News in brief

05 April 2013 17:05  [Source: ICB]

AMERICAS

DOW BEGINS TURNAROUND AT FREEPORT CRACKER
US-based Dow Chemical has started the turnaround process at its Freeport cracker in Texas. According to a filing with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the company reported flaring emissions due to shutting down, clearing and re-starting the ethylene plant to perform required scheduled maintenance. Sources said the turnaround is expected to last for 60 days, and began on 1 April. The company has 1.655m tonnes/year of ethylene capacity at the site.

CYTEC COMPLETES SALE OF COATING RESINS
US-based Cytec Industries has completed the sale of its coating resins business to private equity firm Advent International. Cytec sold the business for $1.13bn (€881m), including assumed liabilities of about $118m. In October 2011, Cytec said it was looking at options for its coating resins business, including a divestment. A year later, it reached a deal to sell the business to Advent.

KINDER MORGAN TO INVEST $58M TO EXPAND STORAGE
Kinder Morgan Energy Partners will invest $58m (€45m) to expand its methanol-storage capacity in Geismar, Louisiana, near a site where Methanex is moving a plant from Chile. Kinder Morgan signed a long-term contract with Methanex to build, own and operate storage tanks and improvements made to its existing dock at the Geismar Liquids Terminal. The facility will provide marine, rail and truck access to support a 1m tonne/year methanol plant that Methanex is moving from Chile this year.

BRAZIL LOWERS MEG IMPORT TARIFF TO 12%
Brazil's chamber of foreign trade (Camex) said it has restored the import tariff on monoethylene glycol (MEG) to the South American trading block Mercosur's common external tariff (TEC) rate of 12%. The tariff was reduced from 20%, which had been in effect since last September after Camex had increased the rates on a number of items to help protect domestic industry. The reinstatement of was a result of the "continuous monitoring" of those items that had been subject to the tariff increases.

ROLANDO IS APPOINTED AS HEAD OF EVONIK CORP
John Rolando has been named president of Evonik Corp, the North American subsidiary of Germany-based Evonik Industries. Rolando's appointment became effective on 1 April, the company said. He is replacing Tom Bates, who is retiring after more than 15 years at Evonik's North American arm. Rolando was most recently president of the company's business unit, Performance Polymers North America. He was also vice president of marketing for feed additives in Germany among other roles. Rolando joined the company in 1987.

UK DISTRIBUTOR MELROB OPENS US OFFICE
UK-based chemical distributor Melrob Group has opened an office in Jacksonville, Florida, US. "Adopting the policy of being local to our customers, the time was right to establish a presence in the North American market," said managing director Ian Melluish. Melrob's US operations are managed by Marc Jackson, business vice president. The initial focus is to develop sales into the biomaterials and energy curing market sectors and to grow the sales of the acrylate and methacrylate portfolios.


EUROPE

CHEMICALS PRODUCTION TO GROW 3.6% IN 2013 - BASF
BASF's CEO Kurt Bock said global chemicals production, excluding pharmaceuticals products, is likely to grow by 3.6% in 2013 compared with 2.6% in 2012, driven by a stronger performance from emerging market economies. The figure would mark a rebound to close to the levels seen during 2011 when worldwide chemical production growth stood at 3.8%.

FRACKING MOVE WELCOMED BY GERMAN INDUSTRY
Germany's top industry trade group, BDI, has welcomed plans by the country's federal government to prepare rules for hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the controversial technology used in the exploration and production of shale gas. The challenges posed by Germany's energy policies - with an exit from nuclear power generation by 2022 - made it necessary to look at new energy supplies, including domestic shale gas resources, said Markus Kerber, the general manager of BDI. German chemical producers' trade group VCI is a member of BDI.

