Shutdown due to technical snag at Haldia Petrochemicals naphtha cracker

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The manufacturing plant of Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd was shut down after the naphtha cracker unit developed a technical snag, as per Plastemart.

"The charge gas compressor of the naphtha cracker plant developed a snag and so the entire complex was shut down to attend to the problem," HPL managing director U K Bose told PTI. The company is now assessing the situation and working out on how much time will be required to repair the snag. He said the Haldia plant was running at 50 per cent capacity for long due to working capital crunch. "Funds are coming now but then the problem of working capital crisis is continuing," he said. Bose said the shutdown was causing severe losses to the company.

As MRC wrote before, IndianOil Corporation (IOC) is likely to call off its planned acquisition of the West Bengal government’s 40% in Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd (HPL) if The Chatterjee Group (TCG) chief Purnendu Chatterjee is appointed HPL chairman.

Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd is a modern naphtha based petrochemical complex at Haldia, West Bengal, India. Haldia has played the role of a catalyst in emergence of more than 500 downstream processing industries in West Bengal with a capacity to process more than 3,50,000 TPA of polymers, among which are polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).


LyondellBasell declares force majeure on polypropylene from Carrington, UK

MOSCOW (MRC) -- LyondellBasell has declared force majeure on polypropylene supplies out of its plant in Carrington, northeast England, on Monday, as per Plastemart.

The force majeure was on the back of an unforeseen shutdown of the PP plant due to a blockage of the polymerization reactor and associated technical problems.

The letter said LyondellBasell expected to restart the plant next week, with full resumption of supplies in August.
The company was not available for comment.

As MRC wrote before, LyondellBasell has delayed the restart process at its steam cracker in La Porte, Texas. The planned turnaround at the cracker, which has an ethylene production capacity of 1.7 billion lb/year, started in late March and was to be completed by mid-June, though unforeseen issues pushed the startup procedures to late July, market sources added.

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.


Air Liquide, Linde seek helium as US reserves drop

MOSCOW (MRC) -- For 50 years a vast aquifer in the heart of the Texas panhandle has held as much as 30% of the word’s helium reserves, acting as a safety valve that buoys supplies when the global market is interrupted, Hydrocartbonprocessing.

The site in Amarillo is a hangover from the Cold War era and its phased closure increases the risk of supply shortages and higher prices, spurring a dash by the top two industrial gas companies, Linde and Air Liquide, to secure other helium resources in markets from Qatar to Siberia.

The Manhattan-sized rock formation, owned by the Bureau of Land Management, is being wound down with its reserves "effectively sold out by 2021," according to Nick Haines, helium chief at Munich-based Linde, the world’s No. 1 industrial-gas company. As companies wrestle with already squeezed supplies and an increasingly volatile helium market, the question for Haines is: "In the post-BLM era, how will the industry manage?"

At stake is access to a USD2.7 billion market that touches products from smartphones and scanners to deep-sea diving tanks and the humble party balloon.

With only about 15 helium sources globally, North Africa and the Middle East are becoming the industry’s new production powerhouses, leaving companies jockeying for position to secure supplies. Linde and its rivals have one eye on a decision on a crucial Qatari helium project tender and are also looking closely at Iran’s potential, according to Zurich-based IHS Global analyst Ralf Gubler.

The Amarillo site, a natural limestone-walled rock formation covering 13,900 acres and currently holding 10 billion cubic feet, is a throwback to the space race. When the Cold War eased, it began to sell them off in 1996. Legislation passed in October scheduled a shuttering of the BLM facility by September 2021.

Amarillo’s importance to stabilizing helium prices showed last year, when production in Algeria stopped and the U.S. failed to push through legislation to release more of the Amarillo reserves quickly enough. The price of helium from Algeria, where Linde has a plant with Sonatrach SpA, increased to USD10.24 in March from USD5.54 a cubic meter in 2009, according to IHS analyst Gubler.

Last year, Air Liquide started up the world’s largest helium purification and liquefaction unit at Ras Laffan Industrial City in Qatar, which is run by RasGas Co. That tripled the kingdom’s capacity and made it the world’s second- largest producer of the gas with one-quarter of global output. Air Liquide, which has offtake contracts in the first two helium plants in Qatar, is hoping to be selected for a third one.

As MRC wrote before, Air Liquide signed an agreement with Russian producer RusVinyl to supply oxygen, nitrogen and compressed dry air to its new polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant in Kstovo, Russia. Air Liquide would invest, build and operate a new air separation unit with a capacity of more than 350 tonnes/day of oxygen in Kstovo, in the region of Nizhegorodskaya oblast.

L'Air Liquide S.A., or Air Liquide, is a French multinational company which supplies industrial gases and services to various industries including medical, chemical and electronic manufacturers.

Evonik opens new China hydrogen peroxide plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Evonik Industries has formally commenced operations at a new hydrogen peroxide plant in Jilin, China, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The new production plant has an annual capacity of 230,000 metric tons. Evonik has invested over $136 million (EUR 100 million) in the site, thereby raising its current global capacity for hydrogen-peroxide production to more than 900,000 metric tons per annum.

Evonik will supply H2O2 from Jilin straight to the neighboring propylene oxide plant run by Jishen Chemical Industry Co., which has likewise been newly erected. A long-term supply agreement was signed for this purpose.

Jishen will use the hydrogen peroxide to manufacture propylene oxide on the basis of the HPPO process. Propylene oxide is used predominantly to make the polyurethane intermediates that are used in the manufacture of products such as upholstery for car seats and furniture or insulation material for the construction and refrigeration industry.

Evonik developed the HPPO process together with ThyssenKrupp Uhde. The new plant in Jilin is the second of its kind. Evonik, ThyssenKrupp Uhde, and a Korean chemicals company as the licensee were the first companies worldwide to use the HPPO process on an industrial scale back in 2008 in Ulsan (Korea).

To date, hydrogen peroxide has been used mainly as a bleaching agent by the textile and pulp industry. The HPPO process now allows this eco-friendly oxidant to also be employed in the direct chemical synthesis of propylene oxide. The benefits of the new method are that it requires much lower investment costs, has high production efficiency, and has excellent environmental compatibility.

As MRC wrote before, Evonik Industries was paving the way for a new technology whose applications include automotive finishes that are more scratch-resistant than ever before. 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.

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.

Russian PC market grew by 9% in the first half of 2014

MOSCOW (MRC) - Russian market of polycarbonate (PC) increased to about 53,000 tonnes in the first six months of the year, up 9% compared with the same time a year earlier, according to MRC ScanPlast.

The main reason for the growth was development of its extrusion segment, which traditionally takes about 80% of the market. Currently it is characterised by surplus because of the seasonal decline in demand. Traders have built up stock inventories ahead of the second (after May) seasonal peak in demand for PC, which occurs in September.

Converters have completely switched to production of sheets of thickness 6, 8, 10 mm or more. Capacity utilisation at sheets producers is now at a level of 20-30% because of the weak demand for the product.

Importantly, the only Russian producer, Kazanorgsintez, is oriented to the domestic market at the expense of exports. 29,500 tonnes or 98% form the total producer's production since the beginning of this year occurred for PC for sheet extrusion, which were delivered in domestic market. The producer's share in the total consumption in the Russia's extrusion segment was about 66% since the beginning of this year.

Thus, given the current consumption we can see a tendency for a gradual import substitution in the extrusion industry. Converters because of high prices for imported products, (especially medium and small) prefer to buy Russian PC instead of Asian one. In particular, this applies to those producers who are just entering the market, and for which the high cost of feedstock and consequently finished products will prevent entry into the industry.