SABIC ans Shell refuse to expand petchems venture in Saudi Arabia

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Basic Industries Corp and Royal Dutch Shell have shelved plans to expand an existing petrochemical joint venture in Saudi Arabia as the results of feasibility studies were not encouraging, reported Arabian Business.

The two partners in the joint project, known as SADAF joint venture in Jubail, on the Gulf coast of Saudi Arabia, first announced plans to explore an expansion of their petrochemical plant in 2012.

The expansion was due to add polyols, propylene oxide (PO) and styrene monomer. SABIC did not say by how much the plant was due to be expanded nor gave an estimated cost.

"Shell and SABIC have agreed not to pursue this investment further but have agreed to continue to have constructive discussions to explore other opportunities for expansion," a Shell spokesman said in a statement on Thursday.

SABIC, one of the world's largest petrochemical groups, said the decision would not have any impact on its earnings, according to a statement on the Saudi bourse website.

As MRC wrote before, in February 2013, Royal Dutch Shell took a final investment decision tol increase production capacity at its Singapore petrochemical plant to meet demand for specialized materials used in the automotive and furniture industries. The upgrade will increase the plant's capacity to produce polyols - industrial chemicals used to make high-quality foams - by more than 100,000 metric tpy to 360,000 tpy. The project is expected to be completed in 2014.

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) ranks among the world’s top petrochemical companies. The company is among the world’s market leaders in the production of polyethylene, polypropylene and other advanced thermoplastics, glycols, methanol and fertilizers.

Royal Dutch Shell plc is an Anglo-Dutch multinational oil and gas company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands and with its registered office in London, United Kingdom. It is the biggest company in the world in terms of revenue and one of the six oil and gas "supermajors". Shell is vertically integrated and is active in every area of the oil and gas industry, including exploration and production, refining, distribution and marketing, petrochemicals, power generation and trading.

Total names Desmarest chairman and Pouyann CEO

MOSCOW (MRC) -- French oil major Total appointed refining head Patrick Pouyanne as chief executive and former CEO Thierry Desmarest as non-executive chairman, said the company in its press release.

The nominations at the head of the world's fourth-largest integrated oil company came less than 48 hours after the brutal death of Chairman and CEO Christophe de Margerie in a plane crash in Moscow.

Desmarest, previously honorary chairman of the oil group, will keep his new position until the end of 2015, after which the roles of CEO and chairman would again be combined, Total said in a statement following an emergency board meeting.

Pouyanne, 51, had a key role in merging Total's loss-making "downstream" refining and petrochemical units in recent years, and also had senior roles at the group's "upstream" exploration units in Angola and Qatar.

Pouyanne will likely face a politically sensitive situation in France, where he told unions earlier this year that Total would seek to cut capacity among its five refineries, with more details about the plan expected next spring.

The company will be hoping to avoid a repeat of its problems in 2010 when Total's decision to close down the Dunkirk refinery prompted weeks of strikes by angry unions and disrupted French oil supplies.

A graduate of France's elite Polytechnique and Ecole des Mines engineering colleges, Pouyanne was also a ministerial advisor under previous conservative governments.

Desmarest, 68, headed the group during the mergers of Total with Petrofina and then Elf in 1999.


Dow Chemical sees lower oil prices helping global economies and demand

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Dow Chemical, the largest US chemical maker by sales, said this year’s plunging oil prices will stimulate national economies and help rather than hurt its plastics business next year, reported Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Lower oil prices should help increase gross domestic product in the US, the UK, Japan and China, Howard Ungerleider, chief financial officer of Midland, Michigan-based Dow, said on a conference call with analysts. The positive effect will become more visible through 2015, he said.

"Low oil price means more demand in the GDP," CEO Andrew Liveris said on the call.

Brent crude, the benchmark for global oil trading, has plunged more than 20% from its June high to about USD86/bbl, meeting a common definition of a bear market. Oil prices should rebound to more than USD100/bbl next year as economies strengthen, Liveris said.

While lower oil prices probably are an indication of weak economic growth, Liveris’ bullish comments on the decline and Dow’s third-quarter results are "calming" for investors, said John Roberts, a New York-based analyst at UBS Securities.

The oil drop narrows margins for ethane-based plastics and could erode sales volumes in the fourth quarter as customers cut inventories at year-end, Liveris said. Still, US ethane remains among the cheapest feedstocks in the world even with oil at USD80, Ungerleider said. Cheaper oil also boosts profitability at Dow’s plastics operations in Europe, he said.

As cheaper oil helps global economies expand, plastics- industry ethylene plants will run, on average, at 91% of capacity by early 2016, up from 90% at the end of this year and 88% at the start of the year, Ungerleider said. That will give Dow the ability to keep raising prices, he said.

