Spot butadiene prices in Asia to fall further this month

(ICIS) -- Spot butadiene (BD) prices in Asia look set to fall further this month as suppliers are forced to offload surplus material given reduced regional production at major downstream synthetic rubber and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) sectors, industry sources said on Friday. BD shed about $700/tonne (┬518/tonne) last month, ending September at $2,700-2,800/tonne CFR (cost and freight) northeast (NE) Asia, according to ICIS data.

⌠We expect the BD price to fall to around the $2,000/tonne CFR NE Asia level by the end of October and may even drop below this level in early November, given the current bearish market sentiment, a trader said.

About 10,000 to 15,000 tonnes of BD from Europe and the US are scheduled to arrive in Asia in October and November, competing with Asian supply, which is struggling to find buyers in the current weak market.

Concerns over the ongoing European debt crisis and a faltering US economy have prompted production cutbacks of synthetic rubbers and ABS resins in Asia. China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are export-oriented economies that count Europe and the US as their major markets.


In USA MMA contract prices to fall by 3.8% from September

(ICIS) -- US October methyl methacrylate (MMA) contract prices appear set to fall by 3.8% from September, sources said on Friday. Several buyers and one producer said they are seeing October MMA prices at $1.25-1.30/lb ($2,756-2,866/tonne, ┬2,039-2,121/tonne) FD railcar (free delivered via railcar) and $1.27-1.32/lb FD tank truck. This would represent a fall of 5 cents/lb from September levels. However, pending further confirmation, prices continue to be assessed by ICIS at $1.30-1.35/lb FD railcar and $1.32-1.37/lb FD tank truck.

The biggest factor pushing prices down was softer feedstock costs. Although the US October barge acetone contract has not been settled, further upstream the US October benzene contract fell by 68 cents/gal and the US October propylene contract fell by 14 cents/lb.

MMA demand is also softer, sources said, but mostly because of seasonal factors. A producer said that year-on-year demand is comparable or healthier for most markets. Demand from the coatings market has taken its typical seasonal fall, sources said, and the acrylic sheet market has also softened slightly.


DuPont to increase the polymer finishing capacity of Vamac ethylene/acrylic elastomer

(Plastemart) -- DuPont Performance Polymers, Geneva, Switzerland, has announced that it will increase the polymer finishing capacity of Vamac ethylene/acrylic elastomer by 50% in response to strong and growing demand for use in automotive powertrain applications, such as turbo charger hoses, air ducts, oil cooler hoses, tubing and gaskets.

Patrick Ferronato, global automotive manager for DuPont Performance Polymers, said that, ⌠The industry's drive to improve the performance of smaller, more efficient engines to meet fuel economy and emissions regulations is driving up temperatures under the hood. Vamac is a natural replacement for conventional rubbers due to its excellent heat and oil resistance. The new finishing line will be located in La Porte, Texas, USA, and is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2011 with product available in 2012.


LightManufacturing developed solar-powered solution for heating rotational molds

(PlasticsToday) -- The company LightManufacturing (San Luis Obipo, CA) predicts its "Solar Rotational Molding" (SRM) systems, launched in June 2011, will "transform rotational molding from a smokestack industry that emits over 3.6 billion lb of greenhouse gasses a year into a sustainability model citizen - and one with unusual economic advantages."

The company has trademarked the name of the SRM process and says it has filed U.S. and global patents on the technology. SRM relies on concentrated solar thermal energy to replace the fossil fuel heat sources used in traditional rotational molding. A bank of computer-controlled mirrors reflects sunlight onto a rotating hollow mold, which heats to several hundred degrees in seconds, says the company, and melts the plastic inside. The mirrors adjust their positions as the sun moves across the sky, moving from mold to mold.

LightManufacturing will sell turnkey SRM systems to rotomolders and license its technology to other companies and development agencies, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The firm targets the solution for both the developed world and emerging markets where energy resources are limited and economic development is a challenge.


Lotte PPTA investment to expand its PTA capacity to 1.5m tonnes/year

(ICIS) -- The fate of Lotte Pakistan PTA's (Lotte PPTA) investment to expand its purified terephthalic acid (PTA) capacity to 1.5m tonnes/year in the country depends on the government's decision to increase import tariffs to protect the industry, a company executive said over the weekend.

The company, which has a 500,000 tonne/year plant in Port Qasim, located 50km (31 miles) outside the industrial port city of Karachi, is planning to spend up to $500m (┬375m) on the expansion, Asif Saad, the CEO of Lotte PPTA, earlier told ICIS.

Pakistan's Board of Investment (BOI) earlier this year requested the company, the only PTA maker in the country, to submit a proposal to undertake the expansion, according to Saad.

Lotte PPTA wants the import tariffs should be benchmarked with countries where PTA production and demand are growing, and that have similar industry structures. The PTA tariff in the EU is at 6% and the tariff in China is 6.5%, while India's tariff stands at 5%, Saad said.