Total to invest EUR160 million in Carling, France

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Total, Europe’s third-largest oil company, intends to invest EUR160m before 2016 to adapt its petrochemical platform in Carling, in the Lorraine region of eastern France, and to restore its competitiveness, according to Stockmarketwire.

Total plans indeed to develop new activities on the platform in the growing markets for hydrocarbon resins (Cray Valley) and for polymers, while shutting down the acutely loss-making steam cracker in the second half of 2015.

Total has already reduced European refining through the closing of its plant near Dunkirk in France, capacity reduction at Normandy and the sale of its 49 percent stake in Spain’s Cia. Espanola de Petroleos SA. Total has also tried and failed to sell its Lindsey plant in the U.K.

The Carling plant, which makes petrochemicals such as ethylene and propylene at the site near the German border, employs 350 Total workers as well as sub-contractors. These chemicals are used to make plastics.

Total S.A. is a French multinational oil and gas company and one of the six "Supermajor" oil companies in the world with business in Europe, the United States, the Middle East and Asia. The company's petrochemical products cover two main groups: base chemicals and the consumer polymers (polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene) that are derived from them.

Keyuan discusses plans for SSBR plant and ethylene-styrene copolymer unit in China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Ningbo-based Keyuan Petrochemicals, an independent manufacturer and supplier of various petrochemical products in China, has disclosed its plans to build a new solution polymerized styrene butadiene rubber (SSBR) production facility and expand its existing ethylene-styrene copolymer plant, reported GV.

Keyuan, citing increased demand for SSBR in the tire market, said it is building a 150,000-t/y facility that will utilize its own production technology. The project, for which a location and construction schedule were not given, is estimated to have a cost of USD99.5-million.

Additionally, Keyuan is expanding the capacity of its ethylene-styrene copolymer plant to 200,000 t/y from 80,000 t/y, allowing for the sale of 120,000 t/y to down-stream petrochemical producers.

"This facility can be considered the bridge between original products and high-value added products and will complete the integration of internal resources," the company noted.

As MRC wrote previously, Regarding Keyuan’s previously announced plans for a new 400,000-t/y acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plant in China’s Guangxi Province, the company said it is currently going through the government approval process and design phase. Keyuan now expects the first phase of the project to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2014.

Keyuan Petrochemicals, Inc., established in 2007 and operating through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Keyuan Plastics, Co. Ltd., is located in Ningbo, China and is a leading independent manufacturer and supplier of various petrochemical products. The company is located in Qingshi Industrial Park, Ningbo, China and has annual petrochemical manufacturing design capacity of 720,000 metric tons for a variety of petrochemical products, including BTX aromatics, propylene, styrene, MTBE and other chemicals.

New import PP duties to be introduced in Vietnam

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Vietnam will increase import taxes on polypropylene (PP) from zero to 1% by 2014, 2% by 2015 and 3% by 2016, reported GV.

The tax adjustments are mentioned in Circular No 107 recently issued by the Ministry of Finance.

The circular contains changes to preferential import tax rates on certain commodities that have been in force since September 26, 2013.

According to the Vietnam Plastics Association (VPA), PP is one of three major raw materials used in producing plastic items, so households that make low-value utensils will suffer the most from the tax hike.

Domestic firms only turn out 150,000 tonnes of PP annually while local demand is 750,000 tonnes per year, forcing industry players to import 600,000 tonnes to make up for the shortfall, VPA reports.

As MRC informed earlier, in mid-summer 2010 the polypropylene plant rolled out its first product in the Dung Quat Economic Zone in Binh Son district, Quang Ngai province. Construction of the 150,000 tpa plant started in December 2007 with a total investment outlay of USD234 mln. Polypropylene wass Vietnam’s first petrochemical product to be manufactured from propylene gas from the Dung Quat Oil Refinery.

Tosoh to build new plant for emission-free PU catalysts

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Tosoh Corporation has announced it will construct a plant to produce Rzeta, the company’s new emission-free reactive amine catalyst for polyurethane foams, according to GV.

The plant will be built on the grounds of the ethyleneamine production facilities at the Nanyo complex for an estimated investment of JPY 2 billion (about EUR 15.3 million).

Construction of the Rzeta plant will begin in September 2013 and is expected to be completed by November 2014.

