News in brief

09 June 2014 00:00 Source:ICIS Chemical Business

Americas

SHELL SIGNS CONTRACTS FOR US ETHANE CRACKER
Shell Chemicals has signed 10 third-party contracts related to its proposed Monaca, Pennsylvania, ethane cracker, and an air quality permit has been filed with the state, the executive vice president Graham van’t Hoff said. Shell also has done sourcing work on where to get the ethane for the plant should the global major decide to build it in western Pennsylvania in the heart of the Marcellus and Utica shale gas plays.

KURARAY BUYS DUPONT PVA, VAM BUSINESS
Japan-based Kuraray has completed the purchase of US-based DuPont’s glass laminating solutions/vinyls business for $543m. The business is part of DuPont’s packaging and industrial polymers division. It supplies polyvinyl butyral (PVB) and ionomer sheets for safety glass, and vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) and polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) products used in architectural, automotive, industrial and other applications. The deal doubles Kuraray’s presence in the Americas, owning sites in Fayetteville, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wilmington, Delaware.

USW FILES TRADE PETITION VS CHINA TYRE IMPORTS
The United Steelworkers (USW) filed a petition with the US International Trade Commission alleging tyre imports from China are being sold at less than fair market value. The US had imposed tariffs on Chinese auto and light truck tyre imports in September 2009, which were upheld by the World Trade Organization (WTO). The tariffs, which expired in September 2012, were 35% for the first year, 30% the second year and 25% the third year. US imports of auto and light truck tyres have surged to 50.8m in 2013, up from 24.5m in 2011.

ACC HONOURS 4 FIRMS, EXXONMOBIL’S PRYOR
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) recognised Celanese, LyondellBasell, Bayer and Ethyl for their achievements in environmental, health, safety and security over the past year. At its Annual Meeting in Colorado Springs, Colorado, US, the ACC awarded the four chemical producers with its Responsible Care Company of the Year honour. Also, ExxonMobil Chemical president Stephen Pryor was given the ACC’s Distinguished Leadership Award for outstanding contributions on behalf of the organisation and the chemical industry. Pryor was selected by the organisation’s officers as the 2014 recipient of the honour.

BRENNTAG ACQUIRES US SUPPLIER PHILCHEM
Brenntag has acquired US-headquartered chemicals supply and logistics firm Philchem, the Germany-based distributor said. Based in Houston, Texas, Philchem specialises in managing individual supply and demand imbalances in certain product groups by leveraging long-term relationships with key suppliers, which Brenntag claims will be of increasing importance as the US shale gas industry continues to develop.

REG BUYS RENEWABLE DIESEL FIRM SYNTROLEUM
Renewable Energy Group (REG) has closed on the acquisition of the US renewable diesel firm Syntroleum in a stock deal valued at $37.8m. Syntroleum owns a 50% stake in Dynamic Fuels, which owns a 75m gal/year (284m litre/year) renewable diesel plant in Geismar, Louisiana. REG has a separate pending agreement to acquire the remaining stake in Dynamic Fuels from Tyson Foods.

BRAZIL PLASTICS TRADE DEFICIT WIDENS 13%
Brazil’s trade deficit in the processed plastics sector reached $904.7m in the first four months of 2014, up by about 13% over a deficit of $802.6m in the year-earlier period, plastics industry group Abiplast said. During the reported period, exports fell by 9.3% year on year to $398.7m, while the cost of imports rose by 4.9% to just over $1.30bn. In volume terms, the deficit increased by about 12% year on year to 179,900 tonnes, with exports down by about 10% to 70,300 tonnes and imports up by 5.0% to 250,200 tonnes.

EASTMAN COMPLETES BUY OF BP AVIATION UNIT
US-based Eastman Chemical has completed the acquisition of BP’s global aviation turbine oil business for an undisclosed sum. The business will be part of Eastman’s Specialty Fluids and Intermediates segment. The acquisition will include a production facility in Linden, New Jersey, US, specialised laboratory equipment in Naperville, Illinois, US and a long-term supply agreement for products related to the business.

Europe

BASF, LINDE TO JOINTLY DEVELOP BUTADIENE TECH
Engineering firm Linde and fellow Germany-based BASF will partner to develop and license processes for the production of linear butenes and butadiene (BD). The new process will provide them with a on-purpose route from butane to butadiene via butenes. Linde will contribute to the partnership with its engineering expertise for integration, optimisation and commercialisation of the process, while BASF would be the provider of technology, catalysts and extraction technologies.

