French oil group Total sells Geosel majority stake

MOSCOW (MRC) -- French oil major Total said it agreed to sell a majority stake of 50% plus 1% share in Geosel Manosque to a 50-50 consortium of EDF Invest and Ardian as part of its USD10 billon disposal plan, said Reuters.

The transaction values Total's interest at 265 million euros (USD297 million), excluding inventory, the company said in a statement.

Total said it will retain 3.4% of Geosel, which owns the Manosque underground storage facility in southeastern France, and will continue to use Geosel's infrastructure.

"The sale of this infrastructure asset is part of our programme to sell USD10 billion in assets by 2017 and reflects Total's active portfolio management strategy," Total Chief Financial Officer Patrick de la Chevardiere said.

As MRC informed earlier, Total planned to permanently shut its high density polyethylene (HDPE) line. The plant will be shut permanently owing to weak margins which have arisen on account of cheap imports in the region. Located at Antwerp in Belgium, the line has a production capacity of 70,000 mt/year.

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.

BASF presents world first top mount with polyurethane bearing and polyamide housing

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BASF, the world's pretrochemical major, had presented the world's first top mount with polyurethane bearing and polyamide housing, said the producer on its site.

Thus, BASF is now expanding its expertise in top mounts to enable car manufacturers an optimum combination of weight savings, pleasant acoustics and vibration damping. The unique NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) solution is made possible by combining two of BASF's plastic specialties: the micro-cellular polyurethane elastomer Cellasto and the highly glass-fiber reinforced polyamide Ultramid A3WG10 CR.

The top mount with the Cellasto element and the Ultramid housing is around 25% lighter than conventional aluminum die-cast versions with rubber. It was developed and optimized for serial production using BASF's simulation tool Ultrasim.

As MRC reported earlier, with the polyurethane foam system Elastoflex E from BASF it is possible for the first time to mass-produce an exterior car part featuring a honeycomb sandwich structure with a class-A film.

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.

Lanxess in talks with Ineos over rubber joint venture

MOSCOW (MRC) -- German speciality chemicals company Lanxess, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of synthetic rubber, is in talks to put its main synthetic rubber business into a joint venture with petrochemicals group Ineos, four people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Financial terms and the size of the stakes to be held in the new entity have yet to be agreed, but Ineos has jumped to the head of a queue of interested parties and a deal could be signed within the next few weeks, the sources said.

Lanxess has also held talks with Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) and Russia's NKNK and Sibur , but negotiations over the sale of a stake or pooling of assets have proved difficult, other sources familiar with the matter said.

Saudi Aramco, Sibur, NKNK and Lanxess declined to comment and Ineos did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

The search for a strategic partner for the leading global player in synthetic rubber began more than a year ago as the company sought to combat oversupply in the industry.

Lanxess has asked prospective partners to submit final offers in the next few weeks, one person familiar with the matter said.

Chief Executive Matthias Zachert has said the group could partner with a supplier of butadiene to be less exposed to swings in the market for synthetic rubber's main raw material.

As MRC reported before, in May 2014, Lanxess undertook a complete rebranding of its butyl rubber products. A package encompassing a global ability to deliver products anywhere, anytime, extensive technical expertise, a focus on innovative solutions and customer demands - all this is what the new LANXESS X_Butyl brand stands for. The new brand family is called X_Butyl.

Lanxess is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 8.0 billion in 2014 and about 16,600 employees in 29 countries. The company is currently represented at 52 production sites worldwide. The core business of Lanxess is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals.

Henkel developed innovation to enable durable polymer surface with unique properties

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The global coatings market is rapidly changing with increasing demands for new technologies that offer additional functionalities and improved sustainability. Henkel Adhesive Technologies is aiming to drive the transition as first mover and to meet future customer requirements at an early stage. DropWise's innovation will enable a durable polymer surface with unique properties that offers improved heat transfer, said the producer on its site.

The DropWise application process is based on an initiated chemical vapor deposition (iCVD) technique which allows the coating to be applied for OEM or retrofit applications. Using just a very small amount of polymer precursors, a chemical reaction is carried out that covalently grafts an ultra-thin polymer film to any metal surface, such as stainless steel, titanium, copper, aluminum, and even polymers and ceramics.