According to Tosoh, the company developed Rzeta in response to concerns about volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from PU foams produced using conventional PU catalysts. As an emission-free PU foam reactive amine catalyst, Rzeta is said to make possible the manufacture of PU foams that do not emit the VOCs or odour characteristic of amine chemicals and thus are better for the environment. The absence of VOCs also means that Rzeta-produced PU foams used in proximity to other resins, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polycarbonates, will not change their colour, says the company.

Rzeta is said to enable the production of PU foams with the same high level of durability as those made using conventional catalysts. In Rzeta, therefore, Tosoh brings to the marketplace a proprietary PU catalyst technology that is eco-friendly and that ensures advanced functionality.

According to the company, the new catalyst meets demands for a cleaner planet through reduced VOC emissions without diminishing the quality of the products whose manufacture depends on it. Tosoh has a 40-year history as a global ethyleneamine derivative solution provider.

As MRC wrote previously, almost one year after a fire seriously damaged its complex in Nanyo/Japan, Tosoh Corporation (Tokyo/Japan) touted plans to raise output at the site's number 3 vinyl chloride monomer plant. The building phase of the 200,000 t/y capacity expansion kicked off in November 2012 with completion scheduled for October 2014. All in all, the project will cost Tosoh about JPY 5 bn (EUR 50m).

Tosoh is one of the largest chlor-alkali manufacturers in Asia. The company supplies the plastic resins and an array of the basic chemicals that support modern life. Tosoh's petrochemical operations supply ethylene, polymers, and polyethylene.

A. Schulman acquires producer of thermoplastic compounds Perrite Group

MOSCOW (MRC) -- A. Schulman, Inc. has announced that it has purchased the Perrite Group, a thermoplastics manufacturing business with operations in Malaysia, the United Kingdom and France, for approximately USD52 million, according to the company's statement.

Perrite was part of the Vita Group portfolio of companies.

The acquisition is expected to increase revenues in A. Schulman's Asia Pacific (APAC) segment by 35% and will double the size of the company's existing Engineered Plastics business in the region. It is expected to deliver approximately USD2 million to USD3 million in annual synergies, including initial savings in procurement followed by more significant savings in the area of operational efficiencies.

"Expansion of our Custom Performance Colors and Engineered Plastics businesses in APAC is a key component of our growth strategy, and the addition of Perrite's manufacturing facility in Malaysia will enhance our ability to serve key customers in the region as well as globally," said Joseph M. Gingo, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, A. Schulman. "It also provides an attractive opportunity to leverage our broader portfolio of products through our successful color and niche engineered plastics businesses in EMEA and the Americas."

Gingo continued, "Perrite holds leading positions in attractive target markets such as electronics, appliance and niche automotive; offers well-established and respected brands; brings a highly experienced technical team; and has a strong track record of profitable growth. The acquisition will allow us to strengthen our European niche Engineered Plastics business with the addition of new customers, as well as move into adjacent markets with Perrite's highly profitable insulation materials for the sub-sea flexible oil pipe market, which are manufactured in the United Kingdom."

Perrite has manufactured and distributed thermoplastic compounds for the electrical, automotive and industrial markets for more than 35 years, offering a broad portfolio of standard and custom compounded polymer products. Perrite's product lines include the high-performance Ronfalin ABS brand and prime-quality polyamide Vitamide range. Other key brands include Percom polypropylene, Perlex polycarbonate, Styralin polystyrene and Pertal POM. Perrite employs approximately 220 people and recorded revenues of USD140 million in fiscal 2012.

As MRC wrote earlier, last summer, A. Schulman Inc. (ASI) inked a definitive agreement to acquire ECM Plastics, a privately owned plastics compounder located in Worcester, Mass., for USD36.5 million in a move to enter into new compounding resins such as ABS, polycarbonates, polyurethanes and fluoropolymers.

A. Schulman, Inc. is a leading international supplier of high-performance plastic compounds and resins headquartered in Akron, Ohio. The company's customers span a wide range of markets such as packaging, mobility, building & construction, electronics & electrical, agriculture, personal care & hygiene, sports, leisure & home, custom services and others. The company employs approximately 3,300 people and has 34 manufacturing facilities globally. A. Schulman reported net sales of USD2.1 billion for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2012.