News in brief

09 August 2013 09:22  [Source: ICB]

AMERICAS

BRASKEM IDESA GETS $1.5BN FOR ETHYLENE XXI
The Braskem Idesa joint venture received the first $1.5bn (€1.1bn) parcel of a $3.2bn financial package for its Ethylene XXI project in Mexico. The Ethylene XXI complex is expected to include a 1.05m tonne/year ethane cracker; two high density polyethylene (HDPE) plants with capacities of 350,000 tonnes/year and 400,000 tonnes/year; and one 300,000 tonne/year low density polyethylene (LDPE) plant. Braskem owns a 75% stake in the project, with Mexico-based Grupo Idesa owning the rest. The complex should begin operations in the second half of 2015.

FOSTER WHEELER WINS CONTRACT FOR PDH UNIT
Switzerland-based petrochemical engineering firm Foster Wheeler has won an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract from US-based midstream company Enterprise Products Partners to build a propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant in Mont Belvieu, Texas, US.

CENTURION PIPELINE TO PROCEED WITH OIL PROJECT
Centurion Pipeline LP, a unit of Occidental Petroleum, is proceeding with the construction of a pipeline system to transport crude oil from the Cline Shale in West Texas to its Colorado City stations in the US. The 100-mile system, expected to come on line by July 2014, will be able to transport 75,000 bbl/day of crude and interconnect with other systems that will provide access to the Texas Gulf Coast.

LUCITE RESUMES SHIPMENTS, BUT VOLUMES ALLOCATED
US methyl methacrylate (MMA) producer Lucite has resumed shipments to North American customers from its plant in Memphis, Tennessee, the company said. The resumption of domestic supply - at undisclosed allocation levels - came sooner than the company anticipated following a second unplanned outage at one of Lucite’s raw materials suppliers.

BRAZIL REDUCES PTFE IMPORT TARIFF
Brazil has reduced the import tariffs for pentaerythritol and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) from 14% to 2% to prevent shortages of the materials, a government agency has confirmed. Neither chemical is produced in Brazil, said the Chamber of Foreign Trade (Camex). Pentaerythritol is an intermediary used to make paints and solvents. PTFE is used in plastics, civil construction, autos and agriculture, Camex said. It is widely known as Teflon, which is made by DuPont.

MOMENTIVE, MICROBLEND FORM COLOMBIA PAINTS JV
Thermoset resins producer Momentive Specialty Chemicals and paint maker MicroBlend are forming a joint venture to expand the business in Colombia, the US-based companies announced. MicroBlend Colombia will be located in Cali in the western part of the South American country. Momentive’s facility there will produce the pre-paint components for MicroBlend’s Automated Paint Machine System, which makes interior and exterior latex paints and primers.

ROCKWOOD Q2 NET INCOME DOWN BY 86%
US specialty chemicals company Rockwood Holdings’ net income fell by 86% year on year during the second quarter of the year to $32.3m (€24.2m) as titanium dioxide (TiO2) losses continued to weigh on the bottom line. The company’s TiO2 division posted a $9.5m loss in adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA).

US CHARGES BP WITH NATGAS MANIPULATION
The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ordered BP to respond to allegations that the UK energy giant manipulated the natural gas market in Texas during the fall of 2008. The agency said BP has 30 days to file a reply and show cause on why it had not violated FERC’s regulation and why it should not be fined nearly $29m (€22m). BP is accused of manipulating the next-day, fixed-price gas market at the Houston Ship Channel from 18 September 2008 through 30 November 2008.

EUROPE

ARKEMA BEGINS TWO-WEEK TURNAROUND AT PA
France-based Arkema began a scheduled turnaround at its phthalic anhydride (PA) and dioctyl phthalate (DOP) units on 29 July, a company source confirmed. The source had previously noted the plants should restart during the week beginning 12 August. Arkema’s nameplate capacity for PA in Chauny, France, is 90,000 tonnes/year, while its DOP capacity at the same site is 70,000 tonnes/year. The producer did not expect the planned shutdown to have any impact on customers’ deliveries.

EUROZONE COMPOSITE PMI REACHES GROWTH LEVELS
Signs of recovery for the eurozone economy continue to emerge, after data released by research group Markit indicated that the region’s composite purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rating reached its highest level in almost two years in July. The composite PMI data - which includes manufacturing and service sector output and conditions - increased to 50.5 in July, from 48.7 the previous month. PMI figures of above 50.0 indicate expanding output levels.

