This week in brief

22 March 2013 09:16  [Source: ICB]

EUROPE

MOMENTIVE RAMPS UP EPOXY RESINS IN SPAIN
Momentive Specialty Chemicals has more than tripled its waterborne epoxy resin production capacity with the development of new production facilities in Barbastro, Spain, the US-based company said. The site will allow it to produce its complete range of standard and modified epoxy resin emulsions and dispersions, and is already producing Momentive’s in-house surfactants.

EU CHEM EXPORTS RISE BY 8% IN 2012 - EUROSTAT
EU exports of chemical products increased by 8% year on year in 2012, EU statistics body Eurostat said. Exports for the full-year 2012 stood at €276.2bn ($358.7bn) while import levels increased by 4% year on year to €161.7bn. Increased export levels for the year also helped to drive the region’s trade surplus for chemical products to €114.5bn, a 14% increase on the €100.8bn trade surplus for the full-year 2011.

HUNTSMAN PUTS MDI OPS UNDER MAINTENANCE
Planned maintenance is underway at Huntsman’s methyl di-phenylene isocyanate (MDI) operations at Rozenburg in the Netherlands, a company source said. "The turnaround started as planned last Friday [15 March] and it affects both MDI units [at the site]," said the source, adding that: "It is planned and routine and has been taken into consideration." The outage is likely to last around four weeks. MDI capacity there is estimated at 400,000 tonnes/year.

BASF CUTS GERMANY JOBS TO FOCUS ON ASIA-PACIFIC
Jobs will be lost in Germany but added in China, India and Turkey in a "re-shaping" of BASF’s leather and textiles chemicals business, the company said. The Germany-headquartered chemicals major said it would increase focus in the business on Asia-Pacific markets and "high value-adding applications" such as those for "the leather automotive industry and premium textile articles".

CROATIA-BASED DIOKI GOES INTO PRE-BANKRUPTCY
Croatia-based polymers manufacturer Dioki has entered into a pre-bankruptcy process, one of the bidders for the company said, which it added could be utilised to save production units. Croatian oil and gas supplier Crodux Plin is one of the businesses interested in acquiring Dioki, and has submitted a plan for the takeover and restructuring of the company. Crodux has requested that Dioki’s board invite it to financially and operationally restructure the company in line with pre-bankruptcy settlements, as part of a plan that would see it take a majority stake.

VERSALIS CRACKER BACK TO NORMAL AFTER RESTART
Versalis’ cracker in Dunkirk, France is running normally following an unplanned outage, a source from the Italy-based producer said. The cracker went down unexpectedly around 20 February because of an undisclosed technical problem and was restarted the week ended 15 March. The cracker has the capacity to produce 380,000 tonnes/year of ethylene and 210,000 tonnes/year of propylene, according to ICIS data.

RUSSIA PETCHEM OUTPUT RISES IN 2013 TO DATE
Russia’s overall production of chemical and petrochemical products was up year on year in January and February, Russian statistics agency Rosstat said. In the January-February period this year, plastics output was 13.2% up year on year at 978,000 tonnes while synthetic rubber production was 9.3% up year on year at 275,000 tonnes.

LINDE WINS CONTRACT TO BUILD GASSCO TERMINAL
German gases and engineering firm Linde Group has won a contract from Norwegian state-owned company Gassco to build a natural gas terminal in Emden, Germany, it said. The contract deal, worth around €260m ($333m), was awarded by Gassco on behalf of the Gassled joint venture. The new terminal, which is set to go on stream at the end of 2015, will distribute natural gas from Norwegian-owned gas fields in the North Sea to Germany.

OLTCHIM NAMES CHEMICAL ENGINEER AS NEW CEO
Oltchim shareholders said that a new CEO, Mihail Talpasanu, has been selected for the Romania-based chemicals company. He will be expected to steer the insolvent company towards a potential future privatisation. A chemical engineer, Talpasanu replaces Mihai Balan, whose mandate ended on 15 March.

AMERICAS

PROPYLENE INVENTORIES IN US INCREASE BY 9.7%
US propylene inventories jumped 9.7% week on week to hit their highest level in nine weeks, according to data released by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). US inventories of nonfuel refinery-sourced propylene were at 3.354m bbl for the week ended 15 March, compared with 3.057m bbl a week earlier. This is the highest inventories have been in the US since the week ended 4 January, when stockpiles were at 3.475m bbl. Sources said demand has declined on high downstream stockpiles while refinery operating rates have risen.