Global economic growth is expected to rise to 3.4% or more next year, up from 2.8% this year, the CFO said.

As MRC wrote before, Hanwha Chemical, one of South Korea's leading polyethylene and polyvinyl chloride producers, has picked Credit Suisse to advise on possible purchases from Dow Chemical's chloro-alkali business but its interest is still in the early stages. The spokesman for Hanwha said no details had been decided.

The Dow Chemical Company is an American multinational chemical corporation. As of 2007, it is the second-largest chemical manufacturer in the world by revenue (after BASF) and as of February 2009, the third-largest chemical company in the world by market capitalization (after BASF and DuPont). Dow is a large producer of plastics, including polystyrene, polyurethane, polyethylene, polypropylene, and synthetic rubber.

Celanese announces intermediate chemistry price increases in Europe

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Celanese Corporation, a global technology and specialty materials company, has announced an increase in intermediate chemistry prices for the European market, as per the company's press release.

Thus, the company will increase list and off-list selling prices for the following products effective November 1, 2014, or as contracts allow:

- ethyl acetate - by EUR50/tonne;
- butyl acetate - by EUR 50/tonne.

As MRC reported earlier, in early October 2014, Celanese Corporation announced that it would increase the price of vinyl acetate-based emulsions sold in the Americas. Thus, PVAc homopolymer, vinyl acetate ethylene (EVA) and vinyl acrylic emulsions will increase by up to USD0.05/wet pound effective November 1, 2014, or as contracts allow.

This increase is attributed to the continued pressures on raw materials, notably vinyl acetate monomer (VAM), and freight.

This price increase affects all applications including, but not limited to, adhesives, paints and coatings, building products, nonwovens, glass fiber, carpet, paper and textiles.

Celanese Corporation is a global technology leader in the production of differentiated chemistry solutions and specialty materials used in most major industries and consumer applications. Based in Dallas, Texas, Celanese employs approximately 7,400 employees worldwide and had 2013 net sales of USD6.5 billion.

Lanxess presents new PBT and polyamide grades for automotive industry

MOSCOW (MRC) -- German specialty chemicals company Lanxess has introduced innovative and polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) and polyamide grades for the automotive industry, reported the company on its site.

Lanxess sees great potential for the use of PBT and polyamide compounds in production of vehicle exterior body parts - for example bumpers, sills, front grilles, door handles, fuel tank flaps, spoilers and mirror housings.

"That is why we are building up a wide range of Durethan and Pocan materials for this use segment. The development work is focusing on application-specific, optimized mechanical properties, as well as good surface qualities and good paintability," says Frank Krause, design expert at Lanxess.

An innovative material for fuel tank flaps, for example, is Pocan B 5220 XF reinforced with a glass bead content of 20%. The product is an alternative to blends of polyphenylene ethers and polyamide (PPE+PA), which are often used in series-produced fuel tank flaps because they can be painted online. A disadvantage of such blends, however, is their high degree of moisture absorption, which has an undesirable effect on the required dimensional accuracy. PBT, by contrast, stands out by virtue of its high degree of dimensional stability.

Besides, Lanxess has specially developed Pocan TP 406-001 for radiator grilles. "The non-reinforced polycarbonate+PBT blend material was conceived primarily for parts with Class A surfaces, which are given a high-gloss coating," Krause says. The material displays very low and uniform shrinkage and hardly any tendency to distortion at all. Thanks to the blend's extreme toughness even in cold temperatures, the radiator grille does not shatter into shards in the event of a collision, which helps protect nearby pedestrians. The high heat deflection temperature ensures that long, horizontal grille fins do not sag as a result of exposure to the radiator heat.

For exterior bodywork parts that are not coated online, the LANXESS product line continues to feature materials including non-reinforced (PBT+PC) and (PET+PC) blends, and reinforced (PBT+PET) blends. A good choice for spoilers, for example, is Pocan TP 957-001, which consists of up to 25 percent post-consumer recyclate from PET bottles. The mineral-reinforced (PET+PC) blend is very impact-resistant and displays minimal distortion, among other properties. Durethan DP 2131/20 W1 EF, a heat-stabilized polyamide 6 with easy flow characteristics, is a great material for substructures of spoilers, exterior mirror housings and door handles. It provides non-coated exterior bodywork parts with excellent resistance to weathering.

As MRC informed previously, in early July, 2013, Lanxess celebrated the opening of its first production facility in Russia. In the new plant at the Lipetsk site, Lanxess subsidiary Rhein Chemie manufactures polymer-bound rubber additives for the markets in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), primarily for the automotive and tire industries. A production facility for the bladders used in tire production is to be added in 2016.

Lanxess is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 8.3 billion in 2013 and roughly 17,300 employees in 31 countries. The company is currently represented at 52 production sites worldwide. The core business of Lanxess is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals.