The world this week

16 November 2012 09:26  [Source: ICB]

MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA

SABIC, SHELL CONSIDER POSM, POLYOLS PROJECTS
SABIC and Shell are looking at plans to build a full range of polyols and propylene oxide styrene monomer (POSM) plants at the joint venture SADAF site in Al-Jubail, Saudi Arabia. The companies intend to expand their partnership in Saudi Arabia and to explore international petrochemical opportunities beyond SADAF and Saudi Arabia.

SAUDI ARAMCO PLANS GLOBAL AROMATICS MOVE
Saudi Aramco is looking to expand into the worldwide aromatics market in the coming years, the firm's global business manager for aromatics says. Ted Randall said the key drivers behind this were motive, opportunity and means. While 30% of global oil supply comes from the Middle East, gasoline moves in the opposite direction. Randall said moves to improve the purity of gasoline via BTX (benzene, toluene, xylene) extraction provide Saudi Aramco with the motive to delve into the market.

SAUDI POLYMERS SHUTS AL-JUBAIL COMPLEX
Saudi Polymers has suspended operations at its facilities in Al-Jubail, Saudi Arabia, with the shutdown expected to last for around four weeks. Some of the units of the project ran into technical issues, causing them not to operate as designed. The project operators and technology providers deemed it best to shut down some of the project's units to perform the necessary maintenance safely.

DUTCH VOPAK, SABIC TO BUILD SAUDI TERMINAL
Dutch tank-storage service provider Vopak and SABIC will jointly build a chemical terminal at King Fahd Industrial Port in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, Vopak said. Once completed in early 2015, the first phase of the new terminal will have an initial storage capacity of 250,000 cubic metres (cbm). The first phase of the terminal will consist of 40 commodity and specialty chemical storage tanks, truck handling and ship-loading facilities for five berths.


AMERICAS

US OIL RESERVES TO BOOST IT TO TOP PRODUCER STATUS
The US will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer by 2020 because of its unconventional oil reserves, will become a net exporter of natural gas by 2020 and will be almost self-sufficient in energy in net terms by 2035, the International Energy Agency said. North America will emerge as a net oil exporter by 2035, switching the direction of international oil trade as 90% of Middle Eastern oil exports will be drawn to Asia.

METHANEX MOVES PLANT FROM CHILE TO LOUISIANA
Methanex has been granted air permits by state and federal authorities for its proposed methanol plant in Geismar, Louisiana. In late July the producer said it will move a 1m tonne/year plant in Chile to Louisiana at a cost of $550m, and have it running by late 2014. Methanex is operating only one of its four plants in Chile, and has had problems maintaining a supply of natural gas for the units there.

SHIPPING COSTS PREVENT US-EUROPE ETHANE TREND
US exports of ethane to Europe are not likely to become a significant trend because of transportation costs, as well as the cost of retrofitting existing European crackers to run on lighter feeds, according to an executive with LyondellBasell. INEOS announced in September it plans to ship US shale-derived ethane to its Europe operations.

FERRO CEO REPLACED AFTER SHARE-PRICE SLUMP
US specialty chemicals producer Ferro has replaced its chairman and CEO James Kirsch, two weeks after announcing a third-quarter loss of $316m and after a 65% slump in its share price since February. Ferro's polymers and ceramics executive Peter Thomas has been appointed as the interim CEO, and is a candidate to take the role permanently.

IDLED PEMEX AMMONIA PLANT COULD RESTART
An ammonia plant in Chihuahua, Mexico, idled by state-owned Pemex a decade ago may be restarted. Built in 1967, the plant was shut down in 2002 but workers remained on site to look after the facility's seven ammonia reactors. The plant's total capacity is 164,000 tonnes/year. If Pemex give the plant's revival the green light, production could start in the next few weeks. The ammonia would be the local market.


EUROPE

LYONDELLBASELL WILL RESTART LDPE LINE IN 2013
LyondellBasell said it will restart its low density polyethylene (LDPE) line - which has been off line since January - in Wesseling, Germany, in mid-2013. The start-up of the LDPE line, which is used to produce DPE grades for healthcare applications, will boost LyondellBasell's ability to continue supplying to "this important market", the Rotterdam-based chemical company said.

BOREALIS TO BUY DSM'S DEXPLASTOMERS
DSM has reached an agreement with Austria's Borealis for the sale of DEXPlastomers, a joint venture between DSM and an affiliate of ExxonMobil Chemical, for an undisclosed fee, the Dutch specialty chemicals firm said. DEXPlastomers is a 50:50 joint venture between DSM and Exxon Chemical Holland Ventures that produces C8 plastomers and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE). The deal, expected to close in the first quarter of next year, includes the sale of the DSM's LLDPE compact solution technology to Borealis.

EVONIK SIGNS DEAL WITH GROLMAN NORDIC
Evonik Industries has signed an agreement with Grolman Nordic to distribute its chemical specialties for the plastics, rubber

and construction sectors, the company said. Grolman Nordic will distribute these products in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. "Evonik aims to increase the market presence of their product portfolio in this region," the German specialty chemicals firm added, without disclosing financial terms.

KUWAIT PETROLEUM'S ROTTERDAM UNIT RESTARTS
Kuwait Petroleum's base oil unit in the Netherlands is in the process of restarting following a technical delay, a company source said. The firm had originally planned to restart the 235,000 tonne/year Rotterdam unit on 28 October after planned maintenance work, but this was delayed by unspecified technical issues. The unit was in the process of restarting on 12 October, with base oil production expected from 13 October.


ASIA

SHELL TO DEBOTTLENECK SINGAPORE CRACKER
Anglo-Dutch energy major Shell has taken a final investment decision to debottleneck its 800,000 tonne/year mixed-feed cracker at Bukom Island in Singapore to boost the company's production capacity at the site. "This is expected to increase the capacity of olefins and aromatics by more than 20%," Shell said. Engineering work for the debottlenecking will take place during the next maintenance turnaround.

CHINA EXTENDS DUMPING PROBES ON GLYCOL ETHER
China will extend the antidumping investigations on ethylene glycol monobutyl ether and diethylene glycol monobutyl ether imports from the US and EU by three months. The antidumping probe, which started on 18 November 2011 and was scheduled to last one year, has been extended to 18 February 2013. China has been levying security deposits as temporary antidumping measures on ethylene glycol monobutyl ether and diethylene glycol monobutyl ether imports from the US and EU since 28 July this year.

HUNTSMAN AGREES NANJING PO/MTBE MOVE
Huntsman has signed a joint venture agreement with China's Sinopec Jinling Company to build and operate a world scale propylene oxide (PO) and methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) facility in Nanjing. The $750m investment will produce 250,000 tonnes/year of PO and 726,000 tonnes/year of MTBE. Nanjing Jinling Huntsman New Materials expects to complete the facility, which will use Huntsman PO/MTBE technology, by the end of 2014. Sinopec will own 51% of the joint venture and Huntsman 49%. Peter Huntsman, president and CEO, said, "This partnership provides a tremendous opportunity for us to further our global expansion."

CPDC MAY DELAY NEW PLANT START-UP TO 2013
Taiwanese producer China Petrochemical Development Corp (CPDC) is likely to delay the start-up of its new 100,000 tonne/year caprolactam (capro) line at Toufen until February 2013. The plant in Miaoli County, Taiwan, is currently undergoing test runs. A commercial start-up date has not yet been set. Test runs at the capro plant started in late September, but the unit has been running at reduced rates of 30-40% because of mechanical problems.


By: Will Beacham
+44 20 8652 3214



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