News in brief

10 May 2013 09:38  [Source: ICB]

EUROPE

INEOS, SOLVAY TEAM UP TO FORM PVC JOINT VENTURE
Solvay and INEOS have signed a letter of intent to combine their chlorvinyls businesses into a 50:50 joint venture, forming one of the world's largest polyvinyl chloride producers. The Belgium and Switzerland-based chemical producers said the merged business would have combined net sales of €4.3bn ($5.8bn) and recurring earning before interest taxes, depreciation and amortisation of €257m, based on figures in 2012.

BASF HITS NEW PRODUCTS SALES OF €8.5BN IN 2012
BASF reported sales of about €8.5bn in 2012 from new products that have been on the market for less than five years. The Germany-based chemicals producer said it aims in 2020 to achieve sales of €30bn from new products that will have been on the market for less than 10 years. In 2012, it launched more than 250 new products.

TRAIN CARRYING ACN FOR DSM DERAILS IN BELGIUM
A freight train carrying acrylonitrile (ACN) for Dutch chemicals firm DSM derailed near Ghent in Belgium, causing explosions and chemical fumes to leak, according to official statements and local media reports. One person was killed following the incident and 49 were injured after inhaling toxic fumes, the reports said.

GERMANY'S EVONIK Q1 NET PROFIT UP 7%; SALES DIP 4%
Evonik posted a 7% year-on-year increase in its first-quarter net profit to €289m, mainly on lower interest and income tax expenses. The German specialty chemicals group said sales for the quarter fell by 4% year on year to €3.26bn because of lower selling prices and higher raw material costs.

OMV ANNOUNCES €230M BD PLANTS INVESTMENT
Petrochemicals group OMV is to invest €230m in building a new butadiene (BD) plant at its Burghausen refinery in Germany and upgrading an existing plant at the Schwechat refinery in Austria. Significant growth in worldwide demand for BD, mainly used in the manufacturing of tyres, has led to the move.

LANXESS LOOKS TO SAVE AS Q1 NET PROFIT FALLS
Germany-based specialty chemicals producer LANXESS is planning to implement cost-saving measures in its Performance Chemicals segment after posting lower earnings in the first quarter of 2013. The company saw its total net profit in the first quarter of 2013 fall 87% year on year to €25m because of weak demand.

BRENNTAG POSTS 11.8% DROP IN Q1 NET PROFIT
Brenntag's first-quarter net profit declined by 11.8% year on year to €69.7m, despite a 1.4% increase in sales, the German chemical distributor said. Sales for the March quarter stood at €2.42bn, while EBITDA declined by 4% to €164.7m.

LENZING Q1 NET PROFIT FALL 56.8%, SALES DOWN BY 6%
Lenzing generated €20.9m in first-quarter net profit, a decline of 56.8% year on year, as sales dropped by 6.0% to €496.5m, the Austrian plastics and fibres producer said. EBITDA for the quarter fell by 30.7% year on year to €64.5m. In the second quarter, the company expects to post €65m-70m in EBITDA.

SOCAR PLANS BOND ISSUE TO RAISE PP PLANT CAPITAL
The State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) will this year turn to the eurobonds market to raise capital for investments including a polypropylene plant. The state-owned company would within 2013 look to raise $400m from eurobond issues for petrochemical projects.

CIECH CONSIDERS SODA ASH EXPANSION IN POLAND
European soda ash producer Ciech is looking at expanding its capacity in Poland to 1.4m tonnes/year from 1.2m tonnes/year. The Polish group would spend zloty (Zl) 230m ($72.8m, €55.6m) on the expansion if it went ahead, group spokesman Mariusz Babula said.

BASF SCHWARZHEIDE TDI UNIT BACK ON STREAM
BASF's toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) facility in Schwarzheide, Germany, is back on stream and running normally again following planned maintenance, a company said. The maintenance went according to schedule. Previous reports suggested the turnaround started on 6 April and would last until around 29 April.

SLUGGISH SHIPPING SECTOR HITS ODFJELL Q1 RESULTS
Norway's Odfjell posted a net loss of $13m for the first quarter of this year, as a result of prevailing weakness in the chemicals shipping market. The result represents the shipping company's fifth consecutive loss-making quarter.

AMERICAS

NOVA CHEMICAL MAY BUILD THE FIRST PE PLANT
NOVA Chemical may complete its first polyethylene (PE) plant among the wave of projects that could come on line in the forthcoming years. NOVA Chemicals is building a 1bn lb/year (454,000 tonne/year) linear low density PE (LLDPE) plant at its site in Joffre, Alberta. The company already has approved funding to build the $1bn (€760m) plant, said CEO Randy Woelfel during an earnings conference call.

