Acrylonitrile

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propane-based production technology may offer significant cost savings but in the meantime, supply fluctuations and price volatility for propylene and ammonia impact the acrylonitrile market globally. Without accurate analytics and comprehensive forecasting, risk increases.

The automotive sector is the key downstream demand market for acrylonitrile (ACN) globally. Another key sector that consumes ACN is acrylic fibre, which is used in the textiles industry. ICIS tracks and publishes monthly sales and production data for automotive markets in China, India, Europe and the USA. We pay particular attention to China and the US, as the world’s two largest automotive market. Its automotive sales and production are regularly reported in our associated acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and acrylonitrile-butadiene-rubber (NBR) reports.

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Mexico’s Altamira petchems force majeure declarations continue on severe drought

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Petrochemicals producers in the production hub of Altamira, in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, keep declaring force majeure as a severe drought halved water supplies to industrial players. On Thursday, a spokesperson for Cabot said to ICIS the company has also declared force majeure for carbon black from its Altamira facilities, which adds to several force majeure declarations in the past two weeks. The drought affecting Tamaulipas has its epicenter in the south of the state, where Altamira is located, and recent minimal rainfall has not helped much to fill up the state’s water reservoirs. The drought, which the state government says has lasted already eight years, has reached a critical point in 2024, prompting authorities to arrange water deliveries in tanker trucks from other state municipalities as well as other Mexican states. The crisis could end up hitting US petrochemicals, as the state is a key supplier to that market. Earlier this week, M&G Polimeros declared force majeure on one of its two polyethylene terephthalate (PET) lines from Altamira. The line has a production capacity of 420,000 tonnes/year, which has prompted fears the US’ PET supply could be hit. PETROCHEMICALS HIT HARDCabot’s force majeure from Altamira on carbon black – a material used as a colorant and reinforcing filler in tires and other rubber products, as well as a pigment and wear protection additive in plastics and paints – follows a string of declarations from other producers. “Over the past weeks, the water supply to our Altamira plant has deteriorated in both quantity and quality. Consequently, our plant is currently unable to operate all production units and is running limited production, along with warehouse, packing, and shipping operations,” Cabot’s spokesperson said. “Due to this situation beyond our control, Cabot has declared a force majeure for carbon black from this facility.” Apart from M&G Polimeros’ force majeure on PET, several other producers in Altamira have also issued force majeure declarations or have sharply reduced operating rates. Mexico’s chemicals producer Orbia/Vestolit, a large polyvinyl chloride (PVC) player, was one of the first companies to declare a force majeures out of its facilities in Altamira in mid-May. This week, a spokesperson for the company said to ICIS the force majeure remained in place, with no expected date for return to operations as the water situation has not improved, rather the opposite. Saudi petrochemicals major SABIC declared force majeure on acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). European major INEOS Styrolution also declared force majeure on ABS from Altamira, as well as on general purpose polystyrene (GPPS). US chemicals producer Chemours also said it has halted titanium dioxide (TiO2) operations in Altamira. Germany’s major BASF, also with facilities in Altamira, had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing. Trade group the Association of Industrial Companies of Southern Tamaulipas (AISTAC), which represents many of the producers listed above, had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing. WATER TANKERS, DRY LAGOONSThe governor of Tamaulipas, Americo Villarreal, ordered this week to send tanker trucks to the south of the state from other municipalities not affected as harshly by the drought, as well as from other Mexican states. The trucks will not sort out the dire situation at industrial parks, however, as the water will be deployed to households, which are also suffering water restrictions. “With the arrival of these units, support to the southern area of ​​Tamaulipas is reinforced, adding to those that the Secretariat [agency for hydraulic resources] had previously sent, as well as those that have arrived from other entities, with 50 units distributing water,” said the state’s government. “[This] coupled with the installation of 25 isotanks with a capacity of 24,000 liters in strategic points, sent previously by the agency.” As if it was not enough for tamaulipecos to suffer water restrictions in their own homes, natural spaces they hold dear are also showing the scars of more severe droughts as climate change advances unabated. This week, local media reported how Champayan lagoon, a large water natural reservoir west of Altamira, dried up practically from one day to the other. Front page picture: Tanker trucks heading to the Altamira area for emergency water supplies for households Source: Government of Tamaulipas Clarification: Re-casts paragraph 15

