Olefins producers in Asia unable to compete with counterparts in Middle East

(Plastemart) -- Olefins producers in Asia are finding it increasingly difficult to compete with their counterparts in the Middle East. Ethane-based ethylene production costs in Saudi Arabia are around US$200/MT, US$250/MT in Qatar and US$615/MT in the US while naphtha-based ethylene production costs in Asia currently stand at US$1000/MT.

Ethylene producers in Japan and South Korea have seen depleting margins in the past two weeks. Since their rates are not competitive enough for spot ethylene cargoes, they are directing all their ethylene to downstream plants. As Middle East producers balance domestic demand for natural gas with that in their steam crackers, the feedstock is becoming increasingly costlier for the ethylene producers. However, the feedstock prices still do not compare with those in Asia.


Long sees big PET prospects

(Plastics News) -- PET packaging veteran Bill Long has his eyes on bringing more recycled material into the production stream. ⌠[There are] lots of remaining opportunities to continue to grow, both with organic customers in existing markets, and through conversion of additional packaging mediums from [other] substrates to PET, Long, president of Amcor Rigid Plastics in Ann Arbor described his vision of the future of PET.

But first, U.S. processors have to do something about low PET recycling rates, which hover around 26-27 percent of virgin material that is introduced into the marketplace, he said.

Amcor Rigid Plastics is part of Australian packaging giant Amcor Ltd. Long joined Amcor PET Packaging in 2002 following its acquisition of Ratingen, Germany-based Schmalbach-Lubeca AG's global PET and closures businesses.


Ticona continues its push into China

(Plastics News) -- Ticona Engineering Polymers remains focused on expanding in China, even though recent events might have slightly altered some time lines and priorities, according to Wilfried Jobst, the firm's Shanghai-based commercial director for Asia.

Last May, Celanese Corp.'s Florence, Ky.-based Advanced Engineered Materials unit, which includes Ticona, acquired DuPont Co.'s Zenite-brand liquid crystal polymer and Thermx-brand PCT specialty resin business, but no related manufacturing assets. That move has only increased Ticona's need for more production capacity for those materials.

Ticona had indicated in 2008 that it eventually would like to build capacity in China to produce its own Vectra-brand LCPs. Now, Jobst said, Ticona is aiming to have such a facility operating at Celanese's integrated chemical plant in Nanjing, China, by 2013. That major facility, the group's only production site in China, The Nanjing complex also produces Ticona's GUR-brand ultrahigh-molecular-weight polyethylene and its Celstran-brand long-fiber-reinforced thermoplastic resins.


Dow polyethylene resin for rotational molding

(Plastemart) -- Dow has introduced an experimental polyethylene resin for rotational molding that offers significant performance advantages over incumbent materials when used in the production of large storage tanks.

Laboratory and large scale production evaluations of the resin have demonstrated that, compared to reference materials, the new resin offers improved sintering (densification), hereby allowing shorter oven times, a homogeneous and fine molding microstructure.

For rotational molders needing to produce storage tanks the performance attributes of this Experimental Polyethylene Resin translate to reduced energy costs, reduced cycle times and finished products with higher impact strength due to a broader processing window.

This developmental resin has the potential to open up new marketing opportunities and reduce operational cost savings for rotational molders focused on large storage tanks, said Karin Katzer,
Dow's market manager.


INEOS's Cologne LDPE unexpectedly down in already-tight market

(ICIS) -- INEOS's 200,000 tonne/year low density PE (LDPE) plant at Cologne in Germany is offline unexpectedly for an anticipated two weeks, a company source said on Friday. It was not clear when the plant failed.

This latest outage, coming after strikes in France which affected LDPE output, was exacerbating the tight supply position of LDPE in Europe.

Producers were targeting higher prices, but margins were already strong for LDPE manufacturers and buyers resisted paying increases, in spite of the ┬28/tonne ($40/tonne) hike on the November ethylene monomer contract price.

Monthly pricing discussions were not expected to settle until later in November.

The delta between LDPE and linear low density PE (LLDPE) prices was widening from the ┬50/tonne that had been traditional for many months, to ┬150/tonne in some cases, according to several market sources.

The new delta was caused as much by a weakening of LLDPE prices, affected by imported volumes, as the strength of the LDPE market.