News in Brief

06 September 2013 09:53  [Source: ICB]

ASIA

TAIYO VINYL TO BUILD PVC FACILITY IN JAPAN
Japanese polyvinyl chloride (PVC) producer Taiyo Vinyl said it plans to build a new 10,000 tonne/year PVC production facility at Ichihara, Chiba prefecture, to expand its current capacity. This will boost the production capacity at Ichihara to 100,000 tonnes/year. Construction of the new facility is expected to be completed in October 2014.

MITSUBISHI EYES KASHIMA CRACKER RESTART
Japan's Mitsubishi Chemical is expected to restart its 489,000 tonne/year naphtha cracker at Kashima in mid-October following a 50-day turnaround, a company official said. The cracker was taken offline on schedule on 26 August for the turnaround, he said. "The cracker will be shut from 26 August to the middle of October and this will be the last shutdown of our crackers for this year," he added.

SUMITOMO TO BOOST PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT
Japanese chemical producer Sumitomo Chemical has established a new department within its petrochemicals and plastics sector to better pursue development and commercialisation of new products, a company spokesman said. The new resin-related business development department will carry out inter-division marketing and coordination among the company's factories, all of the four divisions in the petrochemicals sector - petrochemicals, polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), advanced polymers divisions - and Sumitomo Chemical's overseas subsidiaries.

SP CHEMICALS SHUTS VCM UNIT FOR TURNAROUND
China's SP Chemicals shut its 200,000 tonne/year vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) unit in Jiangsu on 3 September for a 25-day turnaround, a company source said. Meanwhile, The company's other 300,000 tonne/year VCM unit in Jiangsu, will be shut in November for scheduled maintenance, the source said, adding that the timeline of the shutdown was not immediately available. SP Chemicals is operating the 300,000 tonne/year VCM unit at around 90% of capacity, according to market sources.

PETRONAS SHUTS KERTEH BG UNIT FOR OVERHAUL
Malaysia's PETRONAS Chemicals Group has shut its 60,000 tonne/year butyl glycol (BG) plant at Kerteh in Terengganu as part of a major overhaul at its Kerteh petrochemical complex, a company source said. The BG plant, which was shut earlier in the week, is scheduled to be restarted in late October after the completion of maintenance and safety checks, the source said.

PETRONAS SHUTS EG/EO UNIT FOR TURNAROUND
Malaysia's PETRONAS Chemicals Group has shut its 400,000 tonne/year ethylene glycol (EG) and 140,000 tonne/year ethylene oxide (EO) units at Kerteh on 1 September as part of a major turnaround at its petrochemical complex, a company source said. The turnaround at EG and EO plants is expected to last until the end of October, the source said. The shutdown was ordered by Malaysia's Department of Occupational Safety and Health, which has called for a thorough inspection on petrochemical plants once every three years, the source said.

SAMSUNG TO START UP NEW ECH UNIT MID-SEPTEMBER
South Korea's Samsung Fine Chemicals is planning to start up its new 60,000 tonne/year epichlorohydrin (ECH) plant at Ulsan on 17-18 September, a company source said. Once operational, the new plant will double the firm's ECH capacity at the site to 120,0000 tonnes/year, the source said, adding that both of its plants will be operating at full capacity. The company has an existing 60,000 tonne/year ECH plant at its Ulsan site.

HUAJIN RESTARTS PP PLANT AFTER MAINTENANCE
China's Huajin Chemical restarted its 50,000 tonne/year polypropylene (PP) plant in Liaoning province on 30 August, a company source said. The PP plant was shut on 27 August because of a technical glitch. The company is producing PP injection grade at the plant, the source said, but it did not disclose its operating rate. Huajin Chemical's other PP line, which has a capacity of 250,000 tonnes/year, is running normally.

DONGYING BEGINS BUILDING MIBK UNIT
China's Dongying Yimeide Chemicals has begun construction of a new 30,000 tonne/year methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK) plant at Dongying in Shandong province, market sources in China said. The plant will consist of two MIBK lines with a capacity of 15,000 tonnes/year each, and the two lines will be started up separately in 2014, the market sources said. The producer is planning to start test runs at the first 15,000 tonne/year MIBK line in February 2014, and it will begin trial runs at the second line in December 2014, the sources added. Dongying Yimeide operates a 100,000 tonne/year dioctyl phthalate (DOP) unit at the same site.