06-Jun-2024

APIC ’24: Overcapacity weighs on Japan petrochemical production – JPCA

SINGAPORE/SEOUL (ICIS)–Cracker operations in Japan will remain “challenging” this year amid soft demand while capacity expansion in China continues, according to the Japan Petrochemical Industry Association (JPCA). C2 output falls to record low in 2023 Production of five major plastics shrink by around 5% Capacity optimization among industry main tasks “With new cracker capacities being planned in China almost every year at a pace far exceeding demand, the operation rates of domestic crackers are expected to remain challenging,” said a JPCA report prepared for the Asia Petrochemical Industry Conference (APIC) being held in Seoul. The two-day conference ends on 31 May. In 2023, Japan’s ethylene (C2) production shrank 2.3% to a record low of 5.32 million tonnes, as domestic crackers ran below full capacity, JPCA data showed. “The operation rates of domestic crackers have remained below 90% (this rate is said to be the criterion for judging the economic situation) since August 2022 and the monthly operation rate dropped below 80% four times in 2023,” JPCA said. Japan, which was dislodged by Germany as the world’s third-biggest economy in 2023, is projected to post a 2024 GDP growth of around 1.3%, down from last year’s 1.9% pace. In Q1 2024, the economy shrank at an annualised rate of 2.0% as both consumption and capital spending weakened. For the whole of 2023, the country’s total production of five major plastics – namely, linear density polyethylene (PE), high density PE (HDPE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – declined by an average of 4.7% to 6.02 million tonnes. Japan production of major petrochemicals (in thousand tonnes) Product 2023 2022 % change Ethylene 5,324 5,449 -2.3 LDPE 1,223 1,347 -9.2 HDPE 661 714 -7.4 PP 2,075 2,120 -2.1 PS 564 654 -13.8 PVC 1,496 1,483 0.9 Styrene monomer (SM) 1,428 1,542 -7.4 Ethylene glycol (EG) 264 351 -24.8 Acrylonitrile (ACN) 341 422 -19.2 Sources: JPCA, Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Japan Styrene Industry Association (PS, SM) and Vinyl Environmental Council (PVC) Domestic demand as ethylene equivalent for the year declined by 11.9% to 3.87 million tonnes, according to JPCA data. “In 2024, there is a risk of a decline in demand due to the deterioration of the global economy, such as price hikes of raw commodities due to supply disruptions caused by several problems,” JPCA said, citing Russia’s prolonged invasion of Ukraine, the Israel-Hamas war, and attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea. “But a certain amount of demand growth is expected due to the resilience of the US and some developing countries’ economy, and the global economy would have a possibility to make a ‘soft landing’,” JPCA stated. Economists are growing more confident that the US – the world’s biggest economy – will be able to post a 2024 growth rate of 2.4%, easing from the actual GDP growth of 2.5% in 2023. China, although beset by a slumping property sector, should be able to post a 5.0% GDP growth, according to the revised forecast by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In the report, JPCA also emphasized the petrochemical industry’s tasks to engage in “green” or environmental-friendly transformation toward carbon neutrality by 2050; to enhance and optimize excess production capacity amid a declining population; to push for digital transformation; and contribute to a recycling-oriented society. “In Japan, demonstration experiments using new process technologies and raw materials that contribute to green activities have begun, such as biomass-based fuel, bio-material-based olefins, ammonia synthesis, and hydrocarbon synthesis,” it said. Focus article by Pearl Bantillo

30-May-2024

APIC '24: PODCAST: Asia C3 derivative demand still slow amid uncertainty

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asia's oxo-alcohols buyers maintained a wait-and-watch approach on the market amid possibility of added plant capacities in China. The acrylonitrile (ACN) market continues to see limited spot demand in northeast Asia. Even with recent higher production rates at downstream acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) plants, ACN producers were unlikely to increase operating rates. For the acrylates downstream, butyl-A market in Asia continues to take direction from Chinese domestic prices. With India's Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) requirements preventing Chinese-origin imports, cargoes from China were flowing into southeast Asia and northeast Asia. In this podcast, ICIS editors Julia Tan and Corey Chew discuss trends in the Asia propylene (C3) and derivatives markets. (This podcast first ran on 15 May.) Visit ICIS during APIC ’24 on 30-31 May at Booth 13, Grand Ballroom Foyer of the Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas in South Korea. Book a meeting with ICIS here.

