Sumitomo to cease operations in Chiba ethylene cracker in 2015

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Sumitomo plans to cease operations at its C2 cracker in Chiba during the next scheduled maintenance turnaround, said Plasteurope.

Faced with declining domestic demand and a structural market shift towards rising feedstock imports, Sumitomo Chemical (Tokyo / Japan) has said it will shut down its 415,000 t/y ethylene cracker in Chiba / Japan during the next scheduled maintenance turnaround in September 2015. The company said the current business environment in Japan is unlikely to change in the future, adding that the only way it can enhance and ensure the continued sustainable operations of its domestic petrochemical business is to curtail costs and raise its activities in the field of higher value-added products.

Sumitomo said it would source the ethylene it needs to run its operations in Japan from Keiyo Ethylene Co. (KEC; Ichihara, Chiba / Japan), its joint venture with Maruzen Petrochemical (Tokyo / Japan) and Mitsui Chemicals (Tokyo / Japan). Sumitomo said it had reached an agreement with the jv partners that its C2 allotment would be raised accordingly. Given that Mitsui recently announced plans to quit KEC, its higher requirements should not pose a problem.

Sumitomo said it would continue to look for ways to optimise its operations in Chiba, where it also turns out 210,000 t/y of propylene, 420,000 t/y of PP, 170,000 t/y of LDPE, 105,000 t/y of LLDPE, 60,000 t/y of toluene as well as 150,000 t/y of benzene. Taking a broader view, the company said it plans to work towards strengthening its entire global petrochemical portfolio, including in Saudi Arabia and Singapore.

Recently, Sumitomo Chemical confirmed that it is moving ahead in its joint venture with Saudi Aramco on the Rabigh Phase II Project at a total investment which is projected to reach around USD7 bln. The Rabigh II Project will produce ethylene propylene rubber (EPDM), thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO), methyl methacrylate (MMA) monomer, polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), low density polyethylene/ethylene vinyl acetate (LDPE/EVA), paraxylene/benzene, cumene and phenol/acetone, as MRC informed earlier. Incidentally, Sumitomo is the only Japanese petrochemical company to operate naphtha crackers outside Japan.

Sumitomo Chemical is a Japanese based manufacturer of a diverse range of products, including basic chemicals, petrochemicals and plastics, fine chemicals, agricultural chemicals, IT-related chemicals and pharmaceuticals.


SIBUR implements new uniform polypropylene grading codes

MOSCOW (MRC) -- NPP Neftekhimiya, a joint venture of Gazprom Neft’s Moscow Oil Refinery and SIBUR Holding, will implement a new uniform system of polypropylene grading codes as of 1 March 2013, according to SIBUR's press release.

The new codes are more informative, indicating a polymer’s type, use and melt flow rate (MFR), which will make it easier for consumers to choose an appropriate grade and give them a better understanding of the company’s grade range.

Implementing the new product coding for NPP Neftekhimiya is another stage of unification of polypropylene grades across SIBUR’s companies. Uniform grade codes were introduced at Tomskneftekhim back in 2011. The Tobolsk-Polymer facilities to be commissioned will also use this coding standard.

As MRC reported earlier, in November 2011, Tomskneftekhim fully updated its range of PP grades, replacing serial brand, the basis of the former assortment. In general, in 2010-2011 the company developed and launched the production of 39 grades of polypropylene, including 4, which have no analogues in Russian production.

After starting the Tobolsk-Polymer, a subsidiary of SIBUR with the capacity of 500,000 tonnes of PP per year, the new production will also use a universal encoding.

"Scientific and Production Enterprise "NPP Neftekhimiya" is fully integrated with Moscow Refinery; it uses propane-propylene fraction for its production. Its production capacity is 100,000 tonnes of polypropylene per year.

Graboplast shows better results in 2012

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Leading Hungarian flooring producer Graboplast increased its revenues to HUF16 billion (Hungarian forints) in 2012 from HUF15.8 billion a year before, according to Budapest Business Journal.

