Fire at Nippon Shokubai polymer plant to increase global demand for diapers

(worldnews) -- The fire, occurred after explosion at Nippon Shokubai's polymer facility in Hyogo Prefecture, central Japan, on 29 September, might affect the global production of diapers.

Nippon Shokubai produces one fifth of the global volume of superabsorbent polymers and it is one of the world's biggest makers of acrylic acid, the main ingredient of a resin called SAP, which is used in diapers.

A fire broke out about 2 p.m. after an abnormal chemical reaction at the plant, the Japan Times said. The explosion occurred near the tank with acrylic acid. A 28-year-old firefighter was killed and at least 30 people were reported injured. Other details are not disclosed. The cause of the explosion is being determined. Information on possible contamination of the environment by combustion products have not been reported yet.

Operations at the plant are likely to be halted for a long time and other makers of SAP resins are operating on a full-production footing.

Itochu to join South Stream gas pipeline project

(guidechem) -- Japan's Itochu is interested in financing construction of the South Stream gas pipeline via the Black Sea, as well as supplying pipes to the project, Itochu's COO for the Commonwealth of Independent States said in an interview published Friday.

Itochu is now in active discussions on joining the project. The role of the company would be to supply pipes and financing, Kiyoshi Fujitska told the in-house magazine of Russia's Gazprom.

Should the agreement on cooperation be reached, the pipes would be provided by Marubeni-Itochu Steel Inc. (MISI), Itochu's 50:50 joint venture with Japan's Marubeni, he said.

The South Stream pipeline, with a capacity of up to 63 billion cubic meters/year, is designed to bring Russian gas to Bulgaria and on to other European countries via the Black Sea. From Bulgaria, the line is to be split into two pipelines to be built by Gazprom jointly with local partners. Construction is expected to start in late 2012, with the first commercial deliveries scheduled for late 2015.

Gazprom owns a 50% stake in the South Stream subsea section. Other stakeholders are Italy's Eni (20%), France's EDF (15%) and Germany's Wintershall (15%).

Asian PET prices slashed by USD10-20/tonne

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Last week of September, price offers of Asian PET decreased by USD10-20/tonne following the drop in cost of feedstocks and converters’ low buying activity in the domestic market, report MRC analysts.

Prices of Chinese PET fell by USD10/tonne. The range of Chinese makers’ spot prices for export shipments were voiced at the level of USD1,380-1,410/tonne, FOB China. This week, market players’ activity will remain weak due to the national holidays started on 30 September. Korean producers sold their PET production at the price which is by USD20/tonne lower from the levels stated the previous week. The price dispersion of the material made USD1,400-1,440/tonne, FOB Korea.

It is worth mentioning that in September PET price offers grew by USD40/tonne in South Korea. Last month, September prices of Chinese PET rose by USD30/tonne.

HDPE prices in Asia dropped in price by USD10-40/tonne

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Low buying activity, due to the state holidays in China and decline in oil quotations, has resulted in a slight reduction of polyethylene prices in Asia, report MRC analysts.

Last week, there was a minor price fall in the Asian PE market. Low buying activity in the region was the main reason of the decline in prices. Chinese companies practically refused from purchasing polyethylene in anticipation of the weekly state holidays which will begin from 1 October. South-Eastern companies also decided to take a break expecting the situation with the price trend to become clear after the holidays in China.

Also, declining oil quotations have cooled the interest of buyers from China and South-Eastern Asia in purchasing PE. But a major decline in PE prices was avoided due to stable ethylene prices in the region.

Oil prices are still the determining factor in the price formation on sluggish demand. Also, the launches of new plants in China in the second half of the year cause serious concerns regarding the rise in prices in the future.

Last week, LDPE prices remained intact and were in the range of USD1,310-1,380/tonne, CFR. HDPE prices dropped by USD10-40/tonne depending on the grade. Deals were concluded in the range of USD1,300-1,370/tonne, CFR.

High prices of PS in Europe hold down the demand

MOSCOW (MRC) -- European market of polystyrene (PS) remains tight, according to suppliers.

Current high prices put pressure on the purchases of polystyrene. Buyers and converters consider such level of prices groundless, which soon will make converters either reduce the purchases volumes, or to look for an alternative feedstock. The latter especially refers to the market of high-impact polystyrene (HIPS), which competes in some sectors of processing with ABS and PET.

Some market participants have noted that in September, the price of polystyrene for traders increased more significantly than for the direct buyers of the material.

The September price of polystyrene for direct buyers increased by EUR70-80/tonne, while prices for traders increased by EUR100/tonne.

Producers deny the price disbalance between the different types of customers.

Preliminary increase was announced at EUR100/tonne, but then the price of material grew not so significantly. Last week the discount for medium and small volume purchases did not exceed 2% from the announced price of the material.