News in brief

24 August 2013 09:29 Source:ICIS Chemical Business
AMERICAS

STEPAN TO ADJUST PA PLANT IN THE AUTUMN
US-based Stepan will conduct a re-catalysation of one of its converters at its phthalic anhydride (PA) plant in Elwood, Illinois, in late October/early November, a company official said. This will temporarily decrease capacity, but the company does not see supply disruption. The company's Elwood plant currently has a nameplate capacity of 90,000 tonnes/year, down from its previous 110,000 tonne/year capacity. The company permanently shut down its fourth converter at the plant in the spring of 2012.

PETROBRAS SET TO SELL INNOVA TO VIDEOLAR
Brazil-based Petrobras plans to sell its styrenics producer Innova to Videolar for reais 870m ($372m). The deal is subject to regulatory approval. Innova has been for sale since late 2012. Innova produces ethylbenzene, styrene and polystyrene (PS). Its production is in the petrochemical complex of Triunfo in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. Petrobras bought the company in 2011 for $332m.

TORAY TO BUILD COGEN UNIT FOR US PLASTICS SITE
Japan-based Toray Plastics will build a cogeneration power plant at its US production site in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. The new $22.7m (€17.0m) power plant, expected to be operational by March 2014, will be dedicated to supplying power for Toray's polypropylene (PP) film division and other facilities at the site. The new unit would enable Toray to sustain production even during severe weather events such as last year's Hurricane Sandy.

GEVO OPENS BIOREFINERY TO PRODUCE PARAXYLENE
Gevo will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony on 26 August for its demonstration-scale biorefinery in Silsbee, Texas, the US renewable chemicals company announced. The facility will process bio-based isobutanol from its Luverne site in Minnesota to produce paraxylene (PX) and alcohol-to-jet fuel. Gevo is working with Japan-based chemical firm Toray and beverage maker Coca-Cola to deliver an integrated system to produce renewable PX. Additionally, the US Air Force has contracted Gevo to provide over 50,000 gal of its isobutanol-derived alcohol-to-jet fuel for testing as a drop-in fuel.

VANTAGE COMMISSIONS US REFINED GLYCERINE
Vantage Specialty Chemicals' oleochemical production expansion for refined glycerine at its Chicago facility in Illinois is fully commissioned with shipments of kosher-grade vegetable refined glycerine starting. Announced in October 2012, the expansion added a kosher vegetable glycerine unit into the facility, adding to the tallow USP glycerine production unit in operation since 1994. The company did not release specifics on capacity but confirmed a $25m (€19m) investment was approved for site improvements and expansion.

GULF HYDROCARBON TO SELL ALGAL OILS FOR BIOFUELS
US-based Gulf Hydrocarbon will distribute and sell algal oils for further processing into fuels as part of a contract with Algae International Group. The contract is effective immediately and will begin by Gulf Hydrocarbon shipping samples of algal oils for testing as biodiesel feedstocks. As part of the agreement, Gulf Hydrocarbon will offer standard biodiesel reference fuels made using output from Algae International Group's pilot facility in Tulare, California.

US CHEMICAL PRODUCTION FELL BY 0.1% IN JULY
US chemical production edged down by 0.1% in July as all seven regions recorded declines, although year-on-year production rose by 1.4%, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) said. On a three-month-moving average, overall chemical production was mixed. There were gains in output of consumer products, organic chemicals, synthetic rubber, man-made fibres, coatings and pesticides.

BRAZIL TAX CREDITS PROPOSAL MOVE FORWARD
A special commission approved various tax credits for Brazil's ethanol and chemical industries, allowing the proposal to move forward to Congress for a vote, a government news agency said. If passed, the measure would reduce the PIS, Pasep and Cofins taxes from producers and importers of derivatives. The products affected include natural gas liquids (NGLs), naphtha, olefins, aromatics and isoprene.

ACC TO SPEND $4M ON POLITICAL ADVERTISING
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) will spend about $4m (€3m) this year in advertising to recognise leadership by key members of Congress on "mission critical" issues for the chemicals industry. ACC president Cal Dooley said the chemicals industry trade group expects to highlight the roles played by about 12 members of Congress by the end of this year on such sector-critical issues as modernising the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), developing a comprehensive domestic energy policy, and a balanced approach to environmental regulations.

