This week's news in brief

08 March 2013 09:28  [Source: ICB]

AMERICAS

EXXONMOBIL TARGETS VALUE-ADDED PRODUCTS
US-based ExxonMobil is targeting the production of high value-added products downstream from its planned new 1.5m tonne/year ethane cracker project in Baytown, Texas. "This platform will give us a lot of flexibility to manufacture higher value-added products. Part of the engineering work we’re taking now is evaluating these options," said chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson at the company’s annual analyst day. ExxonMobil Chemical has already filed permit applications for its planned new cracker in Texas. Premium polyethylene (PE) will be one derivative but other products were not mentioned The cracker project is on track to be completed in 2016.

WILLIAMS, BOARDWALK PLAN SHALE NGL PIPELINE
Williams and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners plan jointly to develop a pipeline project that will ship natural gas liquids (NGLs) from the Marcellus and Utica shale gas plays to markets on the US Gulf Coast and the US northeast, the midstream energy firms said. The proposed "Bluegrass Pipeline" would have 200,000 bbl/day of mixed NGLs takeaway capacity, which could later be increased to 400,000 bbl/day. The project would combine new construction with existing pipeline infrastructure, thus enabling it to come into service as early as the second half of 2015, subject to regulatory approvals and other conditions.

DOW GETS $318M COSTS, INTEREST IN K-DOW CASE
Dow Chemical has won an interest and costs award of $318m (€245m) relating to its damages claim against Petrochemical Industries Company of Kuwait, the US chemical company said. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) released the final award amount in the arbitration case between the parties on their failed K-Dow venture. An award in the dispute between the two companies of $2.16bn was made last May. Full damages awarded to Dow equal $2.48bn, Dow said. The total award amount is subject to interest until Dow receives payment.

EXXONMOBIL EXPLORES LNG EXPORT PROJECTS
US-based ExxonMobil is exploring several liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects in North America. "We are undertaking initial studies on LNG export terminals in Texas, Alaska and Canada," said chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson at the company’s annual analyst day. ExxonMobil has major LNG export capacity in Qatar, where it is taking advantage of gas from the world’s largest non-associated gas field. The company is also developing an LNG export project in Papua New Guinea, which will have two trains comprising 6.9m tonnes/year of LNG capacity by 2014.

SCHULMAN PUSHES AHEAD WITH BID FOR FERRO
A Schulman is bidding to acquire fellow Ohio-based specialty chemicals producer Ferro with an offer based on an estimated total enterprise value of $855m, including an equity value of $563m (€434m). A Schulman said it was encouraging Ferro shareholders to ask their board to re-examine their opposition to accepting a bid. The acquisition price, at $6.50 share, represented a 32% premium over the volume-weighted average trading price of Ferro over the previous 60 days and, if accepted, would be paid half in cash and half in shares of A Schulman common stock, it added.

SHELL TO BUILD NATGAS LIQUEFACTION UNITS
Shell plans to build two 250,000 tonne/year natural gas liquefaction units: one at its chemicals site in Geismar, Louisiana, and the other at the Sarnia petrochemicals hub in Ontario, Canada. The plants would form the basis of new liquefied natural gas (LNG) transport corridors in the Great Lakes and US Gulf Coast regions, supplying LNG as a transport fuel to marine and heavy-duty on-road customers in North America. The units could be in production in about three years, subject to final regulatory permitting. Financial details were not disclosed.

GLOBAL ENERGY DEMAND TO RISE 35% - EXXONMOBIL
US-based ExxonMobil expects global energy demand to rise by 35% from 2010 levels by 2040, led by higher growth in natural gas. "We expect natural gas to see a 65% increase in demand to become the second most used source of energy after oil," said Rex Tillerson, chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil at the company’s annual analyst meeting. Natural gas demand will grow by an average of 1.7%/year, higher than oil at 0.8%/year and overtaking that of coal, which is projected to decline by 0.1%/year. Unconventional gas production will rise from less than 15% of total gas production in 2010, to about a third of global gas production by 2040, noted Tillerson.

SASOL’S NEW PE PLANT TO USE UNIVATION TECHNOLOGY
US polyethylene (PE) technology firm Univation announced that its UNIPOL process will be used at Sasol’s new 450,000 tonne/year plant in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) swing plant will be capable of producing products including metallocene LLDPE, Univation said. Sasol has used the UNIPOL technology at its PE plant in Sasolburg, South Africa, since 1983. In December, Sasol announced that it was moving forward with the front-end engineering and design (FEED) phase for an integrated gas-to-liquids (GTL) facility and world-scale ethane cracker at its Lake Charles site.

