China's EVA prices will remain high in May

(ICIS) -- China's ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) prices will remain high in May and will possibly begin falling only in June, as major producers have yet to face inventory pressure despite weakening demand, industry sources said on Wednesday.

The price of EVA type 5110J was CNY20.600-20.700/tonne (USD 3.169-3.184/tonne) EXW (ex-works) in south China on 7 March and settled at the current high level of CNY21.000-21.100/tonne on 13 April, according to data from Chemease, an ICIS service in China.

The price of EVA type 7350M was USD 2.780/tonne on 28 March. It moved up USD 50/tonne on 29 March to USD 2.830/tonne CFR (cost & freight) CMP (China Main Port) and has remained stable, according to data from Chemease.

A supply crunch has exerted upward pressure on EVA prices since the third quarter of 2010 and widened the buy-sell gap.

Major producer Taiwan's Formosa Plastics Corp (FPC) is operating its 240 KTa EVA plant in Mailiao at nearly full rates, following a turnaround from 1 to 21 March, a company source said.

Besides downstream sectors such as footwear, EVA is used as a solar encapsulation resin in the manufacture of membranes in solar photovoltaic panels.


LyondellBasell is considering debottlenecking its crackers at two US sites

(ICIS) -- LyondellBasell is considering debottlenecking its crackers at Channelview and La Porte, Texas, which could add at least 500m lb/year (227,000 tonnes/year) of ethane-based ethylene capacity, chief executive Jim Gallogly said on Monday. The projects are still in early engineering stages, Gallogly said during an earnings conference call.

LyondellBasell has two crackers in Channelview, Texas, and one in La Porte, Texas. Gallogly did not specify if the company would debottleneck both Channelview crackers or just one.

LyondellBasell is also studying whether it will build a cracker, Gallogly said. Such a project is in the study phase, and the company has not announced plans to actually build one.

If LyondellBasell were to build a cracker, it would do with another company, a concept that Gallogly called a condo cracker.


Sugarcane-based Pantene bottle to launch in Western Europe

(Greener Package) -- Procter & Gamble has begun producing its new Pantene shampoo and conditioner bottles made primarily from plant-based plastic≈a move it first announced last August. This high-density polyethylene material, a first for the haircare industry, is made from sugarcane and will be featured on the Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion collection. The new bottles will be initially launching in Western Europe with expansion plans to the rest of the world over the next two years.

According to P&G, the packaging uses less of the planet's nonrenewable resources, replacing petroleum-based plastic with plastic derived from sugarcane, a natural and renewable resource. The company also notes that sugarcane-derived plastic consumes more than 70% less fossil fuels and releases more than 170% less greenhouse gases per ton than traditional petroleum-based plastic.


Solutia opened EVA manufacturing center in China

(Solutia) -- Solutia Inc. announced the opening of its new Vistasolar(R) ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) manufacturing center in Suzhou, China. The new facility recently passed major testing milestones and is now ready to supply commercial-grade Vistasolar EVA encapsulant for use in solar modules. This announcement marks the latest in a series of investments Solutia has made to help solar module manufacturers lower the total cost of production and help make solar energy competitive with traditional sources of energy.

Solutia is the market leader for EVA films in Europe and the first global supplier to build an EVA manufacturing center in China. Chinese solar module manufacturers currently produce more than half of all modules installed globally, and this new manufacturing center will strengthen Solutia's position to reliably supply high-quality solar encapsulants to the Chinese photovoltaic market. Solutia also produces encapsulants in Germany, Belgium, the United States, Mexico and Brazil.


Mississippi, Ohio rivers halt chemical barge traffic

(ICIS) -- High river levels stalled and delayed chemical shipments in the US as spring storms pummeled a wide swath of states and made many barge waterways inoperable, sources said on Thursday. Major flooding on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers was affecting the midwest and lower eastern states, according to the US Geological Survey.

The swollen waterways have halted barge traffic north of Paducah, Kentucky, said Steve Holcomb, a spokesman for Kirby, the largest US barge operator.

Barges of caustic soda sent by US Gulf coast are at a standstill in numerous cities, unable to offload because of elevated river levels, market sources said.

A US Gulf caustic soda producer confirmed inoperable areas and delays in barge shipments. ⌠In three or four weeks, this river system is going to be empty, the source said.

The distributor said river swells of up to 53 feet at the Cincinnati port have prevented the offloading of six of its barges, which must offload at a maximum of 48 feet.