China becomes top market for polycarbonates

(news.szenergy) -- China has become the world's largest and most important market for polycarbonates, said BayerMaterial Science.

"In 2011, 60 percent of the global PC market is in Asia Pacific, and China occupies 50 percent of that," said Michael Koening, head of Polycarbonates Business Unit of Bayer MaterialScience, the leader in global PC market and PC-based solutions.

In order to better adjust to this market and understand customers' technical requirements, Bayer relocated its polycarbonates business unit's headquarters to Shanghai last year.

Just offering cheaper prices won't strengthen the product's presence in the Chinese market, Koening said. "I believe products like polycarbonates need innovation, which means we should come up with new ideas and solutions to very specific requirements," he noted.

As a means to cope with trends such as climate change, increasing urbanization and mobility and an aging population, Bayer has been active in developing new applications of the PC material.


Nord Stream completes laying line ahead of schedule

(nord-stream) -- The Nord Stream Project took another major step forward today with the completion of offshore pipelay of the second of its twin 1,224-kilometre gas pipelines through the Baltic Sea ahead of schedule.

Following extensive pre-commissioning and commissioning, Line 2 is scheduled to begin transporting gas towards the end of 2012 as part of a fully automated twin-pipeline gas transport system capable of transporting 55 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas per year from Russia to the European Union, for at least 50 years.

The last of the 99,953 steel pipes for Line 2 was made in Germany by Europipe, concrete-weight-coated at EUPEC's plant in Mukran, shipped to the Slite marshalling yard on the coast of the Swedish Island of Gotland and transported by a pipe-carrying vessel to Saipem's Castoro Sei laybarge, where it was welded onto the pipeline and lowered to the seabed on April 18, 2012. This marked also the completion of the logistics activities for the Nord Stream Project.


AkzoNobel publishes Q1 results

(akzonobel) -- Akzo Nobel N.V. (AkzoNobel) reported a 6 percent increase in first quarter revenue compared with the same period in 2011, mainly driven by pricing actions to offset higher raw material costs. The EBITDA for Q1 was 3 percent lower at EUR423 million, due to weaker end markets and cost inflation. The company also announced that its global performance improvement program is on track.

Overall raw material prices remain a challenge. Looking forward, the company expects the higher oil and TiO2 prices on average to have an inflationary impact.

Cash from operating activities was impacted by a one-time pension payment and the seasonal build-up of operating working capital.

Decorative Paints achieved a revenue increase of 4 percent in the first quarter, primarily driven by margin management in weak markets. Lower volumes impacted EBITDA, particularly in North America which benefited last year from a one-time positive customer load-in. Restructuring and cost reduction actions are underway in Europe and North America to offset weaker demand.

In Performance Coatings, revenue increased 11 percent and EBITDA was up 15 percent compared with the previous year. Industrial Coatings - boosted by acquisition activity - achieved the strongest growth, followed by Marine and Protective Coatings. Although overall activity levels were flat, there was significant variability between individual segments.


PKN Orlen sees 1Q 2012 operating profit down 33%

(foxbusiness) -- Poland's largest refiner PKN Orlen SA (PKN.WA) expects its first-quarter operating profit to reach about 900 million zlotys (USD282 million), down 33% from a year earlier, the company said Thursday in a preliminary estimate of its earnings.

PKN Orlen said the impact of higher sales volumes offset the negative impact of the tough macroeconomic environment in which Europe's refineries now operate.

Higher crude oil prices, which increased the value of PKN Orlen's mandatory oil reserves, are expected to increase operating profit by about PLN700 million, PKN Orlen said.

Sales volumes rose 2% on the year, boosted by retail sales and sales of petrochemicals.

Throughput of crude rose 4% on the year in the first quarter, driven by increased utilization at PKN's Plock refinery, mainly its PX/PTA petrochemical complex, and its Czech unit Unipetrol.


Unipetrol sees small Q1 operating loss

(Reuters) - Czech downstream oil group Unipetrol expects to post a small first-quarter operating loss as a fall in margins year-on-year outweighed the positive impact of currency moves and operations with CO2 allowances, it said on Thursday.

The company, majority owned by Poland's PKN Orlen, said it did not book any one-off charges or gains in the first three months of the year.

It said operations with CO2 allowances helped to raise operating profit by roughly 155 million crowns in the first quarter while exchange rate changes provided a 156-million-crown boost.

Unipetrol reported an operating loss of 5.94 billion crowns in the fourth quarter of 2011 due to impairment charges.