Sipchem postpones shutdown of its VAM plant

(Plastemart) -- Saudi International Petrochemical Company (Sipchem) has delayed shutdown plans for its 330,000 metric tpa vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) plant in Jubail, as per Platts. As per original plans, the company had scheduled to shut the plant for 15-20 days in August or September to replace the plant catalyst, and then postponed the shutdown to September or October. The shutdown is postponed to Q4-2011, as the plant's catalyst continues to work above expectations. Operations at Sipchem's plant have a major impact on Indian and Southeast Asian markets, being the only VAM plant in the Middle East, while India has none and Southeast Asia has only one 170,000 tpa plant run by Celanese in Singapore. The shutdown of the plant will result in an impending loss of around 13,500-18,000 tons of VAM output.


Spot polysilicon prices in Asia are expected to weaken further

(ICIS) -- Spot polysilicon prices in Asia are expected to weaken further, undermined by a slowdown in global demand as Europe continues to struggle with a debt crisis and the US economy feared to be slipping back into recession, industry players said on Thursday. Supply for the entire photovoltaic chain remains abundant and the supply-demand imbalance is adding to the downward pressure on prices, they added.

In the week ended 7 September, spot polysilicon prices dropped by USD 3/kg (EUR 2.13/kg) to USD 47-52/kg FOB (free on board) NE (northeast) Asia basis, while prices on DEL (delivered) China fell by CNY (yuan) 10,000-20,000/tonne (USD 1,563-3,125/tonne) to CNY370,000-400,000/tonne, ICIS data showed.

Polysilicon sits atop the solar chain and is the feedstock for solar ingot, wafer, cell and module.
In the leading Chinese market, buyers are dragging their feet in securing cargoes because of ample downstream inventories, market sources said.


US propylene contracts for September began to settle flat on Wednesday

(ICIS) -- US propylene contracts for September began to settle flat on Wednesday, pointing to a likely second rollover in as many months for the monomer. The initial settlements keep polymer-grade propylene (PGP) at 78 cents/lb (USD 1,720/tonne, EUR 1,238/tonne) and chemical-grade propylene (CGP) at 76.50 cents/lb.

US producers had originally nominated rollovers and a 2 cent/lb increase for September, but market sentiment was that propylene would either settle flat or possibly drop.

US propylene contracts usually settle at the beginning of the month being negotiated.

Major US producers of PGP and CGP include Chevron Phillips Chemical, Enterprise Products, ExxonMobil, LyondellBasell, Petrologistics and Shell Chemical.


Solar shading panels using SABIC's Lexan sheet supports City of Westminster College's sustainability

(Sabic) -- New solar shading panels made from lightweight, durable Lexan Exell D polycarbonate (PC) sheet from SABIC's Innovative Plastics strategic business unit, are making a major contribution to energy efficiency and comfort at the new flagship City of Westminster College in central London. The high-performance panels filter out direct sunlight to minimize solar gain and glare on computer screens. They also admit generous amounts of natural light and are expected to significantly reduce building energy requirements, and maintenance and lifespan costs. SABIC's ongoing investment in environmentally responsible materials for the global building and construction industry is helping customers meet their sustainability goals with new eco-progressive products.


India to be the hottest market nowadays for automotive investment

(PlasticsToday) -- India appears to be the hottest market nowadays for automotive investment, with the latest company to break ground on a new assembly facility and engine plant being Ford Motor (Detroit). The USD 900 million complex will be located in the Sanand automotive cluster, where Peugeot (Paris, France) recently announced its intention to build an assembly facility.

The new Ford manufacturing facility will create 5,000 jobs, and will be able to initially produce 240,000 vehicles and 270,000 fuel-efficient engines per year. The first vehicles and engines are scheduled to come off the line in 2014.

The investment will "help us reach the goal of increasing worldwide sales by nearly 50 percent by mid-decade to 8 million vehicles per year," said Joe Hinrichs, president, Ford Asia Pacific and Africa. Last year Ford announced that it will bring eight new vehicles to India by mid-decade, the first one being the All-New Fiesta, which was launched in July.

The new engine plant represents one of several new investments that Ford has made to support its aggressive expansion plan in India and throughout the globe. Earlier this year, Ford announced an investment of USD 72 million by 2012 to expand its already operating powertrain facility in Chennai. Ford's total investment in India to date is valued at approximately USD 2 billion.