Asahi Kasei to mothball cracker in Japan

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Asahi Kasei is likely to shut a naphtha cracker permanently, according to Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in Japan informed that the plant is likely to be mothballed by April 2016. The permanent shutdown has been attributed to sluggish demand in the domestic markets and cheap product imports from China.

Located in Mizushima, Japan, the cracker has an ethylene capacity of 470,000 mt/year and propylene capacity of 300,000 mt/year.

As MRC wrote previously, Asahi Kasei’s (Tokyo, Japan) Fibers division will expand production capacity for polypropylene spunbond nonwovens in Thailand at its subsidiary Asahi Kasei Spunbond (Thailand) Co. AKST will add a new production line of 20,000 metric tons per year capacity which, combined with its existing production line, will double its capacity for spunbond nonwovens to 40,000 m.t/yr. The investment for the capacity expansion is approximately USD5 billion, with a scheduled startup of November 2015.

DKSH acquires specialty chemicals distributor Andreas Jennow in Northern Europe

MOSCOW (MRC) -- DKSH announced the acquisition of Andreas Jennow, a top-ranking specialty chemicals distributor in Northern Europe, said the producer in the press release.

With this move, DKSH Business Unit Performance Materials strengthens its geographic coverage in Europe, complements its market leadership in Asia and drives forward the consolidation of the chemical distribution industry.

With its Business Unit Performance Materials, DKSH provides distribution services for its clients and suppliers in the chemical, personal care, pharmaceutical and food industries. In addition, DKSH offers sourcing services for specialty products from numerous markets across Asia, Europe and the Americas. Performance Materials is the only Business Unit of DKSH where product and service flows are managed from Europe to Asia and vice versa.

Founded in 1916 and with net sales of around CHF 30 million at sound profitability in 2014, Andreas Jennow is a leading specialty chemicals distributor and major supplier of raw materials in Northern Europe and in the Baltics. The company has activities in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Andreas Jennow offers the full product range for the specialty chemicals and personal care industries. The acquisition is immediately earnings accretive.

Peter From, Managing Director of Andreas Jennow stated: "With this transaction, we create an ideal succession solution and a solid foundation for the future development of our almost 100-year-old company. DKSH’s global platform makes the company an ideal new owner. Beyond ensuring the successful continuation of our business, DKSH will provide our clients and customers the opportunity for regional expansion and access to a larger product portfolio."

Andreas Jennow’s well-regarded management team stays with DKSH, will lead the operations in the Nordics and in the Baltics and strengthens the Business Unit organization further.

As MRC informed earlier, DKSH and BTC Chemical Distribution, a subsidiary of BASF, started a strategic collaboration for colorants in the personal care and household industries in 14 Asian countries.

DKSH Business Unit Performance Materials is a leading specialty chemicals distributor and provider of market expansion Services for performance materials, covering Europe, North America, and the whole of Asia. The Business Unit sources, develops, markets, and distributes a wide range of specialty chemicals and ingredients for pharmaceutical, personal care, food & beverage, as well as various industrial applications.

Daqing Petrochemical to restart PP plant planned to be restarted by

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Daqing Petrochemical is in plans to restart a polypropylene (PP) plant following maintenance turnaround, as per Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in China informed that the plant is planned to be restarted in end-July 2015. It was shut on June 22, 2015.

Located in Heilongjiang province of China, the plant has a production capacity of 100,000 mt/year.

As MRC wrote previously, Daqing Petrochemical took off-stream a high density polyethylene/linear low density polyethylene (HDPE/LLDPE) swing plant for maintenance turnaround on June 20, 2015. It is likely to remain off-stream for around one month. Located in Daqing city, China, the plant has a production capacity of 310,000 mt/year.

Daqing Petrochemical Company is a regional branch company of Petro-China Company Limited. It is a giant-scale petrochemical complex producing oil products, chemicals, fertilizers and chemical fiber with the major raw materials of crude oil, light hydrocarbon and natural gas from Daqing oilfield.

