SABIC's fourth-quarter net income fell 10%

(ICIS) -- SABIC's fourth-quarter net income fell 10% to Saudi riyals (SR) 5.24bn (USD1.40bn, EUR1.10bn) compared with the same period in 2010, driven by a lower pricing environment, the Saudi Arabian-based petrochemical major said on Tuesday. Compared with the third quarter of 2011, the company's fourth-quarter net income fell 36%, the company added.

SABIC's income from operations for the fourth quarter dropped by 5% year on year to SR9.51bn.

⌠The decrease in net income for the quarter ended December 31, 2011 compared to the same period in the preceding year and third quarter of 2011 is mainly driven by lower pricing environment in global markets for most of the products, despite increase in sales volumes, it said.

The company's net income for the 12 months ended 31 December 2011 increased by 36% to SR29.21bn, compared with the same period a year before. ⌠The increase in net income for the twelve months period ended December 31, 2011 compared to the same period in 2010 is attributable to the increase in production and sales volumes and higher product prices, SABIC said.
The company added that its income from operations for the whole of 2011 rose 29% year on year to SR48.8bn.


Asia's benzene prices hit a five-month high on Wednesday

(ICIS) -- Asia's benzene prices hit a five-month high on Wednesday, tracking gains in US prices as crude values spiked overnight, market players said. Spot prices rose USD30/tonne (EUR24/tonne) at USD1,195-1,205/tonne (EUR944-952/tonne) FOB (free on board) Korea early on Wednesday, the first time that USD1,200/tonne level was breached since early August, according to ICIS data.

US crude was trading at above USD101/bbl on Wednesday, after rising by more than USD2/bbl overnight. A March-loading cargo was concluded at USD1,200/tonne FOB Korea, while an April shipment was done at USD1,198/tonne FOB Korea, market sources said. Offers for March-loading shipments were heard at USD1,205-1,210/tonne FOB Korea that met bids at USD1,185-1,198/tonne FOB Korea.

Boosting the market sentiment in Asia were the gains in US benzene values for prompt January lots to USD4.13-4.17/gal, or USD1,235-1,246/tonne FOB Barges, on Tuesday. But this price upturn in the US could just have resulted from pure market play and not backed by fundamentals, traders said.

Benzene supply in Asia is tight in the first quarter due to a slew of plant turnarounds and unplanned shutdowns in South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore, said traders. This was another key factor pushing up prices in recent weeks, they added.


Warm winter to sustain better interest in PE and PVC markets in Europe

(ICIS) -- A comparatively warm winter is helping sustain better-than-expected buying interest in the European polyethylene (PE) pipe-grade resin and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic markets, industry sources said on Tuesday. In some cases - such as PE pipes - it is touted to bring forward the beginning of the traditional spring' buying season. ⌠Mild winter weather is helping sustain levels of demand, one PVC producer said. ⌠We are surprised that there have been so many enquiries, another producer added.

Low inventories after year-end destocking activity and favourable currency exchange rates are also driving this increase in customer demand, improving sales volumes and balancing out the PE pipe resin and PVC markets.

Despite a pick-up in trading activity, PVC contract price ideas for January continue to point in different directions.

The European January ethylene contract price settled at EUR1,120/tonne (USD1,418/tonne) FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe) - up by EUR40/tonne from December. Producers are aiming for hikes of EUR50-60/tonne in order to offset the higher upstream prices and ease pressure on margins. Buyers, on the other hand, are pushing for an increase of EUR10-40/tonne instead, depending on the region.


Stolen plastic in a focus of a multi-million dollar criminal enterprise

(ICIS) -- Law enforcement officials and private businesses all over the US have become increasingly concerned with the theft of plastic goods, such as beverage crates, shelves, pallets and other items.
There are two primary elements to the crime. First, the plastic is stolen from businesses, either by scavengers or, in some cases, an employee and some partners. Then it is transported to illegal grinding operations, typically hidden in unmarked warehouses or even in someone's backyard.
Once grinded, the plastic is sold to recyclers and manufacturers at a price determined by a number of factors, including the quality and quantity of the plastic.

Some law enforcement officials say illegal plastic peddling can fetch millions of dollars. Since October 2011, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) has recovered over USD5m (EUR4m) of stolen plastic from illegal grinding operations throughout Los Angeles County.

The crime has become so widespread that the city of Industry in Los Angeles County helped fund the Industrial Plastic Theft Task Force aimed at curtailing plastic theft.

The task force recently recovered USD250,000 worth of stolen plastic products and made four arrests in south Los Angeles. ⌠Clearly, the enormity of the loss just in Los Angeles County could easily exceed USD10m/year, said LASD Captain Mike Claus. ⌠Some business owners explained that their losses had been so huge, that had the thefts continued, they most likely would have had to go out of business.


KBR was awarded a contract to revamp the North Fertilizer Plant

(Arabian oil and gas) -- KBR has been awarded a contract by Iraq's First Global Company to revamp the North Fertilizer Plant in Baiji, Iraq. Under the terms of the contract, KBR will provide a license for its proprietary Ammonia Process and related engineering services to increase the plant capacity to 120 % of the original design. The original plant, which started up in 1989 was designed to produce 1000 t/day Ammonia.

⌠KBR is proud to have the opportunity to work with First Global Company to revamp the North Fertilizer Plant, said John Derbyshire, President, KBR Technology. ⌠Helping our licensors debottleneck their plants and achieve greater production capacities and process efficiencies is one of our core competencies and will be an area of significant growth worldwide.