Russian companies actively contracting PE in Uzbekistan

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Russian companies have been actively purchasing polyethylene (PE) in Uzbekistan for the last two weeks. Stronger demand was caused by a long outage at Stavrolen, Russia's second largest PE producer, according to ICIS-MRC Price report.

Russian companies started purchasing actively high density polyethylene (HDPE) in Uzbekistan since last Friday, when preliminary dates of the shutdown at Stavrolen became known and the Russian market faced a major rise in HDPE prices. The purchasing also continued this week.

Expectedly, Russian companies have been actively buying blow moulding and injection moulding HDPE. Deals in the Uzbek Republican Commodity Exchange were done in the range of USD1,400-1,405/tonne FCA Kengsoy. There were also reports about purchasing of butene linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), however, purchasing quantities were significantly lower. Deals for LLDPE were done in the range of USD1,450-1,505/tonne FCA Kengsoy.

Contracts were also concluded by Kazakh companies, but their purchasing quantities were not comparable with the Russian ones. It should be noted that Kazanorgsintez, the key HDPE supplier to Kazakhstan, announced major cuts in export programs last week. As a consequence, Kazakh companies began to seek alternatives to Russian PE.

PE of Shurtan Gas Chemical Complex (Uzbekistan) is well known in the Russian market. Its prices were comparable to those in Asia and the Middle East (excluding delivery). However, the Uzbek material had a significant advantage over other materials because of the absence of import duty (9.1% for HDPE).

SPVC imports to Russia decreased by 64% in February 2014

MOSCOW (MRC) - Imports of suspension polyvinyl chloride (SPVC) to Russia in February 2014 dropped to 13,900 tonnes, down 64% from February 2013 on the back of the rouble devaluation and weaker seasonal demand, according to MRC DataScope report.

A significant drop in demand from Russian converters in January and February, and depreciation of the Russian rouble against the dollar (more than 11% since the beginning of the year) were the main reasons for such a significant fall in imports.

The structure of SPVC imports to Russia in February looked as follows.

Russia's imports of US SPVC in February 2014 was 6,400 tonnes, compared with 16,300 tonnes in February 2013 (in January 2014 it was 6,100 tonnes). US SPVC imports are expected to decrease further in the next few months because of higher export prices in February and March and high exchange rate of the dollar.

Imports of Chinese acetylene PVC to Russia in February 2014 fell to 3,100 tonnes, compared with 12,300 tonnes in February 2013 (1,700 tonnes in January 2014). Imports of Chinese acetylene SPVC to Russia are expected to rise in March and April.

Russian producers do not produce sufficient volumes of SPVC to meet domestic demand, that is why Chinese resin in many cases is the best alternative variant because of the relatively quick delivery and low price. Besides, March export PVC prices have been slightly cut in China.

As reported before, Russia's SPVC imports fell to a record low for the last four years in January 2014 to about 11,600 tonnes, compared with 25,800 tonnes January 2013.


Evonik makes automotive clear coats even more scratch-resistant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Evonik Industries, a leading specialty chemicals manufacturer, is paving the way for a new technology whose applications include automotive finishes that are more scratch-resistant than ever before, reported the company in its press release.

The specialty chemicals company has developed an industrial-scale method for producing silane-modified binders for automotive finishes. The advantage of these silane-modified binders: silane groups increase crosslinking density, making it possible to create automotive finishes that are flexible yet harder, leading to improved scratch resistance.

The basic concept behind the new technology was already known: modifying classic binders with silanes noticeably improves the binder properties. This also applies to the polyurethane binders typically used for automotive finishes. Up to now, however, production of silane-modified polyurethane binders has been so complex and expensive that these products have only been made on a small scale for applications such as high-performance adhesives. For more general uses and for large-scale applications such as automotive finishes, however, there simply has not been enough available. The new technology from Evonik stands to change all of that.

Gerd Brand, head of the Crosslinkers Business Line within the Coatings & Additives Business Unit at Evonik, says: "The key factors in our success have been Evonik’s comprehensive expertise in silane and isocyanate chemistry, our understanding of the market, and our intense collaboration with prominent players in the automotive and coatings industries."

As MRC wrote before, with a level of purity approaching 99%, SEPURAN green high performance polymers from Evonik Industries make biogas processing much more efficient. For this achievement, the company has received the 2013 German Innovation Prize for climate and the environment in the "Environmentally friendly technologies" category.

Evonik, the creative industrial group from Germany, is one of the world leaders in specialty chemicals. Its activities focus on the key megatrends health, nutrition, resource efficiency and globalization. Evonik benefits specifically from its innovative prowess and integrated technology platforms. Evonik is active in over 100 countries around the world. In fiscal 2013 more than 33,500 employees generated sales of around EUR12.9 billion and an operating profit (adjusted EBITDA) of about EUR2.0 billion.

Hanwha mulls acquisition of Dow Chemical chloro-alkali business

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Hanwha Chemical, one of South Korea's leading polyethylene and polyvinyl chloride producers, has picked Credit Suisse to advise on possible purchases from Dow Chemical's chloro-alkali business but its interest is still in the early stages, reported Reuters with reference to a Hanwha spokesman's statements.

The spokesman for Hanwha said no details had been decided.

As MRC informed previously, Dow Chemical, the largest US chemical maker by sales, said in December 2013 it would separate its chlorine-related assets including its epoxy business as the company focuses on higher-margin activities. The chlorine assets account for as much as USD5 billion of annual revenue and include plants at 11 sites employing almost 2,000 people.

Dow also said it had hired financial advisers to look at options for the assets including sales, joint ventures and spinoffs. It expects to complete transactions for the assets in the next year or two.

The Dow Chemical Company is an American multinational chemical corporation. As of 2007, it is the second-largest chemical manufacturer in the world by revenue (after BASF) and as of February 2009, the third-largest chemical company in the world by market capitalization (after BASF and DuPont). Dow is a large producer of plastics, including polystyrene, polyurethane, polyethylene, polypropylene, and synthetic rubber.

German chemical firms see more recovery in 2014

MOSCOW (MRC) -- German chemical companies are expecting further recovery in 2014 after production growth accelerated in the fourth quarter of last year, said Hydrocarbonprocessing, citing Utz Tillmann, head of the VCI German chemical lobby group.

Chemical production rose 2.6% in January year-on-year, after a 3.7% gain in the fourth quarter, according to Tillmann.

VCI, which represents 1,650 German chemical companies including BASF and Lanxess, reiterated a full-year forecast for chemical sales to gain 1.5%, as the industry sells more for a lower average price. The increase in production at the end of last year and the beginning of this year looks like a real recovery in demand and not a sign that customers are just refilling inventories, Tillmann said.

As MRC informed before, sales of BASF Group in 2013 rose by just under 3% to reach EUR74.0 billion. EBIT before special items in 2013 rose by EUR543 million to EUR7.2 billion. Net income amounted to EUR4.8 billion, slightly above the previous year’s level.

"At the moment, the prospects for 2014 are good for the industry," Tillmann said at a press conference in Frankfurt, where the organization is based. "The upward trend from the end of the year is continuing. All segments of the chemical industry are noticing a revival. We expect increasing demand for chemicals at home and abroad, especially from European industrial customers."

Chemical production will probably increase 2% with selling prices dropping 0.5%, leading to the gain of 1.5% in sales to 191.5 billion euros (USD265.6 billion), VCI reiterated.

Fourth-quarter sales in Germany’s chemical industry rose 3% compared with a year earlier, while selling prices dropped 2.6%, VCI said. The industry employed 436,500 people at the end of the quarter, 0.5% more than a year earlier.