News in brief

17 July 2014 18:17 Source:ICIS Chemical Business

Americas

Albemarle to buy rockwood for $6.2bn
US-based Albemarle has agreed to acquire US-based Rockwood Holdings, in a $6.2bn deal that will see the firm consolidate leading positions across a variety of chemicals businesses. The joint cash and stock transaction involves Albemarle paying $50.65 in cash and 0.483 of an Albemarle share for each share of Rockwood, valuing the company at $85.53 per share. Upon close of the deal - expected in Q1 2015 - Albemarle shareholders will own around 70% of the merged company, with Rockwood shareholders owning about 30%.

Westlake experiences lldpe disruption
US-based Westlake Chemical has experienced a supply disruption on linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) out of its plant in Longview, Texas, sources said. In an 8 July customer letter obtained by ICIS, the company said that it “experienced unexpected mechanical issues” during a planned plant turnaround at the LLDPE unit “which will significantly extend the unit down time”. The planned turnaround was expected to be completed on 25 June, but the restart is now expected on 22 July. Westlake has 200,000 tonnes/year of LLDPE capacity at its Longview plant, according to the ICIS plants and projects database.

LyondellBasell declares FM on HDPE
LyondellBasell declared force majeure on high density polyethylene (HDPE) out of its plants in Matagorda and Victoria, Texas, sources said. In a 9 July customer letter obtained by ICIS, the company said it has “experienced significant feedstock supply disruptions” at those facilities. The letter did not state what the feedstock disruptions were, or how long they were expected to last. However, LyondellBasell also declared force majeure on ethylene out of La Porte, Texas. It has 695,000 tonnes/year HDPE capacity at Matagorda and 260,000 tonnes/year at Victoria.

No timeline set for CP Chem cracker restart
Chevron Phillips Chemical (CP Chem) has no timetable for restarting areas of its Port Arthur, Texas, US plant which were affected by a fire, and is reviewing when unaffected areas of the facility could safely be restarted. “We are committed to completing the investigation and implementing any corrective actions so that we can prevent this from happening again,” said plant manager Margie Conway. The plant has capacity of 415,000 tonnes/year of cyclohexane, 803,000 tonnes/year of ethylene, 500,000 tonnes/year of propylene and 145,000 tonnes/year of toluene.

Oxea force majeure in texas still in effect
A source at Oxea said that the force majeure is still in effect at its oxo intermediates production facility in Bay City, Texas, US. Oxea stated on 3 July that due to a malfunction in the production process, it was unable to resume full production at the facility. Oxea had declared force majeure for oxo-alcohols n-butanol, isobutanol and n-propanol, along with esters n-butyl acetate, isobutyl acetate and n-propyl acetate. Production capacities at Bay City include 230,000 tonnes/year of n-butanol and 80,000 tonnes/year of butyl acetate.

Axiall vcm plant back at full rates after fire
US-based Axiall’s vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) plant in Lake Charles, Louisiana, US has been repaired and is running at full operating rates. The plant had been operating at reduced rates following a fire at the facilty in December 2013. Axiall’s Lake Charles plant “returned to full service at the end of June, but followed a slower ramp up to full operating rates, resulting in lower than expected sales volumes and higher operating and maintenance costs during the second quarter”, said CEO Paul Carrico. The plant has capacity of 590,000 tonnes/year of VCM, according to the ICIS plants and projects.

Polyone to close two brazil plants
US-based plastics compounder and formulator PolyOne plans to close its plants in Diadema and Joinville in Brazil. The company did not say when it would close the plants. The company will continue to operate and invest in its Brazilian plants in Novo Hamburgo and Itupeva. PolyOne expects the closings to result in cash costs of $5m and non-cash charges of $12m.

South louisiana methanol signs gas deal
South Louisiana Methanol (SLM) has signed a 10-year deal to receive natural gas from Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line (Transco) for its proposed Louisiana methanol project. The agreement states that Transco will build infrastructure and provide transportation from one of its stations near Baton Rouge to the proposed $1.3bn methanol plant with capacity of 1.8m tonnes/year. SLM said in January that it had received the air permit from Louisiana and that it would begin construction in the second half. The targeted start-up date is early 2017.