AMERICAS

BRAZIL PET, PTA PLANTS OPERATING POST BLACKOUT
Brazil's polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and purified terephthalic acid (PTA) plants are operating normally after a five-hour power outage hit at least eight states on 28 August, sources said. Balanced inventories throughout the industry are also lending support to normal market operations after the blackout. No PET pricing initiatives have emerged in Brazil for September, but an increase was heard proposed for October, sources said. PET producers in Latin America are Mossi & Ghisolfi (M&G), Indorama and DAK.

HUNTSMAN'S PORT NECHES EO/EG PLANT BACK ON LINE
Huntsman's Port Neches plant in Texas, US, is back up and ramping to full production of ethylene oxide (EO) and ethylene glycol (EG), a company official said. The official could not comment on the status of the force majeure that it declared on EG on 8 August, which came about after seeing the need to shut down production at one of its integrated EO/EG towers. A routine inspection showed the tower had unexpected cracks.

BRAZIL COUNCIL MAY RAISE BIODIESEL BLEND RATE
A Brazilian council may increase the nation's biodiesel blend rate to 7% from 5%, a government agency said. Brazil's Energy Policy Council is undertaking the study, and should take the next step soon, according to Florival Carvalho, director of the National Petroleum Agency. The lower house of the Brazilian congress is studying a plan that could increase the nation's biodiesel blend rate to 15% from 5%.

MOMENTIVE, UNIVERSITY TO MAKE AUTO COMPOSITES
Momentive Specialty Chemicals has signed a collaborative agreement with the University of Western Ontario's Fraunhofer Project Center for the research and development of high-volume, lightweight composites for the North American automotive market, the US-based thermoset materials producer said. The partnership makes new processes, such as HP-RTM [high pressure resin transfer moulding] or D-SMC [direct strand moulding compound] lines much more accessible to the North American automotive industry, said Rich Myers, chief technology officer at Momentive.

HUNTSMAN COMPLETES OXID ACQUISITION
US-based Huntsman has completed the acquisition of Oxid's business for $75m (€56m). Oxid manufactures and markets specialty urethane polyols, which are a key component in the production of polyurethane (PU) insulation products. The polyols are combined with methyl di-p-phenylene isocyanate (MDI), for which Huntsman is a leading global producer, to make PU foam insulations for walls, roofs, refrigerators and other applications.

A. SCHULMAN ACQUIRES PERRITE GROUP FOR $52M
A. Schulman has acquired UK-based thermoplastics manufacturer Perrite Group for about $52m (€40m), the US supplier of plastic compounds and resins said. The acquisition would help A. Schulman expand its colour capabilities in the Asia Pacific market. Perrite has operations in Malaysia, the UK and France. It produces and distributes thermoplastic compounds for the electrical, automotive and industrial markets. Perrite employs 220 people and had revenues of $140m last year.

ROCKWOOD COMPLETES SALE OF CERAMTEC
Rockwood has completed the €1.49bn ($1.96bn) sale of its CeramTec business to private equity firm Cinven, the US specialty chemicals producer said. Rockwood had announced the sale of the business in June. Germany-based CeramTec is a global producer of high performance advanced ceramics materials and products. The business has a staff of about 3,000 people, working at 18 facilities worldwide.

INNOSPEC BUYS CHEMSIL SILICONES AND CHEMTEC
UK-based specialty chemical firm Innospec has acquired US-based Chemsil Silicones and Chemtec Chemical from private owners. Chemsil, which develops and markets silicone-based formulations to the personal care industry, will become part of Innospec's performance chemicals business. Chemtec, which distributes personal care ingredients, will continue to operate as a key distributor in that market.

RPM ACQUIRES TILE PRODUCER EXPANKO
US-based RPM International's Performance Coatings Group has acquired tile producer Expanko. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. US-based Expanko produces terrazzo tile under the FritzTile brand, as well as cork, rubber and rubber-cork floor tiles, mainly for markets such as education, healthcare and entertainment. Expanko will operate as a standalone business within the coatings group.

