PTT Global Chemical awards EPC contract for aromatics II debottlenecking project

MOSCOW (MRC) -- PTT Global Chemical has awarded an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract to SK Engineering and Construction and PTT Maintenance and Engineering for a debottlenecking project that will increase aromatics capacity by 16% to about 1.2-million t/y at its Aromatics II complex in Rayong, Thailand, said Apic-online.

The approximately USD128.8-million project will increase paraxylene capacity to 770,000 t/y from 655,000 t/y, benzene capacity to 390,000 t/y from 355,000 t/y and will add 20,000 t/y of orthoxylene capacity.

Completion of the expansion is scheduled for the end of 2015.

As MRC wrote previously, in June 2013, Indonesian state-owned energy company Pertamina signed an agreement to purchase petrochemical products from Thailand’s PTT Global Chemical. The agreement serves as a pre-marketing strategy for Pertamina and PTT’s joint Indonesian petrochemical business. Under the agreement, PTT will deliver at least 5,000 tonnes of polyethylene and polypropylene products each month to Pertamina for sale in Indonesia.

PTT Global Chemical is a leading player in the petrochemical industry and owns several petrochemical facilities with a combined capacity of 8.45 million tonnes a year. PTTGC is 49% owned by state-controlled parent PTT Pcl, and uses ethane and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from the gas plant as feedstock for its I4-2 olefins plant.


New paraxylene capacity to startup in Northern Africa

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Sonatrach, ranked by Forbes as the world’s 12th largest oil company, is nearing completion of a new paraxylene crystallization plant at its integrated refinery/petrochemical site in Skikda, Algeria, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The plant's start-up is scheduled for December of 2013.

The plant’s core units will utilize CrystPX and GT-IsomPX, both licensed from GTC Technology. CrystPX recovers paraxylene from reformate feedstock while GT-IsomPX, using ISOXYL catalyst from Clariant, isomerizes C8 aromatics into additional paraxylene. The license also includes naphtha hydrotreating and reforming, aromatics extraction, and other aromatics operations. Samsung Engineering Co., Ltd. provided EPC services for the new facilities.

The paraxylene plant was originally part of Sonatrach’s petrochemical subsidiary, Naftec, which Sonatrach absorbed in 2009.

The new units continue Sonatrach’s long-term expansion plans for additional refining and petrochemical capacity at its facilities in Algeria to meet the growing domestic demand for oil products.

As MRC wrote before, Ulsan Aromatics is likely to start commercial production at its new paraxylene (PX) plant production in May 2014. The new PX plant at Ulsan in South Korea will have a production capacity of 1 million tonnes per year.

Paraxylene (PX) is the largest volume isomer of the mixed xylenes. Around 98% of PX is consumed in the polyester chain, mainly in the production of fibre, film and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle resins, via one of two intermediates - purified terephthalic acid (PTA) or dimethyl terephthalate (DMT). A small amount of PX is used as a solvent and to produce di-paraxylene and herbicides.

Lion Copolymer to close Baton Rouge SBR plant temporarily

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Lion Copolymer Ltd. will temporarily close its Baton Rouge SBR manufacturing facility by Feb. 3, idling one of the world’s first commercial production sites for synthetic rubber, said Rubbernews.

The company blamed the closure on economic conditions. The duration of the closure has not been determined.

"Declining market conditions for domestically produced replacement tires and conveyor belting, global over-capacity of SBR supply and volatility in key raw materials have resulted in unfavorable SBR market conditions in recent years," Lion Copolymer President Jesse Zeringue said in a news release. "As a result, Lion’s SBR business has not generated sufficient returns necessary to support the continued reinvestment required to adequately sustain the SBR business."

Zeringue said the company will work with employees during the transition. The firm’s statement didn’t list how many employees will be affecting by the action, and company officials couldn’t be reached for further comment.

Formerly known as Copolymer Rubber and Chemical Corp. and then DSM Copolymer, the plant originally was established in 1943 by the U.S. government during World War II. The Baton Rouge facility also is capable of producing nitrile rubber, though the firm didn’t indicate whether any production of that material would continue.