KARPATNEFTEKHIM EXPECTS SEPTEMBER RESTART
Russia’s oil company Lukoil voiced hope that production at its Ukrainian petrochemical subsidiary Karpatneftekhim could be restarted next month. "We expect Karpatneftekhim may restart its operations in early September," a Lukoil source said. However, the source made it clear that the plant’s restart would depend on the approval of protectionist import duty by the Ukrainian authorities. Karpatneftekhim is based in Kalush, Ivano-Frankov region, western Ukraine.

SIBUR AND SINOPEC FORM SYNTHETIC RUBBER JV
Russia-based petrochemical company SIBUR has formed a synthetic rubbers joint venture with China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec). The joint venture is to be developed on the site of the Krasnoyarsk Synthetic Rubber Plant (KZSK). Sinopec acquired a 25%-plus-one-share interest in KZSK. The deal has been approved by Russian and Chinese regulators. Earlier, SIBUR and Sinopec pledged to consider a joint project expanding the KZSK nitrile butadiene rubbers capacity from 42,500 to 56,000 tonnes per year.

DUTCH DSM Q2 NET PROFIT SURGES TO €112M
DSM’s second-quarter net profit surged to €112m ($149m) from €41m in the same period last year, backed by a 9% increase in net sales, the Dutch specialty chemicals firm said. Net sales for the three months ending June 2013 increased to €2.49bn from €2.27bn in the previous corresponding period. DSM’s core net profit for the quarter grew by 32% year on year to €156m.

GERMANY’S LANXESS Q2 NET PROFIT SHRINKS TO €9M
LANXESS’ second-quarter 2013 net profit shrank to €9m ($12m) from €174m in the same period last year, amid a challenging business environment, the German company said. Sales for the three months ending June 2013 declined by 11.7% year on year to €2.14bn, with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation before exceptionals falling by 45.2% to €198m. "The first half of 2013 does not meet our own high standards," LANXESS chairman Axel Heitmann said in the statement.

VERSALIS TO PRODUCE HYDROCARBON RESINS
Italy’s Versalis is to produce hydrocarbon resins at its Priolo plant in the country, the chemicals producer said. Capacity to produce the specialty products will be developed through a partnership with Neville Venture, a joint venture between synthetic resins manufacturer Neville Chemical and chemical engineering specialist GTC, and entered into a licence agreement related to the feedstock that will feed the resin facilities.

CZECH SPOLANA SET TO RESTART FLOOD-HIT PLANTS
Spolana expects to have all its major plants back on stream by 15 August, after being forced into a complete closure by heavy flooding in early June, the Czech chemical producer said. The scheduled 13 August restart of the company’s 135,000 tonne/year polyvinyl chloride plant will be preceded by the relaunch of its 135,000 tonne/year chlorine and vinyl chloride monomer plants, as well as its 150,000 tonne/year caustic soda plant.

PETROM COMMISSIONS GAS DESULPHURISATION UNIT
Romania-based Petrom, which is majority owned by Austria’s OMV, has commissioned a new unit for gas desulphurisation within the Petrobrazi refinery. The company said the project, which is part of its modernisation programme, started at the end of 2010 and entailed investments of approximately €40m. "The capacity adjustment enables the refinery to efficiently process the entire amount of crude oil produced by our exploration and production division in Romania," said Neil Anthony Morgan, a member of the OMV Petrom executive board.

BASF MDI OUTPUT LOSSES LIKELY TO LAST FOR WEEKS
BASF’s methyl di-p-phenylene isocyanate (MDI) facility at Antwerp, Belgium, continues to experience technical problems and production losses, and these are expected to last for a few weeks, according to correspondence from a company source seen by ICIS. BASF’s MDI unit had unexpected technical constraints and a timeframe was under investigation at the time. A few buying and reselling sources said that they had not seen any adverse effects on supply, despite BASF’s technical limitations.

ASIA

OPAL SEEKS INVESTOR FOR $4.2BN CRACKER PROJECT
ONGC Petro-Additions Ltd (OPal) has accelerated efforts to bring in a strategic investor for its $4.2bn (€3.15bn) cracker and derivatives project at Dahej, Gujarat, India, company CEO PSV Rao said. "We have hired Ernst & Young to identify companies in the Middle East," he said. A strategic investor can expect marketing rights for some of the products that will be produced by Opal, Rao said.

