European chemical industry could be mostly wiped out in decade - INEOS chief

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Most of European chemical industry will face closure within the next 10 years, if regulators do not move to increase the region’s competitiveness, said INEOS' Chairman Jim Ratcliffe in his open letter to President of European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso.

"The extinction of the European textile industry happened in the 1980’s. Chemicals could go the same way," Jim Ratcliffe said.

Worldwide, the chemicals sector has revenues of USD4.3 trillion. That’s bigger than the GDP of Germany and considerably bigger than the automotive sector at USD2.6 trillion.

In Europe, chemicals and automotives share top billing with USD1 trillion each.

"But Europe seems agnostic about the fate of European Chemicals. The European textile industry was wiped out because it could not compete with Asian labour rates," he added.

Chemicals depend upon competitive energy and feedstock costs. Whilst intensely technical as an industry, and one of the reasons historically that Europe has been so successful, technology alone will not save it, he believes.

Energy, in the form of gas, in Europe is three times higher than the USA today, whilst electricity is 50% higher. There are no cheap feedstocks in Europe. USA and Middle East feedstocks costs are in another league.

Shale gas in the United States has transformed both its competitiveness and its confidence. There are USD71 billion worth of announced petrochemical expansions on the back of shale gas flowing into chemicals. This is predicted to grow to over USD100 billion.

"In contrast Europe announces closure after closure," - said Jim Ratcliffe. "In the Middle East, they continue to build in Abu Dhabi, in Qatar, in Saudi and now Iran can be added with another 6 million tonnes of ethylene capacity re-joining planet earth. In the UK, there have been 22 chemical plant closures since 2009 and no new builds."

And then there is China, which will soon be self-sufficient. China is set to become the world’s largest economy by 2020.

INEOS, one of the world’s largest chemical companies, profits in Europe have halved in the last 3 years. Profits in the USA have tripled. BASF, the world’s largest chemical company, for the first time ever have announced a strategic cutback in European investment citing stagnant markets, expensive energy and expensive labour.

As MRC wrote before, further to the earlier decision of the European Commission to continue its evaluation of the proposed 50/50 Joint Venture between Solvay and INEOS in a Phase II investigation, the parties have recently jointly agreed to put forward a revised remedy package to address any competition concerns that have been raised by the European Commission. The proposed remedy package, which was submitted to the European Commission yesterday, comprises the divestment of the PVC plants at Schkopau (Germany), Beek (The Netherlands) and Mazingarbe (France) along with the chlor-alkali, EDC and VCM assets at Tessenderlo (Belgium). These facilities are all currently operated by INEOS and are strategically important within the European chemicals sector. They have the ability to compete as successful stand-alone businesses under third party ownership.

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.

PolyOne ColorMatrix technology enables energy savings for Chinese PET packaging converters

MOSCOW (MRC) -- ColorMatrix, a subsidiary of PolyOne Corporation and a global leader in liquid color and additives for plastics, has announced that its patented Joule RHB liquid infra-red absorption technology is now approved for use in PET beverage packaging in China, as per the company's press release.

Adding this technology to bottle preforms enables improved recyclability and reduces energy consumption by up to 30% compared with reheat-free PET resin for substantial production cost savings.

Steven Chai, general manager, ColorMatrix Asia, said, "Joule RHB formulations have successfully delivered value through production efficiency and enhanced post-consumer recyclability for customers around the world. We can now work with PET manufacturers in China to help them improve sustainability, combat rising energy costs, and achieve greater market success."

Joule RHB offers energy gains and raw material savings throughout multiple processing steps by improving infra-red energy absorption. Environmental and raw material gains can be achieved throughout the packaging lifecycle, including the recycling stream. Its inorganic, titanium nitride (TiN) base means the additive can naturally withstand higher temperatures. Inherent blue toning properties help reduce the appearance of yellowing to maintain clarity, while the additive also retains its reheat capability even after long-term recycling.

"We currently manufacture Joule formulations at our facility in Suzhou for customers in other countries throughout Asia Pacific, enabling us to go to market in China immediately with local technical support and short lead times," added Chai.

As MRC reported earlier, PolyOne Corporation has recently announced the launch of NEU View Radiopaque Translucent Solutions, an innovative polymer formulation that provides catheter manufacturers and healthcare professionals enhanced material functionality and performance. Catheters made using the patent-pending NEU View technology provide optical visibility (translucent) when outside the body and superior visibility under X-ray (radiopaque) when inside the body.

PolyOne Corporation, with 2013 revenues of USD3.8 billion, is a premier provider of specialized polymer materials, services and solutions with operations in specialty polymer formulations, color and additive systems, polymer distribution and specialty vinyl resins.

Teknor Apex acquires Viking Polymers in a move to substantially expand its rigid PVC compounding business

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Teknor Apex Company has completed the acquisition of Viking Polymers, LLC, a custom compounder with a diversified portfolio of specialty formulations and a particularly extensive involvement in rigid PVC and related materials for building and construction, reported the company on its site.