Braskem sued in New York court over involvement in a graft scandal

MOSCOW (MRC) -- A Braskem SA shareholder sued the Brazilian petrochemical producer on Wednesday, accusing it of involvement in a graft scandal that has engulfed key stakeholders Odebrecht and Petrobras and led to a selloff in Braskem's U.S.-traded stock, said Reuters.

Plaintiff Douglas W. Peters is seeking class action status for the lawsuit, filed in a Manhattan federal court on behalf of individuals or institutions that purchased Braskem's American depositary receipts between June 1, 2010 and March 11, 2015, according to court documents.

Braskem and four executives working for or linked with the company are accused in the suit of making "materially false and misleading statements regarding the company's business, operational, and compliance policies." Such allegations do not require proof that misstatements were made knowingly.

Braskem said in a statement it had not been notified of any legal proceedings in the United States and therefore could not comment.

The list of defendants include Braskem Chief Executive Officer Carlos Fadigas and his predecessor, Bernardo Gradin. Marcela Drehmer, the chief financial officer of Odebrecht SA, Brazil's largest engineering firm and Braskem's controlling shareholder, was also named in the lawsuit.

Braskem has long-term contracts to buy naphtha from Petrobras, the state-run oil firm at the center of a sweeping corruption scandal. The other defendants could not immediately be reached for comment.

More than 100 people have been indicted on charges including corruption, money laundering and racketeering in the investigation of an alleged cartel of engineering firms fixing prices on contracts with the oil company formally known as Petroleo Brasileiro SA.

Odebrecht's chief executive was arrested last month and accused by prosecutors of playing a leading role in the scandal.

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 is Brazilian main producer of polyethylene and polypropylene. In addition with ongoing plants located in both petrochemical complexes, in April 2008 Braskem opened a 300,000 metric ton polypropylene plant in the city of Paulinia (Sao Paulo).

Romanian prosecutors seize Lukoil assets in probe

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Romanian prosecutors seized assets of Russian oil firm Lukoil worth up to 2 billion euros (USD2.22 billion) in an investigation on suspicion of money laundering, as per Reuters, citing a local court.

In October of last year Romanian prosecutors, police and customs inspectors raided the offices of Lukoil near the city of Ploiesti in an investigation into alleged tax evasion and money laundering concerning an estimated 230 million euros.

As a result, Lukoil briefly shut down its local refinery.

The Ploiesti court of appeals was quoted as saying prosecutors expanded their investigation into the head of the local Petrotel Lukoil S.A. and five other employees, including two Russian citizens, on accusations of misusing company credit and money laundering.

The actions of those investigated drained the local company of capital, the court was quoted by state agency Agerpres as saying.

A Lukoil spokesman in Moscow declined to comment. In Romania, Petrotel Lukoil officials were not immediately available for comment via phone or email.

"Seizure measures were enforced on some assets belonging to Lukoil Europe Holdings Bvatrium Holland for up to 2 billion euros," Agerpres quoted the court as saying.

They seized accounts held with Dutch and British banks, share premiums as well as Lukoil Europe Holdings Bvatrium Holland shares in the Romanian company, it said.

As MRC informed earlier, Lukoil in February 2015 had commenced arbitration proceedings in London against China's Sinopec over an uncompleted USD1.2 billion deal. Lukoil had signed a sale and purchase agreement for the sale to Sinopec of a 50 percent stake in Caspian Investment Resources Ltd, a company with various stakes in four hydrocarbon-production projects in Kazakhstan. The deal was announced in April 2014 when the price of oil stood at above USD100 per barrel.

Lukoil is one of the world's biggest vertically integrated companies for production of crude oil & gas, and their refining into petroleum products and petrochemicals. The company is a leader on Russian and international markets in its core business, which accounts for over 20% of Russian oil production and 18% of the total Russian oil refining. Lukoil also controls two of the largest petrochemical plants in Russia and Ukraine: Stavrolen and Karpatneftekhim.