NOVA CRACKER TO BEGIN RECEIVING NGLS IN MONTHS
NOVA Chemicals' cracker in Corunna, Ontario, could begin receiving ethane from the Marcellus Shale in the next few months, part of the company's plan to have the plant use up to 100% natural gas liquids (NGLs). The company has signed several ethane supply memorandums of understanding (MoUs) to procure, transport and use Marcellus Shale Basin ethane as the primary feedstock for its Corunna complex.

FINAL RESOLUTION IN DOW CHEMICAL/K-DOW DISPUTE
Dow Chemical has received a $2.2bn (€1.7bn) cash payment from Petrochemical Industries Company of Kuwait (PIC). The payment completes final resolution of a dispute that arose after PIC in 2008 pulled out of the proposed K-Dow joint venture with Dow Chemical. Dow will use the cash to pay down debt and reward shareholders.

WESTLAKE CHLOR-ALKALI PROJECT READY BY Q4
US-based petrochemical producer Westlake expects to complete its new chlor-alkali plant in Geismar, Louisiana in the fourth quarter of this year, CEO Albert Chao said. The plant, which will use membrane-based technology, will be adjacent to Westlake's existing vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) units at its complex in Geismar, Louisiana.

WILLIAMS TO BRING DOWN US PETCHEM COMPLEX
Williams expects to bring down its petrochemicals complex at Geismar, Louisiana, for about 50 days, starting in the second half of August. During the downtime, the company will do maintenance and tie in the existing plant with an ethylene expansion project, said Randy Newcomer, a vice president at Williams.

FORMOSA FORCE MAJEURE ON HDPE HMW FROM TEXAS
US polyethylene (PE) producer Formosa Plastics has declared force majeure on high density polyethylene (HDPE) high molecular weight (HMW) products produced at its Point Comfort, Texas, facility, sources said. The company experienced a flash fire at its complex on 2 May. The plant had been running before the fire started but has since been shut down and will not restart until an investigation and assessment of the fire is done, Formosa said.

ARGENTINA'S PS PRODUCTION RESUMES
Petrobras Energia, the main polystyrene (PS) producer in Argentina, restarted its Zarate PS plant over the 5 May weekend after a maintenance turnaround and protracted talks with the labour unions. The plant stopped operations around 10 March, and was initially scheduled to resume operations on 26 April, but there was no agreement achieved in talks with the labour unions and the restart was delayed.

NOVA CHEMICALS' Q1 PROFIT SLIPS TO $185M
NOVA Chemicals 2013 first-quarter profit fell by $3m (€2.3m) year on year to $185m, mainly because of a write-off related to early repayment of debentures, the Canada-based petrochemicals major said. The decline was partly offset by increased margins in NOVA's olefins/polyolefins business. NOVA's sales for the three months ended 31 March fell by 6.7% year on year to $1.25bn.

US WESTLAKE CHEMICAL Q1 NET INCOME UP BY 40%
Westlake Chemical's Q1 net income increased by 40% year on year to $123.3m (€93.7m) despite a 16% fall in net sales, the US producer said. Westlake's net sales of $864.6m for the quarter were down mainly because of lower feedstock, ethylene and ethylene co-product sales volumes and lower sales prices for polyethylene and PVC resin.

HOLLYFRONTIER TO START TURNAROUND AT OKLAHOMA
HollyFrontier will begin planned work on several units at its Tulsa refinery in Oklahoma some time this month. The turnaround at the east plant is scheduled to take place on a few units, including the crude unit and reformer. During that time, the west plant will continue to operate at 90,000 bbl/day, said David Lamp, chief operating officer.

US WILLIAMS' Q1 NET INCOME FALLS BY 21%
Williams Partners' net income fell more than 21% in Q1 2013 year on year due to a sharp decline in natural gas liquids (NGL) margins from Q1 2012 and related ethane rejection, the US-based midstream firm said. Net income for Q1 2013 was $321m (€244m), compared with $408m during the same period a year before.

PETROBRAS SEEKS TO DOUBLE OIL PRODUCTION
Brazil's state energy producer Petrobras seeks to double its oil production by 2020, the CEO said. By then, oil production should reach 5.7m bbl/day, up from 2.2m bbl/day in 2012, said Maria das Gracas Foster. The forecast includes Petrobras and its partners. Plans call for investments of nearly $237bn (€180bn) between 2013-2017.