JIAXING PETROCHEMICAL DELAYS PTA TURNAROUND
China’s Jiaxing Petrochemical has postponed a planned turnaround for its 1.5m tonne/year purified terephthalic acid (PTA) plant at Jiaxing in Zhejiang province to 15 August, a company source said. "The plans [for plant maintenance] had been pushed back, because of delays in preparation work," the source added. The company initially planned to take the PTA plant off line on 1 August for scheduled maintenance.

KUMHO PETCHEM EYES OCTOBER MAINTENANCE
Korean Kumho Petrochemical Co (KKPC) plans to shut its styrenics units at Ulsan in October for maintenance, a company source said. The shutdown is expected to start around mid-October and could last for up to two weeks, the source added. KKPC operates a 250,000 tonne/year acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) unit; a 230,000 tonne/year polystyrene (PS) unit; and a 110,000 tonne/year styrene-acrylonitrile (SAN) plant at the site.

LIJIN PETROCHEMICAL TO START MTBE IN OCTOBER
China’s Lijin Petrochemical is planning to bring on stream a 150,000 tonne/year methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) unit at Dongying in Shandong province this October, a company source said. Part of the MTBE output from the plant will be kept for captive use for gasoline blending. The company’s 80,000 tonne/year MTBE unit at the same site is under maintenance and is scheduled to be restarted in the middle of August.

JAPAN’S NIPPON SHOKUBAI Q1 NET PROFIT FALLS 39%
Japan’s Nippon Shokubai’s first-quarter net profit declined by 39% year on year to yen (Y) 3.04bn ($31m), largely attributed to the prolonged shutdown of its production facilities in Himeji. Among the plants shut by a blast that occurred at the company’s Himeji production site in September 2012 are its acrylic acid (AA) and super absorbent polymer (SAP) facilities. The company has received government approval to restart five facilities at Himeji.

SKGC TO SHUT AROMATICS PLANT BY EARLY OCTOBER
South Korea’s SK Global Chemical (SKGC) plans to shut its aromatics facility in Incheon by end-September or early October for scheduled maintenance, a company source said. The maintenance is expected to last for 40 days. The plant has a nameplate capacity of 200,000 tonnes/year of benzene, 100,000 tonnes/year of toluene and 500,000 tonnes/year of mixed xylenes (MX).

SHAOXING YUANDONG SHUTS NO 2 PTA UNIT
China’s Shaoxing Yuandong Petrochemical shut its 600,000 tonne/year No 2 purified terephthalic acid (PTA) unit in Zhejiang province on 5 August for scheduled maintenance, a company source said. The turnaround at the PTA unit will last around one month. "Whether we restart the unit after maintenance works are done will depend on the [market] condition in the feedstock paraxylene (PX) sectors," the source said.

DAQING PETCHEM SHUTS CRACKERS, PE/PP UNITS
China’s Daqing Petrochemical shut its two 600,000 tonne/year naphtha crackers and derivative polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) plants in Heilongjiang on 5 August for about 15 days of maintenance, a company source said. The derivative plants include a 65,000 tonne/year and a 200,000 tonne/year low density polyethylene (LDPE) unit; three 80,000 tonne/year high density polyethylene (HDPE) units; an 85,000 tonne/year linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) unit; a 250,000 tonne/year and a 300,000 tonne/year HDPE/LLDPE swing units and a 100,000 tonne/year PP unit.

JAPAN JUNE PRODUCTION OF PLASTIC FEEDSTOCKS RISES
Japan’s production of plastic feedstocks in June increased by 4.4% year on year to 756,400 tonnes, official industry data showed. Of the total, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) output rose by 9.9% year on year to 66,287 tonnes in June, while polystyrene (PS) production grew by 4% to 83,857 tonnes, according to Japan Plastics Industry Federation (JPIF). Exports of plastic feedstocks in June totalled yen (Y) 95.9bn ($969m), up by 14% year on year.

LOTTE CHEM TITAN TO RESTART NAPHTHA CRACKER
Lotte Chemical Titan Holding is restarting its 285,000 tonne/year naphtha cracker in Pasir Gudang, Malaysia, said a source close to the company. Flaring was seen at Lotte Chemical Titan Holding’s production site on 5 August, but it was unclear which plant was affected. The company’s 435,000 tonne/year naphtha cracker at the same site was shut and restarted half a day later.


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