INEOS ENTERPRISES ACQUIRES SASOL SOLVENTS
INEOS Enterprises has completed the acquisition of Sasol Solvents Germany for an undisclosed fee, the company said. The acquisition includes Sasol Solvents Germany’s production facilities at Moers on the Lower Rhine, and Herne in Germany’s industrial Ruhr district. Both sites and their products will now be integrated into a new business to be called INEOS Solvents, it said. INEOS Enterprises is a stand-alone business that is part of Switzerland-based INEOS.

SWISS GIVAUDAN ACQUIRES SOLIANCE
Switzerland’s flavours and fragrances major Givaudan said it has completed the acquisition of 100% of the shares of French cosmetics ingredients firm Soliance for an undisclosed amount. Soliance, which supplies cosmetic solutions and develops active ingredients derived from vegetable sources, microorganisms and microalgae, has two sites in France and employs 96 people.

THAI INDORAMA VENTURES ACQUIRES ARTENIUS
Indorama Ventures Public Co Ltd (IVL) has completed the acquisition of Turkish polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resins maker Artenius Turkpet, the Thai producer said. The Turkish company has a production capacity of 130,000 tonnes/year in Adana, IVL said. Artenius Turkpet was a subsidiary of Spanish producer La Seda Barcelona (LSB). Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

BASF COMPLETES SALE OF PLASTIC ADDITIVES SEGMENT
BASF has completed the divestiture of its plastic additives segment PolyAd Services to Ohio-based private equity firm Edgewater Capital Partners for an undisclosed amount. PolyAd produces plastic applications in industries such as automotive, construction, packaging and electronics. BASF will focus on its core plastic additives business areas: light stabilizers, antioxidants and Customer Specific Blends (CSBs).

CEFIC RENAMES APPE TO PETROCHEMICALS EUROPE
The Association of Petrochemicals Producers in Europe (Appe) has adopted the new, shorter name of Petrochemicals Europe, according to the trade group Cefic, to which Appe belongs. “The renaming better reflects the current and future direction of the industry association... Our vision is to be recognised as part of the foundation of future economic success in Europe, fuelling innovation, manufacturing, and employment,” said Dorothee Arns, executive director of the Cefic for petrochemistry and plastic additives sector and Petrochemicals Europe.

GERMANY’S HENKEL TO ACQUIRE THREE HAIR FIRMS
Henkel has agreed to acquire three hair professional firms SexyHair, Alterna and Kenra from US-based investment firm TSG Consumer Partners for around €270m in cash, the German home, personal care and adhesives group said. “This acquisition is part of our strategy to invest in attractive country category positions in mature markets,” Henkel’s CEO Kasper Rorsted said in a statement.

CHEMOXY TO EXPAND SOLVENTS CAPACITY
UK-based Chemoxy International is to increase its solvent capacity at its Billingham site in Teesside, as part of a £6m (€8.6m) expansion project. The UK government has contributed £1.5m to the project. The investment will allow Chemoxy to increase its capacity by more than 30% and commissioning is expected to take place in July 2014. The expansion comes two years after Chemoxy became independent and follows a 20% expansion of capacity in 2012, according to the company.

WACKER EXPANDS PRODUCTION CAPACITY
Wacker Chemie is investing around €20m to expand production capacity for dispersible polymer powders at its Burghausen site in Germany by 50,000 tonnes/year. The project involves the construction of a new spray dryer, which is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2015. “Worldwide, demand for high-quality dispersible polymer powders is rising particularly in residential construction and infrastructure measures,” said Arno von der Eltz, the president of Wacker Polymers.

BASF TDI SCHWARZHEIDE PLANT FULLY BACK ON LINE
BASF’s 80,000 tonne/year toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) plant at Schwarzheide in Germany is fully back on line following a slightly delayed restart, a company source said. The facility resumed full operations at the end of May, slightly later than originally expected for technical reasons. The company source that despite this slight delay, TDI contracts were covered. The routine plant turnaround began on 3 May and it was initially due to last around three weeks.

