BASF and Merck boost InnovationLab involvement in Heidelberg

MOSCOW (MRC) -- By acquiring a majority stake in InnovationLab GmbH, Merck and BASF, the world's largest petrochemical producer, are increasing their involvement in order to continue the successful scientific work of the Heidelberg-based research and transfer platform for organic electronics in the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region, as per BASF's press release.

InnovationLab GmbH arose from the Forum Organic Electronics cooperation network, which until the end of last year was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the framework of the leading-edge cluster competition.

"By continuing with InnovationLab GmbH, we have reached a key goal of the leading-edge cluster competition, that being to build a bridge between business and science," says Karl Hahn, Senior Vice President at BASF.

Merck and BASF have increased their interest to 70% - together with the University of Heidelberg and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) they will make up the advisory board of the research platform. "By consolidating the joint research activities of academia and business under one roof, we have created a new, effective model for successful scientific transfer," says Martin Raditsch, CEO of InnovationLab.

InnovationLab GmbH stems from an initiative in the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region and was jointly founded by companies and universities in that area together with Merck. Research operations started in 2011 with a high-tech lab for printed and organic electronics costing more than EUR15 million, which was made possible through EUR40 million in funding from the BMBF (2008-2013). An additional EUR40 million was contributed by industrial partners of the cluster. The setup of the cluster structure was supported by the German federal state of Baden-Wurttemberg.

As MRC reported earlier, in March 2014, BASF established the research initiative "Network for Advanced Materials Open Research" (NAO) together with seven leading universities and research institutes in China, Japan and South Korea. The scientists aim to cooperate in developing new materials for a wide range of applications. The initial focus is on products for the automotive, construction, detergent and cleaners industries as well as the water and wind energy industries.

Besides, as part of BASF's major innovation investment in China, the company opened in November 2013 the first Innovation Campus Asia Pacific and its new Greater China headquarters at its site in Pudong, Shanghai. The investment amounts to EUR 55 million. With this expansion the company's site will be one of BASF's largest outside of Germany. The further expansion of the facility is also planned.

BASF is the leading chemical company. It produces a wide range of chemicals, for example solvents, amines, resins, glues, electronic-grade chemicals, industrial gases, basic petrochemicals and inorganic chemicals. The most important customers for this segment are the pharmaceutical, construction, textile and automotive industries. BASF had sales of about EUR74 billion in 2013 and over 112,000 employees as of the end of the year.

Saudi Aramco to invest over USD100 bln in downstream investments over next 25 years

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Aramco announced that its downstream investments would exceed USD100 billion over the next decade, as global demand for oil rises by a quarter in the next 25 years, as per Plastemart.

"Globally, these investments will exceed USD100 billion over the next decade alone and that is premised on our belief in the long term sustainability of oil demand," Khalid al-Falih, the company's chief executive said, "As a result of both global demographic growth and rising standards of living in the developing world we see global demand for oil growing by a quarter over the next 25 years.

Aramco's refining capacity would be between 8 million to 10 million barrels a day (bpd) in the coming years, a figure exceeding the goal cited by Aramco in 2012 of 8 million bpd. The increased demand will primarily com from high demand growth markets of the Far East and from the Middle East. Aramco is also looking to grow within the petrochemicals sector with two major projects. Aramco has a joint venture with Dow Chemical Co to build the USD20 billion Sadara petrochemical complex in Jubail that is due to come on stream in H2-2015 is also expanding its petrochemical complex called PetroRabigh that it jointly owns with Sumitomo Chemical. This will take total chemicals participate production capacity to over 15 mln tpa.

As MRC wrote before, Saudi Aramco Products Trading Co., the fuel marketing unit of Saudi Arabia’s state oil producer, started selling products of an affiliated petrochemicals maker. Aramco Trading will sell products including polypropylene and polyethylene made by Rabigh Refining & Petrochemicals Co.

Saudi Aramco, officially the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, is a Saudi Arabian national oil and natural gas company based in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Aramco's value has been estimated at up to USD10 trillion in the Financial Times, making it the world's most valuable company. Saudi Aramco has both the largest proven crude oil reserves, at more than 260 billion barrels, and largest daily oil production.

Iranian 1500 km West Ethylene Pipeline to begin operations by 2015

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Iran’s 1,500 km long West Ethylene Pipeline is expected to go operational by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (March 20, 2015), said Plastemart, citing Managing director of Iran's National Petrochemical Company (NPC).

The NPC is giving priority to completion of underway petrochemical projects, and the West Ethylene Pipeline, which would meet feedstock requirements of petrochemical plants located in the western part of the country, will begin operations by 2015. The West Ethylene Pipeline, construction of which began in 2002, is considered to be the longest ethylene transfer pipeline in the world, stretching from Assaluyeh in southern Iran, to West Azarbaijan province in north-western Iran.