The shutdown will not impact Lion’s Royalene EDPM plant in Geismar, La., which employs more than 113 as well as 150 permanent contractors. Lion expanded its capacity at the Geismar plant in 2011 and 2012, from 205 million pounds to 285 million pounds, investing more than USD70 million. Lion is majority owned by private equity firm Goradia Capital L.L.C.

As MRC wrote before, China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec Corp.) and SIBUR entered into a joint venture developed on the site of the Krasnoyarsk Synthetic Rubber Plant (KZSK). Sinopec purchased 25% + 1 share of KZSK. The deal was approved by Russian and Chinese regulators.

US shale gas plan to make Grangemouth profitable

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Ineos unveils plan that will transform the economics of the loss-making Grangemouth site, making it almost instantly profitable. Britain is to see its first deliveries of US shale-derived gas in 2016 when Ineos completes a GBP300m investment programme at its Grangemouth plant in Scotland, said Telegraph.

The chemicals giant that had threatened to close Grangemouth in October after a bitter industrial dispute, has revealed a plan that will transform the economics of the loss-making site, making it almost instantly profitable.
Central to the plan is the construction of new shipping and storage facilities to handle imports of ethane, which is 75pc cheaper in America due to the shale gas revolution. Ineos has agreed a long-term supply deal, spanning 15 years, with US oil and gas group Range Resources.

The import of cheap ethane will allow Ineos to run its KG chemical cracker at full capacity of 700,000 tonnes a year - twice the rate currently possible due to the decline in gas feedstocks coming out of the North Sea.
Calum MacLean, chairman of Ineos’s Grangemouth site, said: "Running the cracker at 100pc is the biggest single thing that will turn this business from loss-making to profitable."

As MRC wrote before, Ineos has selected the location for a new ethane tank it plans to build at Grangemouth in Scotland. The site is set to be the first chemical plant in the country to receive shale gas from the United States.

INEOS Group Limited is a privately owned multinational chemicals company consisting of 15 standalone business units, headquartered in Rolle, Switzerland and with its registered office in Lyndhurst, United Kingdom. It is the fourth largest chemicals company in the world measured by revenues (after BASF, Dow Chemical and LyondellBasell) and the largest privately owned company in the United Kingdom.

Styrolution accelerating the pace of customer-centric innovation in styrenics

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Styrolution, the global leader in styrenics, has announced it has entered into a partnership with Neue Materialien Bayreuth GmbH (NMB) and the University of Bayreuth, according to the company's press release.

Styrolution will complement its existing R&D efforts by tapping into the broad intellectual and infrastructural polymer research resources of its new partners. This goes beyond traditional models of corporate cooperation with academia in that NMB and the university are making their infrastructure easily accessible to Styrolution.

The partnership enables the company to focus its R&D activities on downstream customer innovations across five core industries: automotive, electrical & electronics, household appliances, building & construction, healthcare & diagnostics. Initial projects will focus on the fields of lightweight structures and 3D printing. Addressing the latest trends in material innovation, Styrolution will focus its R&D resources in Bayreuth on the next generation of material development to ensure it continues to remain at the forefront of innovation.

R&D partnership aligns with Styrolution's ‘triple shift' growth strategy: the partnership is in harmony with the company's growth strategy, which calls for three ‘shifts' intended to put greater focus on measures that will expand its footprint in higher-growth industries, styrenic specialties, and emerging markets. It will also make it possible to further develop its portfolio of styrenic specialty copolymers.

As MRC reported earlier, Styrolution and Braskem, the largest producer of thermoplastic resins in America and a global leader in biopolymers, announced in October the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to investigate the formation of a joint venture in Brazil. The proposed 100,000 tonne plant would supply specialty styrenics, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) and styrene acrylonitrile (SAN) copolymers, to customers in Brazil and throughout South America.

The Styrolution Group GmbH is a global provider of styrenics , headquartered in Frankfurt am Main. The company is a joint venture between BASF (50%) and INEOS (50%), were merged into the main styrene operations of the two partners. Its main focus is on the production of monomer, polystyrene, styrenic specialties, and ABS. The company offers styrene plastics for a variety of everyday products from different industries , such as automotive, electronics, construction, household, leisure, packaging, medicine and health.