News in brief

21 June 2013 09:54  [Source: ICB]

LA SEDA DE BARCELONA FILES FOR INSOLVENCY
La Seda de Barcelona (LSB) has filed for insolvency after failing to successfully renegotiate its debts, the Spanish polyethylene terephthalate producer said. The insolvency request was filed with the Commercial Court of Barcelona, according to a company statement submitted to the National Securities Market Commission. LSB, which began refinancing its debts in September last year, said it had been faced with a "bad market over the past two years, and in particular the oversupply, the high costs of raw materials and insufficient margins."

SEVEN POTENTIAL BIDDERS FOR KEM ONE BUSINESS
Potential bidders have emerged for KEM ONE SAS, the upstream business of French vinyls producer KEM ONE, the company's receiver said. Seven letters of interest had been submitted for the company - which was put into receivership in March - by 14 June, the end of the period designated by the tribunal of Lyon Commercial court for offers to be placed by the business. KEM ONE SAS's receiver intends to request that the deadline be extended to allow prospective bidders an opportunity to develop formal acquisition offers.

LINDE TO MANAGE ONSITE GAS SUPPLY FOR SIBUR
Linde will manage and invest nearly €70m in the gas supply infrastructure of Russian petrochemical company SIBUR, the German firm said. Under the agreement, Linde will take responsibility for SIBUR's four air separation units in Dzerzhinsk, Russia. The company will modernise these plants in order to increase their energy efficiency. Two new air separation units, to also be also built in Dzerzhinsk by Linde's engineering division, are expected to come on line in the fourth quarter of 2015.

SIKA PURCHASES UK MANUFACTURER EVERBUILD
Switzerland's specialty chemicals producer Sika has bought construction chemical manufacturer Everbuild as a subsidiary to strengthen its position in the UK. Everbuild has manufacturing facilities in Leeds, and generates annual sales revenue of more than Swiss francs (Swfr) 90m ($99m), Sika said. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

ROCKWOOD TO SELL CERAMTEC FOR €1.49BN
Rockwood Holdings has agreed to sell its ceramics business CeramTec to European private equity firm Cinven for €1.49bn, the US-based producer said. Rockwood added the deal was part of its strategy to become a more focused specialty chemical company. CeramTec, headquartered in Plochingen, Germany, is a global producer of high-performance ceramics materials and products. The deal, which is still subject to customary adjustments, is expected to close in the third quarter of 2013, the company said.

SHUTTERED DIOKI OFFERS CREDITORS REVISED PLAN
Croatia-based polymers manufacturer Dioki has submitted a revised restructuring plan to its creditors, arguing that the company has polystyrene (PS) and polyethylene (PE) units that have a viable future. Through a combination of the cancellation of sums of interest and other fees related to creditors' claims, as well as a reduction in the principal sum owed, slightly more than a quarter of Dioki's debts of Croatian kuna (HRK) 2bn ($357m, €268m) would be wiped out, it added.

NEW TECHNOLOGIES COULD IMPROVE ENERGY USAGE
A roadmap has been released exploring how new technologies in the chemical industry can boost energy efficiency in production processes. The International Energy Agency, International Council of Chemical Associations and the Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology jointly released Technology Roadmap: Energy and GHG Reductions in the Chemical Industry via Catalytic Processes. The groups said the report looks at measures needed from the chemical industry, policymakers and investors to achieve the full potential of catalysts for high-volume processes worldwide.

FLOOD PEAK BLAMED FOR TIME OF SPOLANA CLOSURE
The near two-month complete shutdown at Czech chemical producer Spolana was decided upon after the River Elbe flood culminated in a higher-than-expected wave, the company's owner, Poland's Anwil, said. "It is crucial and an absolute priority to ensure that all flood effects have been identified and properly treated," said Anwil spokesman Krzysztof Wojdylo, explaining why the force majeure period under which Spolana expects to be unable to deliver products was extended to at least 31 July from 20 June.

€3.8BN FOR EU BIOBASED PROGRAMMES
An EU and biobased industry public-private partnership is committing €3.8bn to fund multi-annual programmes for biobased projects from 2014-2020, an official at a French-based trade group said. Biobased and Renewables Industries for Development and Growth in Europe is investing in new and sustainable ways to organise the economy, enabling rural development and reindustrialisation in Europe, said Christophe Luguel, head of internal affairs at biobased products cluster Pole Industries & Agro-Ressources France.

