Braskem mulls PP plant in Texas or Pennsylvania

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Latin America’s biggest petrochemical maker - Braskem SA will soon decide whether to build a plant in Texas or Pennsylvania to convert low-cost natural gas into polypropylene, as per Fuelfix.

The factory would produce at least 1 billion pounds (450,000 metric tons) of resin a year and would be the U.S. polypropylene industry’s first world-scale project in about 12 years, said Mark Nikolich, a vice president at Braskem. Preliminary engineering is under way for construction at existing Braskem sites in either La Porte, Texas, or Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania.

"The timing is soon," Nikolich said in an interview at the American Chemistry Council’s annual meeting in Colorado Springs, Colorado. "We are very active."

Braskem, based in Sao Paulo, founded its America unit with the 2010 acquisition of polypropylene assets from Sunoco Inc. It became the largest U.S. producer of the resin the following year with an acquisition from Dow Chemical Co. Drilling in shale formations has produced abundant, low-cost propane, a gas liquid converted into propylene and then polypropylene.

"We are looking to continue to grow the North American business in a market that seems to have a pretty good outlook," Nikolich said.

The prospects for a plant in Marcus Hook may hinge on whether Sunoco Logistics Partners LP goes forward at an adjacent site with its proposed plant for converting propane into propylene, a process known as propane dehydrogenation, he said. Dow Chemical and others are building similar plants on the Texas coast.

In Mexico, Braskem plans to begin production of ethylene and polyethylene by year-end. The resin used in plastic packaging and grocery bags will be made at new plants being built with partner Grupo Idesa SA in the state of Veracruz. It will be Mexico’s largest ethylene plant.

The company decided in April to put on hold a planned ethylene-polyethylene complex in Parkersburg, West Virginia, amid lower oil prices.

Dow Chemical is among those constructing U.S. projects to convert gas liquids such as ethane and propane into ethylene.

Chevron Phillips Chemical Co., scheduled to open a ethylene complex outside Houston in 2017, is considering whether to build another such project in the U.S. or elsewhere, Peter Cella, chief executive officer of the Houston-based company, said in a separate interview at the meeting.

As MRC informed earlier, Brazilian petrochemical producer Braskem lifted the investment forecast for its flagship Etileno XXI complex in Mexico by 13% amid rising construction costs. The overall outlay for the project in the Coatzacoalcos region of Veracruz state has been revised to USD5.2bn, according to a Braskem securities filing.

Braskem S.A. produces petrochemicals and generates electricity. The Company produces ethylene, propylene, benzene, toluene, xylenes, butadiene, butene, isoprene, dicyclopentediene, MTBE, caprolactam, ammonium sulfate, cyclohexene, polyethylene theraphtalat, polyethylene, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).


BASF launches new groundbreaking admixture range for low-viscosity concrete

MOSCOW (MRC) -- As global leader in concrete admixtures the Master Builders Solutions experts have developed a new generation of polymers bringing a significant improvement in the rheological properties of concrete, as per BASF's press release.

Advanced concrete mixes often demonstrate a higher viscosity due to their low water contents. Although having a high level of workability, the concrete often appears harsh, sticky and therefore difficult to pump and process. This is especially true for engineering concrete with low water/cement ratios optimized towards having a low environmental impact.

To overcome these challenges BASF has developed MasterEase, a new admixture range developed for low-viscosity concrete. With the new technology, plastic viscosity can be reduced by up to 30%, which results in a substantial reduction of pumping pressure required to pump the concrete on the construction site. Placing and finishing of the concrete is much easier, faster and hence more economic than using standard concrete. "Innovation is what drives our business. With our new products we want to meet our customers’ needs, contribute to their success and strengthen our connectedness. This is the force behind MasterEase," says Ralf Spettmann, President Construction Chemicals.

"The new admixture technology enabling these properties is being made available globally under the brand of MasterEase," explains David Bowerman, Regional Business Segment Manager for Orient, Russia and Africa. "Ease stands for easiness of mixing, pumping, placing, leveling and finishing of concrete. After pioneering concrete technology with market leading products like MasterGlenium and Master X-Seed we are proud to present another groundbreaking innovation from Master Builders Solutions to the concrete industry".

The new technology is particularly suitable for concrete mixes which are optimized for advanced engineering properties and sustainability: The Green Sense Concrete concept from Master Builders Solutions. High strength concrete with low water/cement ratios, as well as mixes with higher levels of secondary cementitious materials, reduce the CO2 footprint and are easier to produce and place. This helps engineers and investors to improve sustainability ratings of their projects.