COMPLIANCE ISSUES FOR 'LARGE PART' OF REACH
A significant proportion of registrations submitted under the Reach chemicals legislation raise compliance concerns, Finland-based body the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) said. According to the agency's 2012 progress report on evaluation under the Reach legislation, the ECHA was able to close the books on just 33% of the 354 compliance checks that it carried out during 2012. Insufficient information on subject identity was the most common shortcoming with Reach registrations, occurring in 66% of cases where there was an issue with registration data, the report said.

BOREALIS Q4 2012 NET PROFITS UP BY 72%
Borealis's fourth-quarter (Q4) 2012 net profits were 72% higher at €100m on 18% higher sales at €1.87bn. The Austria-headquartered plastics, chemicals and fertilizer producer said full year 2012 net profits had fallen by 5% to €480m, largely because of the weaker polyolefins margin environment in Europe. Full-year 2012 sales were up by 6% at €7.55bn.

HUNGARY'S MOL SUFFERS Q4 LOSS of FT3.4BN
Hungarian group MOL said its petrochemical division saw a forint (Ft) 3.4bn ($15.1m) operating loss in the fourth quarter of 2012 against its restated Ft8.3m operating loss in the same period a year ago. Petrochemical sales volumes fell by 9% year on year to 328,000 tonnes, with sales volumes of olefins and polyolefin down by 14% to 72,000 tonnes and 7% lower at 256,000 tonnes respectively.

UK'S CRODA Q4 OPERATING PROFIT RISES BY 5.1%
Croda International reported a 5.1% year-on-year increase in its fourth-quarter operating profit to £61.9m on higher sales in all of its business segments. The UK-based specialty chemicals firm posted a 2.2% year-on-year rise in its fourth-quarter sales to £240.1m. For the full year of 2012, the company's operating profit grew by 7.4% to £255.4m, with sales reaching £1.05bn, up by 2.3%.


ASIA

INDONESIA'S PERTAMINA SIGNS DEAL WITH PTTGC
Indonesian state-owned oil and gas firm Pertamina signed a heads of agreement with Thailand's PTT Global Chemical to build a new petrochemicals complex in Indonesia that will include world-scale olefin and polymer production facilities. The complex, with an investment of up to $5bn (€4bn), is expected to begin commercial operations in 2018 at the latest. The new complex will include a 1m tonne/year cracker and be aimed at reducing Indonesia's dependence on imported products.

ZHEJIANG HENGYI FACILITY TO USE UOP TECHNOLOGY
Honeywell UOP said that its technology will be used to produce aromatics at Zhejiang Hengyi Group's new petrochemical complex in Brunei. Announced in April 2012, the $4.29bn (€3.35bn) complex will include a 1.5m light naphtha facility, a 1.5m tonne/year paraxylene (PX) unit and 500,000 tonne/year benzene plant, as well as diesel, gasoline and jet fuel production. Aromatics production is expected to start up in 2015, UOP said.

TIANJIN BOHUA TO BEGIN TRIAL RUNS AT PDH PLANT
China's Tianjin Bohua Petrochemical is planning to begin trial runs at its 600,000 tonnes/year propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant at Tianjin in September this year, a company source said. Construction work at the plant ended earlier this year, the source said. The firm expects its overall sales to total yuan (CNY) 7bn ($1bn) annually following the start-up of the new PDH unit, the company source said.

RELIANCE DELAYS RESTART OF VADODARA LAB PLANT
India's Reliance Industries has extended the length of the maintenance shutdown at its 60,000 tonne/year linear alkyl benzene (LAB) plant at Vadodara in Gujarat state by two to three weeks, a source close to the firm said.

MARUZEN TO RESTART MEG UNIT IN MIDDLE OF APRIL
Japan's Maruzen Petrochemical plans to restart its 82,000 tonne/year monoethylene glycol (MEG) unit at Yokkaichi in Mie prefecture in mid-April after a turnaround, a company source said. The MEG unit was shut in mid-March for scheduled maintenance, the source said. The MEG production loss from Maruzen was balanced out by the slow demand from the downstream polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle chip sector in Japan.


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