28-May-2024

Latin America stories: weekly summary

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Here are some of the stories from ICIS Latin America for the week ended on 24 May. NEWS Brazil’s Triunfo petchems restart odd one out as wider industry still disrupted – consultant Most of Rio Grande do Sul’s industrial plants remain shut or operating at very low rates as the Brazilian state reels from the floods, with the restart at the Triunfo petrochemicals hub an exception rather than the norm, a chemicals consultant at MaxiQuim said to ICIS. Mexico’s Orbia/Vestolit's Altamira plant ceases operations due to water scarcity Orbia/Vestolit ceased operations at its Altamira, Tampico facilities in Mexico on 21 May due to water scarcity. The company operates there a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) facility with a production capacity of 690,000 tonnes/year. The company estimates it could resume activity on 19 June. SABIC declares force majeure at Tampico Mexico ABS plant SABIC Innovative Plastics Mexico (SABIC) declared force majeure at its Tampico, Mexico acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plant on 23 May. The products affected include CYCOLAC ABS.  This facility has a capacity of 30,000 tonnes. Mexico’s Q1 GDP grows 0.3%, economic activity remains healthy in MarchMexico’s GDP rose by 0.3% in Q1, an acceleration from Q4’s 0.1% quarterly growth, the country’s statistic office Inegi said on Thursday. Brazil’s antitrust authority paves way for Petrobras to shed refinery sales Brazilian state-owned energy major Petrobras has been allowed by the country’s antitrust authority CADE to backtrack on planned refinery sales. Argentina’s manufacturing down nearly 20% in March Argentina’s petrochemicals-intensive manufacturing output fell in March by 19.6% year on year, the country’s statistics office, Indec, said this week. Brazil’s Unigel creditors mull fertilizers divestment The debt restructuring agreement at Unigel, under which the Brazilian chemicals producer’s creditors are to take a 50% equity stake, could result in a divestment of the company's beleaguered fertilizers division. Brazil’s Unigel to give creditors 50% equity stake in debt restructuring Unigel has obtained the support of enough creditors for a debt restructuring plan although it comes at a price as they will be getting a 50% equity stake in the Brazilian chemical and fertilizer producer. Brazil's Braskem restart at Triunfo to kick off petchem hub normalization Braskem has restarted operations at its Triunfo facility in the flood-hit state of Rio Grande do Sul, which will allow other players in the petrochemicals hub to start up their plants as many depend on input from the Brazilian polymers major to operate. INEOS Styrolution declares force majeure at Altamira Mexico facility INEOS Styrolution declared force majeure at its facility in Altamira, Mexico, on 20 May. The products affected include Teluran ABS, Novodur High Heat ABS and Luran ASA. This facility has a capacity of 113,000 tonnes. Chile’s Q1 GDP up 2.3% on strong consumption, manufacturing up 1.1% The Chilean economy started 2024 on a strong footing with GDP growth in the first quarter at 2.3%, year on year, the country’s central bank said on Monday. Volkswagen, Stellantis idle car plants in Brazil, Argentina after floods Volkswagen (VW) idled its three plants in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo on Monday, as suppliers in the floods-hit state of Rio Grande do Sul are unable to produce any automotive parts, a spokesperson for the German automotive major told ICIS. PRICING LatAm PP international prices stable to up on higher Asian freights International polypropylene (PP) prices were assessed as steady to higher across Latin American countries due to the surge in freight rates from Asia to the region. LatAm PE domestic, international prices steady on sufficient supply, stable demand Domestic and international polyethylene (PE) prices were assessed unchanged this week across Latin American countries on the back of sufficient supply and stable demand.

27-May-2024

PODCAST: Asia propylene derivative demand still slow amid uncertainty

SINGAPORE (ICIS)–Asian oxo-alcohols buyers maintained a wait and watch approach, amid the possibility of added plant capacities in China weighing on market sentiment. The acrylonitrile (ACN) market continues to see limited spot demand in the northeast Asia market. Even as downstream acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) has seen higher production rates recently, ACN producers were unlikely to increase operating rates. For the acrylates downstream, butyl-A market in Asia continues to take direction from Chinese domestic prices. With India's Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) requirements preventing Chinese origin imports, cargoes from China were flowing into SE Asia and NE Asia. In this podcast, ICIS editors Julia Tan and Corey Chew discuss trends in the Asia propylene and derivatives markets. Visit ICIS during APIC ’24 on 30-31 May at Booth 13 in the Grand Ballroom Foyer in the Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas. Book a meeting with ICIS here.