EUROPE

DSM COMPLETES SALE OF DEXPLASTOMERS JV
Dutch specialty chemicals firm DSM has completed the sale of DEXPlastomers, a joint venture between DSM and an affiliate of ExxonMobil Chemical, for an undisclosed fee to Austria’s Borealis. DEXPlastomers is a 50:50 joint venture that produces C8 plastomers and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) at its site in Geleen, the Netherlands.

KLESCH SEEKS €310M FROM ARKEMA IN DISPUTE
Swiss-based industrial company Klesch Group said it is seeking €310m ($402.6m) in compensation from French chemicals major Arkema for "misrepresentations" in the sale of its vinyls business - now known as Kem One - in July 2012. Arkema has refuted the claims, stating that the negotiations were fully transparent.

MOMENTIVE ECH PLANT SET TO SHUT FOR FOUR WEEKS
US-based epichlorohydrin (ECH) producer Momentive will shut its 90,000 tonne/year ECH plant in Pernis, the Netherlands, for four weeks from mid-March for annual maintenance, a company source said. Momentive does not sell ECH but uses all of it internally for epoxy resin production. The shutdown means the group will need to buy ECH to ensure it has enough to run the epoxy resins plant.

ITALY’S SYNDIAL TO END EDC PRODUCTION AT ASSEMINI
Italian producer Syndial plans to end production of ethylene dichloride (EDC) at its Assemini site in Sardinia because of tough economic conditions. "Starting from early April 2013, Syndial will discontinue its EDC 190,000 tonne/year production at Assemini, Italy, due to difficult economic conditions," the company said.

OXEA PLANS MAY DATE FOR OBERHAUSEN TURNAROUND
Oxea’s production site in Oberhausen will undergo a turnaround lasting around four weeks from 24 May, the Germany-based oxo chemicals major said. In accordance with standards for mandatory routine inspections every five years, a turnaround of the main Oberhausen units is required.

TITAN EYES SCALE-UP OF NEW POLYOM PP PLANT
Russia’s Titan Group said it plans to scale up production at its new polypropylene (PP) plant to the full 180,000 tonnes/year capacity by the second quarter of 2013. Known as PolyOm, the new plant began operations on 11 February, 2013, and has produced 5,000 tonnes of PP so far. Titan is based in Omsk, western Siberia.

ROMPETROL BEGINS FIVE-WEEK MAINTENANCE
Rompetrol Petrochemicals has ceased production for about five weeks to allow for maintenance work, owner Rompetrol Group said. The stoppage will run in parallel with a shutdown of the group’s Rompetrol Rafinare Petromidia refinery, where maintenance work will be carried out.

CHEMICAL PRODUCER PRICES UP 0.1% IN JAN
European chemical producer prices increased by 0.1% in January 2013 compared with the previous month. According to Eurostat, the January 2013 chemicals producer price index increased by 0.1% month on month for both the EU and eurozone areas. The rise marks the second month of consecutive growth for the index.

BAYER WORKERS RECEIVE EXTRA €700M AS REWARD
Germany-based chemicals major Bayer is paying workers worldwide an additional €700m as reward for a good 2012 performance. Bayer workers in Germany will get €360m of the total, up from €300m out of a total reward of €600m for 2011, under the company’s profit-sharing scheme, it said.

ECHA CONSULTS ON 10 POTENTIAL SVHCS
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has launched a public consultation on 10 chemical materials it has identified as potential "substances of very high concern" (SVHCs). The Finland-based EU agency has published proposals to identify the 10 chemicals as SVHCs. The public consultation set to run until 18 April 2013.

HENKEL Q4 NET PROFIT UP BY 68% ON HIGHER SALES
Henkel reported a 68% year-on-year rise in fourth-quarter net income to €357m ($464m) on the back of higher sales, the German adhesives and soaps maker said. Sales for the quarter grew by 5.3% to €4.0bn, with earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) up by 42% to €492m.

BPI 2012 OPERATING PROFITS UP BY 4.2%
British Polythene Industries’ (BPI’s) full-year 2012 results came in ahead of market expectations, with operating profits 4.2% higher at £22.5m. However, 2012 sales were down year on year by 5.7% to £479m, and net profit fell by 6.8% to £13.8m in a challenging operating environment, the plastics processor said.

ASIA

XINJIANG ZHONGTAI PLANS $740M PROJECT
China’s Xinjiang Zhongtai Group is planning to invest yuan (CNY) 4.6bn ($740m) to build a 1.2m tonne/year purified terephthalic acid (PTA) plant at Urumqi of Xinjiang province in northwestern China, a company source said. Construction of the project is expected to start this year and be completed by late 2015, according to the source. Feedstock paraxylene (PX) will be sourced from PetroChina’s 1m tonne/year PX plant at the same city, added the source. PTA output will be sold primarily in China’s domestic markets.

