European PE and PP buyers to face more upward price pressure in February

(ICIS) -- European polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) buyers will face more upward price pressure in February if ethylene and propylene sellers realise the three-digit contract rise they are targeting for the month, market sources said on Thursday. ⌠I know the market doesn't like it, and there is nothing positive at the moment, but we have to look at the economics of polyolefins producers at the moment, said one large European polyolefins producer.⌠Everyone who produces based on naphtha is in deep trouble.

Cracker operators said current margins for them are unsustainable and a sizeable increase will be sought for the February ethylene contract, not only to recover margin lost since the January settlement but also to build in a buffer to protect against any further upswing.

The January ethylene contract settled at EUR1,120/tonne (USD1,436/tonne) FD (free delivered) NWE (northwest Europe), up by EUR40/tonne from December. The propylene contract was agreed up by EUR20/tonne at EUR1,105/tonne FD NWE.

Prices for both PE and PP have risen in January, but results of discussions have left prices well short of increases targeted by some producers.

Borealis had announced a EUR100/tonne hike, while Dow Chemical talked of plus EUR120/tonne. A third producer even spoke of a EUR140/tonne increase over December. January increases for PP monthly business have settled EUR40-50/tonne higher than December, however, while PE prices are up by EUR50-60/tonne.


Petro Rabigh posted a 4.4% year-on-year decrease in Q4 2011

(ICIS) -- Petro Rabigh has posted a 4.4% year-on-year decrease in its fourth-quarter 2011 net profit to Saudi riyals (SR) 50.3m (USD13.4m) on the back of lower refining margins, the producer said late on Wednesday.

Petro Rabigh's operational profit in the fourth quarter fell by 20% year on year to SR53.7m, the company said in a statement to the Saudi Stock Exchange.

For the whole of 2011, the company's net profit fell by 68.4% year on year to SR65.9m, largely because of a higher non-operational income gain of SR660m in the full year of 2010, it said.
Petro Rabigh posted an operational profit of SR102.8m in 2011, versus a loss of SR112.8m in the same period a year earlier, the company said.


BASF and Philips achieved a practical breakthrough in the development of OLED

(BASF) -- BASF and Philips have achieved a practical breakthrough in the development of OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology that allows it to be integrated in car roofs. The OLEDs are transparent when switched off, allowing for a clear view outside the vehicle, yet providing light only within the vehicle when switched on. This OLED lighting concept for car roofs is the result of a longstanding cooperation between BASF and Philips in the research and development of OLED modules.

In addition to offering completely new design possibilities, the transparent OLED lighting concept also allows new approaches to automotive engineering. The transparent OLED sandwich structure can be combined with equally transparent solar cells.

⌠This combination allows the driver to enjoy a unique open-space feeling while it generates electricity during the day and pleasantly suffuses the interior with the warm light of the transparent, highly efficient OLEDs at night, said Dr. Felix Gorth, head of Organic Light-Emitting Diodes and Organic Photovoltaics at BASF Future Business GmbH.

BASF and Philips have cooperated closely since 2006 within the OLED 2015 initiative of Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).BASF develops organo-chemical materials such as dyes that are used in the development and manufacturing of OLEDs by Philips. Working together, the two partners put the innovative transparent OLED lighting technology into practice on a car roof.


Asian tyre makers to resist a USD300-500/tonne hike

(ICIS) -- Major tyre makers in Asia, stricken with weak exports sales, are putting up a strong resistance to a USD300-500/tonne (EUR234-390/tonne) hike in butadiene rubber prices this week for February and March shipments, industry sources said on Thursday.

BR producers are offering USD3,600-3,800/tonne CFR (cost and freight) Asia - up by more than 10% from January levels - citing a continued spike in the cost of feedstock butadiene (BD).
⌠We are not happy with this situation because when the feedstock BD price fell to around USD1,500/tonne last November, the BR producers did not adjust their prices downwards, said an India-based tyre maker. ⌠Buying sentiment is weak and we will not accept a big price hike for February and March shipments, he added.

BD prices were assessed at USD3,050-3,100/tonne CFR northeast Asia in the week ended 13 January, nearly double their values two months ago, according to ICIS data.

BD is the raw material for the production of BR, which in turn, is used in the manufacture of tyres for automobiles.

But Asian tyre makers are coping with poor export sales amid a weakening global market condition, affecting China and India - the region's biggest emerging economies - that any significant increase in cost of production would not be welcome.


Methanex may move a second plant from Chile to the US Gulf

(ICIS) -- Methanol producer Methanex may move a second plant from Chile to the US Gulf, a New York stock analyst said on Wednesday. Methanex said late Tuesday that it would move one of its four methanol plants in the South American country to a site in southern Lousiana, by mid-2014.

But Charles Neivert, managing director at Dahlman Rose & Co. in New York, said he's been told that the property Methanex purchased in Geismar, about 60 miles south of Baton Rouge, could easily contain two methanol units. ⌠It looks like there's at least that possibility, Neivert said in an interview.
Neivert sent out a research note on Wednesday saying the move to Louisiana would begin to resolve Methanex's recurrent problems in Chile.

The Methanex move marks the second announcement in a year of a new methanol plant operating in the US. In January 2011, it was announced that a mothballed methanol plant in Beaumont, Texas, would be restarted. That plant, owned by OCI North America, began making ammonia in December and will begin making methanol by the end of March.

Methanex did not immediately return calls on Wednesday. The company's release said low North American natural gas prices made Lousiana an attractive location for making methanol.
Methanex has three idle plants in Punta Arenas, Chile. Only one Methanex plant there is operating, with a capacity of 850,000 tonnes/year. The three idle plants have capacities between 800,000-975,000 tonnes/year, according to ICIS.