KATOEN NATIE TO BUILD $150M PETCHEM STORAGE
A Belgian logistics firm plans to build a $150m (€116m) petrochemical storage and processing complex in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the company said. Katoen Natie’s 2m square foot facility (190,000 square metres) near the ExxonMobil plant there will process and store chemical products when completed in 2018. The first phase, which will include 600,000 square feet of storage space and rail lines, is expected to be finished by the end of the year.

TOYO SIGNS DEAL TO BUILD EVOH PLANT IN HOUSTON
Japan’s Toyo Engineering said it has won a turnkey contract from Nippon Synthetic Chemical Industry to build a 15,000 tonne/year ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) plant at La Porte in Houston. Construction of the new plant is scheduled to begin in the summer of this year and be completed at the end of 2014. The project will add a third production line to two existing lines, which have a combined EVOH capacity of 23,000 tonnes/year, according to Toyo.

HUNTSMAN RETURNS TEXAS CRACKER TO FULL RATES
US chemical company Hunstsman said it has returned its Port Neches cracker in Texas to full operation after a period of maintenance. The company shut down the 193,000 tonne/year unit in January, but restarting it at the end of the maintenance period took longer than expected as a result of issues with bringing it back online. Adverse weather was also a factor.

NUMBER OF US HOUSING STARTS RISES 0.8% IN FEB
US new home construction rose by 0.8% in February from January, the Commerce Department said, and last month’s 4.6% growth in the number of building permits issued suggests continued housing recovery ahead. Housing starts last month were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 917,000 units, a 0.8% gain over the upwardly revised January figure of 910,000. The current pace of US residential construction activity is considerably ahead of year-ago figures. The February home building pace was nearly 28% higher than February 2012.

NEXEO GETS ARKEMA FLOOR CARE RESINS DISTRIBUTION
Nexeo Solutions has been appointed exclusive distributor for Arkema’s acrylic and styrene acrylic emulsion products for floor care applications throughout the US and Canada, the US-based chemicals distributor said. The deal includes distribution of Arkema’s ENCOR-brand product line. In addition to marketing and distribution, Nexeo will provide dedicated technical services, such as formulation, lab and application assistance to Arkema.

FLINT HILLS RESOURCES REPORTS UNIT SHUTDOWNS
US producer Flint Hills Resources has shut down of several process units at its Port Arthur chemical facilities in Texas, according to a public filing. The shut down occurred on 19 March and was caused by a leak on the demethanizer feed tower feed separator in the light olefins unit, according to the filing with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The company has 621,000 tonnes/year of ethylene capacity at the cracker, which was restarted the week ended 15 March after a week-long outage.

MAINTENANCE ENDS AT BAYER TDI UNITS IN TEXAS
The maintenance turnaround for Bayer MaterialScience’s toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) units in Baytown, Texas, is complete and both units are operational. Bayer’s methyl di-p-phenylene isocyanate (MDI) production train is still undergoing its planned nine-week turnaround, the company said. The company has been conducting inspections, and performing maintenance and project work. Bayer is working with its customers to plan for their needs during the turnaround.

PHILLIPS 66 SEALS DEALS FOR CRUDE LOGISTICS
Phillips 66 has sealed three agreements with energy logistics firms to increase supplies of lower-cost US and Canadian crudes to its US refineries. Enbridge will provide railcar loadings of US Bakken shale crude to Phillips 66 refineries on the west and east coasts, and possibly in the US Gulf Coast. Targa Resources Partners agreed to provide rail unloading and barge loading services in Tacoma, Washington. Magellan Midstream Partners will transport cost-advantaged crudes on Magellan’s pipelines near Phillips 66’s refinery in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

CANADA CHEM SALES RISE 1.7% IN JANUARY
Canadian chemical sales rose by 1.7% to Canadian dollar (C$) 4.03bn ($3.91bn) in January from December. Compared with January 2012, chemical sales were up 0.1% year on year, Statistics Canada said. Sales of plastics and rubber products rose 2.2% to C$1.93bn in January, from December. Compared with January 2012, plastics and rubber product sales were down 1.7% year on year. Canadian petroleum and coal product sales fell 1.8% to C$7.05bn in January from December but were up 1.5% year on year from January 2012.

