PET imports in Russia grew by 38% in Q1 2014

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Imports of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into Russia surged in the first quarter of 2014 by 38% year on year and totalled 55,000 tonnes, according to MRC ScanPlast.

Such a major increase in imports over the stated period was caused by anomalously large shipments in January. The overall PET imports to Russia totalled in January 25,300 tonnes (9,100 tonnes - in January 2013). At the same time, February and March imports were 15,000 tonnes and 14,800 tonnes, respectively, which is a normal figure for the Russian PET market at the beginning of the year.

However, having significantly increased inventories, local companies reduced their buying activity in the Russian domestic market, which also resulted in weak domestic demand in the first quarter.

The Chinese producer - Shanghai Hengyi Polyester was a leader in PET shipments to Russia over the reporting period(its imports totalled 13,000 tonnes).

Chinese producers continued to replace other foreign PET suppliers. The share of Chinese PET chips imports rose in the first quarter of 2014 to 70% from 57% over the same quarter of 2013.

BASF boosts photoinitiator production in Italy

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Through investments in the local facilities BASF enhances the competitiveness of the photoinitiator production in Mortara, Italy, and strengthens the site in the long term, as per the company's statement.

In 2014, BASF invests EUR4 to 6 million in its facilities in order to ensure the highest standards of safety and environmental protection and to improve the efficiency of the production lines. In addition, BASF extends its production of photoinitiators in Mortara. The site is one of the largest in the world for the production of photoinitiators.

The development, production and marketing of photoinitiators are a core business of BASF. BASF has built up a leading position in the UV coatings and inks market, with a strong portfolio comprising photoinitiators, light stabilizers, formulation additives and UV resins supported by intensive technical service. Added in very small quantities, photoinitiators speed up the drying process for UV curable coatings, inks and adhesives by triggering chemical reactions upon exposure to UV light.

As MRC reported earlier, in March 2014, BASF signed an agreement to divest PolyAd Services, part of its Plastic Additives business unit, to Edgewater Capital Partners, L.P., a private equity firm based in Cleveland, Ohio. The closing of the transaction is expected to take place in the second quarter of 2014. The parties have agreed not to disclose the financial details of the transaction.

BASF is the world’s leading chemical company. Its portfolio ranges from chemicals, plastics, performance products and crop protection products to oil and gas. BASF is also a leading manufacturer, supplier and innovation partner of additives for the plastics industry such as ultraviolet (UV) light stabilizers, antioxidants and process stabilizers, and other additives.

LyondellBasell ends talks on Berre refinery sale

MOSCOW (MRC) - Refiner LyondellBasell said it had pulled out of talks to sell its Berre refinery in southeastern France to Monaco-based Sotragem, adding that the bid offered no guarantee that the mothballed site would restart, said Reuters.

Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg announced last month that privately owned Sotragem had made an offer to buy the refinery near Marseille, a deal that would have run counter to the trend that European refineries are closing due to overcapacity.

U.S.-listed LyondellBasell said in a statement on Wednesday that Sotragem's bid did not offer acceptable commercial terms and showed no guarantee of a restart of the refinery. "LyondellBasell therefore decided to put an end to negotiations with Sotragem SAM," it said.

In January 2012, LyondellBasell had mothballed the 105,000 barrel-a-day refinery after having failed to find a buyer since putting it up for sale in May 2011.

Montebourg also sought in vain to save another refinery, the Petit-Couronne plant in northern France, which was closed last year. Montebourg said two companies, Bollore and Brownfields, had made offers to re-industrialise the Petit-Couronne plant, with plans to convert it into a strategic oil storage site. A spokeswoman at Montebourg's office did not immediately return a request for comment.

LyondellBasell Industries NV is a manufacturing company. The Company produces chemicals, fuels, and polymers used for packaging, clean fuels, durable textiles, medical applications, construction materials, and automotive parts. LyondellBasell Industries operates globally and is headquartered in the Netherlands. LyondellBasell is also a leading licensor of polypropylene and polyethylene technologies. The more than 250 polyolefin process licenses granted by LyondellBasell are twice that of any other polyolefin technology licensor.