The amount of the deal was undisclosed.

Based in Jamestown, NC, USA, Viking Polymers has a nominal annual compounding capacity of 50 million lbs. (23,000 metric tons). The acquired business will be part of the Teknor Apex Vinyl Division, continue to operate in Jamestown, NC, and retain all employees, according to Louis R. Cappucci, Teknor Apex vice president and head of the Vinyl Division.

"While most of the business of the Vinyl Division of Teknor Apex has historically centered on flexible compounds, rigid PVC plays an increasingly important role in our continued growth," said Mr. Cappucci. "The acquisition of Viking Polymers adds substantially to our rigid PVC capabilities and represents a natural extension of our product portfolio into weatherable capstocks, CPVC compounds, and other specialties for the fast-growing building and construction market."

The chief applications for CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) include hot and cold potable water systems and industrial piping. PVC, ASA, acrylic and alloys are custom formulated for applications ranging from house siding, windows, decks, railings, rainwater systems, and fences.

As MRC informed before, in December 2013, Teknor Apex Asia Pacific Pte Ltd., a subsidiary of Teknor Apex Company, completed a global restructuring of TPE brands and since then has combined all compounds for consumer product applications under the well-known Monprene brand. It now embraces a much broader portfolio of TPE technologies that provide a vast array of consumer values.

Teknor Apex is one of the world's leading custom compounders headquartered in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, USA. The company produces PA compounds in the UK, the USA, and Singapore. Teknor Apex is one of the world's leaders of specialty PVC compounds which are used in a wide range of applications from wire and cable to automotive, medical, consumer and industrial products. The company also produces thermoplastic elastomers, nylon, bioplastics, chemicals, specialty compounds.

Founded in 1994, Viking Polymers is a custom compounder specializing in thermoplastic compounds. PVC products offered by Viking Polymers include pelletized and dryblend rigid vinyl, flexible vinyl, and PVC-based blends and alloys.

Bayer opens new coatings, adhesives and specialities lab in Dubai

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Bayer MaterialScience has inaugurated its new coatings, adhesives and specialities laboratory at the DuBiotech premises, a major life science cluster, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, as per GV.

This application and development lab will offer local technical support to the industry across the Middle East and Africa. Focussing on key application areas like construction, automotive, industrial, plastic, wood and furniture coatings it will also lead to the development of polyurethane coatings for diverse applications including sealants for construction joints as well as airport tarmacs and solvent-free coatings for pipe applications, says Bayer. It is also planned that the laboratory will provide tailor-made solutions to the manufacturers of adhesives and sealants for the transportation, construction, furniture, packaging and shoe industries.

According to the company, the lab will work in close cooperation with Bayer’s global competence network having its established laboratories and technical centres in India, China, Japan, Russia, Brazil, USA, Spain, and Germany. DuBiotech, offering international standard services and facilities, hosts the state-of-the-art laboratory that is equipped with advanced testing and application equipment, meeting global standards and guidelines.

As MRC wrote previously, Bayer MaterialScience has recently acquired DuPont's aniline production facility in Baytown, Texas. Aniline is a primary feedstock used to manufacture methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI), a versatile chemical used to produce rigid polyurethane foams for insulation in the construction industry, as well as coatings, adhesives, sealants, elastomers and binders.

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa., BMS is part of the global Bayer MaterialScience business with approximately 14,800 employees at 30 production sites around the world.

Borouge moves to start-up activities on 3rd phase expansion in Ruwais

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Abu Dhabi Polymers Co. (Borouge), a joint venture of Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. and Borealis, is undergoing start-up activities on its USD 4.5-billion third phase expansion in Ruwais, Abu Dhabi, as per GV.

Borealis, in announcing its financial results for 2013, said the cracker is scheduled to begin production "at the end of the first quarter of 2014." The 1.5-million t/y cracker will complement Borouge’s existing 600,000-t/y and a 1.5-million-t/y crackers at the Ruwais site.

The third phase expansion project, which had initially been scheduled to come on stream during 2013, will also increase the venture’s polyolefins capacity to 4.5-million t/y from 2-million t/y. The additional capacity includes two Borstar enhanced polyethylene (PE) plants having a combined capacity of 1.08-million t/y, a 350,000-t/y low-density PE plant and two Borstar enhanced polypropylene plants with a total of 960,000 t/y of capacity.

As MRC informed previously, in January 2014, Honeywell was awarded four contracts worth a combined USD40 million over an 18-month duration for the Abu Dhabi Polymer Company’s Borouge 3 petrochemicals complex in Ruwais, Abu Dhabi. Honeywell will be the main automation contractor (MAC) for this project, providing Linde and other engineering, procurement and construction (EPCs) contractors involved in the project with integrated control and safety systems.

Honeywell’s technologies have previously been implemented in the Borouge 1 project in 1999 and the Borouge 2 project in 2010, and will continue to help Borouge meet its goal of expanding capacity of the plant, making it the largest integrated polyolefins site in the world.