KNPC selects Fluor as preferred bidder for EPC work at Al-Zour oil refinery

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Kuwait National Petroleum Co. (KNPC) has selected Fluor's joint venture team as the preferred bidder for two engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) packages for the 615,000-b/d Al-Zour refinery project located south of Kuwait City, as per GV.

Fluor's joint venture, FDH JV, consists of Fluor, Daewoo Engineering and Construction and Hyundai Heavy Industries. FDH will be responsible for a variety of key process units, utilities and infrastructure for the refinery.

A schedule for the project was not given, but Fluor said it will begin activities soon.

As MRC reported earlier, in December 2014, KNPC was considering combining the Al-Zour refinery with the production of petrochemicals. The petrochemical production would involve an olefins and aromatics project planned by affiliate Petrochemical Industries Co., for the production of ethylene, ethylene glycol, high-density and linear low-density polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate and purified terephthalic acid..

The complex is also expected to include liquefied natural gas import facilities.

BASF expands its range of specialty amines

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BASF has strengthened its comprehensive range of amines with a new product: the cycloaliphatic diamine Methylcyclohexyldiamine (MCDA), which the company markets under the brand name Baxxodur EC210, as per the company's press release.

Used as an aminic hardener in epoxy resin-based systems (epoxy systems), Baxxodur EC210 improves, for example, the manufacturing of rotor blades for wind power plants and coatings for industrial floors and bridges. BASF is currently researching additional application areas of Baxxodur EC210.

Baxxodur EC210 is higher yielding, lower viscous, and can be processed longer than comparable products. Furthermore BASF’s customers from the composite and construction industry also like the delivery reliability that the company offers due to its backward integration. BASF produces Baxxodur EC210 at its Ludwigshafen site in Germany. The product is available in commercial quantities.

With about 200 different amines, BASF has the world’s most diverse portfolio of this type of chemical intermediates. Along with alkyl-, alkanol- and alkoxyalkylamines, the company offers heterocyclic and aromatic as well as specialty amines. The range is completed by an expanding portfolio of chiral amines of high optical and chemical purity. The versatile products are used mainly to manufacture process chemicals, pharmaceuticals and crop protection products, as well as cosmetic products and detergents. They also serve to produce coatings, special plastics, composites and special fibers.

As MRC wrote before, BASF will expand its emollients and waxes production capacity with a new plant at its site in Jinshan, Shanghai. The investment, complementing the current production of wax esters, emulsifiers and primary surfactants in Jinshan, will further enhance BASF’s local production and better serve the growing personal care market in Asia Pacific.

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.

Nippon Shokubai awards Jacobs contract for proposed SAP and AA project

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Nippon Shokubai Europe has awarded a detailed engineering, procurement and construction management contract to Jacobs Engineering for the planned expansion of a superabsorbent polymer (SAP) plant and the construction of a new acrylic acid (AA) facility at Nippon's site in Zwijndrecht, Belgium, as per GV.

The EUR350-million project involves increasing SAP production capacity by 100,000 t/y and building a new 100,000-t/y AA unit. Expansion of the SAP plant will raise Nippon's total SAP capacity in Belgium to 160,000 t/y.

Mechanical completion is expected in October 2017 and commercial operations are planned for May 2018.

Upon completion of the project, the Nippon Shokubai group's global SAP capacity will be increased to 710,000 t/y and global AA capacity will be raised to 880,000 t/y. Value of Jacob's contract was not disclosed.

As MRC wrote previously, in summer 2013, Nippon Shokubai received a new "lift of restrictions," allowing the company to resume production at a second acrylic acid unit at its Himeji complex in Japan. Two separate explosions at its Himeji site in September 2012 forced the company to stop production of acrylic acid and superabsorbent polymers and resulted in the suspension of most operations at Himeji.