Asia

SOUTH KOREA’S HCP SHUTS NO 2 PX UNIT
South Korea’s Hyundai Cosmo Petrochemical (HCP) has shut its 800,000 tonne/year No 2 paraxylene (PX) unit in Daesan as scheduled, a company source said. The plant was shut on 1 June, because of weak market conditions, the source added. Prior to the shutdown, the company was operating the unit at around 75%, the source said. The duration of the shutdown for the No 2 PX unit remains unclear, as it depends on whether the market conditions improve, according to the source. HCP has a 380,000 tonne/year No 1 PX unit which remains in operation, the source added.

LOTTE RUNS CHINA-BASED AMINES PLANT AT 50%

South Korea’s Lotte Chemical is currently running its 50,000 tonne/year ethanolamines plant at Jiaxin city in China at half the capacity, a source close to the company said. “The run rates are not reaching [the] 60% rate [because] demand is too weak,” the source added. The ethanolamines market is facing surplus supply, while demand remains slow, market participants said.

JIANGMEN HANDSOME TO EXPAND ETAC, BUTAC
China’s Jiangmen Handsome Chemical Development plans to expand its ethyl acetate (etac) and butyl acetate (butac) capacities with the addition of a new line at its Taixing site in 2015, a company source said. The new 100,000 tonne/year etac/butac swing plant is scheduled to be on stream in the second quarter of 2015, the source said. Its existing plant at Taixing in Jiangsu province can produce 120,000 tonnes/year of etac and 60,000 tonnes of butac.

ULSAN ACHIEVES ON-SPEC BENZENE, PX OUTPUT
South Korea’s Ulsan Aromatics in Ulsan has achieved on-spec production at its aromatics unit on 3 June, a company source said. The aromatics facility houses a 540,000 tonne/year benzene unit and 1m tonne/year of paraxylene (PX) plant, the source said. Exact operating rates at the unit were not specified by the company. The company’s first benzene cargo remains on track to be loaded by mid-June, a source close to the company said.

ADVANCED BIOCHEMICAL TO SHUT THAI ECH PLANT 7 JUNE
Advanced Biochemical (Thailand) is planning to shut its 100,000 tonne/year epichlorohydrin (ECH) plant in Map Ta Phut, Thailand, on 7 June for annual maintenance, a company source said. The plant is scheduled to restart on 21 June, the source said, but further details on the unit’s current operating rate could not be confirmed. Spot supply to regular buyers is not expected to be affected, but the overall supply in the market could be slightly reduced 
during the shutdown period, the source said.

SANMU CONDUCTS TRIAL AT NEW EPOXY RESINS UNIT
China’s Sanmu Group has been conducting trial runs at its new 70,000 tonne/year epoxy resins unit in Jiangmen, Guangdong province since late May, a company source said. Actual epoxy resins production for commercial sales at the unit is expected to commence sometime this month, with the plant’s run rate to be gradually ramped up, the source said without providing the exact start-up dates. Sanmu Group has an existing 200,000 tonne/year epoxy resins plant at Yixing in Jiangsu province.

JAPAN’S JSR RUNS NBR PLANT AT FULL RATE
Japan’s JSR Corp is running its 35,000 tonne/year nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR) plant in Yokkaichi at 100% in June because of strong domestic demand, a company source said. The plant was running at 100% in May because of the same reason, the source added. NBR prices were stable at $2,150-2,250/tonne CFR (cost & freight) SE (southeast) Asia on 29 May, ICIS data showed.

CHINA’S QILU RESTARTS ACN UNIT AMID TIGHT SUPPLY
China’s Qilu Petrochemical restarted its 80,000 tonne/year acrylonitrile (ACN) unit at Zibo in Shandong province on 3 June, following the completion of a turnaround which started on 20 May, a company source said on Tuesday. Qilu Petrochemical would not supply spot ACN to the market yet as it is still building up stocks, the source added. Fushun Petrochemical restarted its 92,000 tonne/year ACN unit at Fushun in Liaoning province on 2 June.

SOUTH KOREA’S SAMYANG DELAYS BPA PLANT RESTART
South Korea’s Samyang Innochem was due to restart its 150,000 tonne/year bisphenol A (BPA) plant in Gunsan in the week ending 8 June, a source close to the company said. The company was unable to restart its plant on 30 May, as scheduled, because of minor mechanical issues, the source said. The plant was shut on 1 May to undergo a month-long maintenance. Samyang Innochem is a joint venture between South Korea’s Samyang Corp and Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp.

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