BASF picks Air Liquide technology for new Texas methane-to-propylene unit

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BASF has made progress in its plans to build a world-scale methane-to-propylene complex on the US Gulf Coast, the company said on its site.

The company has selected Freeport, Texas, as the potential site, where it will use Air Liquide's proprietary Lurgi MegaMethanol and methanol-to-propylene (MTP) technologies.

BASF has contracted Air Liquide to provide basic engineering services for this gas-to-propylene complex.

The plant is planned to have a production capacity of approximately 475,000 tpy of propylene. This project would be BASF's largest single-plant investment to date and is subject to final approval in 2016 by the BASF executive board.

The Freeport site was founded in 1958 as the first BASF manufacturing facility outside of Europe. With more than 800 full-time employees, the Freeport site is one of two BASF Verbund sites in North America and uses propylene in its manufacturing processes.

BASF says the on-purpose production of propylene to supply the company's North American operations would allow it to take advantage of low gas prices resulting from US shale gas production.

The investment would further strengthen BASF's backward integration into propylene and grow its propylene-based downstream activities, leading to a stronger market position in North America, according to company officials.

As MRC informed before, BASF and Seashell Technology, a leading nanotechnology company based in San Diego, have announced that BASF has acquired Seashell's technology, patents and know-how for silver nanowires. The acquisition extends BASF's portfolio of solutions offered to the display industry through the company's growing electronic materials unit.

BASF is the leading chemical company. It produces a wide range of chemicals, for example solvents, amines, resins, glues, electronic-grade chemicals, industrial gases, basic petrochemicals and inorganic chemicals. The most important customers for this segment are the pharmaceutical, construction, textile and automotive industries. BASF had sales of about EUR74 billion in 2013 and over 112,000 employees as of the end of the year.

Clariant acquires Louisiana chemical storage hub

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Global specialty chemicals company Clariant has acquired a chemical storage and packaging facility in Broussard, Louisiana, the company said on its site.

The transaction includes key personnel, laboratory, production, and storage facilities for supplying the offshore shelf, deep water, and Louisiana and Texas Gulf Coast land-based markets.

"Combined with our existing blending facility in Reserve, Louisiana, Clariant's new Broussard facility significantly expands our capacity to serve the customers in the region," says Doug Hayes, global head of Clariant Oil Services.

"The facility specializes in deep water product filtration and repackaging," he added. "The facility's fully equipped Analytical and QC laboratories add to Clariant's already extensive local, regional, and global laboratory service capabilities."

The Broussard facility includes a 2,000-square-foot analytical laboratory, an 1,800-square-foot quality control laboratory, and 400,000 gallons of total chemical storage.

"This latest acquisition is just one more example of our growing commitment to serving customers in the Louisiana and Texas markets," said Hayes.

As MRC informed before, Clariant's Masterbatches, a devision of the world leader in specialty chemicals Clariant, has presented two innovative products - REMAFIN-EP white masterbatches and Hydrocerol nucleating agents, which cater to the needs of India’s pharmaceutical and infrastructure industries, respectively.

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. Clariant India has local masterbatch production activities at Rania, Kalol and Nandesari (Gujarat) and Vashere (Maharashtra) sites in India.

ExxonMobil asks Russia to repay taxes

MOSCOW (MRC) -- U.S. oil and gas major ExxonMobil has asked the Russian government to reimburse taxes worth "several billion roubles" it says it overpaid on a project in the far east of Russia, said Reuters.

The newspaper, citing unnamed sources, said ExxonMobil believes it overpaid profit taxes on its Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project. Russia reduced the profit tax in 2009 to 20 percent but ExxonMobil continued to pay at the earlier level of 35 percent after the project broke even in 2008, it said.

ExxonMobil, which owns 30 percent in Sakhalin-1, in Moscow declined immediate comment.

Kommersant quoted a source as saying that ExxonMobil had threatened to lodge a claim with the Stockholm arbitration court unless Russia cut its taxes for the project in line with the lower profit tax which applies across the country.

It said the claims amounted to "several billions of roubles". In 2014, the company overpaid by 10 billion roubles (USD163.7 million), the newspaper said, citing a source.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak plans to meet Exxon's chief executive officer, Rex Tillerson, later on Wednesday. The newspaper also said that Tillerson would meet Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich and Rosneft's Chief Executive Officer Igor Sechin.

As MRC informed before, Exxon Mobil Corp. shook off the chill of sanctions and continued to snap up drilling rights in Russia last year, giving it more exploration holdings in Vladimir Putin’s backyard than in the U.S. Taking the long view, Exxon boosted its Russian holdings to 63.7 million acres in 2014 from 11.4 million at the end of 2014, according to data from U.S. regulatory filings. That dwarfs the 14.6 million acres of rights Exxon holds in the U.S., which until last year was its largest exploration prospect.

ExxonMobil is the largest non-government owned company in the energy industry and produces about 3% of the world's oil and about 2% of the world's energy.

Thermoformer Plastic Ingenuity adding food packaging lines in Arkansas

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Plastic Ingenuity Inc., which calls itself one of the largest custom thermoformers in North America, is getting even bigger, said Plasticsnews.

The company is expanding its Maumelle, Ark., site through a USD2.5 million project that will add another 10 jobs to the current roster of 50 workers. Plastic Ingenuity is undertaking the expansion to increase production of plastic food packaging lines.

"This expansion will allow the Maumelle facility to become a larger player in the rapidly growing food segment of plastic packaging. The added space and new auxiliary equipment will increase our efficiency and bring more work to central Arkansas," said Plant Manager Jess Mellenthin in a statement.

A state economic development official pointed to the importance of paying attention to existing companies in creating growth. "We must continue to support Arkansas’s manufacturers by providing a trained workforce and the tools needed to grow in our state. We appreciate Plastic Ingenuity’s leadership for their decision to invest in Maumelle and its citizens," said Danny Games, interim executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, in a statement.

"Plastic Ingenuity’s expansion demonstrates the value and importance of our existing manufacturers," he said.
While the expansion is centered on food-related packaging, Plastic Ingenuity’s site in Maumelle also produces plastic packaging for the cell phone and electronics industry.

The company has been in Maumelle since 1993. Plastic Ingenuity is headquartered in Cross Plains, Wis., and has a manufacturing site in nearby Mazomanie, Wis. Other manufacturing sites, aside from Maumelle, are in Oxford, N.C., and Guadalupe and Monterrey, Mexico.

The company ranked No. 22 in Plastics News’ most recent survey of North American thermoformers, with sales of USD85 million.

PC imports in Russia grew by 81% in January-February 2014

MOSCOW (MRC) - Imports of polycarbonate (PC) granules to the Russian market decreased to 1,300 tonnes in January-February 2015, down 81% compared to the same period last year, according to a MRC DataScope report.

Decrease in imports mainly resulted from unstable exchange rate. Domestic prices for imported granulate increased significantly. This made converters to switch to Russian-made polymers or secondary raw materials. Some small companies suspended operations.

Traders said that because of the deteriorating economic situation the terms of trade credits and debts have grown. The reason for this was the absence of working capital for the payments.
Buyers reduce procurement of feedstock and work only under contractual obligations. All market players try to avoid the accumulation of stocks.

During the reporting period, the supply of extrusion PC granules decreased by 87% and amounted to only 695 tonnes. Russia's imports of injection moulding polycarbonate were 510 tonnes, which was twice less than the volumes of last year.

Demand for imported bottle PC granules decreased by 78% and amounted to only 116 tonnes. There were no exports of Russian PC in January and February 2015. At the same time, the production of PC granules remained at the level of the previous year and amounted to 11,600 tonnes.