15-May-2024

Besieged by imports, Brazil’s chemicals put hopes on hefty import tariffs hike

SAO PAULO (ICIS)–Brazilian chemicals producers are lobbying hard for an increase in import tariffs for key polymers and petrochemicals from 12.6% to 20%, and higher in cases, hoping the hike could slow down the influx of cheap imports, which have put them against the wall. For some products, Brazil’s chemicals trade group Abiquim, which represents producers, has made official requests for the import tariffs to go up to a hefty 35%, from 9% in some cases. On Tuesday, Abiquim said several of its member companies “are already talking about hibernating plants” due to unprofitable economics. It did so after it published another set of somber statistics for the first quarter, when imports continued entering Brazil em masse. Brazil’s government Chamber of Foreign Commerce (Camex) is concluding on Tuesday a public consultation about this, with its decision expected in coming weeks. Abiquim has been busy with the public consultation: it has made as many as 66 proposals for import tariffs to be hiked for several petrochemicals and fertilizers, including widely used polymers such polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polystyrene (PS), or expandable PS (EPS), to mention just a few. Other chemicals trade groups, as well as companies, have also filed requests for import tariffs to be increased. In total, 110 import tariffs. HARD TO FIGHT OFFBrazil has always depended on imports to cover its internal chemicals demand, but the extraordinary low prices coming from competitors abroad has made Brazil’s chemicals plant to run with operating rates of 65% or lower. More and more, the country’s chemicals facilities are becoming white elephants which are far from their potential, as customers find in imported product more competitive pricing. Considering this dire situation and taking into account that the current government in Brasilia led by Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva may be more receptive to their demands, Abiquim has put a good fight in publica and private for measure which could shore up chemical producers’ competitiveness. This could come after the government already hiked import tariffs on several products in 2023 and re-introduced a tax break, called REIQ, for some chemicals which had been withdrawn by the previous Administration. While Brazil’s chemicals production competitiveness is mostly affected by higher input costs, with natural gas costs on average five times higher than in the US, the industry is hopeful a helping hand from the government in the form of higher import tariffs could slow down the flow of imports into Brazil. As a ‘price taker region’ given its dependence on imports, Latin American domestic producers have taken a hit in the past two years. In Brazil, polymers major Braskem is Abiquim’s commanding voice. Abiquim, obviously, has always been very outspoken – even apocalyptic – about the fate of its members as they try to compete with overseas countries, namely China who has been sending abroad product at below cost of production. The priorities in China’s dictatorial system are not related to the balance of markets, but to keep employment levels stable so its citizens find fewer excuses to protest against the regime which keeps them oppressed. Capitalist market dynamics are for the rest of the world to balance; in China’s dictatorial, controlled-economy regime the priority is to make people feel the regime’s legitimacy can come from never-ending economic growth. The results of such a policy for the rest of the world – not just in chemicals but in all industrial goods – is becoming clear: unprofitable industries which cannot really compete with heavily subsidized Chinese players. The results of such a policy in China are yet to be seen, but subsiding at all costs any industry which creates employment may have debt-related lasting consequences: as they mantra goes, “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” Abiquim’s executive president urged Lula’s cabinet to look north, to the US, where the government has imposed hefty tariffs on almost all China-produced industrial goods or raw materials for manufacturing production. “[The hikes in import tariffs] have improved the US’ scenario: despite the aggressive advance in exports by Asian countries, the drop in US [chemicals] production in 2023 was of 1%, while in Brazil the index for production fell nearly by 10%,” said Andre Passos. “The country adopted an increase in import taxes of over 30% to defend its market from unfair