The value of Saudi Arabia's non-oil exports to China is the highest in 15 months

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabia's non-oil exports to China reached 1.75 billion Saudi riyals (USD 467 mln) in March, up 34 percent from a year earlier, according to data posted today on the Department of Statistics and Information's website. The value of non-oil exports to China increased as prices for petrochemicals benefited from high oil prices, as well as the introduction of new products.

China, Singapore and India accounted for one-quarter of Saudi non-oil exports in March, the department's data showed. Saudi Arabia's non-oil exports by value increased by 33 percent to Singapore and by 5.8 percent to India.

Petrochemical exports made up 34 percent of non-oil exports from Saudi Arabia in March, while exports of plastics such as Polyethylene terephthalate comprised 33 percent, the data showed. Polyethylene terephthalate is used to make plastic bottles.

China was the largest importer of Saudi petrochemicals and plastics in 2010 in terms of volume, according to the Department of Statistics and Information. China imported 5.9 million tons of non-oil exports in 2010 from Saudi Arabia, mainly comprised of petrochemicals and plastics.


US Gulf caustic soda market is bracing for high water levels on the lower Mississippi river

(ICIS) -- The US Gulf caustic soda market is bracing for record high water levels on the lower Mississippi river in the next few weeks as ongoing flooding in the US midwest makes its way south, sources said on Friday.

The US Coast Guard on Friday closed part of the river at Caruthersville, Missouri, because of the risk that the wakes from vessels could force water over the riverfront floodwall there.

One market source estimated flood levels would reach the lower Mississippi river by the middle of next week.

In addition, the stranded barges already on the river that were unable to offload were likely to incur additional charges, the source said.

A caustic soda producer said high river levels were expected to disrupt barge traffic by the third week of May, which would halt barge loading and offloading. As a result, more caustic-soda railcars were being loaded in order to distribute to US midwest customers.

US Gulf caustic soda producers include Shintech, Formosa, Dow Chemical, PPG Industries and Occidental Chemical (OxyChem).


Koksan has contracted Uhde-Fischer to build a PET plant in Turkey

(PlasticsToday) -- Turkish PET perform processor Koksan has contracted plant construction engineering firm Uhde-Fischer to build the processor a new 216 KTa plant for the production of PET in Gaziantep, Turkey. The plant will be based on Uhde-Fischer's Melt-to-Resin technology, which does away with solid state polymerization to save energy and to realize other benefits.

A further investment for a second identical line is expected soon. The first plant is designed to produce various grades of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). With the new plant, which will be built next to Koksan's existing PET preform molding and bottling facilities in Gaziantep, the company aims to become the leading supplier of PET in Turkey. Koksan was a metal packaging processor for almost four decades before it began stretch blowmolding PET bottles and jars in 1997; in 2004 it took its perform molding in-house.


Domestic prices of LDPE in China have been falling over the past two weeks

(ICIS) -- Domestic prices of low density polyethylene (LDPE) in China have been falling over the past two weeks amid a softening of demand, as downstream players face difficulty in accessing credit, industry sources said on Monday. Continued monetary tightening in China - through hikes in policy rates and in banks' reserve requirement ratio - makes the cost of capital prohibitively high for small to medium companies, they said.

Offers for LDPE films are quoted at yuan (CNY) 13.400-13.700/tonne (USD 2.062-2.108/tonne) on Monday morning. Over the past eight trading sessions, LDPE film prices in east China shed yuan (CNY) 50-100/tonne to CNY13.400-13.800/tonne ex-works (EXW) on 6 May, as assessed by Chemease, an ICIS service in China.

Meanwhile, seasonal factors are also at play in the weakening of demand from a major end-user - the agricultural sector, market sources said.

LDPE is used in packaging of grains. But the summer months of June, July and August are typically the lull season for the sector after the spring planting season, they said.


Louisiana chemical plants along the Mississippi river have started pre-shipping material

(ICIS) -- Louisiana chemical plants along the Mississippi river have started pre-shipping material in anticipation of high water, said Dan Borne, president of the Louisiana Chemical Association. If the river gets too high, it could prevent plants from receiving raw materials and from shipping out product, Borne said.

Some plants could rely on railroads or trucks for shipments, he said. But others deal in such large volumes that shipping costs could rise tremendously.

Plants could store some of their product in warehouses until water levels fall, Borne said. But that will depend on both the amount of on-site storage and the type of the chemical being produced.

Rising waters could also cover up pipes from which plants discharge effluent, Borne said. That also could disrupt operations. Borne could not quantify the extent of the disruptions since each of the plants are so different, he said.

A source with Cornerstone Chemicals reported that its 60 KTa melamine plant in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, was ⌠high and dry and there were no plans for a shutdown. Meanwhile, the US is taking steps to take pressure off the river.