Gevo opens renewable paraxylene plant in Texas

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Gevo held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday for its demonstration-scale paraxylene plant in Silsbee, Texas, according to Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The paraxylene facility is located adjacent to Gevo's existing jet fuel plant in Silsbee, and establishes the site as a biorefinery that will serve the renewable chemicals and true drop-in biofuels markets.

Gevo says it is working with The Coca-Cola Company to deliver a new production technology for renewable paraxylene, a key building block for producing fully-renewable PET for beverage bottles. Research and development (R&D) support for this plant was provided by Coca-Cola.

Gevo is also working with Toray Industries to develop renewable paraxylene, a building block for fully renewable polyester for packaging films and fibers used in textiles, clothing and other applications. Funding assistance for the construction of the paraxylene plant was provided by Toray.

Project officials noted that Gevo and Toray have successfully produced fully renewable and recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) fibers and films from isobutanol at laboratory scale in 2011.

Toray has also signed an offtake agreement for paraxylene produced at the Silsbee facility, in which Toray will purchase paraxylene from Gevo and will convert it into PET fibers, textiles and films for scale-up evaluation and market development purposes.

"We believe we have an elegant, viable route to fully-renewable, non-petroleum derived PET and we are pleased that The Coca-Cola Company and Toray have supported this work," said Patrick Gruber, Gevo's CEO. "Fully renewable PET has the potential to make the world a better place by reducing our dependence on oil and the environmental consequences associated with petroleum-based raw materials."

The majority of the world's PET production is for synthetic fibers (in excess of 60%), with bottle production accounting for around 30% of global demand. Gevo's paraxylene, once converted to bio-based PET, has high potential for any commercial application currently served by petroleum-derived PET, according to company officials.

Gevo is a leading company in renewable chemicals and advanced biofuels. Gevo, the first company in the world to begin commercial production of bio-based isobutanol. Gevo has also succeeded in the synthesis of bioPX at the laboratory level utilizing conventional chemical processes.

Dow shuts down light hydrocarbon cracking unit at Texas plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Dow Chemical has shut the No. 7 light hydrocarbon cracking unit at its Freeport, Texas, complex, reported Plastemart with reference to a source at the plant.

In last Tuesday's emissions report filed with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Dow said it was flaring about 98,000 lb of ethylene, 40,000 lb of propylene and 31,000 lb of propane and expected to complete the operation by 8 a.m. CDT (1300 GMT) Wednesday.

The source added that it is unclear how long the cracking unit would remain offline aid. Ethylene production capacity of the cracker is estimated at 600,000 tpa.

Williams Olefins in Geismar, Lousiana, Westlake's Petro-1 in Lake Charles, Louisiana, Chevron Phillips Chemical's Sweeny No.33 in Old Ocean, Texas, and LyondellBasell's Clinton, Iowa, plant are also conducting maintenance on ethylene operations.

As MRC informed previously, in March 2013, Dow Chemical signed a long-term ethylene off-take agreement with a new Japanese joint venture that will allow the chemical producer to enhance its performance plastics franchise. The joint venture was formed between Japanese companies Idemitsu Kosan and Mitsui & Co. to construct and operate a Linear Alpha Olefins unit on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The Dow Chemical Company is an American multinational chemical corporation headquartered in Midland, Michigan, United States. Dow is a large producer of plastics, including polystyrene, polyurethane, polyethylene, polypropylene, and synthetic rubber. In 2012, Dow had annual sales of approximately USD57 billion. The company's more than 5,000 products are manufactured at 188 sites in 36 countries across the globe.

India signs energy cooperation deal with Iraq for refining and oil exploration

MOSCOW (MRC) -- India and Iraq have signed an energy-cooperation agreement spanning oil exploration and refining as well as work toward establishing a 10-year crude oil supply agreement from the Middle East nation, reported Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Iraq is eager to boost oil supplies to India, one of the largest oil consumers, in the face of shrinking demand from the US, which has been getting more of its oil and gas from domestic shale deposits in recent years.

India also wants to increase imports from Iraq, its second-largest oil supplier after Saudi Arabia, as a replacement for dwindling shipments from traditional supplier Iran amid the West's sanctions on Tehran.

