 November 2012." The plant has the capacity to produce 440,000 tonnes of styrene annually.

TURKEY'S PETKIM PUT ON UNDERPERFORMERS LIST
Erste Group Bank has placed major Turkish petrochemical producer Petkim on its list of expected stock market underperformers, citing an unfavourable 2013 outlook for the company. Petkim could only expect a sustainable recovery of margins from 2014 because its difficulties with high input costs and lower demand would not be resolved next year, the bank said. "Generally we are pessimistic on the outlook for petrochemical producers using naphtha as their feedstock," it added, maintaining a "sell" rating on Petkim's shares

AMERICAS

EBIH SEEKS INTEREST FOR METHANOL SITE STUDIES
Bolivia's state-owned hydrocarbons industrialiation company Empresa Boliviana de Industrializacion de Hidrocarburos (EBIH) has invited firms to join its database for the conceptual engineering studies of a proposed methanol petrochemical complex, the company said. The complex, which is expected to produce at least 500,000 tonnes/year of methanol, would require an investment that could exceed $500m (€390m). The complex would also produce dimethyl ether (DME), methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), formaldehyde and acetic acid.

BRAZIL COPERSUCAR TO BUY ETHANOL TRADING FIRM
Copersucer plans to acquire US-based Eco-Energy to become the world's largest ethanol trader, the Brazil-based company said. Details of the deal were not disclosed. With the acquisition, both companies will have a 10bn/litres/year capacity, accounting for 12% global market share in the ethanol segment.

BP RESTARTS TEXAS CITY REFINERY ULTRACRACKER
BP has begun start-up activities on the ultracracker at its Texas City refinery in Texas, said a filing with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The 475,000 bbl/day ultracracker experienced issues on 4 November that caused the unit to depressure to the flare system. The restart activities will take place until 9 November.

VALERO SHUTS FCC AFTER FIRE AT TEXAS REFINERY
US Valero shut the fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit at its Port Arthur refinery in Texas after a fire at a pump on 3 November, a company spokesperson said. Valero did not have an estimate on the duration of the outage at the 292,000 bbl/day refinery.

LSB TO REPLACE AMMONIA CONVERTER IN OKLAHOMA
LSB Industries will replace the under-performing ammonia converter at its primary plant in Pryor, Oklahoma, in early 2013 rather than late 2012, the company said. The facility is now operating at around 80% of its target production rate of 600 tonnes per day, having suffered unspecified technical problems that reduced third quarter output by 50% and cost the producer $14m (€10.9m) in lost operating income.

WACKER INVESTS IN SOUTH AMERICA TECH CENTRES
Wacker Chemie is investing $1.5m (€1.2m) to expand its Sao Paulo technical centre in Brazil and open a new one in Mexico City, the German chemicals firm said. Wacker will also expand its training centre at the Mexico City site and open a new one in Sao Paulo. The projects are scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2013.

ASIA

JAPANESE, KOREAN FIRMS BEGIN S KOREA PX PLANT
Japanese refiner JX Nippon Oil & Energy and South Korean chemical producer SK Global Chemical started building their joint 1m tonne/year paraxylene (PX) plant in Ulsan, South Korea on 6 November. The plant will be operated by a joint venture firm called Ulsan Aromatics (UAC).

IRPC TO COMPLETE ABS EXPANSION BY Q2 2013
Thailand's Integrated Refinery Petrochemical Complex (IRPC) plans to complete the expansion of its acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) plant at Map Ta Phut in the second quarter of next year. The company is expanding the plant's capacity by 60% to 160,000 tonnes/year.

TAIWAN'S FPCC OCTOBER REVENUE RISES BT 19%
Formosa Petrochemical Corp had a 19% year -on -year increase in October revenue to New Taiwan dollar (NT$) 82.8bn ($2.8bn) on the back of higher petrochemical sales. Petrochemicals sales, which accounted for about 27% of the firm's total revenue last month - were at NT$22bn, representing a 36.1% increase compared with the same period in 2011.

THAILAND'S PTTGC TO SHUT I-4 NO 1 CRACKER IN MID-NOV
Thailand's PTT Global Chemical (PTTGC) plans to shut its 515,000 tonne/year mixed-feed I-4 No 1 cracker at Map Ta Phut in mid-November for 24 days of repairs. The cracker has been running at reduced rates since late October.

YANGZI PETROCHEMICAL SHUTS NANJING HDPE LINE
China's Yangzi Petrochemical shut its 80,000 tonne/year high density polyethylene (HDPE) line at Nanjing in Jiangsu province on 7 November for about 30 days of maintenance.

SHANDONG DONGYUE CHEMICAL SHUTS PVC PALNT
China's Shandong Dongyue Chemical shut its 120,000 tonne/year polyvinyl chloride (PVC) unit in Zibo, Shandong, on 5 November for maintenance. The company was running the plant at 100% of capacity before the shutdown.

TORAY PLASTICS SHUTS ABS LINES FOR MAINTENANCE
Toray Plastics Malaysia shut two of its acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) lines on 5 November. The lines, each with a 55,000 tonne/year capacity, are expected to be down for around one month.


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