QILU PETROCHEMICAL TO SHUT CAUSTIC SODA PLANT
China’s Qilu Petrochemical, a subsidiary of Chinese petrochemical major Sinopec, plans to shut its 450,000 tonne/year caustic soda plant in Shandong on 4 April for regular maintenance, a company source said. The maintenance will last for about 40 days. The caustic soda plant is currently running at full capacity ahead of its pending turnaround, the source said.

STYRINDO MONO INDONESIA RESTARTS NO 2 SM PLANT
Styrindo Mono Indonesia restarted its No 2 styrene monomer (SM) plant in Merak on 6 March after maintenance, a source close to the company said. The 250,000 tonne/year facility was shut in early February for a turnaround that included a change of catalyst. "The restart process will require some 10 days to complete given the new catalyst," the source added. The company operates a 100,000 tonne/year No 1 unit at the same location.

PETROLIMEX, DAELIM EYE VIETNAM JOINT VENTURE
Vietnam’s state-owned energy firm Petrolimex is in talks with South Korea’s Daelim Industrial to jointly build a petrochemical complex and a refinery in Khan Hoa province in central Vietnam, a local industry source said. Petrolimex is a major supplier of gasoline and fuel oil, and it accounts for more than 60% of the domestic gasoline market. Daelim Industrial has a diverse product portfolio that includes feedstocks to higher value-added petrochemicals.

FPC SHUTS MAILIAO ACRYLATES PLANTS
Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics Corp (FPC) shut its acrylic acid (AA) and acrylate esters plants in Mailiao on 3 March for annual maintenance, a company source said. The facilities will remain shut for about two weeks, the source added. The company is able to produce 80,000 tonnes/year of butyl acrylate (butyl-A), 90,000-110,000 tonnes/year of crude AA, 60,000 tonnes/year of glacial AA and 40,000 tonnes/year of 2-ethylhexyl acrylate (2-EHA) at its Mailiao site, according to the source. FPC’s new 60,000 tonne/year super absorbent polymer (SAP) plant located at the same site is operating at 65-70% capacity, the source said.

BASF, MARKOR PLAN JOINT VENTURE FOR BDO, PTMEG
Germany’s BASF and China’s Xinjiang Markor Chemical Industry plan to start up a 100,000 tonne/year butanediol (BDO) and a 50,000 tonne/year polytetramethylene ether glycol (PTMEG) plant in 2015. Under a joint venture the two companies plan to establish production of BDO and PTMEG in Korla, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, northwest China. The joint venture agreements have already been signed but are subject to further closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Financial details were not disclosed.

SHANDONG HAILI SHUTS ADA LINE AFTER POWER CUT
China’s Shandong Haili Chemical Industry is keeping its 150,000 tonne/year adipic acid (ADA) plant in eastern Jiangsu province shut because of a power outage, a company source said. The plant was shut on 2-3 March, the source said, adding that the plant is expected to be restarted soon. The company’s other unit with the same capacity at the same site is running at 100% currently, according to the source.

FCFC STARTS TRIAL RUNS AT NEW PIA UNIT ON 4 MARCH
Taiwan’s Formosa Chemical & Fibre Corp (FCFC) started trial runs at its purified isophthalic acid (PIA) unit at Loong-der on 4 March, a company source said. The PIA plant has a nameplate capacity of 200,000 tonnes/year and was converted from FCFC’s 400,000 tonne/year Loong-der No 2 purified terephthalic acid (PTA) unit, the source said. Persistently negative margins in PTA production prompted the company to seek other alternatives to reduce losses, the source said. "We have been thinking to convert the unit to PIA for a long time. Now is the time," the source said.

SHAOXING SANYUAN SET TO START UP PDH IN Q4 2013
China’s Shaoxing Sanyuan Petrochemical is on track to start up a propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, in the fourth quarter of this year, a company source said. The PDH unit is expected to produce around 450,000 tonnes/year of propylene and the propane feedstock will be imported from the US, the source added. Shaoxing Sanyuan runs two polypropylene (PP) plants at Shaoxing, with a combined nameplate capacity of around 500,000 tonnes/year.


Author: x x



AddThis Social Bookmark Button

For the latest chemical news, data and analysis that directly impacts your business sign up for a free trial to ICIS news - the breaking online news service for the global chemical industry.

Get the facts and analysis behind the headlines from our market leading weekly magazine: sign up to a free trial to ICIS Chemical Business.

Printer Friendly