News in brief

13 October 2013 09:56 Source:ICIS Chemical Business

EUROPE

BOREALIS BASE CHEMICALS TO SEE IMPROVED 2014
Austrian Borealis’ base chemicals business is expecting improved margins in 2014, the segment’s executive vice president, Markku Korvenranta, said on the sidelines of the 47th annual European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) meeting. "For this year things are going to plan, not better, not worse, we are looking at a slight improvement next year, if global and European growth doesn’t disappoint massively then [the base chemicals segment’s] margins should be better than last year," he said.

BAYEGAN ON TRACK FOR NEW PDH UNIT
Major Turkish distribution group Bayegan is on track in pursuing a 450,000 tonne/year propane dehydrogenation (PDH) and polypropylene (PP) plant and is currently conducting technology screening, a senior executive said. "The project is progressing, various studies are taking place and right now we are carrying out technology screening," Fahad AL Mishal, managing director of petrochemicals for Bayegan said at the sidelines of the EPCA meeting.

‘NO DEAL’ ON SALE OF ORGANIKA-SARZYNA
Ciech has failed to reach a deal with Zaklady Azotowe Pulawy (ZAP) for the sale of the Poland-based chemicals company’s epoxy and polyester resins unit Zaklady Chemiczne Organika-Sarzyna, a Ciech source said. Instead of divesting Organika-Sarzyna by the end of this year, Ciech is set to invest zloty (Zl) 100m in the subsidiary in an effort to boost its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) – which stood at Zl 50m in 2012 – by around 50%.

SOCAR GEORGIA UREA PLANT DELAYED BY ONE YEAR
The State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) has put back the expected construction start date for its planned 700,000 tonne/year combined ammonia-urea installation in Georgia by one year to the end of 2014. SOCAR is still involved in financing talks in relation to the plant, to be located between the ports of Poti and Kulevi on the Black Sea coast.

HUNTSMAN CLOSES EPOXY RESINS UNIT
US-based liquid epoxy resins (LER) producer Huntsman’s epoxy resins plant in Pamplona, Spain has stopped producing epoxy resins permanently and has moved its production to its Swiss plant in Monthey, market sources said. The plant’s closure was originally announced on 18 June. A company source said Huntsman has ramped up production now in Switzerland to meet demand.

NOVOZYMES, MG OPEN 2ND GEN BIOFUELS PLANT
Denmark-based renewables company Novozymes and Italian polyethylene terephthalate (PET) producer Mossi & Ghisolfi said they have opened the world’s largest second-generation biofuels production facility in northern Italy. Based outside of Crescentino, it is the first facility in the world to be designed to produce bioethanol from agricultural residues and energy crops at commercial scale, using enzymatic conversion.

GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN ‘BEST PRACTICE’ INITIATIVE
A chemical industry initiative that aims to share best practice across chemical supply chains is likely to develop into a global scheme, an industry executive said. A seventh company will join Together for Sustainability, started a year ago with BASF, Bayer, Evonik, Henkel, LANXESS and Solvay as members, in 2013, said Holger Huppeler, senior vice president, global procurement and logistics, at LANXESS. Talks are being held with further candidate companies, not all of which are European.

AIR LIQUIDE TO SELL STAKE IN LABORATOIRES ANIOS
France-based Air Liquide plans to sell its 66% stake in disinfectant and antiseptic producer Laboratoires Anios. The company said it has received a firm offer from a consortium composed of minority shareholder the Letartre family, the founder of Laboratoires Anios, and investment firm Ardian (formerly AXA Private Equity).

ASIA

JX SHUTS NO 3 MIZUSHIMA UNIT AFTER FIRE
JX Nippon Oil & Energy shut the 110,000 bbl/day crude topper unit at its Mizushima B refinery in Okayama prefecture following a fire on 7 October, a company source said. The fire occurred at the No 3 unit at around 17:00 Japan time (08:00 GMT) on 7 October and was extinguished by 19:45 local time. All other units at the site were not affected.

ONGC PLANS NEW GAS-BASED UREA PROJECT
India’s ONGC will invest about $810m (€599m) to build a new gas-based urea plant in Maharashtra province, a company official said. The company further plans to shell out around $1.6bn to build the required infrastructure to support the proposed urea facility, the official said, adding that the amount would cover funding for a new gas processing plant, an 80km pipeline network and a power plant.