G2X methanol plant to start up in q4
A small methanol plant being built by G2X Energy in the Texas Panhandle will start up in Q4 2014. The 65,000 tonne/year project was originally scheduled to begin operating by the end of June, but spokesperson Sally Fitch said the start-up date had been pushed back. Clay Rice, president of the Pampa Economic Development Council, said the delay stemmed from typical construction and engineering problems. G2X is partnering with Southern Chemical Corp (SCC) on the $60m project.

Messer named president of Sartomer Americas
Kenny Messer has joined Sartomer, a subsidiary of Arkema, as regional president of Sartomer Americas. Messer will oversee operations in North and South America and will report to Sartomer global group president Doug Sharp. Messer served for 25 years at Milliken Chemical, most recently as vice president of specialty chemical packaging. Sartomer is a global supplier of acrylate/methacrylate monomers, oligomers and other specialty chemicals.


Europe

SABIC confirms restart of UK cracker
SABIC Europe’s cracker in Wilton, the UK, is back online after experiencing some difficulties restarting following planned maintenance. “The cracker is back up and running,” a spokesperson said. Local media reports had suggested last week the company hoped to complete the restart of the cracker by 11 July. According to reports, “a number of technical difficulties” had led to delays during the restart of the 865,000 tonne/year ethylene cracker. The cracker had been down for planned maintenance since 5 May.

Novapet returns to full capacity after outage
Novapet’s polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plant in Barbastro, Spain, has recovered fully from a technical problem that affected one of its three plants, a company source said. On-spec material at the 100,000 tonne/year unit was achieved on 7 July. The unplanned outage caused by technical difficulties had affected 40% of Novapet’s capacity, but certain types of resin had been totally, if temporarily, wiped out. The other two units have capacities of 30,000 tonnes/year and 130,000 tonnes/year.

Evonik, BP invest in bio-based lubricants
Evonik and BP Ventures have invested in a funding round for Biosynthetic Technologies, a US-based producer of bio-based lubricants. According to Evonik, California-based Biosynthetic Technologies has developed and manufactures a new class of bio-based synthetic oils known as estolides, intended for the passenger car motor oil and industrial lubricant sectors. BP Ventures has participated in previous funding rounds for the company, as has US-based Monsanto.

Germany investor confidence falls
German investor confidence fell for a seventh straight month in July as industrial production and orders dropped, an economic research group said. Mannheim-based ZEW centre for European economic research said that its monthly sentiment indicator for investment prospects in Europe’s largest economy fell by 2.7 points to 27.1 in July. The index is based on a survey of 238 financial market analysts. Its long-term average is 24.7 points.

Novacap acquires silicates site
Novacap has acquired the Nogent l’Artaud, France, site operated by the French subsidiary of Germany-based silicates and specialties producer Woellner Group, a company source said. Being acquired by Novacarb, one of Novacap’s four subsidiary companies, the site produces sodium silicates and derivatives, the source added. Novacarb specialises in the production of soda ash, as well as sodium bicarbonate, sodium sulphate and limestone.

Fluor wins work for rotterdam lng project
US-based engineering and construction firm Fluor has won a contract to design and build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) break bulk terminal in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The break bulk terminal will split up large-scale LNG shipments into smaller quantities to facilitate the distribution of LNG used as fuel for ships and heavy trucks. The new terminal is expected to be ready for operation in 2016.

Borsodchem building €84m HCI plant
Hungary’s BorsodChem is to build a hydrochloric acid (HCI) condensation plant. The installation would be built at a cost of €84m, with financial support of €3.2m from the Hungarian government, the CEO of BorsodChem owner China-based Wanhua Industrial Group Ding Jiansheng and Hungarian state secretary for foreign affairs and foreign trade Peter Szijjarto said in a joint announcement. The plant would be constructed at BorsodChem’s production complex in Kazincbarcika, northern Hungary, creating 70 jobs.