EU CAR REGISTRATIONS FALL BY 5.9% IN MAY
EU passenger car registrations fell in May, ending a short-lived rise reported in April, an industry body said. According to data from the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA), demand for new passenger cars in May fell by 5.9% year on year, reaching 1,042,742 units. The reported fall follows a 1.7% year-on-year increase for EU passenger car registrations in April 2013.


AMERICAS

SHINTECH TO FURTHER INCREASE VCM, PVC
Shintech plans to invest $500m (€375m) to further expand its capacities in Louisiana, parent company Shin-Etsu said. Shintech's planned production capacity increases will be for about 200,000 tonnes/year of caustic soda, 300,000 tonnes/year of vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), and 300,000 tonnes/year of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), Japan-based Shin-Etsu said. The expansion project is expected to be completed in 2015.

DEMAND FOR PLASTICS IN CUPS, LIDS RISING 5.9%/YR
Global demand for plastic materials used in the production of cups and lids will rise by 5.9%/year to $13.9bn in 2017, driven by healthy unit advances for plastic packaging cups and drinking cups, according to US-based research firm The Freedonia Group. Polystyrene (PS) is the leading resin in cup and lid production, but PS growth in this application will be challenged by increasing use of polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) in plastic drinking cups, and by full or partial bans targeting PS packaging, said Freedonia.

FORMOSA RAISES CAPACITY FOR CRACKER, PDH UNIT
Formosa Plastics has revised the capacity of the new ethane cracker it is building in Point Comfort, Texas, with it now being 1m tonnes/year, compared with the 800,000 tonnes/year that the company initially announced, a spokesman confirmed. Formosa revealed the updated capacity in a permit application, filed with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As well as the cracker, Formosa Plastics also plans to build a propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit, which will have a propylene capacity of 658,000 tonnes/year, the permit said. That is slightly larger than the 600,000 tonne/year capacity that Formosa Plastics initially announced in 2012.

US TRADE AGENCY BACKS SI GROUP IN DISPUTE
The US International Trade Commission (ITC) has ruled in favour of SI Group in a trade dispute against Chinese firms over the alleged violation of trade secrets, the US-based producer of phenolic resins, alkylphenolic resins, alkylated phenols and other chemical intermediates said. SI Group said that the ITC ruled that Chinese firms Sino Legend and Red Avenue had misappropriated its trade secrets related to the production of rubber resins. SI now expects that the commission will prohibit Sino Legend and Red Avenue from importing the affected products into the US, it said.

PARTNERSHIP TO CONVERT METHANE TO LACTIC ACID
US biogas technology firm Calysta Energy announced that it is working with US biopolymer producer NatureWorks to develop a process of fermenting methane into lactic acid building blocks for bioplastics. Calysta will develop its BioGTC biological gas-to-chemicals platform, using methanotrophic bacteria to convert methane into high-value chemicals such as lactic acid, lactide intermediates and other biopolymers.

US NEW HOME BUILDING RISES BY NEARLY 7% IN MAY
US new home construction rose by nearly 7% in May from April, the Commerce Department said, but the advance was almost entirely in apartment buildings while the core single-family home sector saw only minor improvement. In its monthly report, the department said that housing starts in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 914,000, an increase of 6.8% from the upwardly revised April figure of 856,000. New residential construction in May also was 28.6% ahead of activity in the same month of 2012.

BRAZIL'S PLASTICS DEFICIT WIDENS BY 19.6%
Brazil's trade deficit for processed plastics reached $802.6m (€603.0m) in the first four months of 2013, a 19.6% increase compared with the same period last year, the country's plastics industry association (Abiplast) said. Exports from January to the end of April fell by 2.4% year on year to $439.7m, while imports increased by 10.7% to just over $1.24bn, Abiplast said.

PETROBRAS, SINOPEC TO STUDY JOINT REFINERY
Brazilian state-run energy producer Petrobras has signed a letter of intent with Chinese petrochemical giant Sinopec to study the possibility of forming a joint venture to build and operate the planned Premium I refinery in the city of Bacabeira in Maranhao state, Brazil, Petrobras confirmed. Premium I would be built in two stages, with each stage having a processing capacity of 300,000 bbl/day, Petrobras has said.

