Total to cut French refining capacity on low demand

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Total, Europe’s biggest refiner, plans to adapt its French processing capacity as fuel demand drops, reported Hydrocarbonprocessing with reference to the company's chief executive officer.

"Refining has to be adapted to demand and demand is dropping," CEO Christophe de Margerie said at a meeting of the French employers’ group Medef outside Paris. "When demand drops, producers have to deal with it."

Total has borne the brunt of lower refining margins and a slump in consumption in Europe, where it operates eight plants. In its home market of France, it has joined LyondellBasell and Petroplus in halting surplus capacity, and peers elsewhere in the region have followed suit.

Total doesn't plan to pull out of refining altogether, de Margerie said.

While he said there is no "urgency" in Total’s plans for French refining, he declined to give details on how and when capacity will be cut in France.

The company has already shut a refinery at Dunkirk and a steam cracker at Carling in eastern France to lower capacity. Refiners in France lost EUR00 million (USD951 million) in 2013 as margins shrank and the country imported more than half the diesel it used, the Union Francaise des Industries Petrolieres has said.

Total has a target to reduce its European refining and petrochemicals business by 20% from 2012 to 2017. The Courbevoie-based company faced opposition from workers and the state over the closing of the Dunkirk plant, and it promised the government in 2010 it wouldn’t shut another site for five years.

As MRC wrote before, last year, Total intends to invest EUR160m before 2016 to adapt its petrochemical platform in Carling, in the Lorraine region of eastern France, and to restore its competitiveness. The Carling plant, which makes petrochemicals such as ethylene and propylene at the site near the German border, employs 350 Total workers as well as sub-contractors. These chemicals are used to make plastics.

Total S.A. is a French multinational oil and gas company and one of the six "Supermajor" oil companies in the world with business in Europe, the United States, the Middle East and Asia. The company's petrochemical products cover two main groups: base chemicals and the consumer polymers (polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene) that are derived from them.

Sonoco buys Weidenhammer, plans for thin-walled packaging growth

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Sonoco Products Co.’s acquisition of Weidenhammer Packaging Group GmbH of Germany includes plastic packaging technology that the company is targeting for growth in the United States, said Plasticsnews.

The USD383 million deal, naturally, features plenty of talk about the paper packaging aspects of both companies. That’s the bulk of their respective businesses. But the move also includes Weidenhammer Plastic Packaging with a plant in Zwenkau, Germany, near Leipzig, that includes production of cups, cans and containers with volumes of at least 100 milliliters. Buckets made there range from 1 to 11.4 liters.

Polypropylene, according to Weidenhammer, "is virtually the only raw material used." "Weidenhammer is a leader in thin-walled injection molded containers that utilize in-mold labeling. Production of this thin-wall package should grow to approximately USD20 million in annual sales by the end of 2015," Sonoco CEO M. Jack Sanders said on a conference call Aug. 25 to discuss the deal.

Overall, Sonoco gains 13 locations, including five in Germany. There also are also sites in Kansas City, Mo., as well as Belgium, Chile, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Russia and United Kingdom, Sonoco said. Approximately 1,100 employees will come over to Hartsville, S.C.-based Sonoco in the deal expected to close during the fourth quarter.

Weidenhammer, a family owned business based in Hockenheim, expects sales of approximately USD327 million this year. That compares with Sonoco’s USD4.9 billion in annual sales.

Weidenhammer markets the PermaSafe line of containers that the company touts as a plastic replacement for metal food cans and glass jars that is easier to handle, lighter and more cost effective.

As MRC wrote before, Sonoco commenced commercial production of rigid plastic containers for personal care products at its new USD15 million plant, located in the Beauty and Home Care campus in New Albany, Ohio.

Sonoco Plastics is a leading manufacturer of mono-layer and multi-layer blow-molded bottles and jars, thermoformed cups and trays and engineered molded and extruded containers, spools and trays. The Company has 25 plastics operations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, Netherlands and Germany. In addition to the Beauty Park facility, Sonoco Plastics operates a state-of-the-art food-grade, blow-molding and injection molding plant in Columbus, Ohio. The Company is currently reviewing plans for additional expansion of this facility as well.MRC

Westlake Chemical increases quarterly dividend by 31%

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The board of directors of Westlake Chemical Corporation has declared a dividend of 16.5 cents per share, an increase of 31% from the 12.6 cents per share paid in the second quarter of 2014, reported the company on its site.

The increased dividend will be payable on September 19, 2014, to stockholders of record on September 5, 2014.

This is the 40th successive quarterly dividend that Westlake has declared since completing its initial public offering in August 2004.

As MRC reported earlier, in early August 2014, Westlake Chemical Corporation announced it had closed the previously announced acquisition of German-based Vinnolit Holdings GmbH and its subsidiary companies from Advent International, a private equity firm. The Vinnolit acquisition includes six production facilities located in Burghausen, Gendorf, Cologne, Knapsack and Schkopau in Germany and Hillhouse in the United Kingdom. These operations have a combined annual capacity of 780,000 metric tons of PVC, including specialty paste, thermoplastic specialties and suspension grades, 665,000 metric tons of vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) and 475,000 metric tons of membrane grade caustic soda.

Westlake Chemical Corporation is an international manufacturer and supplier of petrochemicals, polymers and building products with headquarters in Houston, Texas. The company's range of products includes: ethylene, polyethylene, styrene, propylene, caustic, VCM, PVC resin and PVC building products including pipe and specialty components, windows and fence.

Evonik increases prices of PMMA semifinished products

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Evonik Industries AG will increase the prices of its PMMA semifinished products, which it markets under the PLEXIGLAS and DEGLAS trademarks, reported the company on its site.

Thus, the price increase will be, as follows:

- PLEXIGLAS und DEGLAS sheets and blocks - by 6%;
- PLEXIGLAS multi-skin and corrugated sheets - by 6%;
- PLEXIGLAS and DEGLAS tubes and rods - by 6%.

The reason for this step is the ongoing considerable rise in the cost of upstream products, energy and salaries.

As MRC reported before, Evonik Industries is making an investment in the double-digit-million euro range in a new research center at the Rheinfelden site. Starting at the beginning of 2016, research into silanes will be carried out in modern laboratories in the four-story building. Silanes are used in the electronics industry, in the tire industry, for the production of adhesives and sealants as well as plastics, and in the construction industry.

Evonik, the creative industrial group from Germany, is one of the world leaders in specialty chemicals. Evonik is active in over 100 countries around the world. In fiscal 2013 more than 33,500 employees generated sales of around EUR12.7 billion and an operating profit (adjusted EBITDA) of about EUR2.0 billion.

Al Waha Petrochemical restarts production after fixing technical glitch

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Arabia's Sahara Petrochemical Co subsidiary - Al Waha Petrochemical, had fixed a technical fault at a utilities unit and was now working on restarting production, as per Plastemart.

Sahara, which ended merger talks with Saudi International Petrochemical Co (Sipchem) in June, said Aug. 17 a shutdown in polypropylene output had occurred at Al Waha Petrochemicals which could reduce third-quarter profit at the parent firm by nearly 9 million riyals (USD2.4 mln).

As MRC wrote before, Sahara Petrochemical Co., the Saudi Arabia-based firm which last month announced plans to merge with Saudi International Petrochemical Co. (Sipchem) in the first half of this year, has earned net profit of SR578.7 million in 2013, registering a growth of 183% compared to net profit of SR204.4 million in 2012.

Sahara Petrochemical is involved in building and operating petrochemical projects, especially propylene, polypropylene, ethylene and mixed polyethylene industries.