Asahi Kasei to increase styrenic thermoplastic elastomer output

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Asahi Kasei Chemicals will increase annual production capacity for hydrogenated styrenic thermoplastic elastomer (SEBS) by 30% at its Kawasaki Works in Kanagawa, Japan, with start-up scheduled for June 2016, said the producer in its press release.

The expansion of performance polymer operations is a key element in the strategy of Asahi Kasei Chemicals to develop as a high-earnings chemical company. The company’s synthetic rubber and elastomer business is positioned as a competitively superior area, with proactive expansion focused on high-function and high-value added products. In particular, Tuftec and S.O.E. SEBS are high-performance and high-value added elastomers featuring excellent weatherability, heat resistance, and anti-abrasion properties made possible by the original catalyst and polymerization process technologies of Asahi Kasei Chemicals. They are used in a wide range of applications including plastic modification and adhesives, earning high regard from customers around the world.

SEBS is used as a modifier that enables polypropylene to be made flexible while maintaining transparency, and there are growing needs for flexible material as a substitute for polyvinyl chloride, especially in medical applications. Demand growth for this particular application has been centered in Europe and China in recent years. To meet growing demand, Asahi Kasei Chemicals increased production capacity for SEBS at its Kawasaki Works by 20% this spring. As continued demand growth is forecasted, the company decided to further increase production capacity by 30%.

By enhancing its production infrastructure through these capacity increases, Asahi Kasei Chemicals will reinforce its ability to provide customers with a swift and reliable supply even as the market for polyvinyl chloride substitute materials continues to expand. The company will continue to enhance its supply system while further heightening product quality to ensure that diversifying customer needs are met.

As MRC informed earlier, Asahi Kasei Medical Co., Ltd., a medical device company, has formed a 50:50 joint venture (JV) with Kuraray Medical Inc., a provider of dental bonding agents, dental cements, composite resins, and related material, for the production of hollow-fiber membrane for use in medical devices, using Eval ethylene-vinyl alcohol copolymer (EVOH) from Kuraray Co.

Asahi Kasei Kuraray Medical Co.,Ltd. engages in the research and development, production, and sale of medical equipment in the fields of hemodialysis, therapeutic apheresis, transfusion therapy, and virus removal for biotherapeutic products in Japan and internationally. The company offers devices for the treatment of immunologic or intractable diseases, leukocyte reduction filters to prevent adverse effects associated with blood transfusion, and virus removal filters used in biopharmaceutical production.

Amcor Flexibles becomes the leading player in the African market

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Amcor Flexibles Europe, Middle East and Africa (AFEMEA) announced it has completed the acquisition of Nampak Flexible, the leading flexibles packaging company in South Africa, said Healthcarepackaging.

In combination with Amcor's current business in Africa, the closing of this deal makes Amcor the leading flexibles player in the African market with a total net sales in the region of approximately GBP250 million (USD 280 million).
The acquisition includes four manufacturing sites and one sales office located across South Africa and generates a net sales of approximately ZAR 1.1 billion (USD 94) million per annum. They will join the Amcor Flexibles team as a new business unit, Amcor Flexibles South Africa (AFSA).

"Africa is an exciting market for Amcor Flexibles," said Peter Konieczny, President of AFEMEA. "Combining Amcor's global footprint, world-class innovation and R&D capabilities with Nampak Flexible's strong reputation for service and quality in the African market, we will create a flexible packaging business that will support Amcor's profitable growth agenda in Sub-Saharan Africa."

AFSA will provide customers with broader product and technology offerings, increased innovation and development capacity, and a more versatile manufacturing footprint in Africa. Going forward, customers will benefit from improved choice, quality, service and security of supply.

As MRC informed earlier, Amcor is rapidly expanding its presence in the Asian market. The company’s top official in the region said it will soon announce plans for a new plant. Amcor also is expanding capacity at its two Indian plants.

Amcor Limited is an Australian-based multinational packaging company. It operates manufacturing plants in 42 countries. It is the world's largest manufacturer of plastic bottles.

July increase in PC prices in the Russian market did not affect all grades

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Contrary to market expectations, not all European polycarbonate (PC) producers raised their prices in late June - early July for shipments to the Russian Federation, according to ICIS-MRC Price report.

Thus, shipments of Sabic Innovative Plastics' PC that arrived in Russia at the end of last month, remained in the previous price range for most grades. Prices of extrusion grade material were at EUR1,820/tonne CIF St Petersburg. Injection moulding PC rose slightly to EUR2,020/tonne CIF St Petersburg, whereas prices of bottle grade PC in the St Petersburg port were at EUR1,980/tonne.

Prices of Sabic Innovative Plastics' PC for sheet extrusion were at Rb183,000-184,000/tonne CPT Moscow, including VAT, in the Russian domestic market in early July. Prices of Bayer's extrusion grade PC increased by EUR300/tonne for Russian buyers, as was previously announced by the producer. Prices of material for converters were at EUR2,100/tonne CIF St Petersburg in late June.

The Russian market is in anticipation of increase in prices of major suppliers' shipments on the back of the global upward trend in feedstocks and PC prices in Europe. European prices are unlikely to roll back to their former level (EUR2,200-2,250/tonne) in the near future because of a shortage of polymer in the domestic market and lower margins in the industry.

Iran plans to resume PC deliveries to Russia in July

MOSCOW (MRC) - The delivery of Iranian polycarbonate (PC) is expected to be resumed into Russia in mid-July following a two-month pause, according to ICIS-MRC Price Report.

The only PC maker in Iran, Khuzestan Petrochemical (Sirjangostar Global Group), announced continuation of cooperation with the Russian market. The first deliveries of the material were made in April this year. The converters were in no hurry to buy large batches of the polymer because of cheaper offers of Russian material.

In July, market players reported a significant shortage of PC, which helped to resume the supply of Iranian or Asian PC because of their more competitive prices (compared to the European ones). Prices of Iranian PC in the Astrakhan port is at Rb108,000/tonne. Prices for Iranian PC are lower than the Russian material, and, especially, for European one.

Representatives of Khuzestan Petrochemical (Sirjangostar Global Group) said that the producer intends to begin work with the European markets (in particular, the Italian market). The company will also sell its material in the markets of Turkey and India.

Sirjangostar Global Group is the largest exporter of Iranian polymers and the only exporter of Iranian PC in Russia.
The company recently shipped the first batches of Iranian PC to the European market for the first time after the lifting of sanctions, effective from 2010. In the near future Sirjangostar Global Group plans to occupy a niche in the Russian market.

The deficit increased in the Russian LDPE market; prices hit new records

MOSCOW (MRC) - The shortage of low density polyethylene (LDPE) continues to grow in the Russian market, while two producers are going for maintenance works soon. Prices for polyethylene this week exceeded the record level of April, according to ICIS-MRC Price Report.

Supply of LDPE has been tightening since the second half of June in the Russian market, and the deficit increases every day. Gazprom neftekhim Salavat has shut its PE capacities, and Ufaorgsintez and Angarsk ZP will also shut for turnarounds in July, which aggravate the supply of material even more. Prices for some PE grades exceeded Rb110,000/tonne by mid-July.

Russian LDPE consumers in the second time this year faced the shortage and the record high price level. The first of which occurred in April because of the shut down of the production at Kazanorgsintez. Thus, both cases resulted from scheduled maintenance works at the local plants.

However, the current case is more serious. Gazprom neftekhim Salavat shut down its LDPE production for a one-month maintenance from 24 June (the plant's annual capacity is 45,000 tonnes). Ufaorgsintez will shut its two lines of PE production (88,000 tonnes/year) on 13, July. Angar ZP will shut its 77,000 tonnes/year PE production for the turnaround from 20, July to 28, August. Besides, Kazanorgsintez because of the ethylene shortage has been working at the lower production rates. Annual PE capacity utilisation at the plan is 210,000/tonnes.

All of these factors (scheduled maintenances and lower production rates) led to a serious imbalance of supply and demand in the Russian LDPE market. This situation can last several months, in the end of August Tomskneftekhim is also going for the turnaround (annual capacity is 240,000/tonnes).

The sharp deficit has led to a new record level of LDPE prices in the mid-July. In most cases, converters had to buy feedstock above the level of Rb100,000/tonne FCA, including VAT, and, in some cases, the deals for PE for the production of shrinkable films reached Rb110,000/tonne FCA, including VAT.

Converters reacted differently to the situation. Some of them suspend their LDPE purchases, not willing to pay for the feedstock more than Rb100,000/tonne FCA, including VAT. Some converters had to accept such a high level of LDPE prices because of contracts for films production, companies are trying to agree a new level of prices for finished products.