Mitsui Chemicals and Prime Polymer to boost capacity for PP compounds

(PlasticsToday) -- Mitsui Chemicals, Inc. and its affiliated Prime Polymer Co. (both Tokyo) are to boost capacity for polypropylene compounds in Thailand to meet growing demands of the automotive materials sector in the region. An 18,000 tonnes/year expansion will take capacity from 122,000 tonnes/year to 140,000 tonnes/year. The new capacity should be on stream by the third quarter of 2012. A fully automated high-rise storage facility will also be constructed to accelerate delivery and improve its accuracy.

Although flooding in Thailand in 2011 temporarily affected the auto industry, with total production likely to be down 10% compared with the 1,645,000 vehicles manufactured in 2010, the country is expected to regain momentum as the ASEAN production and export hub for automobiles.

The current compound production augmentation will also cater to surges in demand for polypropylene automotive grades in Indonesia and neighboring countries.

The Mitsui Chemicals Group is targeting further global expansion of polypropylene compounds for automotive applications as a fundamental strategy of the 2011 Mid-Term Business Plan. This will encompass expansion of polypropylene compound production in seven major world markets (Japan, the United States, Mexico, Europe, Thailand, China, and India)


BASF to build TDI production plant

(BASF) -- BASF today announced that it will build a single-train 300,000 metric tons per year production plant for TDI (toluene diisocyanate) and expand additional plants for its precursors at its site in Ludwigshafen. These include the construction of a new hydrogen chloride recycling plant as well as the expansion of plants for nitric acid, chlorine and synthesis gas.
It is also planned to expand the aromatics complex at the site for the supply of toluene. Total investment including the required infrastructure at Ludwigshafen site will be about EUR1 billion and create around 200 additional jobs.

Production will start at the end of 2014. BASF plans to close down its 80,000 metric tons per year TDI production plant in Schwarzheide, Germany, when the new plant goes on stream. TDI is a key component mainly used for flexible polyurethane foams.


BASF and Bayer to invest in PUR businesses

(PlasticsToday) -- Two of the world's largest players in the polyurethane market announced investments in their respective businesses to start the week, with Bayer releasing news of a euro 5 million investment in a new technical center for the development of isocyanate production processes on Jan. 16, and BASF broadcasting plans to build a single-train 300,000 tonnes/yr production plant for TDI (toluene diisocyanate) in Germany a day later.

BASF's plans entail a total investment of about EUR1 billion and the creation of around 200 additional jobs in Ludwigshafen. The company will construct a new hydrogen chloride recycling plant and expand existing nitric acid, chlorine, and synthesis gas plants. BASF said it also plans to expand the aromatics complex at the site to boost the supply of toluene.

Production is to start at the end of 2014, and will result in the shuttering of its 80,000 tonnes/yr TDI production plant in Schwarzheide, Germany. Following the investment, BASF's PUR precursor business will revolve around two sites: Ludwigshafen for the production of TDI and Antwerp for the production of MDI (diphenylmethane diisocyanate) and propylene oxide.

Bayer MaterialScience, meanwhile, has commissioned a new hydrogenation technical center at its Chempark Dormagen site, saying the euro 5 million investment will allow it to pool its research activities for the efficient production of PUR precursors MDI and TDI.


Idemitsu Kosan shut a naphtha cracking facility at its Tokuyama plant

(Reuters) -- Japanese refiner Idemitsu Kosan Co said it shut a naphtha cracking facility at its Tokuyama plant in western Japan on Tuesday night after an unspecified problem.

The company has been making repairs and expects it to resume operations in a few days, a spokesman said.

The Tokuyama plant has two naphtha crackers with total capacity of 623,000 tonnes per year of ethylene, but the spokesman could not immediately confirm if both crackers had been shut.


Methyl-A prices in southeast Asia to hit a 24-month low

(ICIS) -- Methyl acrylate (methyl-A) prices in Southeast Asia look poised to hit a 24-month low on the back of a supply overhang and weak demand, regional producers and traders said on Wednesday. A regional trader said on Wednesday it is offering iso-containers of methyl-A at USD1,750/tonne (EUR1,383/tonne) CIF (cost, insurance & freight) southeast (SE) Asia. This is a USD100-150/tonne drop from methyl-A prices on 11 January, when methyl-A was assessed at USD1,850-1,900/tonne CIF SE Asia.

The last time that methyl-A sank below USD1,750/tonne CIF SE Asia was on 24 February 2010, when methyl-A was assessed at USD1,650-1,750/tonne CIF SE Asia, ICIS data showed.

⌠It has been extremely difficult to conclude methyl-A deals over the last few months, as buyers have been using a cheaper alternative, vinyl acetate monomer [VAM], in place of methyl-A, said the trader. Other regional producers are also grappling with the issue of buyers turning to lower-priced substitutes.

A regional producer said that it was unable to sell a single parcel of methyl-A into southeast Asia since end-November.
⌠There are practically no methyl-A enquiries from southeast Asia at all, the producer lamented.

VAM was assessed at USD980-1,020/tonne CFR (cost & freight) SE Asia on 13 January, ICIS data showed.

Commenting on the outlook for methyl-A for the rest of the first quarter, regional producers and traders said they are not optimistic. ⌠Even after the Lunar New Year holiday this month, I believe that producers will still have difficulties persuading their customers to purchase methyl-A over VAM, said a second regional trader. Methyl-A is used in the production of acrylic fibres and as a resin modifier.