competition. The taxation for some inputs, such as phenol, resins and adipic [acid], for example, exceeds three digits. “Here, we are suggesting an increase in rates to 20% in most claims … We need to have this breathing space for the industry to recover,” he concluded. As such, the figures for the first quarter showed no sign of imports into Brazil slowing down. The country posted a trade deficit $9.9 billion during the January-March period; the 12-month accumulated (April 2023 to March 2024) deficit stood at $44.7 billion. A record high of 61.2 million tonnes of chemicals products entered Brazil in Q1; in turn, the country’s industry exported 14.6 million tonnes. Abiquim proposals for higher import tariffs Product Current import tariff Proposed tariff Expandable polystyrene, unfilled, in primary form 12.6% 20% Other polystyrenes in primary forms 12.6% 20% Carboxymethylcellulose with content > =75%, in primary forms 12.6% 20% Other polyurethanes in liquids and pastes 12.6% 20% Phthalic anhydride 10.8% 20%  Sodium hydrogen carbonate (bicarbonate) 9% 35% Copolymers of ethylene and alpha-olefin, with a density of less than 0.94 12.6% 20% Other orthophthalic acid esters 11% 20% Other styrene polymers, in primary forms 12.6% 20% Other silicon dioxides 0% 18% Other polyesters in liquids and pastes  12.6% 20% Commercial ammonium carbonates and other ammonium carbonates 9% 18% Other unsaturated polyethers, in primary forms 12.6% 20% Polyethylene terephthalate, with a viscosity index of 78 ml/g or more 12.6% 20% Phosphoric acid with an iron content of less than 750 ppm 9% 18% Dinonyl or didecyl orthophthalates 11% 20% Poly(vinyl chloride), not mixed with other substances, obtained by suspension process 12.6% 20% Poly(vinyl chloride), not mixed with other substances, obtained by emulsion process 12.6% 20% Methyl polymethacrylate, in primary form  12.6% 20% White mineral oils (vaseline or paraffin oils) 4% 35% Other polyetherpolyols, in primary forms 12.6% 20% Other unfilled epoxy resins in primary forms 12.6% 20% Silicon dioxide obtained by chemical precipitation 9% 18% Acrylonitrile-butadiene rubber in plates, sheets, etc 11% 35% Other organic anionic surface agents, whether or not put up for retail sale, not classified under previous codes 12.6% 23% Phenol (hydroxybenzene) and its salts 7% 20% Fumaric acid, its salts and esters 10 ,8% 20% Plasticizers and plastics 10 ,8% 20% Maleic anhydride 10 ,8% 20% Adipic acid salts and esters 10 ,8% 20% Propylene copolymers, in primary forms 12.6% 20% Adipic acid 9% 20% Unfilled polypropylene, in primary form 12.6% 20% Filled polypropylene, in primary form 12.6% 20% Methacrylic acid methyl esters 10 ,8% 20% Other ethylene polymers, in primary forms 12.6% 20% Acrylic acid 2-ethylhexyl esters 0% 20% 2-Ethylexanoic acid (2-ethylexoic acid) 10. 8% 20% Other copolymers of ethylene and vinyl acetate, in primary forms 12.6% 20% Other unfilled polyethylenes, density >= 0.94, in primary forms 12.6% 20% Polyethylene with a density of less than 0.94, unfilled 12.6% 20% Other saturated acyclic monoalcohol acetates, c atom <= 8 10. 8% 20% Polyethylene with a density of less than 0.94, with filler 12.6% 20% Triacetin 10. 8% 20% Sodium methylate in methanol 12.6% 20% Stearic alcohol (industrial fatty alcohol) 12.6% 20% N-butyl acetate                              11% 20% Stearic acid (industrial monocarboxylic fatty acid) 5% 35% Alkylbenzene mixtures 11% 20% Organic, non-ionic surface agents 12.6% 23% Ammonium nitrate, whether or not in aqueous solution 0.0% 15% Monoethanolamine and its salts 12.6% 20% Isobutyl alcohol (2-methyl-1-propanol) 10.8% 20% Butan-1-ol (n-butyl alcohol) 10.8% 20% Styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR), food grade as established by the Food Chemical Codex, in primary forms 10.8% 22% Styrene                                9% 18% Hexamethylenediamine and its salts 10.8% 20% Latex from other synthetic or artificial rubbers 10.8% 35% Propylene glycol (propane-1, 2-diol) 10.8% 20% Preparations 12.6% 20% Linear alkylbenzene sulfonic acids and their salts 12.6% 23% 4,4'-Isopropylidenediphenol (bisphenol A, diphenylolpropane) and its salts 10.8% 20% Dipropylene glycol 12.6% 20% Butanone (methyl ethyl ketone) 10.8% 20% Ethyl acetate                                 10.8% 20% Methyl-, ethyl- and propylcellulose, hydroxylated 0.0% 20% Front page picture: Chemical production facilities outside Sao Paulo  Source: Union of Chemical and Petrochemical industries in the state of Sao Paulo (Sinproquim) Focus article by Jonathan Lopez Additional information by Thais Matsuda and Bruno Menini