"We are very excited to be partnering with a global leader in metal surface treatment," says Adam Paxson, CEO of DropWise. "Henkel’s deep technical expertise and strong track record of bringing new innovations to their customers will enable us to fast-track commercialization in key market areas." DropWise is commercializing the technology out of two laboratories at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) which has a strong track record of bringing material science-based innovation to the market. Henkel Adhesive Technologies is closely working with MIT to directly interact with start-ups and entrepreneurs.

As part of its innovation strategy, the Henkel business unit is continuously strengthening its technical scouting and engagement with promising start-up companies. The most recent result is the signing of a joint development agreement with US-based DropWise Technologies Corp. The start-up company has developed technology, intellectual property and lab-scale manufacturing know how for a novel method of hydrophobic coating applications. The partnership will enable Henkel further expanding its leading position in the global surface treatment business and driving growth with new applications.

"Collaborating with promising start-ups that provide access to cutting-edge future technologies is an integral part of our innovation strategy", explains Mike Olosky, Corporate Senior Vice President and Global Head of Innovation & New Business Development, Henkel Adhesive Technologies. "Together with DropWise we can combine their unique technologies with our global market access and know-how in coatings to generate profitable growth for both partners in the future."

As MRC wrote before, in June 2015, Henkel Russia opened a new dry building mixes plant in the Novosibirsk region. The new production site reportedly places the company closer to customers in the Siberian and Far East regions of Russia. The new site is Henkel’s ninth and Henkel Bautechnik’s (part of Henkel Adhesive Technologies) fifth production facility in Russia. More than 120 new jobs will reportedly be created at the plant, which will produce dry mortar mixes products under the Ceresit and Thomsit brands.

Henkel operates in three business units, including laundry and home care, beauty care and adhesive technologies.

Unipetrol picks Technip for a new PE unit to be launched in mid-2018

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Unipetrol and Italian Technip has signed a contract on construction of a new polyethylene (PE) unit (PE3) at Litvinov plant, as per the company's press release.

The biggest investment in the history of the Czech petrochemical industry will be one of the most modern production facilities of this kind in Europe. The value of the signed agreement amounts to 5.76 billion CZK. The overall project costs are estimated at 8.5 billion CZK. The unit is expected to be put into operation in the middle of 2018.

The new polyethylene unit PE3 will have a production capacity of up to 270 kt per year and will replace polyethylene unit PE1. The polyethylene unit PE2 (with a capacity of 200 kt per year) is remaining in the operation. The investment will help to increase the utilization of the ethylene unit and will contribute to greater integration of the petrochemical and refining production of Unipetrol Group. With the new technology, the company will be able to reach out for new industrial segments, including cosmetic or packaging industry.

"The construction of the new polyethylene unit is a key investment not only within our mid-term strategy but also for the development of the Czech petrochemical industry, both because of the capital invested and the most advanced technology to be used. The technology will move Unipetrol to the European elite in the area of product quality and at the same time ensure even better safety and reliability of the production. This is also a clear indication of our long term commitment to the strategic development on the Czech market," said CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Unipetrol Marek Switajewski.

The beginning of the construction works is scheduled for the second quarter of the next year. There will be approx. 1,000 workers operating during most intensive phases of the construction at the site. Most of the subcontractors are planned to be hired from the local market. At the moment, companies Metrostav and CKD Praha DIZ are already present on the site at Litvinov plant carrying out the necessary preparation works for construction of the production units.

As MRC reported earlier, the new polyethylene unit will be built on the basis of the technology license from the company INEOS that Unipetrol gained at the end of 2013.

Unipetrol , a.s. is a group of companies operating in the petrochemical industry in the Czech Republic. In 2005 Unipetrol became a part of the PKN ORLEN Group, the largest oil processor in Central Europe. The UNIPETROL Group is oriented mostly towards oil processing, fuel distribution and petrochemical production. In all of these business areas the Unipetrol Group is among the key players both in the Czech Republic and on the Central European market. The Group ranks among the leading firms in the Czech Republic in terms of its revenues, and employs almost 4,000 people.