Naphtha prices to fall by USD 43/tonne on Friday morning

(ICIS)--The outlook for European naphtha demand is optimistic after lower crude oil values caused naphtha prices to fall by USD 43/tonne (EUR 30/tonne) on Friday morning, sources said. At 10:00 GMT, the naphtha range was assessed at USD 951-959/tonne CIF (cost, insurance & freight) NWE (northwest Europe). June Brent crude oil was at USD 108.51/bbl.

This compared with a range of USD 994-1,002/tonne CIF NWE the previous afternoon, when June Brent was at USD 114.31/bbl.

The latest range is the lowest seen for European naphtha since 17 March, when prices were assessed at USD 946-954/tonne CIF NWE.

Crude oil price hikes caused by concerns about the ongoing political turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East disrupting supplies drove naphtha prices up and supported them for several weeks.


GCC nations produce around 16% of the world's petrochemicals output

(Ame Info) -- According to a recent report by the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA), the annual petrochemicals production of the six Gulf states is expected to soar around 46% to 155 million tonnes per annum by 2015, up from 105 million now. Today the GCC nations produce around 16% of the world's petrochemicals output; that figure will rise to 20% by 2015, the GPCA said.

Saudi Arabia is the region's largest producer of petrochemicals, with a 50% share of the total output, while Kuwait produces around 9% and Oman and Qatar 5% each. The UAE and Bahrain export 3% and 1% respectively, of the region's total petrochemicals output. Nor are the major Gulf players resting on their laurels. Mindful of the need to preserve their long-term income streams, Gulf governments have pledged to invest record sums in maintaining and improving the region's petrochemicals capacity.

By spending big on facilities including those at Jubail Industrial City and Ruwais, Saudi plans to raise its total petrochemicals output to 70 million tonnes by 2015, from the current production level of 53.2 million. Meanwhile state-run Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) has said it will invest approximately USD 90bn over the next five years in its oil and gas businesses and growth strategy. "On the oil sector capital programme, we are well on track and poised to spend around USD 90bn in the coming five years," says Hashin Al-Rifai, a planning manager at KPC. "That is going to mushroom to USD 340bn over the 2030 [strategic] plan period."


BASF has had a powerful start to 2011

(BASF) -- Capacity utilization rates in the company's plants were good; in particular, demand in the chemicals business (Chemicals, Plastics, Performance Products, Functional Solutions) increased compared with the same quarter of the previous year. Sales grew by 25% to EUR 19.4 bln. The Cognis businesses acquired in December 2010 made a significant contribution to this substantial sales growth. The earthquake off the coast of Japan and its aftermath as well as the tense political situation in North Africa have not yet had a significant impact on BASF's business.

Compared with the first quarter of 2010, sales volumes rose in nearly all segments. As a result of the situation in Libya, oil production was suspended at the end of February 2011; this led to a reduction in oil production volumes in the Oil & Gas segment. In the Agricultural Solutions segment, prices declined slightly; all other segments reported price increases.

Income from operations (EBIT) increased by 39% to EUR 2.6 billion compared with the first quarter of the previous year. EBITDA rose by EUR 738 million to EUR 3.4 billion. The EBITDA margin rose to 17.4% (first quarter of 2010: 17.0%).


A new grade of LLDPE for cast film applications from Sabic

(Plastics Today) -- Improved stiffness, the potential to improve line speeds considerably, and excellent mechanical properties are the claimed attributes of a new grade of LLDPE for cast film applications from Sabic (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia).

Grade Sabic LLDPE 430BE is also said to feature outstanding quality consistency and its combination of properties opens up new opportunities for quantifiable energy and material savings - which supports converters to improve their cost efficiency as well as their sustainability performance, according to the supplier. "

Due to its increased density, Sabic LLDPE 430BE is suited for application in differential cling stretch film applications as "low cling" outerlayer. The high quality consistency and specific design of Sabic LLDPE 430BE enables converters to improve line speeds without compromising on a stable and consistent manufacturing process.


IHS acquires Chemical Market Associates Inc.

(Plastics Today) -- IHS Inc.has acquired petrochemical consulting business, Chemical Market Associates Inc.(CMAI), making the highly regarded analyst of chemicals and plastics markets its fifth acquisition through the first four months of 2011.

IHS Chairman and CEO Jerre Stead said in a release that CMAI's unique and proprietary chemical information, analysis business, and price discovery consulting made the firm attractive to IHS and will be complementary to its own commodities and cost information offerings.

The company has been building out its chemicals and energy businesses of late. In 2010, IHS acquired portions of the chemical and energy portfolio business assets of Access Intelligence and Emerging Energy Research LLC, and earlier this year, it purchased oil and gas consultancy, ODS-Petrodata. IHS had long targeted the energy market. In 2004, it purchased Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA), and in 1996, it bought Petroconsultants S.A.

Founded in 1979, CMAI provides market and business advisory services for the global chemical, plastics, fibers, and chlor-alkali industries. It is headquartered in Houston, but in recent years has expanded its locations reflecting shifts within the petrochemical industry while also giving it a presence in all the world's major markets. The company currently maintains a direct presence in Bangkok, Dubai, Dusseldorf, London, New York, Shanghai, and Singapore.