30-Apr-2024

India’s Bhansali Engineering Polymers to nearly triple ABS capacity

MUMBAI (ICIS)–India’s Bhansali Engineering Polymers Ltd (BEPL) plans to nearly triple its acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) capacity at Abu Road in the northwestern Rajasthan state to 200,000 tonnes/year by March 2026. The plant’s current capacity is 70,000 tonnes/year. The company has determined that a bigger expansion than initially planned is possible after awarding work on the expansion to Japan’s Toyo Engineering, it said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) on 20 April. In January 2024, BSEL had proposed a capacity expansion to 145,000 tonnes/year. “After [a] detailed analysis [by Toyo Engineering] it was concluded that overall ABS capacity of 200,000 tonnes/year can be achieved and will be a better option compared to the earlier proposal,” BEPL said. The expansion project will be funded through internal accruals, it said, adding that cost of the expansion project will be finalised by June.

24-Apr-2024

India starts antidumping probe on acetonitrile from three origins

MUMBAI (ICIS)–India has initiated an investigation into dumping of acetonitrile from China, Taiwan and Russia. The government was acting on a complaint filed by domestic producer Alkyl Amines Chemical Ltd, India's Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) said in a notification of the probe dated 26 March. Other local producers Balaji Amines Ltd and Jindal Specialty Chemicals have also supported the ADD application. The period under investigation will cover the 12 months from 1 October 2022 to 30 September 2023, while the injury examination period will cover three financial years – from April 2020 to March 2023. Alkyl Amines has claimed that “because of the dumped imports from the subject countries, the production and capacity utilization of the domestic industry are significantly below its installed capacity”. Acetonitrile is a byproduct of the acrylonitrile (ACN) production process. It is used to make pharmaceuticals, perfumes, rubber products, pesticides, batteries, among others.