EUROPE

SPOLANA RESTARTS PVC, CAPRO OPS AFTER FLOODS
Spolana has successfully started up its polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and caprolactam operations at Neratovice, north of Prague in the Czech Republic, and existing forces majeures have been lifted, the company said. PVC and caprolactum operations at the site were resumed on 14 August and 18 August, respectively, after flood-damaged facilities including the site's power and sewage treatment plants had been restored.

BASF NYLON 6,6 FM REBALANCES MARKET
Germany-based BASF's force majeure declaration on European nylon 6,6 is supporting a rollover on contract prices, sources said. BASF declared force majeure on European nylon 6,6 on 7 August, following an undisclosed incident on 6 August, a company source confirmed. The incident has not impacted BASF's total capacity, but is connected to a major nylon 6,6 line. The source would not give further information on the capacity or location of the affected line.

SPOLCHEMIE TO START PERC PRODUCTION CYCLE
Czech producer Spolchemie said it is initiating a new perchloroethylene (perc) production campaign. The producer plans to restart its 15,000 tonne/year perc plant in Usti nad Labem on 26 or 27 August and the campaign is set to last for 10 days. "[This new production campaign] is not demand driven," a company source said. "It is necessary because we need to use up [our] excess chlorine." The source added demand for the chemical is currently subdued because buyers are on holiday.

PETKIM AIMS TO SUSTAIN PROFITABILITY IN 2013
Petkim aims to stay profitable throughout 2013, having managed to record a net profit for the second successive quarter of this year, Turkey's sole major petrochemical producer said. Cheaper naphtha feedstock, along with optimised production and sales focus, enabled Petkim to defy analysts' forecasts that it would see a loss in the second quarter. In fact, it posted a net profit for the period of (TL) 1.15m ($592,800, €444,000), against a net loss of TL31.4m a year ago.

RUSSIA TO RAISE EXPORT DUTIES IN SEPTEMBER
Export duties applicable to crude oil and to petrochemicals will increase in September, the Russian government said. From 1 September, the duty levied on benzene, toluene and xylenes will be set at $264.40/tonne, up from $250.60/tonne in August, according to the Russian Economic Development Ministry. Next month, the export duty Russia levies on gasoline and naphtha will be $360.60/tonne, up from $341.80/tonne in August.

SIBUR'S NEW TPE UNIT REACHES FULL CAPACITY
Russia-based SIBUR announced its new styrene-butadiene thermoplastic elastomers (TPE) unit has reached its full design capacity. Located at the company's Voronezh, Russia facility, the unit is now running at a production capacity of 50,000 tonnes/year, SIBUR added.

LENZING H1 NET PROFIT DOWN 34.8% YEAR ON YEAR
Lenzing's net profit fell by 34.8% year on year to €65.3m in the first half of 2013 as revenues shrank on the back of lower average fibre selling prices, the Austrian fibres producer said. Its consolidated sales fell by 6.8% year on year to €989.9m in January-June this year, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were down by 16.3% at €162m. The company now expects its sales to total about €2bn in 2013, down from a previous prediction of €2.15bn-2.25bn.

HONEYWELL WINS WORK FOR RUSSIA REFINERY PLAN
Honeywell has won a contract to provide its process control system to Russia's Antipinsky Refinery in Tyumen, the US-based diversified technology group said. The contract is part of the third-stage construction to double the Antipinsky Refinery's capacity to 7.5m tonnes/year, helping meet demand for clean fuels and other oil products in Russia and the EU. Honeywell added the Antipinsky Refinery would use its Experion process control system as part of an initiative to create a single, central operations centre.

UKRAINE CHEMICAL EXPORTS DOWN BY 10%
Ukraine's chemical exports fell by 10% year on year in June as the country's year-long recession continued, Raiffeisen Bank Aval said. Looking at the first half of this year, Ukraine's chemical exports fell by 3% year on year. Ukraine is suffering chronically weak external demand and a lack of domestic economic stimulus that has hit many of its major industries.

ASIA

GAIL FIRMS UP $6.4BN PLAN FOR NEW PROJECTS
GAIL India is planning to invest $6.42bn over the next three years to build new projects in the petrochemicals and fertilizer sectors, a company official said. About half the planned investment will be used to build a naphtha-based petrochemical plant while other projects under consideration include those in the fertilizer sector as well as the construction of new production facilities across the country, the official said.

