Saudi Polymers starts polystyrene marketing drive ahead of plant startup

(plastemart) -- Saudi Polymers has begun marketing product from its new 200,000 tpa polystyrene plant in March, despite a delay in startup.

A polystyrene converter has received offers from Saudi Polymers on their general purpose grade polystyrene crystals, but declined to comment on price details or volumes. Samples will be received from Saudi Polymers. Thereafter, it will take three months to test the GPPS and about 9-12 months to test the high impact polystyrene before placing an order.

The PS plant will receive styrene monomer feedstock from Jubail Chevron Philips Company's 777,000 tpa styrene monomer plant at Al Jubail. Prior to the startup of the PS plant, Chevron Philips had been shipping around 10,000-15,000 mt/month of styrene out to its storage facilities in the Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp area. Chevron Philips leased two storage facilities owned by Vopak in the ARA area but gave up on those agreements in 2012 as the excess styrene would be channeled as feed for the PS plant.

Saudi Polymers' integrated petrochemicals complex is built around an ethane-propane mix gas cracker, with the capacity to produce 1.165 mln tpa of ethylene and 445,000 tpa of propylene. The entire olefins production is slated for captive use. Downstream from the cracker there is also a 400,000 tpa polypropylene plant and a 100,000 tpa 1-Hexane plant.


Sinopec Luoyang plans to increase crude oil processing by 21% this year

(bloomberg) -- China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., the nation's biggest refiner, plans to boost oil-processing volume at its Luoyang refinery by 21 percent this year.

The plant in the central Henan province will process 8 million metric tons of crude, up from 6.6 million tons in 2011, when the refinery was shut for 45 days for maintenance, said Wei Wenbo, president of the facility. He spoke today in Beijing at China's annual parliamentary sessions.

The refinery, which has no maintenance scheduled until 2016, relies on imported crude from West and North Africa, the Middle East and South America for half its needs. The other half comes mainly from the western parts of China.
Luoyang lost USD10 on every barrel of oil it processed in 2011, resulting in an annual net loss of 2.6 billion yuan (USD410 million), Wei said. Refining losses were 2.9 billion yuan, while the plant had a profit of 300 million on petrochemicals. Sales were 46.8 billion yuan last year and may reach 52 billion yuan this year, he said.

"Under the current system in China, it's impossible to make profits from refining," Wei said. Luoyang also has "geographical disadvantages" because it's too far from oil supplies, he said, referring to Xinjiang fields to its west and oil ports on the eastern seaboard.

The Luoyang plant has crude-distillation capacity of 8 million tons a year and a splitter capable of processing 1.5 million tons of condensate annually, he said. The plant's refining costs are 200 yuan a ton more than the China Petroleum's average, Wei said, without being more specific.


OPEC lowers its forecast for 2012 oil demand

(France-Presse) -- The OPEC oil cartel on Friday trimmed its 2012 global oil demand growth forecast for the second time in two months because of worries about developed countries' economies and higher crude prices.

The Organization of Petroleum Ex-porting Countries now expects daily demand this year of 88.63 million barrels
per day, down from its forecast a month ago of 88.76 million bpd, it said in its March monthly report.
This still represents growth compared to 2011, when demand was 87.77 million bpd, according to OPEC figures
that were revised slightly downward.

"The weak pace of growth in the OECD economies is negatively affecting oil demand and imposing a high range
of uncertainty on potential consumption growth," the report said.
"Although U.S. economic data points toward a better performance, the situation in Europe along with higher oil
prices has resulted in considerable uncertainties on the future oil demand for the remainder of the year."

Geopolitical factors, most notably tensions over Iran's nuclear program and speculation of Israeli military action,
sent OPEC's reference basket oil price 5.1 per cent higher in February to USD117.48 per barrel.

The monthly average was the highest since April last year. Solid economic data in the United States and easing worries over the eurozone debt crisis, coupled with speculative activities in oil futures markets, also served to push the price of crude higher, OPEC said.


Sinopec/ENN say no price decision yet on China Gas bid

(Reuters) - China Petroleum & Chemical Corp (Sinopec) and ENN Energy Holdings Ltd said they had not made any decision on whether to raise their USD2.2 billion takeover offer for China Gas Holdings Ltd after local media said the firms had ruled out the possibility of sweetening the bid.

In a joint filing with the Hong Kong Stock exchange, Sinopec and ENN said they believed their current offer for the city gas distributor was in the best interests of China Gas and its shareholders. But they said no decision had yet been made on the possibility of improving the take-over bid.

ENN chairman Wang Yusuo said there were no plans to raise the offer price of HK USD3.50 a share. He also said that talks between the consortium and China Gas' representatives had reached an impasse: "We are stuck in the discussions."


Naphtha crackers to shut in Japan and Korea

(bloomberg) -- Several Japanese and South Korean ethylene producers will idle capacity for maintenance leading into Q2-2012. A list of planned maintenance shutdowns at naphtha crackers in Japan and Korea.

Tosoh plans to shut its 493,000 tpa naphtha cracker in Yokkaichi for scheduled maintenance on March 15, scheduled to last until April 15. Showa Denko KK has started reducing output by 200,000 tpa at its ethylene plant in Oita for scheduled maintenance. The 691,000 tpa unit was scheduled to return to full capacity on March 29. Asahi Kasei Corp. has shut its 504,000 tpa cracker in Mizushima for scheduled maintenance on March 5, and is scheduled to restart on April 16.

Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. plans to shut Kashima 1 343,000 tpa from May 10 to July 4. Maruzen Petrochemical Co. plans to shut 525,000 tpa Chiba cracker from mid-May to mid-June. In South Korea, Yeochun NCC Co. (YNCC) plans to shut its 578,000 tpa Yeocheon No. 2 plant for maintenance from March 20 to April 19, according to a company official who asked not to be named because the information was confidential.

Honam Petrochemical Corp. has shut its 750,000 tpa Yeocheon plant on March 1 for maintenance and to expand its capacity to 1 mln tpa, scheduled to last until April 10. Formosa Petrochemical Corp. plans to shut 700,000 tpa Cracker 1 at Mailiao for 40-45 days in August.