TORAY PLANS EARLY NOV ABS TURNAROUND
Toray Plastics Malaysia plans to shut two of its six acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) lines at Prai in Penang state for maintenance in early November, a source close to the company said. The two lines, each with a 55,000 tonne/year capacity, will be shut for around four weeks. The company’s six ABS lines have a combined capacity of 330,000 tonnes/year.

TEIJIN, SK BUILD PPS RESINS PLANT IN KOREA
Japan’s Teijin and South Korea’s SK Chemicals have started building their joint polyphenylene sulphide (PPS) resins plant in Ulsan. Construction of the 12,000 tonne/year PPS resins plant began on 1 October. A joint venture firm called INITZ Co was set up – in which Teijin holds a 34% stake, with SK Chemicals owning 66% of the company – to operate the project.

RIZHAO JIAHONG CUTS OCTOBER ETAC RUN RATE
China’s Rizhao Jiahong Biological Technology plans to run its 100,000 tonne/year ethyl acetate (etac) plant in Shandong province at 40% of capacity throughout October, a company source said. The plant’s operating rate was further reduced from 60% on 1 October because of unfavourable economics. Etac prices have failed to keep pace with the gains in the cost of feedstock acetic acid.

FAR EASTERN TEXTILE EYES PET TURNAROUND
Taiwan’s Far Eastern Textile plans to shut one of the two polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle-grade chips lines at its facility in Guangyin in end-October for maintenance, a company source said. The 350,000 tonne/year line is running at 90-95% capacity. The turnaround is estimated to last three weeks. The company’s second PET bottle-grade chip line, which has capacity of 110,000 tonnes/year, is operating at near-100%.

SHIYOU SHUTS PHENOL/ACETONE UNIT FOR REPAIRS
China’s Shiyou Chemical on 8 October shut its 320,000 tonne/year phenol/acetone plant at Yangzhou in Jiangsu province because of mechanical issues, a company source said. The plant was expected to stay off line for about 10 days to undergo repairs. Shiyou Chemical’s plant can produce 200,000 tonnes/year of phenol and 120,000 tonnes/year of acetone.

FCFC RESTARTS TWO KAOHSIUNG SM UNITS
Taiwan’s Formosa Chemicals & Fibres Corp (FCFC) restarted its two styrene monomer (SM) units in Kaohsiung on 4 October after completing maintenance at the units, a company source said. The 250,000 tonne/year No 1 SM unit and the 350,000 tonne/year No 2 plant were shut in late August. The company’s 600,000 tonnes/year No 3 SM plant in Kaohsiung is operating at 100%, the source said.

MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA

KUWAIT’S PIC CONSIDERS NEW AROMATICS PLANT
Kuwait’s Petrochemical Industries Company (PIC) is considering building a new aromatics plant in Kuwait, Foster Wheeler said. Switzerland-based engineering firm Foster Wheeler said it won a contract from PIC to carry out a pre-feasibility study and a market report for the proposed aromatics project. The company expects to complete the study in the fourth quarter of 2013.

PETRO RABIGH CRACKER RUNS AT 100% AFTER OUTAGE
Petro Rabigh has resumed full production at the basic units at its petrochemical complex in Saudi Arabia, including the ethane cracker, on 6 October after a recent outage, the company said. The company was forced to halt operations at the Rabigh site because of a power outage on September 11. Power supply was restored on September 15, but the plants resumed production at limited capacity.

SAUDI POLYMERS RESTARTS JUBAIL OPS
Saudi Polymers restarted operations in Jubail on 4 October following a turnaround that began in late September, its parent firm Saudi Arabian National Petrochemical Co (Petrochem) said. The polymers plant was shut down on September 22. Saudi Polymers is designed to produce 1.16m tonnes/year of ethylene; 1.1m tonnes/year of polyethylene; 430,000 tonnes/year of propylene; 400,000 tonnes/year of polypropylene; 200,000 tonnes/year of polystyrene; and 100,000 tonnes/year of hexane 1

AMERICAS

NOVA TO SHUT EPS PLANT FOR MAINTENANCE
NOVA Chemicals plans to shut down for maintenance its 81,500 tonne/year expandable polystyrene (EPS) plant in Monaca, Pennsylvania, US for a two week period starting in late October, a market source said. The announcement for the shutdown comes as NOVA restarted its Painesville, Ohio, plant, which has 45,000 tonnes/year of capacity. That Ohio plant was shut for just one-week maintenance in late September, sources said. It is now running at full capacity, the source added.

MHTL TO RESTART AMMONIA PLANT IN MID-OCTOBER
Melamine producer Methanol Holdings (Trinidad) Limited (MHTL) is expected to restart its feedstock ammonia plant around mid-October, following a maintenance turnaround, a source close to the company said. The ammonia turnaround began in early September, and has been taking place amid further natural gas curtailments in Trinidad, in an attempt to limit any impact on the market. Melamine production has been hampered by the maintenance to the feedstock ammonia plant.

AIRGAS TO ACQUIRE ASSETS OF ENCOMPASS
US-based Airgas has agreed to acquire the assets and operations of The Encompass Gas Group for an undisclosed sum. The transaction is expected to close on 1 November. With 11 locations in Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa, The Encompass Gas Group supplies industrial, medical and specialty gases and related hardgoods in the US, generating $55m (€41m) in annual sales in 2012.

ASCEND TEXAS PDH PLANT TO BE WORLD SCALE
Ascend Performance Materials’ planned propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant in Chocolate Bayou, Texas, US will be world scale, an executive with the company said. Ascend, a private producer in the US of acrylonitrile (ACN) and nylon 6,6, has been fairly silent about the details of the proposed propylene production plant. The company’s global business director for chemicals, John Ferguson, said the plant would be world scale in size. He declined further specifications as to production capacity, and financial details have not been disclosed.

INVISTA ACQUIRES ADVANSA POLYESTER ASSETS
INVISTA has acquired ADVANSA’s assets related to the specialty polyester products sector for apparel end uses, the US-based polymers and fibres major said. Not included in the deal are ADVANSA’s branded home textiles fibrefill business, its specialty fibre businesses for the nonwovens and paper industries, or its manufacturing plant in Germany. Financial terms were not disclosed.

METHANEX RESTARTS NEW ZEALAND UNIT
Methanex just finished a busy September and early October, with the restart of a methanol unit in New Zealand, a capacity addition at another unit there and one in Canada, plus the reboot of an idled plant in Chile. CEO John Floren said those moves plus Methanex’s relocation of two 1m tonne/year plants from Chile would increase the Canada-based producer’s operating capacity by 3m tonnes, up to a total of 8m tonnes, by 2016.

NEXEO TO ACQUIRE DISTRIBUTOR CSD
Nexeo Solutions has agreed to acquire Chemical Specialists and Development (CSD) for an undisclosed sum, the US-based chemical distributor announced. CSD is a chemical distribution company and specialty chemicals provider that operates Startex, Prist, Arpol, STX Freight and ST Labs. Expected to close before end-2013, the acquisition will expand Nexeo’s capabilities in formula preparation, custom blending, laboratory testing and contract and private label chemical packaging.

MULTICERAS DEVELOPS NEW CANDELILLA WAX PROCESS
Mexico-based wa producer Multiceras has developed a ground-breaking process to extract Candelilla wax using a very mild form of citric acid, changing the system that has been traditionally in use for the last 105 years that employs the harsh sulphuric acid. Many production communities in the region of Nuevo Leon, near Monterrey, have already produced 4 tonnes of Candelilla wax with the new process, the company said. The wax is used in cosmetics, gum base, inks, dyes, adhesives, coatings, emulsions, polishes and pharmaceutical products.

SOLAZYME ENTERS TEXTILE LUBRICANT MARKET
US-based renewables firm Solazyme has entered the textile lubricants market through a deal to supply algal oils to fibre lubricants producer Goulston Technologies. The algal oils provided by Solazyme will be used in the production of performance textiles. The use of this technology may be expanded into other product lines from 2014 onwards, Goulston chief technology officer (CTO) Srinivasan Ranganathan added.

COST FOR BRAZIL COMPERJ PROJECT RISES TO $12BN
Petrobras now expects that the total cost to develop the Comperj project will reach reais (R)26.6bn ($12.0bn, €19.7bn), up from the earlier estimate of R8.4bn in 2009, the Brazil state energy producer said. Petrobras will build two refineries and Braskem will develop several chemical units. Those units will include a world-scale ethane cracker, along with downstream polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) units. The completion date for the Comperj project has been delayed until August 2016.

API FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST US RF MANDATE
The American Petroleum Institute (API) filed a lawsuit in the DC Circuit Court, challenging the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2013 requirements for Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The API argued that the 2013 rule was issued nine months after the statutory deadline of November 2012 and that it required significantly more cellulosic ethanol than is available in the marketplace, when only 142,000 gal was available so far for refiners to blend.