ASIA

ASIA PETCHEM MAKERS TO STAY RELIANT ON NAPHTHA
Naphtha will remain the main feedstock for Asian petrochemical manufacturers in the near term, despite the advent of shale gas in North America that promises much cheaper cost of production, Petrochemicals Industry Association of Taiwan (PIAT) executive manager Jack Shieh said.

JINDAL POLY FILMS TO BUY EXXONMOBIL BUSINESS
India-based Jindal Poly Films has agreed to purchase US oil and chemical giant ExxonMobil's global biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) film business, Jindal. The deal is valued at $235m (€179m) and should close by the end of July. The two companies agreed to the framework of the deal in October 2012 and signed a sales agreement on 3 May 2013, the New Delhi-headquartered flexible packaging films producer said.

WUHAN PETROCHEMICAL DELAYS PE, PP TRIAL RUNS
China's Wuhan Petrochemical has delayed trial runs at its two new polyethylene (PE) plants and a polypropylene (PP) plant in Hubei province, a source close to the company said. The delay was because of a technical issue at the plants, and the company will conduct the trial runs in June, the source added.

SINOPEC YIZHENG CHEM FIBRE BDO UNIT ON-SPEC
China's Sinopec Yizheng Chemical Fibre Co (YCF) has achieved on-spec production at its new 100,000 tonne/year 1,4-butanediol (BDO) plant in Jiangsu province that was started up on 1 May, a source close to the company said.

DUTCH DSM TO BUY 19% OF YANTAI ANDRE PECTIN
DSM will acquire a 19% stake in Yantai Andre Pectin, a China-based maker of texturing ingredients, for an undisclosed amount, the Dutch chemicals firm says. The deal, which is subject to regulatory approvals, is expected to close in the third quarter of this year. DSM is also given an option to raise its stake to become a majority shareholder at a later stage.

FORMOSA PETROCHEMICAL APRIL SALES FALL BY 20.7%
Taiwan's Formosa Petrochemical Corp (FPCC) posted a 20.7% year-on-year drop in its April revenues at New Taiwan dollar (NT$) 68.5bn ($2.29bn), the producer said. The company's sales fell marginally by 0.12% year on year to NT$316bn in January-April this year, according to data posted on FPCC's website. The company did not provide a breakdown of its revenues for the month.

BASF OPENS ADSORBENTS APPLICATION LAB IN CHINA
BASF has opened its first adsorbents application development centre for the Asia-Pacific region at Pudong in Shanghai, a company source says. "The lab equipment is in the final testing stage now," the source added. The laboratory is located at its Asia Pacific Innovation Campus, which houses the company's research and development, sales and marketing departments, BASF said in a statement.

YNCC KEEPS RUN RATES AT YEOSU CRACKERS AT 85%
South Korea's Yeochun NCC (YNCC) is maintaining its cracker run rates in Yeosu at 85% capacity, a company source said. Its cracker run rates were at 85% capacity since early April, down from 90% capacity in March, following the shutdown of a downstream polyethylene (PE) plant at the site in early March, the official said earlier.

ZHEJIANG SATELLITE TARGETS NOVEMBER FOR UNIT
China's Zhejiang Satellite Petro Chemical will complete the construction of its 450,000 tonne/year propylene unit at Pinghu city in Zhejiang province at the end of November this year, a source close to the company said. The preliminary construction of the propylene project in Zhejiang province started in August 2011. Zhejiang Satellite is a major acrylic acid and acrylic ester producer in Zhejiang province in east China.

HENGLI PETROCHEMICAL STARTS POLYESTER PLANT
China's Hengli Petrochemical started up its 200,000 tonne/year polyester plant at Dalian in Liaoning province on 5 May, a company source said. The new polyester plant will start producing semi-dull polyethylene terephthalate (PET) chips in two to three days, and polyester film at the end of 2013, the source said, without disclosing the current specific operating rate.

NAN YA STARTS SOLID MA COMMERCIAL PRODUCTION
Taiwan's Nan Ya Plastics is now also producing pastille-type solid maleic anhydride (MA) at its new facility in Mailiao, a company source said. In end-February, the 60,000 tonne/year MA plant started commercial production of molten MA, the source said.

MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA

BOROUGE 3 TO START PRODUCTION IN 2014
Borouge's petrochemical capacity expansion at Ruwais in Abu Dhabi is on track to be completed late this year, with commercial production expected to begin in early 2014, a company executive said. The project, called Borouge 3, will more than double the company's polyolefins capacity to 4.5m tonnes/year.


By: Will Beacham
+44 20 8652 3214



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