Nippon Shokubai produces one fifth of the global volume of superabsorbent polymers and it is one of the world's biggest makers of acrylic acid, the main ingredient of a resin called SAP, which is used in diapers

South Korean petrochemical industries is next target of restructuring

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The South Korean government is pushing forward with consolidation of the petrochemical industries, which are mired in a supply glut and the protracted global economic recession, reported GV.

The restructuring on the petrochemical industry is currently led by the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy. Although working-level officials of major petrochemical firms such as LG Chem, Lotte Chemical, and SK Global Chemical held a meeting last month in order to discuss issues like capacity adjustment, they no longer do it out of concern that it might be construed as an act of collusion by the Fair Trade Commission.

At the time of the meeting, the company officials talked about issues such as volume purchase of naphtha and sharing of wharf and storage facilities to save cost.

The focus of the first-stage talks between the companies and the ministry is on consolidating firms producing purified terephthalic acid (PTA), which include Hanwha General Chemical and Samnam Petrochemical.

These companies are facing a serious financial situation after PTA prices tumbled due to overproduction by Chinese producers. In the first half of this year, the two companies posted losses of 23.2 billion won and 15.0 billion won each.

As part of restructuring measures, the government is reviewing ideas of helping these firms reduce cost through sharing of logistics and production facilities.

We remind that, as MRC informed previously, in March 2015, South Korea's Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) gave conditional approval to Hanwha's proposed acquisition of Samsung General Chemicals. The regulatory authority identified that the combined entity could dominate the domestic ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) market, which could result in higher prices. However, markets of the other three chemical products including low-density polyethylene, linear low-density polyethylene and high-density polyethylene will not be significantly affected by the transaction, KFTC said.

Egypt has healthy prospects for chemicals and plastics sector

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Egypt’s chemicals and plastics sector is becoming an increasingly important contributor to industrial output and exports. With demand being driven by agriculture and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), the sector is likely to become an industrial heavyweight in the coming years, reported GV.

The petrochemicals sector currently accounts for around 3% of the country’s GDP and 12% of the industrial sector, according to the industry press, with the Egyptian Industrial Development Authority placing the plastics and petrochemical industry’s value at around USD7.5 billion last year.

While domestic use of plastics is already relatively high, there is further room for growth. Plastic consumption stood at 25 kg per capita in 2012, with demand growing by 6% per year since 2006. Although this ranks above the Middle Eastern average of 16 kg per capita, the European average is much higher, at around 136 kg, suggesting that demand could increase in line with economic growth.

Data also suggests potential for local production. Imported plastics currently account for 72% of domestic consumption, according to Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals (SIDPEC), a leading local producer. With imports increasingly constrained by foreign exchange shortages, local plastics manufacturers could see their market share rise.

Beyond the domestic market, Egypt’s plastics industry has posted substantial export growth. While the broader industrial sector has faced headwinds and declining exports, the total value of Egyptian plastic exports rose 21% year-on-year in 2014 to reach EGP 10.6 billion (USD1.4 billion), according to the Egyptian Chemical and Fertilisers Export Council.

While issues related to the supply of power, gas and hard currency persist, last year’s export figures suggest that the sector is continuing to flourish, thanks in large part to Egypt’s proximity to many high-consuming markets.

Turkey accounted for the highest share of Egyptian plastics exports last year, with nearly one-third of the total sold, at EGP 2 billion (USD255.3 million). This was followed by Italy (EGP 877.7 million, USD112.1 million), Belgium (EGP 736.6 million, USD97.5 million), Iraq (EGP 531.7 million, USD67.9 million) and Spain (EGP 497.5 million, USD63.5 million).

Strong demand both at home and abroad has prompted foreign players to explore investment opportunities in petrochemicals and plastics production within Egypt.

Private sector involvement will also benefit from the government’s National Petrochemicals Plan, a 20-year development programme that is now entering its third phase. Under the strategy, the country hopes to substantially boost petrochemicals output and double ethylene capacity by 2020. The initiative is also expected to foster development of downstream plastics and fibres.

While the current economic situation could see some plans delayed, the prospects for the industry are healthy and the sector is expected to attract further investment going forward.