Synthetic rubber producers in Asia are mulling cutting output in July and August

(ICIS) -- Synthetic rubber producers in Asia are mulling cutting output or shutting plants for maintenance in July and August, as costs of feedstock butadiene (BD) continued to spike, wiping out margins, industry sources said on Wednesday.

Losses will likely be incurred with BD prices hitting an all-time high of USD 4.000/tonne (EUR 2.800/tonne) CFR (cost and freight) Asia on 24 June. BD prices have shot up by USD 1.200/tonne from 1 April, according to ICIS data.

Korea Kumho Petrochemical Co (KKPC), Asia's largest synthetic rubber producer, plans to halve production at its 410 KTa butadiene rubber (BR) plant next month, said a company source.
⌠Our BR margins are now negative and we have no choice but to cut our BR production output by 50% in July, and may shut down our BR plant in August if the BD price continues to rise, the source said.


US to sharply fall short of cellulosic ethanol targets - KATZEN

(ICIS) -- US cellulosic ethanol production will sharply fall short of targets mandated under the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS), an industry executive predicted on Tuesday. Cellulosic ethanol is identical to regular ethanol, except that the product is made from biomass that does not include edible feedstocks, such as corn.

Under the RFS, the US would have to use 10.5bn gal of cellulosic ethanol by 2020, but global production of that type of biofuel will likely only total 500m gal that year, said Phil Madson, president of KATZEN International.

Cellulosic ethanol production is still at the lab stage and there will not be enough of it to meet those targets, he said on the sidelines of the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop (FEW) in Indianapolis.
Madson pointed to a recent move by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which last week proposed reducing the mandate for US cellulosic ethanol consumption for 2012 to 3.45m-12.90m gal, from a previous 500m gal target.


Gevo and Toray successfully produced fully renewable and recyclable PET

(Plastemart) -- Gevo Inc. has successfully produced fully renewable and recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) with its potential customer, Toray Industries, Inc. Toray is one of the world's leading producers of fibers, plastics and chemicals, while Gevo is a leading renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels company. In April 2010, the two companies signed a non-binding letter of interest for the future supply of renewable paraxylene derived from Gevo's isobutanol sometime in 2012 or thereafter.

Working directly with this important potential customer, Gevo employed prototypes of commercial operations from the petrochemical and refining industries to make paraxylene from isobutanol. This renewable paraxylene was sent to Toray for conversion into biobased PET articles. Toray employed its existing technology and new technology jointly developed with Gevo and used Gevo's paraxylene and commercially available renewable mono ethylene glycol (MEG) to produce fully renewable PET (all of the carbon in this PET is renewable). The next step in this collaboration between Gevo and Toray is to move from lab-scale "proof of concept" to establishing commercial-scale operations. Gevo is currently working with partners to optimize the process technology needed to produce para-xylene from isobutanol at commercial-scale and competitive economics.


BASF and Embrapa announced a cooperation agreement

(BASF) -- BASF Crop Protection and Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuaria (EMBRAPA), the leading Brazilian agricultural research institution, signed an ambitious technical cooperation agreement to develop and bring new agriculture technologies and products to Brazilian growers. The cooperation brings together the expertise and know-how of both partners in the search for untapped agricultural solutions in the areas of biotechnology, genetic improvement, soil fertility and mechanization, plant protection, and physiology. The agreement is valid for five years with no limit on the number of projects to be explored.

The cooperation has already resulted in projects that are currently in the development stage. The initial project, for example, evaluates the feasibility of using a bacterium to enhance nitrogen fixation for sugar cane plantations.


European producers to reduce export prices for PE

MOSOW (MRC) -- Following the slide in Asian and Middle East prices for PE, European producers reduce export prices, on average, by EUR 100/t, according to ICIS-MRC Price report.

Reorientation of PE export streams from Asia and Middle East to Europe forced European producers to reduce prices yet in May. In June, growing competitiveness as well as decrease of oil prices resulted in further cheapening of PE.

Contract price for ethylene in July in Europe fell by EUR 95/t that will affect PE prices next month. Some European producers have already declared EUR 100/t reduction of export prices for LDPE and LLDPE in CIS. Export prices for HDPE were changing during June, as a result some producers declared reduction of July export prices by EUR 120 - 150/t compared to early June.

Russian producers unwillingly reduce PE prices both for domestic and external markets. LDPE prices for the domestic market fell by 1.000 - 3.000 RUB/t by the end of June, depending on
producer. Only one Russian producer declared reduction of HDPE prices in July.