Dow and Aksa form joint venture for carbon fiber and derivatives

(Plastemart) -- The Dow Chemical Company, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Dow Europe Holding BV, and Aksa Akrilik Kimya Sanayii A.S. (ISE: AKSA), a world-leading acrylic fiber company, today announced the official formation of DowAksa Advanced Composites Holdings BV (DowAksa), a joint venture (JV) to manufacture and commercialize carbon fiber and derivatives.

Aksa and Dow had previously signed a definitive agreement to form the JV on December 20, 2011. Aksa and Dow each hold a 50 percent stake in the JV, which will finance its growth through cash flow from operations and financial institutions.

DowAksa will develop and globally market a broad range of products and technical service support in the rapidly expanding carbon-fiber composites industry. The JV will have a particular focus on bringing solutions to market that reduce overall costs, thereby enhancing economics and driving adoption in a broader array of markets. Emphasis will be on bringing cost-effective solutions to industrial market applications for energy, transportation, and infrastructure globally.

Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris said, "The formation of this JV is another demonstration that Dow is advancing its innovation and growth strategy and our commitment to pursue high-value, innovation-rich sectors through strategic partnerships. Together our companies will apply science, world-class manufacturing capabilities and technical expertise for innovative solutions that address pressing global challenges, such as improving the fuel economy of automobiles, and extending the life of roads and buildings."

Braskem underscores commitment to Marcus Hook polypropylene plant

(plastermart) -- Braskem, the leading resin producer in the Americas and the largest polypropylene producer in the United States, announces that it acquired the propylene splitter assets at Sunoco's former refinery in Marcus Hook, Penn., and has secured feedstock supply from multiple sources that ensures its continuing operations. As part of the agreement, Braskem will process propylene through the splitter assets for use in its adjacent polypropylene plant.

This transaction represents an important step in preserving the viability of Braskem's Marcus Hook polypropylene facility for the foreseeable future and solidifying Braskem's continued commitment to the North American petrochemical market.

"We are very pleased to complete this transaction and to bring certainty to our clients, employees and the local community regarding the future of operations at our Marcus Hook site," said Fernando Musa, CEO, Braskem America.

Braskem is the Americas' top thermoplastic resins producer. With 35 industrial plants spread across Brazil, United States and Germany, the company produces over 35 billion pounds of thermoplastic resins and other petrochemicals per year. Braskem is the world's leading biopolymers producer with its 440 million pound Green PE plant that produces polyethylene from sugarcane-based ethanol.

Braskem America is the leading producer of polypropylene in the U.S., with five production plants located in Texas, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and a Technology and Innovation Center in Pittsburgh.

Asian olefin markets climb on higher upstream costs

(Plastemart) -- Spot olefin markets in Asia showed significant upward momentum over the past week. Despite the fluctuating energy complex for most of last week, sentiments firmed up, especially on Friday as crude oil prices recorded their largest daily spike since March 2009. This was triggered by the optimism that Europe’s debt crisis might be contained.

In addition, rising spot ethylene, propylene and styrene prices were also supported by the restricted availability due to regional cracker shutdowns and revived demand for July.

In Asia, spot naphtha prices rose USD50/ton on CFR Japan basis on the week, although they remained US$40/ton below the levels of early June. Spot ethylene prices rose US$40/ton on CFR Northeast Asia basis by the end of week, but the recent offers continue USD30/ton below the early month levels.

Spot propylene costs increased US$45/ton week over week on FOB South Korea basis, with the recent levels representing a USD20/ton gain since June 1.

Spot styrene prices recorded larger increases over the week on the back of firmer benzene costs in the region. Higher upstream costs pushed spot styrene offers up by US$75/ton with the same terms, with the values also recording the same amount of spike in a period of one month.

In addition to firmer upstream markets, restricted supply was another driver behind last week’s rally for these monomers as the outage at Formosa Petrochemical remains in place since June 20 after a power outage. According to the most recent market reports, the company planned to restart its No. 2 cracker early this week, while being set to restart its No.3 cracker on July 10. The crackers have ethylene capacities of 1.03 mln tpa and 1.2 mln tpa, respectively, while their propylene capacities are 515,000 tpa and 600,000 tpa.

Additionally, another Taiwanese-CPC Corp. will reportedly shut its No. 4 cracker starting from this week given a technical issue. The cracker, which produces 380,000 tpa of ethylene and 193,000 tpar of propylene, will be down for around 10 days. The company does not plan to lift the operating rates of its No. 5 cracker at Kaohsiung during the period. The cracker can produce 500,000 tpa ethylene and 250,000 tpa of propylene.

LDPE prices in China fall below LLDPE

(Plastemart) -- Last week saw LDPE film prices sink below LLDPE and HDPE film prices in China as LDPE film remained stagnant while LLDPE film moved higher.

LDPE prices carried a premium over LLDPE and HDPE prices for most of the past four years, with LLDPE and HDPE prices attaining levels close to parity only between the beginning of 2008 and the end of 2011.

In mid-July 2011, import LDPE film prices carried a premium of around US$150-200/ton vs LLDPE and HDPE film prices. The gap between HDPE and LDPE film prices moved below USD100/ton by the fall of 2011, although LDPE film prices continued to carry a premium of around USD175-215/ton when compared with LLDPE film prices.

By the beginning of 2012, HDPE film prices were trading close to par with LDPE film, while LLDPE continued to trade at a discount of around USD125/ton. LDPE’s relative position against LLDPE and HDPE film has steadily weakened over the past six months.

HDPE film prices gained a premium over LDPE prices in mid-May, by which time LLDPE film prices had risen to trade at a discount of less than USD50/ton against LDPE film.

LLDPE began to trade with a premium over LDPE last week after the two products had been trading nearly at par since late May. At the end of last week, LDPE film traded at a discount of around US$25-30/ton from LLDPE film while HDPE film traded with a premium of USD50/ton over LDPE film.

Octal completes second phase expansion at Salalah

(Plastemart) -- Oman's Octal Petrochemicals has completed the second phase of its polyethylene terephthalate (PET) expansion project in Salalah, as per Times Of Oman.

Phase 2 was completed within budget and on time, and the ramp-up process will allow the PET complex to achieve full capacity of 927,000 tpa in August. The project was designed to add a further 527,000 tpa of PET bottle-grade resins in addition to the site's existing capacity of 400,000 tpa.

The company's annual exports reached RO215 million (USD559 mln) in 2012 and the completion of the second phase of expansion will put Octal well on the way to achieving RO511 million (USD1.3 bln) in annual sales by year ending March 31, 2013. This will be achieved by increasing capacity and converting new packaging applications to DPET sheet including the packaging of dates, yogurt, meat and cheese.

Octal now accounts for 10% of Oman's non-oil exports, which equates to and about 2% of Oman's gross domestic product (GDP).

"Octal is now building its brand on a truly global scale”, said Chairman Sheikh Saad Suhail Bahwan. With 85% of all increases in sales in 2012 coming from new products, Octal's innovation makes it well placed to drive broader adoption of PET. Focusing on new resins with enhanced performance will allow the company to expand its market reach.