The pipeline is structured to transfer 150,000 tons of ethylene to Tbriz Petrochemical Plant. It would also cater to feedstock requirements of Lorestan, Mahabad and Kurdestan petrochemical plants.

Mr. Moqqadm also informed that the second phase of the Kavian Petrochemical Plant, which forms part of the world’s biggest petrochemical complex in Asalouyeh, is also expected to go operational by the end of the current calendar year. Once the second phase of the Kavian Petrochemical Plant begins operations, the plant would be able to supply feedstock to other petrochemical plants located on route of the West Ethylene Pipeline.

Currently, Kavian Petrochemicals fetches ethane from phases 4, 5, 9 and 10 of South Pars gas field, as phases 15-8 of South Pars are still under construction. On completion of the second phase, Kavian would be able to inject more ethylene to West Ethylene Pipeline. Kavian Petrochemical Plant houses capacity to process 2.58 million tons of feedstock to produce 2 mln tpa of ethylene. Around 14 petrochemical plants, which are either operational or being constructed with an investment of USD 8.5 billion, lie on the route of the pipeline, which would pass through 11 provinces in the country such as Fars, Khuzestan, Lorestan, Kohguiluyeh Boyer Ahmad, Chahar Mahal va Bakhtiari, Kurdstan, Kermanshah, Ilam, Hamedan, East Azarbaijan and West Azarbaijan.

Iran has significantly expanded the range and volume of its petrochemical products over the past few years, and the National Iranian Petrochemical Company has become the second largest producer and exporter of petrochemicals in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia.

Polymir shut down LDPE production for maintenance

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Polymir (Concern Naftan), the only Belarusian producer of low density polyethylene (LDPE) has shut down some of its production lines for a scheduled maintenance, reported MRC analysts.

Polymir shut down its first LDPE reactor for a two-week turnaround (108 and 102 grade PE) on Saturday, 17 May 2014. The plant's production capacity is 65,000 tonnes per year.

Polymir was founded in 1968 in Novopolotsk. The following technologies of the largest foreign companies from Great Britain, Japan, Germany, Italy (Courtaulds, Asahi Chemical Co. Ltd, Kanematsu Gosho, SNIA BPD, etc.) were used while establishing production and technical facilities. The plant's annual production capacity of low density polyethylene (LDPE) is 130,000 tonnes. According to MRC ScanPlast, Polymir produced 42,900 tonnes of LDPE over the first four months of 2014.

LyondellBasell reports 1Q 2014 results

MOSCOW (MRC) -- LyondellBasell Industries has announced earnings from continuing operations for the first quarter 2014 of USD943 million or USD1.72 diluted earnings per share. First quarter 2014 EBITDA was USD1,668 million, as per the company's report.

The first quarter 2014 income from continuing operations benefitted from USD52 million related to an environmental indemnity settlement. There was no tax impact associated with this credit. The effect on diluted earnings per share was USD0.09.

"The first quarter results were good despite headwinds from maintenance, weather-related raw material cost volatility, and shipping delays. Exclusive of these pressures, the underlying business fundamentals remained strong and relatively unchanged," said Jim Gallogly, LyondellBasell Chief Executive Officer.

"In the U.S., our key raw materials continue to be in abundant supply with ethane tracking natural gas prices. Although natural gas prices increased in the face of record winter temperatures, current pricing and the outlook have moderated reflecting the strength of U.S. shale developments," Gallogly said.

"Our growth program is generating immediate results as our methanol plant restart contributed to first quarter earnings and cash flow. During late March, we completed a 200 million pound per year polyethylene expansion at Matagorda and began the final steps of our La Porte ethylene expansion. Additionally in mid-April, we received the final environmental permits for our Corpus Christi ethylene expansion," Gallogly said.

As MRC informed before, in May 2014, LyondellBasell received a key permit required in the company's multi-plant ethylene expansion program which, when fully operational, is expected to increase annual ethylene capacity by an estimated USD3.12 billion, for a total estimated capacity of USD19.9 billion in North America.

"The industry trends that developed over the past few years are expected to continue in the near term. Likewise, conditions in our businesses are generally expected to be consistent with recent quarters and seasonal trends," Gallogly said. "During the second quarter, we expect significant planned downtime at our La Porte facility while we perform normal turnaround maintenance and additional steps to complete an 800 million pounds per year ethylene expansion. Inventory build-up in preparation for this downtime should enable us to meet customer demands while helping mitigate the financial impact on the second quarter. As we enter the summer driving season, our refining benchmark crack spread is expected to remain relatively unchanged from the first quarter," Gallogly said.

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.