SIBUR increases PET production capacity in Blagoveshchensk

MOSCOW (MRC) -- POLIEF, SIBUR's subsidiary, has completed its polyethylene terephthalate (PET) production expansion project, increasing its capacity from 140 ktpa to 210 ktpa, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

As part of the production expansion project, POLIEF has modernised its existing PET production lines and constructed a new line. The expansion is one of Bashkortostan’s priority projects and will enable POLIEF to process terephthalic acid of its own production into in-demand polymers and substitute imports in some Russian PET market segments.

In 2013, PET consumption in Russia amounted to 580 kt, compared with only 405 kt of domestic production, which was supplemented by imports. Food-grade PET consumption per capita in Russia is 4.1 kg compared with 6.6 kg in Western Europe and 9.5 kg in the US. The expansion of POLIEF's production capacity will reduce reliance on imported PET. On completion of the project, SIBUR’s total PET production capacity increased by one third to reach 285 ktpa.

The decision to expand the PET production capacity at POLIEF was made in December 2010. Construction and installation work began in December 2012 and lasted one year. The modernisation equipment was delivered from 35 countries: Russia, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the US, Japan, etc. More than 70 contractors worked on the project; 70% were Bashkortostan-based companies and the remaining 30% came from other Russian regions.

Guarantee tests on the upgraded and new PET lines were conducted with the technology licensors, BIO CHEMTEX (Italy) and UOP (Belgium). Investment in the project totalled USD532 billion.

POLIEF's PET fully complies with Russian and international quality standards for food contact materials. The Pira International Certificate of Conformity authorises POLIEF to sell its products in the European market.

Dmitry Konov said: "Expanding PET production is a major element of the Company's strategy to provide deep processing services for converting hydrocarbon production by-products into valuable petrochemicals. POLIEF's new capacities will enable us to meet the increasing market demand for high-quality safe products."

POLIEF is a joint venture, in which SIBUR is the major shareholder, while the government of the republic of Bashkortostan holds a 17.5% stake. Losses of Sibur's Polief in 2013 stood at Rb1.3 bn, up 18% from Rb 1.1 bn of losses in 2012.

Reliance Q1 gross refining margin down by 7.9% year on year

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Indian refining and petrochemical giant Reliance Industries Ltd. has reported a 7.9% year-on-year decline in its gross refining margin for the January-March quarter, to USD9.30/barrel, according to Apic-online.

However, the company showed an increase of 22.3% over the previous quarter, as demand bounced back and margins improved towards the end of the financial year, a senior company official said at a press conference in Mumbai.

Crude processing at its 1.24 million b/d Jamnagar complex on India's west coast for what is the fourth quarter of the financial year was 16.3 million mt, compared with 16.1 million mt in the corresponding period a year earlier, RIL said in a statement.

For the financial year ended March 2013, RIL reported a gross refining margin of USD8.10/b, down 12% over the previous year's USD9.20/b.

Reliance processed 68 million mt of crude for the financial year 2013-14, marginally lower than 68.5 million mt in the previous year.

RIL said the average utilization rate at its refineries was 110% for the full financial year, which runs from April through March. The refineries processed 68 million mt for the financial year 2013-14, marginally lower than 68.5 million mt in the previous year.

Revenues from the refining segment increased 8.4% on-year to USD60.4 billion in fiscal year 2013-14. Exports of refined products during the year rose 4.6% to USD41.1 billion, and in volume terms was 6.3% higher at 43.8 million mt.

RIL is India's largest private refiner. The Jamnagar complex houses two refineries, a new 580,000 b/d export-oriented refinery and an older 660,000 b/d plant.

As MRC wrote previously, in October 2012, Reliance Industries unveiled its plans to expand capacity at its refineries in the western state of Gujarat. Earlier, the company presented an USD18 billion investment plan for India over the next five years.

Reliance Industries is one of the world's largest producers of polymers. The company's polymer production in 2010-11 (polypropylene, polyethylene and polyvinyl chloride) made 4,094 kilo tonnes.