Canada's NOVA studies building two PE plants

(nctww) -- Canada's NOVA Chemicals is studying the possibility of building two polyethylene (PE) plants and expanding ethylene capacity, a company executive said on Tuesday.

The studies are part of the company's ⌠NOVA 2020 growth strategy, said president of olefins and feedstock Grant Thompson on the sidelines of the International Petrochemical Conference (IPC) in San Antonio.
NOVA has taken several actions to secure additional ethane feedstock supply for its crackers in Corunna, Ontario, and Joffre, Alberta.

The new feedstock supplies would help the Joffre crackers reach capacity production rates, Thompson said, which in turn could feed a new derivatives plant.

⌠It is common knowledge that we haven't been running our Joffre facility at capacity because of the feedstock situation in Alberta, Thompson said. ⌠We have done a number of things to resolve that beginning in 2014.
NOVA has 2.8m tonnes/year of ethylene capacity at its Joffre complex.

China-SE Asia polyethylene arbitrage open, but cargo flow limited: sources

(nctww) -- The arbitrage opportunity to move polyethylene cargoes from China to Southeast Asia is open, market participants say, but cargo flow is still limited.

Linear low density polyethylene has been the main candidate for traders to move from Chinese bonded warehouses to Southeast Asia. The industry calls this practice "re-exporting."

This was largely because demand for PE is slow in China due to lower-than-usual orders for finished products, market sources said. At the same time, the PE market typically experiences a low demand season between April and May. This has caused a big gap between prices of ex-warehouse cargoes and shipment cargoes.

"We are re-exporting more cargoes from our Chinese warehouses to Southeast Asia," a Vietnam-based trader said.
Market sources were unable to pinpoint exactly when the arbitrage window opened, but have seen movements over the last two weeks.

Other market participants said the such re-export trading is still limited.
"The arbitrage is wide open," a Singapore-based trader said. "But traders in China want to hold on to their lower cost cargo."

PetroChina now the world's No 1 publicly traded oil major

(news.flanders-china) -- PetroChina has overtaken Exxon Mobil as the world's biggest publicly traded producer of oil. The company announced it pumped 2.4 million barrels a day last year, surpassing Exxon by 100,000 barrels.

PetroChina's production increased 3.3% in 2011 while Exxon's fell 5%. Exxon's oil output also fell behind Rosneft, the Russian energy company. However, PetroChina posted a disappointing 26% drop in fourth-quarter net earnings as rising refining losses offset gains in the lucrative upstream business.

China's largest oil producer earned CNY29.55 billion in the final quarter of last year, down from CNY39.9 billion a year earlier. For the full year, net profit fell 5% to CNY133 billion. PetroChina's refining business posted an operating loss of CNY60.1 billion last year. Government control on fuel prices means refiners cannot freely pass on increasing crude rates to customers.

Naphtha price and cracks rise: market unlikely to sustain the uptrend

(Reuters) -- Naphtha prices in Asia was at a three-session high on Tuesday in line with firm Brent crude, while cracks and timespreads recovered from a two-month low amid slow moving cargoes from Europe to the East. Naphtha exports have slowed down from Europe due to strong demand for gasoline.

Open-spec naphtha for front-month H2-May was at USD1075/ton, while cracks were at a two-session high of USD139.75/ton, up USD3.67.

However, despite this uptrend, market players are unconvinced that the strength could last, especially when Asian demand is slower than before, as a result of cracker outages in the region. Concurrently, India's exports are being restored following refinery and port maintenance.

Westlake declares force majeure for PVC from Geismar

(plasteurope) -- In a letter recently sent out to its customers, Westlake Chemical (Houston, Texas / USA) said that as a result of a fire that broke out at its complex in Geismar, Louisiana / USA on 22 March, it was forced to declare force majeure for PVC from the site.

The blaze, which Westlake said was extinguished after a few hours and did not result in any injuries, damaged the site's production lines for vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) - a key PVC feedstock.

The group said an investigation into the cause of the fire was underway, adding that it is already repairing the affected lines and expects the entire vinyls operation to resume in mid-May. "Sections of the site's operations, including the PVC plant, may be operable earlier," Westlake added.