Hungarian sales saw a double-digit slump and Graboplast’s western European markets were also showing little activity with many projects, like school renovations or train carriage revamps being put on hold.

However, Grabolpast’s Chinese partners are producing an annual average 15% growth with their purchases and often make considerable orders years ahead. The company’s management is hopeful that European economies and its business there will pick up this year.

As MRC infomed earlier, Graboplast increased the capacities of its plant in Tatabanya (central Hungary). Investments in the expansion project made 1.5 billion forints (USD6.9mln/EUR5.8mln). After the start-up of the unit, the company is expected to become the largest maker of PVC flooring in Central and Eastern Europe, according to the company's statement. Graboplast will increase its annual production of PVC flooring at its existing plant in Tatabanya up to 18-20 million square meters compared to the previously produced 12 million square meters.

The cost of Asian EPS will grow in the second half of February

MOSCOW (ICIS-MRC) -- Asian producers intend to increase the price offer for Russian companies in the second half of February by USD20/tonne, according to MRC Price report.

In late 2012, the cost of expandable polystyrene (EPS) in Asia reached record levels. In early 2013, the EPS price kept rising, resulting in the cost of the material to settle down at USD2,000/tonne, FOB, while in November it was USD1,750-1,800/tonne, FOB. The growth of feedstock quotations in Asia, in particular, that of styrene monomer, was named as one of the main reasons for the sharp price increase of the material.

By early February, Asian producers had reduced their price offer to the level of USD1,930-1,940/tonne, FOB. From 7 February, the New Year celebration began in China, the largest supplier of imported EPS to the CIS markets. It ended on 17 February, 2013. Many participants of the EPS market expected a slight decline in EPS price offers from Chinese producers due to the decrease in quotations of styrene monomer in the first half of February to the level of USD1,710-1,720/tonne. However, this week traders received information about a potential increase in the cost of Asian EPS for the second half of February by USD20/tonne. As a result, the cost of Asian EPS will make USD1,950-1,960/tonne, FOB.

A major impact on the cost of EPS in February-March 2013 will have the dynamics of styrene monomer quotations both in Asia and Europe. Several large producers of styrene monomer have planned turnarounds at their facilities for March and April 2013, which will significantly affect styrene monomer prices. The cost of benzene, one of the feedstocks for the production of styrene monomer, already began to decline in February, as producers expect lower demand for benzene in March-April, 2013. Thus, the cost of styrene monomer as well as the supply and demand for it, will have a key impact on the pricing policy of Asian EPS makers in the coming months.

January PS imports in Russia fell by 26%

MOSCOW (MRC) - In January 2013 Russia's imports of polystyrene and styrene plastics made 12,200 tonnes, according to MRC ScanPlast.

Last month, PS imports fell by 26% compared to December 2012, but in relation to January 2012 it increased by 21%.
In January 2013, general purpose polystyrene (GPPS) took the leading place in Russia's imports (35%), whereas in January 2012, it was imported only 1,700 tonnes of material, and in December 2012 - 4,500 tonnes.

Market participants explained this increase by the delayed deliveries of the contracts concluded in late 2012. Besides it reflects a significant increase in the supply of European GPPS to Russia in 2012.

Imports of high-impact polystyrene (HIPS) made 2,300 tonnes of material, up 45% from December 2012. More than half of the supplies was provided by Polimeri Europa, and among the others suppliers were Styrolution, LG Chem and Dongbu.

Deliveries of EPS decreased significantly. In January 2013, they made only 2,300 tonnes, from 5,200 in December 2012 and 4,300 tonnes in January 2012. The decrease in EPS supplies resulted from a significant increase in the cost of Asian material in late 2012 - early 2013.

Imports of acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) in January 2013 made 2,200 tonnes, down 46% from last December. In 2013, the Russian market will be significantly affected by the launch of a new ABS production by Nizhnekamskneftekhim, which may result in imports decrease.