Europe acrylic acid and esters market faces uncertain outlook for Q3

(ICIS) -- The European acrylic acid and acrylate esters market is in a state of confusion, as uncertainty surrounding feedstock propylene and a wide scattering of prices has led to some nervousness among players, sources said on Thursday.

⌠Some purchasers are very nervous, said one supplier. ⌠There are concerns about security of supply, so we have seen some healthy buying interest despite the usual August slowdown. The sentiment for September is very strong - there is a real sense of this - and buyers are trying to better secure volumes.

Another major European seller agreed, adding that it had already confirmed some contracts for August at a rollover despite the eventual propylene reduction of EUR 15/tonne. ⌠The drop in propylene took everyone by surprise and possibly worried the purchasers a little, said the seller.

There was also some concern surrounding availability in Asia and any potential impact in Europe following a fire at a propylene pipeline in Taiwan over the weekend.

However, no damage was reported at the 100 KTa crude acrylic acid plant located in the same complex, and operating rates were maintained at 100%, said a source from the company.
With prices in the Chinese market continuing to firm on restricted availability in the region, no significant volumes are expected to make their way into Europe in the coming weeks.


BASF will return lower-than-expected profits in 2011

(ICIS) -- Petrochemicals giant BASF will return lower-than-expected profits in 2011 but remains undervalued on the German bourse, analysts at US-based Bernstein Research said on Wednesday.
BASF's earnings per share (EPS) will be an estimated EUR 6.57 (USD 9.39) in 2011, the Bernstein analysts said, down from the EUR 7.13 they forecast earlier in 2011. They also cut their target share price for BASF by 3.9%, from EUR 77 to EUR 74.

The lower outlook for the company comes after a second quarter in which the company failed to meet analysts' expectations, pushing its share price down 5%.

However, Bernstein believes that the company remains significantly undervalued, and their target share price is well above the EUR 59.76 seen in trading on Germany's DAX on 3 August. Bernstein's earnings forecast remains as much as 10% above other analysts', the research company said, giving BASF's shares an Outperform rating.


BR prices in China may strengthen through September

(ICIS) -- Butadiene rubber (BR) prices in China may strengthen through September, with a spate of major turnarounds at domestic facilities likely to shave third-quarter supply in the market by about 13%, industry sources on Thursday.

The estimated loss of supply was more than 20 KT, they said. In July, China's actual BR output stood at about 45.3 KT, 21% lower than the total production in June, according to data from Chemease, an ICIS service in China.

BR offers were at CNY35.500/tonne (USD 5.512/tonne) this week, market sources said. In the week ending 29 July, spot prices were assessed at CNY35.200-35.800/tonne, according to ICIS.
Before the spate of shutdowns in the third quarter, China's BR prices were hovering at CNY30.700/tonne-31.000/tonne, ICIS data showed.

A number of Chinese BR producers are due to conduct annual maintenance at their plants, while one producer shut down production in June for an indefinite period because of squeezed margins stemming from soaring prices of feedstock butadiene (BD), industry sources said.


Reliance Industries wants the state to chalk out a concrete policy before investing

(Business Standard) -- Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Group has revived its interest in West Bengal, after a hiatus of nearly three years. After the Mamata Banerjee-led government took charge, Ambani spoke at length with West Bengal commerce and industry minister Partha Chatterjee and discussed a range of proposals from food processing and gems & jewellery to refineries and Haldia Petrochemicals.

Reliance Industries (RIL) officials, however, pointed out that unless the state government chalked out a concrete policy, proactively, the company does not see investments in petrochemicals or refining coming through.

⌠There is enough in the project pipeline, an official said on condition of anonymity. An liquefied natural gas terminal in the east coast could be considered, though, he said.

Reliance's interest in Bengal is not new. Ever since Haldia Petrochemicals project was conceived during Jyoti Basu's tenure, Reliance had been keen to get involved. Mukesh Ambani had come down to meet former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and industry minister Nirupam Sen in 2006, soon after the Assembly elections. Reliance has small parcels of land for its agri-retail plan, conceived during Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's time. It had announced an investment of Rs 4,000 crore for its agri-retail plan in 2006, but had to put it on the back burner in the wake of hurdles posed by the Forward Bloc, a constituent of the Left Front.


Qatofine Company to resume operations at its LLDPE plant

(Arabian Oil and Gas) -- Qatofine Company Limited is expected to resume operations at its linear low density polyethylene plant, on 5 August, according to Saudi web portal Argaam. The plant, located in Messaieed Industrial City in Qatar, has a production capacity of 450 KTa of linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), was shut down on 12 July due to a technical problem, which was supposed to be fixed on the same day but it was delayed till the 5th.

Qatofine is a joint venture between QAPCO (63%), Total Petrochemicals France (36%) and Qatar Petroleum (1%).

The project's cost was estimated at USD 1.3bn and started commercial production in May 2010, and exported the first shipment in July 2010.