01-Apr-2024

AFPM '24: INSIGHT: Biden ending term with regulatory bang for US chems

HOUSTON (ICIS)–The administration of US President Joe Biden is proposing a wave of regulations before its term ends in 2025, many of which will increase costs for chemical companies in the US and persist even if the nation elects a new president later this year. The prospect of such consequential policies comes as delegates head into this year's International Petrochemical Conference (IPC), hosted by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM). Changes to the Clean Waters Act, the Risk Management Program (RMP) and the Hazard Communication Standard are among the most consequential policies being considered by US regulators. Electric vehicles (EVs) could receive more support from federal and state governments. This would increase demand for plastics used in EVs while discouraging refiners from making further investments, which could limit US production of benzene, toluene and mixed xylenes (MX). The failure of Congress to re-authorize the nation's chemical site security program could spell its end. REGULATORY PUSH DURING ELECTION YEARSuch a regulatory push by the Biden administration was flagged last year by the Alliance for Chemical Distribution (ACD), the new name for the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD). The group was not crying wolf. The next nine months could rank among the worst for the chemical industry in terms of regulatory change and potential issues, said Eric Byer, president of the ACD. "Whatever it's going to be, it will come done fairly aggressively." The Biden administration has proposed several consequential policies. For the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is developing new requirements, which will require chemical producers and other companies to develop plans to address the worst possible discharge from their plants. The ACD warned that the new requirement would raise compliance costs while doing little to reduce the already small number of discharges by plants. The final rule is scheduled to be published in April 2024. For the RMP, changes could require chemical companies to share information that has been off limits since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, according to the American Chemistry Council (ACC). The concern is that the information will fall into the wrong hands, while significantly increasing costs to comply with the new requirements, according to the ACD. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is introducing changes to its Hazard Communication Standard that could create more burdens for companies. The ACD warned that some of the changes will increase costs without providing a commensurate improvement in safety. The EPA has started the multiyear process that, under the regulator's current whole-chemical approach, will lead to restrictions imposed on vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), acrylonitrile (ACN) and aniline, a chemical used to make methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI). This is being done through the nation's main chemical safety program, known as the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). MORE POLICIES PROPOSED FOR EVsThe Biden administration is proposing additional polices to encourage the adoption of EVs. For chemical producers, more EVs would increase demand for plastics, resins and thermal management fluids that are designed to meet the material challenges of these automobiles. At the same time, the push towards EVs could limit sales of automobiles powered by internal combustion engines (ICEs), lowering demand for gasoline and diesel. Refiners could decide to shut down and repurpose their complexes if they expect demand for their main products will stop growing or decline. That would lower production of aromatics and other refinery chemicals and refined products. The Biden administration is moving on three fronts to encourage EV sales. The EPA is expected to decide if California can adopt its Advanced Clean Car II (ACC II), which would phase out the sale of ICE-based vehicles to 2035. If the EPA grants California's request, that would trigger similar programs in several other states. The EPA's light-duty vehicle proposal would impose stricter standards on tail pipe emissions. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) is proposing stricter efficiency standards under its Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program. The AFPM opposes these measures. It said the EPA's light-duty vehicle proposal and DOT's new CAFE standards are so demanding, it would force automobile companies to produce a lot more EVs, plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles to meet the more ambitious requirements. LAX OVERSIGHT OF SHIPPING RATES IN WAKE OF HOUTHISThe ACD raised concerns that the US is not doing enough to address the possibility that shipping rates and delays have increased beyond what could be justified by the disruptions caused by the drought in Panama and by the Houthi attacks on vessels passing through the Red Sea to the Suez Canal. The ACD accepts that costs will rise, but it expressed concerns that shipping companies could be taking advantage of the situation by charging excessive rates on routes unaffected by the disruptions. These include routes from India and China to the western coast of the US, Byer said. "Why are you jacking up the price two or threefold?" LABOR NEGOTIATIONS FOR US EAST COASTThe work contract will expire this year for dockworkers and ports along the East Coast of the US. Byer warned of a possible strike if the talks become too contentious. On the West Coast, dockworkers and ports reached an agreement on a six-year work contract. CFATS ON LIFE SUPPORTByer expressed concerns about the future of the main chemical-site security program, called the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS). CFATS is overseen by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which is under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). CISA lost authority to implement CFATS on 28 July 2023, when a bill that would have re-authorized it was blocked from going to a vote in the Senate. Without CFATS, other federal and state agencies could create their own chemical-site security regulations. This process has already started in the US state of Nebraska, where State Senator Eliot Bostar introduced LB1048. Other nearby states in the plains could introduce similar bills, because they tend to follow each other's lead, Byer said. Many of these state legislatures should wrap up sessions in the next couple of months, so lawmakers still have time to propose chemical-site security bills. The ACD is most concerned about larger states creating chemical-site security programs, such as California, Illinois, New Jersey and New York. SENATE RAIL BILL REMAINS PENDINGA Senate rail safety bill has been pending for more than a year after a bipartisan group of legislators introduced it following the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. Congress has about 10 months to approve the bill before it lapses, Byer said. For bills in general, action during an election year could happen around the Memorial Day holiday in May, the 4 July recess, the August recess or before the end of September. After September, legislators will be focused on campaigning for the 5 November election. TEXAS BRINGS BACK TAX BREAKS FOR INDUSTRIAL PROJECTSTexas has revived a program that granted tax breaks to new chemical plants and other large industrial projects. The new program is called the Texas Jobs and Security Act, and it replaced the lapsed Chapter 313 School Value Limitation Agreement. The old program was popular with chemical companies, and their applications were among the first public disclosures of their expansion plans. The new program has already attracted applicants. Summit Next Gen is considering a plant that would convert 450 million gal/year of ethanol into 256 million gal/year of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Hosted by the AFPM, the IPC takes place on March 24-26. Insight article by Al Greenwood Thumbnail shows a federal building. Image by Lucky-photographer

18-Mar-2024

India’s Styrenix plans ABS, PS capacity expansions in Gujarat

MUMBAI (ICIS)–India’s Styrenix Performance Materials (SPM) expects to begin operations at its expanded acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and polystyrene (PS) capacities at Dahej and Nandesari in the western Gujarat state before 2028, a company source said on Friday. SPM plans to invest Rs6.5bn ($78m) on the expansion projects. Its ABS capacity will grow to 210,000 tonnes/year over the next four years, from 85,000 tonnes/year currently; while its PS capacity will be raised to 150,000 tonnes/year over the next three years from the current 66,000 tonnes/year, based on the plan released in October 2023. Funding the brownfield expansions will be through a mix of internal accruals and debt, SPM said. “The expansion will be done in a phased manner and capacity will be increased gradually over the next few years,” the company source said. The expansion of production capacities will help SPM meet increasing domestic demand for ABS and PS, he sai. “We expect to see robust growth in in our existing markets like automobiles, household appliances, medical devices, electronics, [among others],” the source said. SPM is formerly known as INEOS Styrolution India. It was renamed in January 2023 after INEOS Styrolution sold its entire stake in the company to Shiva Performance Material in August 2022. ($1 = Rs83)

16-Feb-2024

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