Formosa Petrochemical bought 75,000 tonnes of naphtha for February to March arrival

(Reuters) - Taiwan's Formosa Petrochemical has bought around 75,000 tonnes of naphtha for February to March arrival, bringing its total purchases since mid-December to over 350,000 tonnes, traders said on Thursday.

The volumes were bought at a price of flat to premiums of $1.00 a tonne to Japan quotes on a cost-and-freight (C&F) basis, lower than what it had recently paid at USD3.00 a tonne premium.

Formosa operates a 2.93 million tonnes per year (tpy) cracking complex which are currently running below full-tilt due to weak plastics demand from China.


BASF to sell its 50%-share in PEC-Rhin in Ottmarsheim

(BASF) -- BASF has signed a contract to sell its 50%-share in PEC-Rhin in Ottmarsheim, France, to its joint venture partner GPN, a member of the French Total Group.

PEC-Rhin produces CAN/AN (calcium ammonium nitrate/ammonium nitrate) fertilizers and the respective intermediates, ammonia and nitric acid. The company was established in 1966 and currently has about 180 employees.

The sale of BASF's fertilizer activities in Antwerp, Belgium to EuroChem as announced in September 2011 is ongoing as planned, subject to approval by the appropriate antitrust authorities.

The total transaction value for both deals is expected to be approximately EUR700 million. BASF plans to complete the transactions by the end of the first quarter of 2012.


Asia petrochemical demand and prices to firm post-Lunar New Year

(ICIS) -- Spot prices of petrochemicals in Asia may get a good nudge up following an expected virtual halt in trades next week as the region celebrates the Lunar New Year, with most market players hoping for a strong pick-up in buying activities.

China will be out of the market for a full week on 22-28 January, while Taiwan will have a three-day holiday. In South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, the shift to the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese calendar will be celebrated for two days at the start of that week.

Prices of some petrochemical products in the region have either been falling or trading sideways since the start of the year, as demand traditionally weakens in the weeks leading to the Lunar New Year celebration, which is happening a bit early in 2012.

Some propylene sellers in northeast Asia expect prices to move up, to track the rising values of feedstock naphtha. An expected tightness in regional supply because of a slew of cracker turnarounds due in March should also give propylene prices a further boost, market sources said. Offers were scant this week as some traders prefer to suspend discussions until after the Lunar New Year holiday.

Spot propylene prices were quoted at USD1,350-1,400/tonne (EUR1,040-1,078/tonne) CFR (cost and freight) NE (northeast) Asia at midday on Friday, while naphtha values were at USD960.50-962.50/tonne CFR Japan.


US polystyrene January contract prices rose by an average of 7 cents/lb

(ICIS) -- US polystyrene (PS) January contract prices rose by an average of 7 cents/lb (USD154/tonne, EUR120/tonne) based on higher feedstock benzene and butadiene (BD) costs, sources said on Thursday.

Producers had initially sought increases of between 5-6 cents/lb, but increased those nominations to 7-8 cents/lb, depending on the grade. The increases are based in large part on rising benzene prices, which settled up 70 cents/gal for the month of January to USD3.70/gal. While buyers were unhappy with the size of the increase, most saw no room for negotiation, sources said.

With the increase, US PS contract prices for January were at 84-87 cents/lb DEL (delivered) for bulk general purpose polystyrene (GPPS) and at 91-94 cents/lb DEL for bulk high impact polystyrene (HIPS), as assessed by ICIS.

Prices are expected to rise even higher in February, with at least two US producers announcing increases of 5 cents/lb for GPPS and 7 cents/lb for HIPS, effective 1 February, sources said.
Other producers are expected to follow with similar increases.


Keyuan Petrochemicals to build a new production facility in Guangxi Province

(Plastemart) -- Keyuan Petrochemicals, Inc., an independent manufacturer and supplier of various petrochemical products in China, has signed a cooperation agreement with Fangchenggang City to build a new production facility in Guangxi Province. The Company expects to commence construction in February 2012.
After conducting extensive preliminary studies for the past 12 months, the Company has decided to build a new petrochemicals production facility, Guangxi Keyuan New Materials Industrial Park, in Fangchenggang City. Keyuan chose this facility due to a combination of factors, including proximity to raw materials supplies, access to stable sources of power and skilled labor, and vast market potential.

Furthermore, it could improve the Company's competitive position by extending and expanding its supply chain and manufacturing base. Once the facility is fully operational, Guangxi Keyuan New Materials Industrial Park is expected to have annual production capacity of 400,000 metric tons of ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene).