HC Petrochem further cuts aromatics run rates on weak PX margins

MOSCOW (MRC) -- South Korea's HC Petrochem has further cut runs at its No 2 aromatics plant at Daesan to 80%, due to weak production margins for paraxylene, reported Plastemart.

The company first cut the run rate at the No. 1 unit to 90% from 100% on August 1 due to weak margins, further reducing it to 80% on August 9. The lower rate could be in place until the margin improves.

The No. 2 aromatics plant is able to produce 800,000 tpa of PX and 120,000 tpa of benzene.

As MRC reported previously, South Korea's paraxylene exports for January-March totaled 806,657 mt, surging 60.5% from a year earlier and up 41.4% from the previous quarter. The sharp increase was due to the startup of a new PX plant there. South Korea's HC Petrochem, a 50:50 joint venture between Hyundai Oilbank and Japan's Cosmo Oil, started commercial operations at its new 800,000 tpa PX plant in Daesan on January 8. Most of the new output from the plant is shipped to China.

HC Petrochem manufactures and markets paraxylene. The company was founded in 2009 and is based in Seosan Si, South Korea. HC Petrochem is a joint venture between Cosmo Oil and Hyundai Oilbank.

Westlake Chemical disagrees with Eastman Chemical complaint

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Westlake Chemical Corporation has stated that it received a copy of a complaint filed by Eastman Chemical Company with the Texas Railroad Commission regarding Westlake's pipeline that transports ethylene between Mont Belvieu, Texas, and Longview, Texas, where both Westlake and Eastman have operating facilities, reported the company on its site.

In its complaint and related public statements to the media and investors, Eastman contends that recent changes made by Westlake to the pipeline tariff and the terms and conditions of the pipeline usage, cost and service, were made to delay the divesture of some of Eastman's ethylene cracking units and would also impact its production capacity in Longview, Texas.

Westlake does not agree with Eastman's position as outlined in its complaint. The changes made to the pipeline tariff were made in accordance with standard practices and reflect market conditions and were in no way intended to impact Eastman's operation of its facilities in Longview nor were these changes made to delay Eastman's divesture efforts.а Westlake is committed to continued long-term safe operation, support for the employees and investment at the Longview site.

We remind that, as MRC wrote previously, last year Westlake announced an expansion of the existing PVC plant in Calvert City, Kentucky, and the plans to convert the feedstock for its Calvert City ethylene plant from propane to ethane along with increasing ethylene capacity from 450 million pounds per year to 630 million pounds per year. This expansion and feedstock conversion will add approximately 200 million pounds per year of PVC capacity to the existing 1,100 million pounds of annual capacity, enhance Westlake's vinyl chain integration and leverage low cost ethane being developed in the Marcellus shale area.

Westlake Chemical Corporation is a manufacturer and supplier of petrochemicals, polymers and building products with headquarters in Houston, Texas.а The company's range of products includes ethylene, polyethylene, styrene, propylene, caustic, VCM, PVC and PVC pipe and specialty components, windows, and fence.

The Brazilian PE import market likely to slow until lower tariffs go into effect on 1 October

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Brazilian manufacturers and others that import thermoplastic resins will likely slow their buying until new, lower tariffs go into effect on 1 October, according to Plastemart.

Brazilian Minister of Finance Guido Mantega announced on 1 August that the government will not renew an import tariff increase on 100 products, including polyethylene grades such as HDPE, LDPE and LLDPE.

The import tax is applied on products from countries outside the Mercosur group of South American countries, and is annually set on 1 October. The last increase occurred in 2012 when the government moved the import tariff for polyethylene from 14% to 20%.

As MRC reported earlier, Brazilian national plastics industry association Abiplast said the decision to raise import tariffs on plastic resins was a surprise and would lead to higher raw material costs for the industry.

Under the government's new decision, the tariff for polyethylene will return to its previous level of 14% on 1 October.

Amid the expected reduction of the tariff, the Brazilian market might be even slower in the coming weeks. The government decision stemmed from the high dollar exchange rate compared with the Brazilian currency, which acts as a natural protection for the industry in Brazil.

Explosion at ExxonMobil site hurts three

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Investigations are continuing into an explosion that injured three people at an ExxonMobil-operated oilfield in North Texas over the weekend, according to Upstreamonline.

The explosion occurred in Gregg County, east of Dallas, at around 12:50pm on Saturday, according to local reports.

Details were unclear, but the Tyler Morning Telegraph quoted local law enforcement officials as saying the explosion was triggered when workers were welding a pipe that was thought to be clear of hydrocarbons.

Kenneth Shahan, 54, Brent Ellison, 26, and 25-year-old Antonio Exner were injured in the blast, according to the newspaper.

The Gregg County Fire Department and the Operational Safety & Health Administration are investigating.

As MRC wrote earlier, on 5 October 2012, ExxonMobil Corp. confined a fire that broke out at its Baytown, Texas refinery to a process unit. The complex has a 584,000 bbl/day refinery and two chemical plants that make butyl rubber and polypropylene (PP), making it the largest operating refinery in the US and one of the largest in the world.

ExxonMobil is the largest non-government owned company in the energy industry and produces about 3% of the world's oil and about 2% of the world's energy.

ThyssenKrupp awarded FEED contract for polypropylene plant in Russia

MOSCOW (MRC) -- ThyssenKrupp Uhde has won a front-end engineering and design (FEED) contract for a single-train polypropylene (PP) plant based on LyondellBasell's Spheripol process technology for ZapSibNeftekhim L.L.C, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sibur, as per Plastemart.

SIBUR is in terms of revenue the largest integrated gas processing and petrochemicals company in Russia, the CIS and Central and Eastern Europe.

The 500,000 tpa plant is planned to be constructed in Tobolsk, Tyumen Region, in West Siberia. LyondellBasell’s Spheripol process technology, which will be used at the plant, is the most widely used technology for the production of polypropylene.

The plant will produce a wide range of high-quality polypropylene brands for use, for example, in textile and packaging applications as well as in the production of automotive body parts and consumer goods.

As MRC reported earlier, in March 2013, LyondellBasel, one of the world's largest plastics, chemical and refining companies,announced that OAO Nizhnekamskneftekhim, the largest petrochemical company in Russia, had selected the company's Spheripol process technology for a new 400,000 tonne per year single-line polypropylene (PP) plant to be built in Nizhnekamsk, Russia Federation. The start-up of the new facility is projected after 2015.