OCI SETS OUT TERMS FOR MLP OFFERING
OCI Resources, a trona mining and soda ash production affiliate of US-based OCI Chemical, announced the terms for its $115m (€87m) initial public offering for a master limited partnership (MLP). The partnership will own 25.1-28.8% of the operation, depending on whether the underwriters exercise their buy options. The ownership partners will retain a 2% general partner interest and the remaining limited partnership interest in the MLP. OCI operates a soda ash facility in Wyoming and a sodium percarbonate facility in Alabama.


EUROPE

AUGUST PMIS UNDERLINE EUROPE RECOVERY
Finalised purchasing managers' indexes (PMIs) for August showed that the eurozone manufacturing recovery gathered pace as it continued for a second month, Markit Economics said. The final eurozone manufacturing PMI hit a 26-month high of 51.4, against July's 50.3, with growth improving in Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands, although faltering in France (all figures above 50.0 denote expansion). For the UK, the final figure for August was a two-and-a-half year high of 57.2, up from a revised reading of 54.8 in July with data showing output and new orders were rising at their fastest rates since 1994.

OILTANKING ACQUIRES BAYWA'S TANK TERMINAL
Oiltanking Deutschland has acquired BayWa's tank terminal in Deggendorf, Germany, for an undisclosed fee. The terminal houses 14 tanks, with a total capacity of about 25,000cbm, used to store heating oil and diesel. Oiltanking Deutschland is a subsidiary of Oiltanking, the tank storage division of Marquard & Bahl.

KPC RESTARTS ROTTERDAM BASE OIL AND WAX PLANT
Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) has restarted its base oil and wax plant in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and has started producing on-spec material, a company source said. The plant took a few days to reach on-spec production. It was initially shut down after its de-waxing unit suffered a technical problem on 2 August. KPC planned to restart production on 16 August, but encountered further technical issues, according to the source. The unit has a production capacity of 235,000 tonnes/year of base oils, and 40,000-50,000 tonnes/year of wax.

CLARIANT GAINS ISCC FOR CELLULOSIC PLANT
Swiss specialty chemicals company Clariant has acquired the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) for its demonstration cellulosic ethanol plant in Straubing, Germany. "The biofuel produced in Straubing fulfils and exceeds the sustainability criteria defined in the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and can be counted toward the climate targets - this is an important prerequisite for establishing the process in the European market," said CEO Hariolf Kottmann.

OECD: OUTLOOK THAWING FOR MATURE MARKETS
Growth is gradually returning to mature economies across the globe, despite persistent weak output in parts of the eurozone, but is slowing in emerging economies, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said. The group described growth rates for North America, the UK and Japan as encouraging, and noted that the eurozone had emerged from recession. Momentum for developing world economies has started to slow, the OECD said, driven in part by a rise in global bond yields leading to market instability and increased capital outflows.

MELAMINE TURNAROUND TO LAST UNTIL MID-SEPTEMBER
Planned maintenance at Russian fertilizer producer EuroChem's melamine plant is expected to last until the middle of the month, a source from the company confirmed. "Maintenance is ongoing and we will be off at least until the middle of September," the source said. The turnaround at the facility in Nevinnomyssk began on 14 August. EuroChem has the capacity to produce 50,000 tonnes/year of melamine.

SWITZERLAND SETS CONDITIONS FOR RESTART
Swiss authorities will only allow Tamoil to restart its 2.7m tonne/year refinery at Collombey in the canton of Valais under certain conditions, officials said. Switzerland's Canton of Valais said that the company would only be allowed to restart the plant in October if it meets a number of requirements regarding wastewater treatment and air emissions. Tamoil was due to bring down the refinery on 6 September for six-weeks of maintenance. "If the conditions are not met, Tamoil will not be allowed to resume operations," the canton said.

BORSODCHEM MDI M2 PLANT IN RESTART MODE
BorsodChem's methyl di-p-phenylene isocyanate (MDI) M2 facility in Kazincbarcika, Hungary, is in the process of being restarted following a recent turnaround, a company source said. The plant shutdown took place between 1-31 August consisting of annual maintenance work and some debottlenecking, which increased the nameplate capacity at the MDI M2 unit from 240,000 tonnes/year to 260,000 tonnes/year. The MDI M1 unit at the site has been idled since 2009 for market reasons. It has a capacity to produce 60,000 tonnes/year.


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