Sabic names Al-Benyan acting CEO as Al-Mady steps down

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the world’s largest petrochemicals maker by sales, named Yousef Al-Benyan acting chief executive officer after Mohammed Al-Mady stepped down to be president of Saudi Arabia’s Military Industries Corp., reported Bloomberg.

Al-Benyan will remain chief financial officer until Sabic’s board decides on a permanent CEO, Mohammed Al Motawa, a company spokesman, said by phone.

King Salman bin Abdulaziz yesterday appointed Al-Mady president of Military Industries Corp. at the request of Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman.

As MRC informed previously, in 2013, Sabic opened a new engineering thermoplastics compounding facility and a polypropylene compounding plant at its manufacturing facility in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. The products to be manufactured at the new facilities are aimed for the consumer electronics, healthcare, transportation, building and construction industries.

Sabic is ranked among the world's largest petrochemicals manufacturers. It is the largest public company in Saudi Arabia. The comany manufactures chemicals and intermediates, industrial polymers, fertilizers and metals. It is currently the second largest global ethylene glycol producer, the third largest polyethylene manufacturer, the fourth largest polyolefins manufacturer and the fourth largest polypropylene manufacturer. Among its products are propylene, paraxylene, styrene, vinyl chloride monomer.

Bio-based PP market to cross USD36 million by 2020

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The global Bio-based PP market will reach USD36.19 mln by 2020, according to a new study by Grand View Research, Inc., reported Plastemart.

Supportive regulatory and political landscape to promote bio-plastics, coupled with growing demand for lightweight materials in automotive applications will augment bio-based PP market growth. Increasing application scope in textile, packaging and construction industries will have a positive impact on market growth.

Bio-based PP was majorly used in injection applications, accounting for over 50% of market volume in 2013. Primary uses include injection molded parts, aiming for automotive, construction, packaging, electronics, and industrial applications. In addition, application growth of injection molded plastics in packaging would impact favorably.

Further key findings from the study suggest:
- Global bio-based PP market demand was 11.22 kilotons in 2013 and will reach 16.03 kilotons by 2020, growing at a CAGR of 5.8% from 2014 to 2020;
- Bio-based PP could be stretched and extruded to form BOPP (Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene) films, which could be used as a sustainable packaging material meant for use in snack foods, confectionaries and fresh vegetables;
- Europe will be the largest regional bio-based PP market, exceeding 30% of total demand in 2013. The positive regulatory framework for bio-plastics in Europe will have a positive impact on the market in the near future;
- North America will be one of the most promising markets for bio-based PP, and will witness growth in light of regulatory sanctions for automotive weight coupled with positive demand outlook in the U.S. and Mexico;
- The bio-based PP market is at a nascent stage of development with key companies focusing their efforts on raw material and application development.

Trellis Earth Products, after acquiring Cereplast in 2014, is the single manufacturer to commercially produce bio-based PP. Other companies such as Global Bioenergies, Braskem and Dow Chemicals will be key market players over the next six years. French company Global Bioenergies started producing bio-based propylene through direct fermentation in December 2014.

As MRC wrote before, in December 2014, Mazda Motor Corporation announced that, in conjunction with Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, it had developed a new bio-based engineering plastic that can be used for exterior design parts for automobiles.

Cepsa set to sell off PET/PTA operations

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Compania Espanola de Petroleos, S.A.U. (CEPSA), an integrated energy company, through its subsidiary Cepsa Quimica S.A., intends to sell two Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and purified terephthalic acid (PTA) production plants in southern Spain and Canada, according to Researchviews.

According to the reports, Indorama Ventures PCL will be the bidder for the transaction.

Cepsa Quimica operates one Guadarranque facility near Gibraltar at San Roque, Spain, with capacities of 480,000 tpa of PTA, 175,000 tpa PET and 220,000 tpa of purified isophthalic acid (PIA). The other facility is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, with a capacity of 550,000 tpa of PTA.

The Spanish group is reported to be planning greater internationalisation of its overall chemicals business. Cepsa is understood to have informed its San Roque workforce representatives of its ongoing negotiations, according to Spanish media reports.

Cepsa acquired the former Artenius PET line, already fed by its San Roque PTA operation, for €32m back in January 2011 from the since bankrupt Catalan PET packaging group La Seda de Barcelona.

Indorama group subsidiary Indorama Ventures (IVL) has been building up its PET operations in southern Europe since last year with two recent acquisitions in Turkey. In the second quarter of last year, IVL bought La Seda’s local 130,000 tpa Artenius Turkpet PET plant in Adana.