Germany states call for fracking ban
Three German federal states called for a tough ban on the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for shale gas exploration and production. The states – Schleswig-Holstein, Baden-Wurttemberg and Hessen – said that legislation on fracking proposed by two federal ministers recently was not far-reaching enough, and that they are urging a tougher ban. The proposed legislation would ban fracking for commercial shale gas production up to 3,000 metres depth to protect drinking water supplies.


Asia

China national coal group to start up PP, PE units
China National Coal Group plans to start up its new polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) units in Shaanxi province in late July or August, a company source said. The coal-to-olefins (CTO) based PE and PP units, each with a capacity of 300,000 tonnes/year, will mainly produce linear low density PE (LLDPE) grade and PP yarn grade respectively this year, the source added. Industry sources said the prices of both PP and PE may decrease after the new units start up.

China’s shen hua extends sbr plant turnaround
China’s Shen Hua Chemicals has extended the shutdown of its 180,000 tonne/year styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) plant by a week to 16 July due to poor margins, a company source said. The plant was shut on 15 June for maintenance and was originally scheduled to restart on 10 July, the source said. “We are extending the shutdown of the SBR plant because of poor margins from high feedstock butadiene costs and weak demand,” the source said.

China’s Huizhou Chungshun chemical to restart unit
China’s Huizhou Chungshun Chemical plans to restart its phenol/acetone plant in Huizhou in Guangdong province in end July or early August, a company source said. Production at the plant, which can produce 120,000 tonnes/year of phenol and 80,000 tonnes/year of acetone, was halted on 7 April for annual maintenance, the company source said. The company also runs a downstream 25,000 tonne/year bisphenol A (BPA) plant at the same site, which was shut down for maintenance on 7 April as well, the company source added.

South Korea’s Lotte to shut glycol ethers plant
South Korea’s Lotte Chemical plans to shut down its 50,000 tonne/year glycol ethers plant in Daesan later this week because of ongoing mechanical issues, a company source said. The plant is likely to stay off line for about a month, as technicians await the delivery of replacement equipment from overseas, the source said. It is also unclear how long the repair work would take once the new equipment arrives, the source added.

South Korea’s kumho p&b plans plant turnaround
South Korea’s Kumho P&B Chemicals plans to shut down its 55,000 tonne/year methyl isobutyl ketone (MIBK) plant in Yeosu for a scheduled maintenance in the first-half of August, a company source said. The turnaround would last for 10 days and the company will continue to offer August cargoes, the company source said. MIBK demand in China and southeast Asia has been weak amid the lull in downstream demand from the tyre manufacturing and industrial paint and coating sectors.

Taiwan’s FPC restarts n-butanol plant
Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics Corp (FPC) has restarted its n-butanol (NBA) plant in Mailiao following an unplanned turnaround, a company source said. The plant, which can produce around 250,000 tonnes/year of NBA, was shut for around nine days since 4 July for repair works, the source said. Details of the repair works, however, could not be confirmed. The source said that the company will be gradually increasing the operation rate of the plant.

China’s Qingdao Lidong restarts aromatics unit
China’s Qingdao Lidong has restarted its aromatics facility on 15 July as scheduled, a source familiar with the matter said. The aromatics unit, which is able to produce 800,000 tonnes/year of paraxylene (PX) and 270,000 tonnes/year of benzene, was shut on 10 April on weak market conditions. According to the source, operating rates at the PX line will be ramped up in July. On the other hand, from August onwards, operating rates might not be kept high because of the influx of new PX capacities coming on-stream from August to September period, the source added.


CORRECTION
In the 30 June issue of ICIS Chemical Business, “Ethylene Value Chain” article (page 29), incorrect data was inserted into the ethylene project table. Also the PVC project table was incorrectly labelled as “EDC projects”. Access a corrected version via the magazine digital edition archive - visit icis.com/digital - or in the . We apologise for the error.

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