Shell to shut down its entire refinery at Pulau Bukom in Singapore

(ICIS) -- Shell is in the process of shutting down its entire 500,000 bbl/day refinery at Pulau Bukom in Singapore and may also close nearby petrochemical units in an attempt to control a fire that has been burning since Wednesday, a company official said on Thursday. The shutdown process at the refinery site has been initiated and could take two days to be completed, Martijn van Koten, vice president for Shell's manufacturing operations said.

The company's integrated complex at Bukom has a crude distillation capacity of 500,000 bbl/day. It is Shell's largest refinery in the world in terms of crude distillation capacity.

Shell's nearby ethylene cracker complex could be forced to shut as attempts are made to control the fire, van Koten said, but declined to comment on a specific timeline.

The Bukom site houses a mixed-feed cracker, with an 800,000 tonne/year ethylene capacity. The cracker has a 155,000 tonne/year butadiene (BD) extraction unit.


Milliken nucleating agent helps SEM Plastik win clear cup contract for milkshakes

(Milliken) -- Leading Turkish sheet extrusion and thermoforming company, SEM Plastik, is using a newly formulated polypropylene to fullfil an important contract for high-clarity, high-stiffness polypropylene cups for milkshakes at a global fast-food company in the country. The improved properties of the material are largely due to the incorporation of Hyperform nucleating agent HPN-600 ei into the material. Hyperform Nucleating agent HPN-600ei is a high performance nucleating agent manufactured by additives specialist Milliken & Company.

SEM Plastik's customer had been using imported milkshake cups in 16- and 32-ounce sizes, but was unhappy with the overall quality, especially clarity. Yavuz Eroglu, owner and general manager of SEM Plastik, says the customer was also looking for a lighter cup that would provide environmental as well as economic benefits. ⌠We already had contacts with Milliken, so we worked together on the project with them together with an important Turkish polymer supplier to satisfy all its requirements, he says.

The project began around the middle of 2010, and the new grade is now almost ready for full commercialisation. SEM Plastik has been using trial product quantities for several weeks, and is targeting annual production of around 6.5 million cups. It is also making the domed lids for the cups.

Eroglu says that by using the new grade, SEM Plastik has been able to cut the weight of the cups by close to ten percent with no loss of mechanical properties. Thermoforming cycle times are believed to be between eight and twelve percent lower.


Cefic downgraded its 2011 growth forecast for EU chemicals production to 2.5%

(ICIS) -- Cefic has downgraded its 2011 growth forecast for EU chemicals production to 2.5% from 4.5% because of a slowdown in the second quarter and a likely stall in the third quarter, the trade association said on Friday. Cefic originally forecast in November last year that EU chemicals output growth would be 2.5% in 2011, but it was then revised to 4.5% growth in June 2011. The forecast for EU chemicals output growth for 2012 remains unchanged at 2.5%, it added.

Cefic said that data from the last seven months of 2011 show chemicals production at 3.2% below the 2007 peak, but forecasts it will reach the pre-crisis threshold toward mid-2013. Meanwhile, EU manufacturing production growth has also been revised down to 5% in 2011 and to 2.5% in 2012.

However, EU exports are holding up well, the association said. In the first half of 2011, the EU had a net trade surplus of EUR 20.4bn (USD 27.6bn) with trading partners, EUR 3.2bn less than in the same period of 2010.


In August PP imports to Russia was up by 18%

(MRC) -- In August, Russian companies increased PP imports to 14 KT. Import growth reffered both to PP-homo and PP-random. In general, over the eight months, total PP imports to Russia made 126 KT, that by 18% up year on year, according to MRC DataScope. In August PP-homo imports rose to 6.4 KT. High prices of raffia from Turkmenistan resulted in suspension of its deliveries, and the ongoing ruble devaluation against major world currencies made imports of Turkmen PP-homo even more unattractive for the Russian companies. LyondellBasell strengthened its position in the Russian market of injection molding grades of PP-homo. In general, following January - August results, total imports of PP-homo rose by 16% to 68.7 KT.

August deliveries of impact PP copolymers from foreign markets, by contrast, declined by 18% to 2.8 KT compared to July. Main reduction in imports fell at extrusion grades, in particular, for PP pipes production. Over the eight months, total impact PP copolymers supplies from foreign markets exceeded 25.5 KT, showing a 24% increase year on year.

Last month import of PP-random reached 3 KT. In August, Russian companies actively increased PP-impact supplies of pipe grades due to the work stoppage of the Russian producers. In general, this year the total import of PP-random made a little over 19 KT, that by 3% up year on year.

In August, Russian producers increased export supplies to 6.5 KT, including countries of Common Customs Union. In general, over the eight months, the exports of Russian PP made nearly 35 KT.


Formosa to invest in petrochemistry and shale gas exploration

(Plastemart) -- Formosa Plastic Corp. (FPC) plans to invest in petrochemicals and shale gas exploration through its overseas subsidiary FPC USA, to raise deployment in the U.S., as per CENS. Mature and commercialization of low-cost shale gas exploration technologies will enable FPC USA to boost production capacity of ethylene and propylene. Investment outlay is estimated at US$400 mln to build a 400,000 tpa ethylene plant.

FPC holds 22.6% stake in FPC USA, which owns 300 natural-gas wells and will expand annual capacities of ethylene and propylene by 2.1 mln tons and 1.15 mln tons, respectively by the end of 2013.