ASIA

INDIANOIL’S ACETIC ACID JV MAKES PROGRESS
IndianOil’s planned acetic acid (AA) joint venture at Vadodara, Gujarat, is progressing, with technology selection for the upstream units likely to completed over the next few months. The proposed 1m tonne/year AA plant - a joint venture with BP Chemical - will be based on petroleum coke generated at IndianOil’s refinery at Koyali, Vadodara. Besides the acetic acid facility, the project also includes petroleum coke gasification and syngas production. The project, which is expected to cost Rs60-65bn ($1.1-1.2bn), is likely to be completed in 2016-2017.

INDIANOIL AIMS AT 2016 FOR POLYPROPYLENE PROJECT
IndianOil hopes to commission a 680,000 tonnes/year polypropylene (PP) project at Paradip, on the east coast of India, in 2016. "The project will shortly go for board approval; if we get the approval in the next two to three months then we can start up in 2016," said Sidhartha Mitra, executive director for petrochemicals at IndianOil. The PP project will be downstream of IndianOil’s new 15m tonnes/year refinery at Paradip, which is scheduled to start up in phases from September and expected to be fully operational in March 2014, said Mitra.

INDIANOIL TO EXPAND LAB CAPACITY IN 2015-2016
IndianOil plans to expand its linear alkyl benzene (LAB) plant at Vadodara in Gujarat state by 42,000 tonnes/year in 2015-2016. "Demand for LAB in India is expected to grow at 6-7% annually in the coming years, as rural consumption of surfactants has increased," said Sidhartha Mitra, executive director for petrochemicals. Following the expansion, IndianOil’s LAB capacity will increase to 162,000 tonnes/year. IndianOil had been looking at expanding its LAB capacity for a few years, but no firm decision or start-up date had beeen announced.

TAIWAN’S FPCC MULLS CRACKER RATE CUTS
Taiwan’s Formosa Petrochemical Corp (FPCC) is considering reducing run rates at its three naphtha crackers at Mailiao, a company source said. The three crackers - with a combined ethylene nameplate capacity of 2.93m tonnes/year - are currently running at 100% capacity, he said. Ethylene margins based on naphtha feedstock have come under pressure in northeast Asia partly because of sharp falls in ethylene and co-product prices.

SABIC SHUTS JUBAIL NO 2 STYRENE MONOMER UNIT
SABIC has unexpectedly shut its 500,000 tonne/year SADAF No 2 styrene monomer (SM) unit at Jubail, Saudi Arabia, on 19 March, a market source said. The specific reason for the shutdown and the exact restarting date for the unit is unavailable. The company shut its 550,000 tonne/year SADAF No 1 styrene monomer (SM) unit at the same site from early February for maintenance, which is expected to be restarted at the end of March.

RELIANCE TO RESTART LAB UNIT BY END OF MARCH
India’s Reliance Industries plans to restart its linear alkyl benzene (LAB) plant at Vadodara in Gujarat state by the end of March after a maintenance shutdown, a source close to the company said. "The plant was shut down in the third week of February, initially for just a month, but it got extended by a couple more weeks because of some technical issues that cropped up," the source said. The turnaround at the 60,000 tonne/year plant has resulted in a tightening of supply in the Indian LAB market, causing inventory levels to decline to 15,000 tonnes in March from 20,000 tonnes in February, market sources said.

TSRC MAY CUT BR RUN RATE IN APRIL ON WEAK DEMAND
Taiwan Synthetic Rubber Corp (TSRC) may reduce the operating rate of its 60,000 tonne/year butadiene rubber (BR) plant in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, to 80% of capacity in April unless market conditions improve, a company source said. The plant is running at 100% of capacity in March, the source added. "We will certainly consider reducing the operating rate by 10-20% if conditions do not improve," the source said.

INDIAN PRODUCERS BRING IN PRICE PROTECTION
India’s Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), Haldia Petrochemicals and GAIL announced a price protection on polypropylene (PP), high density polyethylene (HDPE) and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) in the domestic market, industry sources said. The move is aimed at boosting buying sentiment amid falling import prices and weak downstream demand. The price protection started on 19 March and it will remain valid until 1 April.

AKZONOBEL TO INVEST A FURTHER €65M IN CHINA
Dutch producer AkzoNobel will invest a further €65m ($84m) to boost capacity and significantly improve operational excellence at AkzoNobel’s surface chemistry manufacturing sites in Boxing of Shandong and Ningbo of Zhejiang in China. More than half the money is being invested in the Boxing facility, the company said in a statement. A new alkoxylation unit will be built in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, bringing the total investment at the multi-site close to €400m.


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