PET imports to Russia surged by 42% from January to May 2014

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Imports of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into the Russian domestic market rose from January to May 2014 by 42% year on year, according to MRC ScanPlast.

PET imports to Russia reached 107,400 tonnes over the first five months of 2014. China remained the main PET chips supplier to the Russian domestic market. Chinese grades accounted for 77.5% of the total imports into Russia.

The most popular market grades remained HY-W01 of Shanghai Hengyi Polyester (imports from January to February totalled 25,500 tonnes). The second place occupied WK801 grade of Zhejiang Wankai (imports from January to February were 21,600 tonnes) and the third place - Jade CZ-302 grade of Jiangsu Sanfangxiang (imports from January to February totalled 21,200 tonnes).
This year's stronger demand for imported PET has led to a drop in consumer activity in the Russian domestic market. In addition, Polief increased its production capacity this year (from 120,000 tonnes per year - up to 210,000 tonnes per year), leading to stiffer competition in the domestic market. June buying activity fell sharply in the spot market. Carryover stocks of imported material resulted in weaker demand.


Clariant to establish catalyst R&D center in China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Clariant, a world leader in specialty chemicals, announced today that its Business Unit Catalysts will establish a state-of-the-art research center in Shanghai, China, as per the company's press release.

The R&D center is expected to begin operation by 2015 with the goal of developing catalytic solutions tailored to Chinese market requirements and enhancing technical service support to Chinese customers.

The new catalyst R&D center in Shanghai will further strengthen Clariant's technology portfolio and service offerings for coal-to-chemicals applications and provide a complete range of solutions for the market.

Clariant has already established an excellent technology position on catalysts for coal-to-chemicals applications through decades of R&D efforts and collaboration with its process technology partners. For example, the world’s first two coal-to-propylene complexes started up with Clariant’s Methanol to Propylene (MTPROP) and methanol synthesis catalysts. Clariant has been serving the Chinese market through locally produced coal-to-methanol catalysts since 2011. Clariant is also one of the leading suppliers of catalysts for coal-to-ammonia conversion.

The China R&D center will also develop new catalysts for selected base metal hydrogenation applications for the fast growing specialty chemicals industry in China. Besides R&D and technical service, the center will provide support to Clariant’s catalysts production sites in China.

Stefan Heuser, Senior Vice President & General Manager BU Catalysts, stated: "The decision to create a major catalysts R&D center in Shanghai reflects our dedication to the market. By delivering enhanced products and services that answer our customers’ needs, we aim to strengthen our partnerships and presence in the region."

As MRC reported earlier, in April 2014, Clariant Chemicals (India ) Ltd., an affiliate of Clariant AG announced the successful closure of the acquisition of Plastichemix Industries - a Gujarat based masterbatches business in India, with production facilities at Rania, Kalol and Nandesari.

Clariant AG is a Swiss chemical company and a world leader in the production of specialty chemicals for the textile, printing, mining and metallurgical industries. It is engaged in processing crude oil products in pigments, plastics and paints.


ZRCC to restart MEG plant in China after maintenance

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Zhenhai Refining & Chemical Corp (ZRCC) is in plans to restart a monoethylene glycol (MEG) plant, reported Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in China informed that the plant is planned to be restarted on June 28, 2014. It was shut on May 17, 2014 for maintenance turnaround.

Located at Zhenhai, China, the plant has a production capacity of 650,000 mt/year.

As MRC informed previously, Sinopec Hubei Chemical Fertilizerstarted a new monoethylene glycol (MEG) plant in China on February 8, 2014. Initially the plant was scheduled to start commercial production in late 2013. Located at Zhejiang in Hubei province of China, the plant has a production capacity of 200,000 mt/year.

Another Chinese petrochemical producer Xinjiang Tianye Group is in plans to start a new MEG plant in August 2014. To be located in Xinjiang province, China, the plant will have a production capacity of 250,000 mt/year.

US chemical activity barometer continues uptrend

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), a leading economic indicator created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), continued its upward growth in June, with a 0.5% gain from May, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Measured on a three-month moving average (3MMA), the CAB’s 0.5% gain beat the average first quarter monthly gains of 0.3%, according to new figures released Tuesday by the ACC.

Though the pace of growth has slowed significantly, gains in June have brought the CAB up a solid 4.3% over this time last year.

"Overall, we are seeing signs of continued growth in the USeconomy, and trends in construction-related chemistry show a market which has not yet reached its full potential," said Dr. Kevin Swift, chief economist at the ACC. "However, unrest in Iraq is already affecting chemical equity prices, and the potential for an energy price shock is worrying," he added.

The Chemical Activity Barometer has four primary components, each consisting of a variety of indicators: 1) production; 2) equity prices; 3) product prices; and 4) inventories and other indicators. During June, the components were mixed, with production flat, equity prices down, and product prices and inventories up.

Though the production indicator was flat in June, plastic resins used in consumer and institutional applications were stronger, volumes of performance chemistry used in industry were better, and US exports are growing. Continued strength in electronic chemicals is encouraging, as the semiconductor industry’s early place in the supply chain makes it a bellwether of the industrial cycle.

Gains in oilfield chemicals suggest that the boom in unconventional oil and gas will continue to progress, contributing to the overall growth of the US economy. Additionally, of the 28 specialty chemical sectors monitored, most are expanding, with particular strength shown in nearly half.

The Chemical Activity Barometer is a leading economic indicator derived from a composite index of chemical industry activity. The chemical industry has been found to consistently lead the US economy’s business cycle given its early position in the supply chain, and this barometer can be used to determine turning points and likely trends in the wider economy.

Favorable oil-to-gas price ratios driven by the production of natural gas from shale continue to drive a renewed US competitiveness that is boosting exports and driving greater domestic investment, economic growth and job creation within the business of chemistry.

Wacker to raise prices for food-grade polyvinyl acetate

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Wacker, the Munich-based chemical company, will adjust the prices for food-grade polyvinyl acetate (PVAc) globally due to sharply rising raw material costs, as per the company's statement.

The price will increase by up to 30%, or as customer contracts allow.

This measure has been necessitated by the ongoing high costs for vinyl acetate monomer (VAM), a crucial raw material for the manufacturing of Wacker’s PVAc solid resins. The increase will be effective immediately and persist until further notice.

"Within the last six months, prices for vinyl acetate monomer have sharply increased and temporarily almost doubled in Europe. Until the situation on the raw material market eases, we will have to add a surcharge to our food-grade PVAc solid resins prices to partially compensate our increased costs. Despite our continued efforts to optimize cost structures and productivity, the current market situation makes a price adjustment inevitable", explains Christian Hauk, Business Director for Gum at WACKER BIOSOLUTIONS.

As MRC wrote previously, Wacker Polymers, a division of Wacker Chemie AG, increased its prices for VINNAPAS vinyl acetate-ethylene (EVA) and VINNOL ethylene-vinyl chloride-based (EVCL) copolymer dispersions in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), effective April 1, 2014, Wacker implemented a price increase of up to EUR70 per ton. This measure has been necessitated by the continued increase in raw-material cost.

Wacker Chemie AG is a worldwide operating company in the chemical business, founded 1914. The company is controlled by the Wacker-family holding more than 50 percent of the shares. The corporation is operating more than 25 production sites in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. The product range includes silicone rubbers, polymer products like ethylene vinyl acetate redispersible polymer powder, chemical materials, polysilicon and wafers for semiconductor industry.