Asia's naphtha price to reach a nine-week high

(Reuters) - Asia's naphtha price rose more to reach a nine-week high on Tuesday, with cracks rising to around a six-week high to echo the strength in Europe on stronger demand.

Most traders were not convinced that Asian fundamentals have improved, citing ample stocks and weaker overall demand. Physical naphtha timespreads were still negative, inidcating that the Asian market has not improved, with South Korea's S-Oil having to sell 33 KT of light naphtha for Aug. 21-31 loading at a discount of about USD 2.50 a tonne to Japan spot quotes on a free-on-board (FOB) basis.

Separately, several Japanese oil refiners have halted marine product shipments from at least nine plants as a powerful typhoon approaches. This came at a time when Japan's top oil refiner JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp had shut a 60,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) No.3 vacuum distillation unit after the fire. It had also lowered crude runs at a 150,000 bpd crude unit.


LDPE prices in Russia down on weak demand and surplus

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Low demand for low-density polyethylene (LDPE) along with steady work of Russian producers and small volume of exports stipulate surplus in the market. These factors as well as high competition among Russian producers has led to the next reduction of prices, according to ICIS-MRC Price report.

This year is quite difficult for Russian producers of LDPE. Low demand for polyethylene both in domestic and foreign markets limits sales. As a result, by June manufacturers had faced a problem of significant LDPE stocks, despite the fact that since mid-April till mid-May the largest LDPE capacities in Russia - Kazanorhsyntez - had been suspended.

From mid-June increased competition forced Russian producers to low LDPE prices in the domestic market. The prices actually declined each week. This week is not an exception. The price offer in the spot market for 158 LDPE (Ufa) reduced to RUB 58.000 -58.500/t, including VAT, FCA Ufa. Kazanorhsyntez reduced the price for 158 LDPE to RUB 58.000 -58.500/t, including VAT, FCA Kazan.

Since June, the Russian producers have been trying to increase LDPE exports in order to balance the domestic market. However low demand in foreign markets, as well as problems with railway transportation don't yet allow to increase polyethylene export significantly. For thirty days starting from July 19, Tomskneftechem's capacities were suspended that along with export sales may possibly allow Russian producers to reduce the surplus in the domestic market by the end of August.


CNOOC Luxembourg to acquire oil sands developer OPTI Canada

(Platts) -- China's offshore oil and gas producer CNOOC Ltd said Wednesday that its subsidiary CNOOC Luxembourg has entered an agreement to acquire oil sands developer OPTI Canada for approximately USD 2.1 bln. The transaction is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year, subject to government and regulatory approvals, CNOOC said in a statement.

OPTI owns a 35% stake in the Long Lake oil sands project, while operator Nexen holds the balance. The Long Lake project includes a steam assisted gravity drainage operation and an upgrader.

According to CNOOC, the SAGD Operation is expected to have throughput rates of approximately 72,000 b/d of bitumen at full production and the upgrader is expected to produce approximately 58,500 b/d of sweet crude at full capacity.


BASF to significantly expand its presence in the Middle East region

(BASF) -- BASF will significantly expand its presence in the Middle East region by building a state-of-the-art plant for customer specific antioxidant blends (CSB) in Bahrain. CSBs are key additives for the production of polymers for the plastics industry, especially for the Middle East region. Construction of the new facility will start in September 2011. It will become one of the world's largest CSB plants with an annual capacity of about 16.000 metric tons. The new plant will be operational already by end of 2012.

This is a major investment of BASF in the plastic additives business following its acquisition of Ciba in 2009 and manifests BASF's strong commitment to this industry. Hans W. Reiners, President of BASF's Performance Chemicals division, explained this strategic move: ⌠We are very happy to establish a state-of-the-art CSB production site close to our customers in this fast growing region. This is backed by our powerful production network of antioxidants in Asia, Europe and the Americas making us worldwide one of the leading partners to the plastic processing industry with a product portfolio unmatched in terms of broadness and quality. BASF is very much committed to further strengthen its plastic additives business ranging from antioxidants and lightstabilizers to pigments.

This new plant will come in addition to the existing manufacturing agreement for CSBs with Astra Polymer in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, making BASF the largest CSB supplier in this region. This facility will be well positioned to serve the fast growing polymer market in the Middle East with special focus on key customers in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), one of the fastest growing regions for the production of polyolefin resins worldwide.


PVC prices in China are unlikely to slide further

(ICIS) -- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) prices in China are unlikely to slide further in the near term in light of firming feedstock prices and a likely pick up in demand with the onset of the production season through September, market sources said on Wednesday.

Spot prices of PVC reached their peak at USD1.220-1.250/tonne (EUR 866-888/tonne) CFR (cost & freight) CMP (China Main Port) in May and were last assessed at USD 1.070-1.090/tonne CFR CMP on 15 July 2011, according to ICIS data. Prices in the spot market have plunged to the current level amid sluggish demand in China, market sources said.

Power restrictions in several regions in east China have dampened demand as a number of downstream factories have reduced their operation rates, with some smaller plants even shutting their operations, market sources said. As a result, some market participants do not expect to see a significant improvement in demand until September.

In addition, a deluge of competitively priced US cargoes into the country has placed further downwards pressure on prices, according to market sources.