BASF moves closer to markets to cope with competition in the Middle-East

(plastemart) -- Faced with strong competition from low-cost production in the Middle East, BASF is exploiting all options which extend the value chain. The company plans to cater to 70% of its business in Asia with products made in Asia.

As a result, its cracker in China equally owned by BASF and China's state-owned Sinopec, is broadening its product offering. The BYC cracker complex, under expansion, is BASF's largest in China. BASF and partner Sinopec are investing US$1.4 bln in the expansion, which involves raising the ethylene capacity from 600,000 to 740,000 tpa and building 10 new plants downstream. New products will include 2-propylheptanol, nonionic surfactants, amines and super-absorbent polymers (SAP). BYC will also extend its EO value chain by building a new amines complex for the production of ethanolamines, ethylene amines and dimethylethanolamine, used in the agriculture, pharmaceutical and surfactant sectors. By producing additional derivatives of EO such as nonionic surfactants, it is possible to compete with the Middle Eastern counterparts. BYC will also develop the cracker's C4 chain with the manufacture of butadiene (BD) and isobutene, with derivatives including the plasticizer alcohol 2-propylheptanol and highly reactive polyisobutylene (HR-PIB), which is used in the manufacture of fuels and lubricants.

BASF is counting on Chinese demand developing for these niche products. BYC will implement the Nanjing expansion in phases, as market demand develops. Initial capacity expansions will be completed this year, with the bulk of the project completed by the end of 2011. Most of the Nanjing expansion project is in the engineering phase. Some construction has already commenced, focusing initially on establishing the necessary infrastructure. Work on the cracker expansion is scheduled to begin during a maintenance outage in the second quarter of this year, and the additional ethylene will become available in mid 2011.

The two partners plan to expand BYC by incorporating into the operation a separate BASF/Sinopec JV for the production of styrenics in Nanjing, during the course of this year. Combining the two JVs would improve the synergies between the operations. YBS, which is owned 60:40 by BASF and Sinopec, produces polystyrene (PS) and expandable polystyrene (EPS), as well as the raw material styrene monomer (SM). Along with expanding and restructuring its operations in Nanjing, BASF plans to build a wholly owned integrated methyl di-p-phenylene isocyanate (MDI) complex in Chongqing, southwest China. The project, with an MDI capacity of 400,000 tpa, is scheduled to start up in 2014. BASF expects the Chinese regulators to approve the project this year. The Nanjing and Chongqing investments are central to BASF's plans to double its sales in Asia-Pacific by 2020.

MRCMRC Reference

BASF. The share in the Russian market in 2008:
PS - 9.1% (GPPS - 5.9%, ABS - 11.4%, EPS - 10.6%).

Annual sales growth in Russia over the 5 years:
PS - 15%.

Imports by polymers processing technologies:
injection molding.

Sasol Limited board approved construction of new ethylene purification unit

(Sasol) -- The Sasol Limited board has recently approved the construction of a R1.9 billion ethylene purification unit at its Sasol Polymers plant in Sasolburg. The plant is expected to go on stream in the second half of 2013 and will be ramped up to full capacity by 2015.

The unit will enable the Sasol Group to add further value to its monomers feed streams originating from the Secunda complex and will boost ethylene production by approximately 48 000 tons per year. The ethylene will be used in the manufacturing of polyethylene and will greatly benefit the plastics conversion industry in South Africa that currently imports large quantities of this raw material.

This investment confirms Sasol's commitment to the South African chemical industry and will enable significant downstream value addition in terms of locally manufactured consumer products such as plastic bags, packaging materials and containers.


PP-homo imports increase by 25% in Ukraine

MOSCOW (MRC) - PP-homo imports into Ukraine went up by 25% (to 10.99 kt) in January - March 2010 comparing with same period last year. Feedstocks from Russia increased 2 times - according to MRC DataScope report.

In March imports of PP-homo by LyondellBasell went up almost 2.5 times (to 0.89 kt) comparing with February 2010. Ukrainian companies increased PP-homo supply from Poland over 2 times. Imports of Polish material formed 0,56 kt.

The situation with imports of European PP is expected to get worse in April. The main reasons are suspensions for scheduled maintenance of some European PP producers being traditional material suppliers into Ukrainian market.


For more information please refer to MRC DataScope reports.

PVC-S imports increased 2 times in Ukraine in January-March

MOSCOW (MRC) -- In January - March 2010, PVC-S imports in Ukraine increased nearly 2 times (to 22 kt) comparing with same period last year. The share of US resin exceeded 55% of overall imports - according to MRC DataScope Report.

Ukrainian companies have begun to import Fromosa's PVC-S actively since the beginning of the year. In March, record volumes of Formosa's material (4.5 kt) were imported; all came from the USA. Imports of S-65 grade into Ukraine were stopped this year.

In March, PVC-S supply of Vinnolit's material fell almost 2.5 times comparing with February 2010 due to the maintenance at capacities in Germany.

Sabic's resin (grade Sabic 67S) appeared in the Ukrainian market at the end of Q1. Imports of that material moved at 206 ton.


For more information please refer to MRC DataScope report.

Sinopec's ethylene plant in Zhenhai starts production

BEIJING (China Knowledge) -- China Petrochemical Corp, which is also known as Sinopec Group, last week said that subsidiary firm Sinopec, Asia's largest oil refiner, has kicked off operations at a new ethylene project at the Zhenhai refinery in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, sources reported.

Sinopec Group said in a statement that Zhenhai Refining & Chemical Co is the operator of the ethylene facility.

The project, which will be able to produce 1 million tons of ethylene annually, is expected to increase the Chinese oil giant's sales revenue by RMB 30 billion per year and will help promote the development of downstream industries that will generate more than RMB 100 billion in sales revenue a year.

Sinopec invested a total of RMB 23.5 billion in the construction of the ethylene project and the related supporting facilities. The Zhenhai refinery is now the country's largest refinery and the biggest ethylene production base.