the Austrian injection molding machine manufacturer Engel is expanding

(Plastics Today) -- Engel is expanding, with new sales and service employees as well as an expanded footprint at the company's automation center in Hagen (Germany). Engel's German subsidiary chalked up EUR 123 million in revenue and orders worth EUR 162 million during the 2010/2011 business year, numbers the company says indicate a rapid improvement from the 2007-2008 crisis years. For the financial year in progress (2011/2012) the company is predicting record revenue out of Germany s it rides the successful reemergence of that country's automotive industry. Engel is one of the few companies able to supply the large multi-component machines often sought by automotive systems suppliers. In a high-wage country such as Germany, efficient, economical processing cells are in demand," according to Ralf Christofori, director of the company's sales and service offices in Nuremberg.

The company's success in Germany also can be traced to the international growth of many German plastics processing companies, with the purchasing decisions often made in the domestic market. One result: about 20% of Engel Germany's sales in the past few years have been for machines that German companies ordered for their subsidiaries in Eastern Europe.


Arkema's first-quarter sales rose 33%

(ICIS) -- Arkema's net profit almost quadrupled to EUR 151m (USD 225m) in the first quarter of 2011, from a EUR 40m gain in the same period in 2010, on the back of strong demand and higher prices, the French specialty chemicals company said on Thursday.

First-quarter sales rose 33% year on year to EUR 1.73bn, as sales volumes grew 7%, spurred by strong demand in Asia and new developments in many sectors related to sustainable development.

Earnings were also boosted by the 21% year-on-year increase in product prices, which offset significant increases in raw material costs, Arkema added.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in the first quarter more than doubled to EUR 287m, from EUR 137m in the same period of 2010, while Arkema's 16.6% EBITDA margin exceeded 16% during a quarter for the first time since its spin-off from oil major Total in 2006.


BP's paraxylene facility in Alabama has ceased production

(ICIS) -- BP's paraxylene (PX) facility in Decatur, Alabama, has ceased production following a storm-related power outage at the site, the company said on Thursday. No damage to the plant was reported, and BP said production would resume as soon as a reliable power supply had been established. The Decatur plant has a PX capacity of 1.1m tonnes/year, according to ICIS plants and projects.

Indorama and INEOS Styrenics declared force majeure (FM) on polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polystyrene (PS) supply respectively at the Decatur site following the loss of power last week.

BP also confirmed on Wednesday that it is in the process of restarting its PX units at Texas City, Texas.

Provided the units restart as planned, the company said it does not anticipate any disruption to purified terephthalic acid (PTA) production due to a lack of PX supply.


Five US polystyrene plants are either shut down or operating at reduced rates

(ICIS) -- Five US polystyrene (PS) plants are either shut down or operating at reduced rates caused by flooding and severe weather, creating an unprecedented imbalance in supply and demand, market sources said on Thursday.

Americas Styrenics was experiencing delays in styrene monomer (SM) barge shipments to its three plants in Ohio and Illinois because of historic flood levels on the Ohio and Illinois rivers, a market source said.

The producer has responded by either idling lines or cutting back operating rates, and it could still resort to a full shutdown depending on how much longer the barges are delayed, the source said.

The affected plants are located in Joliet, Illinois (125 KTa); Marietta, Ohio (360 KTa); and Ironton, Ohio (85 KTa).

Assuming no further heavy rains fall in the Ohio and Illinois river valleys, market participants expect all three Americas Styrenics plants could return to full operating rates toward the end of May.

Meanwhile, INEOS Styrenics is facing its own set of supply woes. The company began a planned turnaround at its 400 KTa plant in Joliet, Illinois, and is waiting for the main power supply to be restored to its 190 KTa Decatur, Alabama, plant following severe weather a week ago.


China's sulphur market will be firm in May amid rising international prices

(ICIS) -- China's sulphur market will be firm in May amid rising international prices, high downstream demand and shrinking stocks at ports, industry sources said on Friday.

The market price of sulphur is expected to stay firm in May, but its forecast to soften in June will depend on the prices of nitrogen phosphorus, industry sources said.

The sulphur price in the Jiangsu market has risen by yuan (CNY) 100-150/tonne (USD 15-23) to CNY1,770-1,870/tonne on 1 April-5 May, according to Chemease, an ICIS service in China.

The sulphur price rose by USD 10-40/tonne (EUR 7-28) to USD 230-245/tonne CFR (cost & freight) CMP (China Main Port) on 1-28 April, according to data from Chemease.

The active international market is a result of global tight supply, which has subsequently caused a domino effect on the Chinese market.