Starting in Europe and the Middle East this technology will be globally available as MasterEase 3000 series for ready mix and site mix concrete applications.

As MRC reported earlier, BASF is further strengthening its production footprint in Asia Pacific with the start-up of its first production plant for polymer dispersions in Pasir Gudang, Malaysia. This production plant is built at the existing BASF production site, located in the Pasir Gudang Industrial Park of the Johor Free Trade Zone. The plant is BASF’s third polymer dispersions plant in ASEAN, complementing the existing dispersions plants in Jakarta and Merak, Indonesia.

BASF is the largest diversified chemical company in the world and is headquartered in Ludwigshafen, Germany. BASF 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 over EUR74 billion in 2014 and over 113,000 employees as of the end of the year.

Evonik raises prices of PMMA molding compounds

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Effective July 1, 2015, Evonik Industries AG will globally increase the prices for selected product types of its PMMA molding compounds, which it markets under the PLEXIGLAS and PLEXIMID trademarks (ACRYLITE and ACRYMID in the Americas), as per the company's statement.

As far as permissible under existing agreements and according to the product type, the increase will amount to up to a double-digit percentage.

As MRC reported earlier, Evonik Industries is 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 2014 more than 33,000 employees generated sales of around EUR12.9 billion and an operating profit (adjusted EBITDA) of about EUR1.9 billion.

Total Petrochemicals selects Port Arthur as the site for estimated US$1.6 bn

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Total Petrochemicals has selected Port Arthur as the site for an estimated USD1.6 billion petrochemical plant, known as an ethane cracker, which will produce a base ingredient in plastics from natural gas and has a capacity of 1,000 kilotons to supply ethane to the Gulf Coast region, said Beaumontbusinessjournal.

"Total Petrochemicals and Refining USA, Inc., is progressing on our project to build a new ethane cracker. ... This project will cover our ethylene needs for our derivatives in the U.S. We have selected Port Arthur as the site for the cracker as it will bring the best integration with our current platform there. We intend to launch the (Front-End Engineering and Design) FEED and to select an engineering company in the coming months," said Communications Advisor at Total Petrochemicals and Refining USA Melyssa Rodgers in email correspondence with the Business Journal.

The Port Arthur plant could start up as early as 2019, according to media reports, which state that during the five-year construction period, the company will receive 75 percent discount on taxes from the city of Port Arthur. During year six, Total will receive a 90 percent discount; year seven an 80 percent discount; year eight a 30 percent discount; year nine a 40 percent discount; and year 10, a 50 percent discount. Total is also eligible for additional discounts above those already granted if the company employs Port Arthur residents and utilizes Port Arthur vendors.

Port Neches-Groves Independent School District approved an agreement in late April with Total that amounts to a USD108 million tax benefit over the course of a 15-year agreement, seeing a benefit of USD7.5 million over the life of the agreement. Also, Jefferson County Commissioners approved a 10-year, 100 percent tax abatement on improvements to the property as long as the project investment tops USD500 million.

Total previously announced that Port Arthur was one of two proposed locations for the project, the other in Louisiana.

According to the American Fuels and Petrochemicals Manufacturers (AFPM), the low cost of energy and ethane has prompted American petrochemical manufacturers such as Total to expand their ethane cracking capacity. Over the past three years, petrochemical companies have announced plans to invest over $80 billion in new manufacturing infrastructure, AFPM’s website states.

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.

European PVC prices to increase by EUR40/tonne for CIS countries in June

MOSOCW (MRC) - Negotiations on European polyvinyl chloride (PVC) prices for June delivery to the CIS markets began this week. June PVC prices increased by EUR40/tonne for the CIS countries markets, according to ICIS-MRC Price Report.

European contract price of ethylene for June delivery was agreed up by EUR60/tonne, which increases the production cost of PVC by EUR30/tonne. However, European producers increased their June PVC export prices higher than the feedstock price rise, citing the limited export quotas.

Negotiations for June deliveries of suspension polyvinyl chloride (SPVC) for the CIS markets are done in the range of EUR870-960/tonne FCA, while the May deals were done in the range of EUR830-920/tonne FCA.

Many companies reported limited export quotas at European producers because of unplanned shutdowns of some plants and a shortage of ethylene in the region.

The rise in PVC prices in Europe started in March and each month significantly exceeded the increase in the price of ethylene in the region.

February deals for European SPVC were done in the range of EUR600-640/tonne FCA.