INNER MONGOLIA YILI TO SHUT HOHHOT PVC UNIT
China's Inner Mongolia Yili Chemical plans to shut down its 500,000 tonne/year polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant at Hohhot for maintenance from 26 August, a company source said. The company is currently running the plant at full capacity, and the shutdown is expected to last about 13 days, the source said.

NINGXIA YINGLITE RESTARTS PVC PLANT AT SHIZUISHAN
China's Ningxia Yinglite Chemical has restarted its 275,000 tonne/year polyvinyl chloride (PVC) unit at Shizuishan in Ningxia province on 21 August, after shutting it down for regular maintenance, a company source said. Prior to the shutdown, which lasted seven days, the company was running the plant at full capacity, the source added.

DAQING PETCHEM RESTARTS CRACKER, PE, PP UNITS
China's Daqing Petrochemical restarted its two 600,000 tonne/year naphtha crackers and derivative polyethylene/polypropylene (PE, PP) units in Heilongjiang province on 20 August, a company source said. The plants were shut on 5 August for regular maintenance. The derivative plants include a 65,000 tonne/year and a 200,000 tonne/year low density polyethylene (LDPE) units; three 80,000 tonne/year high density polyethylene (HDPE) units; 85,000 tonne/year linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) unit; 250,000 tonne/year and 300,000 tonne/year HDPE/LLDPE swing units and a 100,000 tonne/year PP unit.

NIPPON POLYURETHANE TO SHUT MDI PLANT IN SEP
Japan's Nippon Polyurethane (NPU) is planning to shut its newst methyl di-p-phenylene isocyanate (MDI) plant in Yamaguchi Prefecture on 5 September for a planned annual maintenance, sources familiar with the matter said. The turnaround is expected to last until 15 October, they said. The MDI unit, which has a nameplate capacity of 200,000 tonnes/year, is located at the firm's Nanyo Complex in Shunan City. Meanwhile, the company's 70,000 tonne/year and 130,000 tonne/year MDI units at the same site will operate normally during the turnaround period.

SAMSUNG FINE CHEM TO START UP NEW ECH PLANT
South Korea's Samsung Fine Chemicals is planning to start up its new 60,000 tonne/year epichlorohydrin (ECH) plant at Ulsan in the second half of September, a company source said. The new plant will double the company's ECH capacity to 120,0000 tonnes/year at the site, the source said. The exact start-up date has yet to be determined but the plant should be operational by the end of next month, he said. Samsung Fine Chemicals' existing 60,000 tonne/year ECH plant at the site is currently operating at full capacity, the source said.

INDIA CRACKER TO YIELD LESS C2 THAN EXPECTED
India's Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymers Ltd is expected to yield lower ethylene (C2) output than the 220,000 tonne/year initially planned, owing to faulty conception and shortage of natural gas feedstock, a government official said, citing an official audit report on the project. "Pre-project planning, including feasibility report were faulty when project work started in 2007. The rated capacity of 220,000 tonne/year was sub-optimal by current standards, the official from India's Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizer said.

FPC TO PRODUCE LDPE FULL SWING AT MAILIAO UNIT
Taiwan's Formosa Plastics Corp (FPC) will swing production at its 72,000 tonne/year ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA)/low density polyethylene (LDPE) swing plant at Mailiao to LDPE, a company official said on 21 August. "We intend to switch to LDPE production within this week," he said. The official said the switch was due to comparatively higher cost of producing EVA. The company's other 168,000 tonne/year tubular EVA plant at the same site will operate as normal, he added.

FPCC PLANS ECH PLANT MAINTENANCE IN END-SEPT
Taiwan's Formosa Petrochemical Corp (FPCC) is planning to shut its 100,000 tonne/year epichlorohydrin (ECH) plant in Mailiao, Yunlin county, in end-September for regular maintenance, a company source said. The ECH plant will be shut for three to four weeks for the turnaround, the source added. FPCC is the largest ECH producer in Taiwan. According to the source, supply to customers will not be affected, as FPCC has built up sufficient stocks to meet orders during the plant shutdown.

BST ELASTOMERS TO RUN SBR PLANT AT MAX RATE
Thailand's BST Elastomers will be operating its 75,000 tonne/year styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) plant at 100% capacity for the rest of this year, a company source said. The Thai producer has no plans to shut down its SBR plant for a turnaround this year, as maintenance for the plant is usually conducted once every two years, the source added. The SBR plant is located at Map Ta Phut in Rayong province in Thailand.

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