Fujia Petrochemical PX plant in Dalian believed to have resumed production

(The Guardian) -- A controversial chemical plant in north-east China is believed to have quietly resumed production just months after officials promised to halt operations and move the facility. The Fujia Petrochemical PX plant in Dalian was shut down after more than 10,000 people took to the streets on 14 August 2011 to demand its relocation on public safety grounds.

In a bid to placate the urban, middle-class crowd, Dalian city leaders announced that they would move the factory to an industrial park on Xizhong Island. The demonstration was one of the biggest seen in China in recent years and its outcome was seen as a major victory for environmental campaigners, who thought they had seen the end of the PX plant. But there are growing fears that the authorities are back-tracking.

In early December, an apparently leaked document was circulated online that suggested the plant has passed fresh safety checks and is preparing to resume production. A few weeks later, a government official told local reporters that the factory was once again in operation. Locals report smoke billowing up from the plant's chimney and workers commuting as usual for their shifts. This may just be for maintenance. Domestic media have reported a resumption of business, but their stories have been removed from websites. The government and the factory declined to confirm or deny the reports.

Domestic critics believe the authorities may be having second thoughts because the factory has been licensed for several years and its closure would result in a significant loss of income and a large compensation payout for breach of contract. The USD1.5bn plant is jointly owned by the city and the private company, Fujia. It is one of the 10 biggest factories in Dalian, generating tax revenues of almost 200 mln pounds a year.

The Fujia petrochemical plant has the capacity to produce 700,000 tonnes of paraxylene (PX), a benzene-based chemical widely used in plastic bottles and polyester clothing.


Toray Industries to take full control of European carbon fibre JV

(PlastEurope) -- Toray Industries (Tokyo/Japan) has taken full control of French carbon fibre producer Soficar (Paris), acquiring the 30% stake held by Arkema (Paris). The company, operated by the Japanese partner as the strategic base for its composites business in Europe, has been renamed Toray Carbon Fibers Europe. Soficar currently produces 5,200 t/y of carbon fibre at sites in Japan, France and the US. A new plant will go on stream in South Korea in 2013.

After taking full control of its European arm, Toray said it plans to ⌠further accelerate the integration of the value chain for its ⌠Torayca fibre. New production lines will be built for fibre precursors and prepregs used in aeronautics applications, and carbonisation capacity also will be expanded.

The Japanese group estimates that global demand for polyacrylonitrile-based carbon fibre in 2011 totalled nearly 40,000 t. Going forward, it forecasts annual growth rates exceeding 15%.


Sibur completed construction and installation of the 2nd phase for production of Alphapor EPS

(SIBUR) -- Construction and installation of the second phase for the production of Alphapor expandable polystyrene has been completed, and startup operations have commenced. Trial manufacture of expandable polystyrene is planned to begin in spring 2012. The second phase is expected to be able to produce 50,000 tonnes a year by the summer of 2012.

The official startup of the first stage of production of 50,000 tonnes per year of expandable polystyrene took place at the end of 2010. During 2011 production was based on projected capacity and sales volume. Total projected production capacity of expandable polystyrene at SIBUR's Perm site after completion of the second stage of the complex will reach 100,000 tonnes per year.

AlphaporM expandable polystyrene is produced using the technology of the Austro-Norwegian Company Sunpor. The product is employed in a wide variety of uses, including energy-efficient building insulation, permanent shuttering, and packaging for household appliances and food products. The major world markets for construction-grade polystyrene foam are the USA and Europe (France, Italy, Germany and Poland).

All grades of Alphapor expandable polystyrene comply with strict European standards for fire safety, grain-size distribution, density and stress-strain properties. The grades of expandable polystyrene used in the production of building insulation are required to contain fire-retardant antipyrenes.


Spot liquidity in the northeast Asian propylene market may rise this year

(ICIS) -- Spot liquidity in the northeast Asian propylene (C3) market may rise this year, as some buyers in China plan to reduce their contractual commitments given high premiums being sought by traders, market sources said on Tuesday. Traders are asking premiums of as high as USD40-50/tonne (EUR32-40/tonne) above the published CFR (cost and freight) northeast (NE) Asia prices for 2012 settlements, roughly double those recorded for last year's contracts with Chinese buyers, they said. In 2011, propylene contracts with buyers in China - Asia's largest spot consumer - had premiums averaging USD20-30/tonne.

China imported around 1.55m tonnes of propylene in January to November 2011, exceeding the 1.52m tonnes the country took in for the whole of 2010, according to official data. ⌠The [propylene contract] premiums are very high this year - some are asking as much as USD50/tonne, which is not acceptable, said one Chinese propylene importer. ⌠We are likely to buy more propylene from the spot market because it is tough to negotiate the contracts, he added.

Traders said that volatile feedstock naphtha prices and the increased procurement costs of getting term supplies from South Korea - a key exporter of propylene in Asia - justify the sharp premium increase. Some South Korean producers have locked in 2012 contracts with regional traders at a discount to CFR NE Asia prices.


Lukoil Board of Directors set priorities for 2012

(Lukoil) -- The OAO Lukoil Board of Directors held a meeting in Moscow today to summarize the Company's preliminary performance results in 2011 and set priorities for 2012 and the near term.
In 2011, hydrocarbon production by Lukoil Group (including what is produced by subsidiaries and the share in affiliated companies' production) is expected to total 112.7 million TRF, which is 4.6 million TRF lower than in 2010. As for crude oil, Lukoil Group's expected production figure is 90.7 million tons, of which 84.7 million tons will be produced in the Russian Federation and 6 million tons abroad.

A technological break-through achieved in 2011 allowed to enhance the forecast of an economic commencement in 2012-2021 of an additional 3.6 billion barrels of oil reserves by way of raising the oil recovery factor at fields within the Russian Federation. Maximum efficiency was achieved thanks to the introduction of new technical and engineering approaches enabling maximum contact with the collector as new production wells and sidetracks of the existing wells are drilled, and also the application of well completion techniques characterized by multi-zone fracturing, which tripled the rates.

The oil stock refining volume for the Company's refineries is expected to be 53.5 million tons in 2011, including 45.3 million tons for the Russian refineries (including mini-refineries) and 8.2 million tons for the overseas refineries, due to the raising of the Company's stake in the ISAB Complex up to 60%.

Yet, as against 2010, the overall volume of refining has gone down by 3% in connection with the scheduled outage at the PAO ⌠Lukoil Odessa Refinery and the lowered loading of the refineries in Bulgaria and Romania, which is part of operational planning aimed at minimizing the operation losses.

Lukoil Group's investments in 2011 are expected to reach USD 9.8 billion (+ 22% to the level of 2010). In the ⌠Geological Exploration&Production business segment, investments will grow 29% to reach USD 7.6 billion. In ⌠Refining&Marketing, investments in 2011 are expected at the level of USD 2 billion, which will allow to produce more gasoline of premium quality.

RUR 4.9 billion was allocated to the financing of science and technology in 2011. The financing volume of the Program for Industrial Safety, Improvement and Protection of Labor Conditions, and Prevention and Response to Emergency Situations topped RUR 7 billion in 2011. Over RUR 20 billion were spent on environmental safety measures in 2011.