Neither side said how much additional oil India is likely to import under the long-term agreement. India's crude-oil imports from Iraq are currently estimated at about USD20 billion annually.

Earlier in the day, Indian Trade Minister Anand Sharma said that the two countries would explore the possibility of a trade-payment mechanism in their local currencies as the nations seek more partnerships in various sectors.

Last year, India introduced a rupee trade-payment mechanism with another major oil exporter, Iran. However, the international sanctions have made it tough for shippers to secure insurance for carrying Iranian oil to India.

Indian oil companies, which so far haven't actively participated in Iraq, now appear more interested in tapping more oil from the country.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said his country will seek partnerships with India in pharmaceuticals, chemical and agricultural sectors.

As part of the discussions, Iraq also offered state-run Indian companies exploration of three oil and gas blocks in Middle Furat Oil Field. It also allowed three Indian oil companies - ONGC Videsh Ltd., Mangalore Refineries & Petrochemicals Ltd. and Reliance Industries - to bid for the Nasiriya oil and gas project.

We remind that, as MRC informed previously, India's petrochemical industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the Indian economy. It provides the foundation for manufacturing industries such as pharmaceuticals, construction, agriculture, packaging, textiles, automotive, etc.

The future of the Indian petrochemicals industry is bright with domestic demand driving the market for products. With Government support slowly falling into place, the future could see more investments from multinationals as well as domestic companies. Thus, the UAE-based company, Uniplas Petrochemicals, is planning to set up a 150,000 tpa capacity petrochemical complex in India, worth nearly Rs 55bn (USD1m), by using foreign direct investment to produce caustic soda, ethylene, chlorine, PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and PVC compounds. Besides, SIBUR, Russia's largest petrochemical company, and Reliance Industries will bulild a butyl rubber plant with the capacity of 100,000 tpa, which is expected to kick off in next six months in Jamnagar.

Innovia Films to invest in BOPP films capacity expansion

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Innovia Films, a division of Innovia Group, announced a 20 million pound investment package for the installation of additional Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene (BOPP) film capacity and a 'state-of-the-art' gas turbine at its UK site, according to the company's press release.

The additional BOPP capacity will assist the company in meeting the increasing worldwide demand for its speciality grades of BOPP film.

The investment is expected to increase the company's global output by a further 10%, and will support its research and development teams to accelerate their product and market development introductions.

Work will commence immediately and it is planned that the new capacity will be fully commissioned in 2015.

The decision to invest in a gas turbine was made a few months ago and preparation work on the Wigton site is already well in hand. The turbine will improve the company’s UK energy efficiency and performance and will reduce the carbon footprint of all products produced at the Wigton site by 20%, including the company's leading renewable and compostable NatureFlex films.

Mr David Beeby, CEO, Innovia Group expressed his enthusiasm saying "This is very exciting news and another step forward in developing our company and supports our ongoing commitment to customer service, innovation and growth."

As MRC wrote previously, another European BOPP films producerTreofan Group, a global leader in BOPP films headquartered in Raunheim, Germany, aims for considerable global growth in the coming years.

Innovia Films is a leading global manufacturer of two 'families' of speciality products supplied into the packaging, labels, tobacco overwrap and securities markets - Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene (BOPP) and Cellulose based films. With a turnover in excess of EUR400m, its total annual film production capacity currently stands at more than 120,000 tonnes.

July PET output in Russia grew by 5%

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The July production of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) chips in Russia increased by 5% from June and reached a record high in the history of the industry, according to MRC ScanPlast.

The July output in Russia totalled 43,400 tonnes of PET. Three plants have raised their capacity utilisation simultaneously: SIBUR-PETF, Senezh and Alko-Naphtha. The Kaliningrad producer accounted for the largest increase in production.

Almost all the produced quantities were supplied to the domestic market this summer on the back of high sales. Exports remained low and amounted to 1,400 tonnes.
The total PET output is expected to drop in the country in August. The reason for the reduced production will be an unscheduled outage at Senezh. According to our estimates, the output of Russian PET chip grades will fall by 4,500-5,000 tonnes in August from July.