AIR LIQUIDE IN UNIT DEAL WITH LYONDELLBASELL
Air Liquide signed a long-term contract with LyondellBasell, in which the France-based industrial gas producer will supply steam, power, gas and water to the company's plants in Pasadena, Texas. Under the agreement, Air Liquide will spend €180m ($240m) on expanding the capacity and extend the life of a cogeneration unit and also upgrade and expand its air separation unit.


ASIA

BP ZHUHAI GIVEN APPROVAL TO BUILD THIRD PTA PLAN
BP Zhuhai has secured approval from China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) to build its third purified terephthalic acid (PTA) plant in Guangdong province, a part-owner of the Chinese firm said. The yuan (CNY) 4.1bn ($669m) plant with a 1.25m tonne/year capacity will be built at the same site as the company's two existing plants, according to Zhuhai Port Co, which holds a 15% stake in the petrochemical firm.

JAPAN'S MITSUI ENGG WINS SASOL FEED CONTRACT
Japan's Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding has secured a contract to provide front-end engineering and design (FEED) for Sasol's low density polyethylene (LDPE) plant at Louisiana in the US. The 420,000 tonne/year LDPE plant is part of the South African producer's planned world-scale ethane cracker and derivatives complex that will be built in Lake Charles.

JUPC EXTENDS MEG SHUTDOWN TO END OF JUNE
SABIC subsidiary Jubail United Petrochemical Co (JUPC) has extended the shutdown of its monoethylene glycol (MEG) No 1 unit in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, on unspecified issues, a source close to the company said. The 700,000 tonne/year MEG plant was taken off line at the end of May for a safety check-up, which was initially set to last two weeks. JUPC's 640,000 tonne/year No 2 MEG unit at the site is due for a 20-day shutdown for safety inspection in September-October 2013.

MICHELIN, CHANDRA ASRI FORM JOINT VENTURE
French tyre maker Michelin and a subsidiary of Indonesian petrochemical producer Chandra Asri have formed a joint venture to produce synthetic rubber in Indonesia. Construction on the $435m (€326m) project is expected to begin in early 2015, with completion and start-up scheduled for early 2017, the companies said in a news release. Michelin will own 55% of the company, while Chandra Asri subsidiary Petrokimia Butadiene Indonesia will own the remaining 45%.

SABIC LOWERS MEG ACP NOMINATION BY $50/TONNE
Saudi Arabia's petrochemical major SABIC has nominated a lower price for its July monoethylene glycol (MEG) Asian Contract Price (ACP), down by $50/tonne (€38/tonne) from its June nomination as spot prices declined, a company source said. "Our July MEG ACP nomination was proposed at $1,100/tonne CFR (cost & freight) Asia [so] as to narrow the gap against spot prices," the source said.

FUSHUN PETROCHEMICAL TO DELAY SBR RESTART
China's Fushun Petrochemical, a PetroChina subsidiary, is planning to delay the restart of its 200,000 tonne/year styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) plant in Liaoning province to early July from 20 June, a company source said. The plant was shut for maintenance in mid-May, along with the producer's 150,000 tonne/year and 800,000 tonne/year naphtha crackers at the site.

JAPAN MAY PVC OUTPUT GROWS BY A QUARTER
Japan's polyvinyl chloride (PVC) production in May rose by 25% year on year to 118,043 tonnes, data from Vinyl Environmental Council showed. Meanwhile, its vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) output for the month rose by 82% year on year to 202,422 tonnes. Exports of VCM more than tripled to 46,835 tonnes from the previous year.

CPC TO RUN KAOHSIUNG CRACKER AT 85%
Taiwan's CPC Corp plans to run its 500,000 tonne/year No 5 cracker in Kaohsiung at a 85% of capacity for the rest of June, citing lower ethylene demand from downstream vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) sector, a company official said. The company's 385,000 tonne/year No 4 naphtha cracker in Linyuan, currently operating at 90% of capacity, is due for a 90-day scheduled maintenance from end-September.

CHINA'S ZRCC RUNS NAPHTHA CRACKER AT 70%
China's Zhenhai Refining & Chemical Co (ZRCC) is operating its 1m tonne/year naphtha cracker in Ningbo at 70% of capacity following a brief outage, sources close to the firm said. The cracker was shut in the afternoon of 17 June because of failure at its compressor, but was restarted the following day. Resumption to full operating rate is expected within the week.


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