This month, IVL announced it was raising its Turkish capacity to 346,000 tpa by taking over the new 228,000 tpa Istanbul PET facility of Polyplex Europa Polyester Film San ve Ticaret A.S.

Indorama has stated that it aims to consolidate its position in southern Europe to improve its costs and competitiveness in key regional beverage industry markets.

US safety board identifies weak refining standards in Chevron fire review

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has identified deficiencies in current industry standards related to mechanical integrity and leak evaluation and response in a draft final investigation report issued on Chevron's Richmond refinery fire in 2012, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

According to the CSB’s news release, the agency found shortcomings in industry standards related to comprehensive inspection, effective facility upgrades, and the need for minimum safety requirements. The draft report is the third and final one in the agency’s investigation of the August 2012 fire in Richmond, Calif., that started when light gas oil leaked from a ruptured pipe and ignited.

CSB’s draft report also details failures in Chevron’s emergency response to the incident, including a lack of leak response guidance or formal protocol for operations personnel, refinery management, or emergency responders. The agency concludes its report with safety recommendations to help promote safer operations at petroleum refineries and protect workers and communities from similar accidents. Based on its findings, CSB recommends that the American Petroleum Institute establish and strengthen minimum requirements for preventing potentially catastrophic sulfidation corrosion failures and safety guidance for responding to hazardous process fluid leaks.

The CSB also urged Chevron to ensure process safety and employee safety by developing an accountability method to identify and track effective implementation of industry best practices. Finally, the agency recommends revisions to the Richmond, Calif., Industrial Safety Ordinance to provide stronger regulatory oversight with community involvement to the existing safety culture review program.

The full draft report is available for review on the CSB’s website. The first CSB report on the incident, an interim investigation report, cited “missed opportunities to apply inherently safer design, failure to identify and evaluate damage mechanism hazards, and [a] lack of effective safeguards” as contributors to the fire, which was caused by a catastrophic pipe failure.

The second, a regulatory report, called on California to enhance its process safety management regulations for petroleum refineries and recommended “substantial” changes to the way those refineries are regulated in the state.Nineteen refinery employees were endangered during the 2012 fire at the Chevron refinery. Following the accident, 15,000 people sought medical attention due to a vapor cloud that was released into the surrounding area.

Chevron Phillips Chemica, headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas (north of Houston), US,l is one of the world’s top producers of olefins and polyolefins and a leading supplier of aromatics, alpha olefins, styrenics, specialty chemicals, piping, and proprietary plastics. Chevron and Phillips 66 each own 50% of Chevron Phillips Chemical.

Oltchim sell off fails again due to no show bidders

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Yet another attempt by the government of Romania to privatise the insolvent national PVC producer Oltchim has failed after none of four potential buyers finally submitted a firm bid by the deadline, said Plasticsnews.

Now, administrators of the loss making chemical company will present a new reorganisation plan for Oltchim later this month (February). The plan is expected to be submitted to the firm’s creditor representatives for approval in March.
It was in December last year that the latest bid to sell off the Romanian government’s 54.8% stake in Oltchim collapsed when the would-be investors pulled out at the last moment.

Among groups that had shown interest in Oltchim are a Chinese business consortium of Baota Petrochemical Group and Junlun Petroleum Co.; the Romanian SIF Transilvania investment firm; the Romanian chemicals group Chimcomplex Borzesti owned by businessman Stefan Vuza and an unnamed Turkish company.

“No one showed up, neither the Chinese group, nor the Turkish group, nor businessman Stefan Vuza, nor the Romanian investment fund SIF Transilvania. They proved to be unreliable investors,” the firm’s judicial administrator Gheorghe Piperea told the local news portal

This was the latest of numerous abortive attempts by the government to dispose of its majority share in Oltchim since the troubled firm was declared insolvent in January 2013.

Ramnicu Valcea-based Oltchim is aiming to invest in new technology that will enable it to achieve lower energy consumption in order to improve its financial performance. Reorganisation of the business is essential for Oltchim to attract serious investor interest and a buyer, the government believes.

In the last year, Oltchim has improved its financial results, increasing its operational profit. In January this year, the firm is reported to have recorded a EUR700,000 profit although the government said it still only operated at 30% of capacity.

Oltchim administrators comprise BDO Business Restructuring and RomInsolv who are currently developing the restructuring plan.