Sasol seeks more workers in Louisiana for USD8.9 billion ethane cracker project

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Sasol has recently released a status update on its USD8.9-billion ethane cracker and derivatives complex and the company’s progress toward its Louisiana First strategy, nearly one year after announcing a final investment decision (FID), as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

"We are delivering on our commitment to hire Louisiana workers and use Louisiana businesses first for our contracting and procurement needs," said Mike Thomas, senior vice president of Sasol North American Operations. "A local workforce and contractor support team with experience and strong ties to our community adds considerable value to our operations and helps strengthen the local economy."

There are job opportunities available in both the operational and construction phases of the project. Of the more than 500 full-time, Sasol positions to operate the new ethane cracker and derivative units, Sasol has hired more than 200, including operators, processors, engineers, laboratory analysts, chemists as well as operations and maintenance personnel. Close to 80% of these new hires are from Calcasieu Parish; the majority of the remaining hires are from other cities in Louisiana.

Of the 5,000 temporary construction phase positions, approximately 3,300 workers are currently on site through eight major Louisiana construction contractors and Fluor Technip Integrated.

Sasol appointed eight major Louisiana-based contractors to support construction of its ethane cracker and derivatives project, reflecting a commitment of more than USD2.5 billion in contracts to Louisiana businesses to date.

Early works activities, site preparation and civil construction work have been underway since 2014. On-site concrete batch plants are operational and internal haul routes are complete, eliminating a significant amount of off-site public road use for material delivery and earthmoving activities. Site above-ground work and heavy equipment deliveries began this fall.

The first phase of the heavy haul route strengthening project is complete, and widening work is under way with the first Sasol heavy haul transports planned for early December. Other infrastructure improvements will be performed over the next several months throughout the city of Westlake and surrounding areas as agreed with the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

The heavy haul route work and other infrastructure improvement projects, including a significant amount of new water, sewer and gas line infrastructure for the city of Westlake along the heavy haul route, represent an investment of more than USD40 million, with USD35 million in the city of Westlake alone.

Mechanical, electrical and instrumentation work are scheduled to begin in 2016 and continue throughout 2017. Sasol expects the facility to begin a phased commissioning in 2017, with full plant operation expected in 2018.

Once complete, the facility will produce approximately 1.5 MMtpy of ethylene. The ethylene will be used in six new downstream derivative plants to produce a range of high-value derivatives.

As MRC reported before, in late December 2014, Sasol announced the completion of a USD4 billion credit facility for its ethane cracker and derivatives at its existing site in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Sasol Limited is an integrated energy and chemical company based in Johannesburg, South Africa. It develops and commercialises technologies, including synthetic fuels technologies, and produces different liquid fuels, chemicals and electricity.

Iran targets new investments in refineries abroad

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Iran is entering into negotiations to buy shares in oil refineries in Europe, Latin America and Asia, its deputy oil minister was quoted this week as saying by Mehr news agency, reported Hydrocarbonprocessing.

"Buying the oil refineries or their shares abroad is the policy of Iran after the lifting of sanctions," said Abbas Kazemi, head of the National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Co.

Under a deal reached with six major world powers in July, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for an end to economic sanctions imposed on the country in 2012.

Kazemi said that Tehran was in talks to buy a stake in India's Essar Oil, although India's No. 2 private refiner denied this.

"Essar has signed a non-binding term sheet with (Russian refiner) Rosneft for exclusive negotiations in relation to sale of Essar Oil shares and there is no other discussion in this regard," an Essar spokesman told news agency Reuters.

Kazemi said the National Iranian Oil Co. (NIOC) was willing to invest in plants to refine Iran's crude oil, since that would be more economical for the country.

Iran aims to raise oil output by 500,000 bpd as soon as sanctions are lifted in early 2016 and by 1 million bpd from March.

Once sanctions are removed, Iranian officials believe that Asian markets will be the company's priority for selling oil.

As MRC reported before, currently number of active Iranian Petrochemical complexes are 53, with total production capacity of 59 million metric ton, producing range of polymers, chemicals, aromatics & liquid gas, located mainly at Iranian south region, next to Persian Gulf, called Assaluyeh and Mahshahr Special Economic Zones.

At the moment, there are 67 developments projects in the country which are under construction, adding 61 million metric ton on total production and estimated to fully run till 2018.

Elasto Sweden starts new line for medical TPEs

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Elasto (Amal, Sweden) increases their medical capabilities with the start-up of a new medical line and expansion to the technical centre at their facility in Amal, Sweden, reported GV.

"High quality materials, produced under consistent conditions with a strict raw material selection policy, all backed by specialist technical support, this is what we’ve built our medical strategy on," commented Niklas Ottosson, medical technical manager at Elasto. "Our strong heritage in this sector gives us a deep understanding of medical device regulations and requirements, such as; traceability, reproducibility and formulation stability."

As part of the investment, the company has also expanded the technical resources at their Swedish facility, Klas Dannas, Global R+D coordinator for Hexpol TPE commented: "Hexpol TPE operate technical centres at each of their production sites; ensuring fast and responsive customer support. Our teams of chemists and polymer engineers’ use advanced polymer testing and analysis equipment to develop progressive TPE compounds customised to our customers’ requirements. To support our growing customer base, we have added to our technical centre in Sweden with the installation of a new pilot line and further investments in analytical equipment such as FTIR, DSC and TGA machines."

Elasto Sweden is, according to their own information, the first European TPE compounder to be awarded the ISO 13485 certification for the development, manufacture, marketing and sales of TPE compounds for the medical device industry.

As MRC wrote previously, in September 2015, Elasto expanded the range of Mediprene TPE compounds for plunger seals in single-use syringe.

Elasto Muller Kunststoffe supports the thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) market with a sophisticated and innovative product range developed by highly qualified material experts. The company's products combine the performance of thermoset rubbers with the processing ease of plastics to deliver enhanced design possibilities to a diverse range of markets, including automotive, medical, caps and closures, construction, toy and household. ELASTO is part of the compounding business area of HEXPOL, one of the world's leading polymer groups.

Asahi Kasei delays the restart of SM plant in Japan

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Asahi Kasei has postponed the restart of its No.3 styrene monomer (SM) plant, according to Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in Japan informed that the restart of the plant has been delayed to end-November 2015 owing to a technical problems. It was initially scheduled to restart in mid-November 2015.

Located in Mizushima, Japan, the plant has a production capacity of 390,000 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.

Asahi Kasei Corporation is a global Japanese chemical company. Its main products are chemicals and materials science.

PTTGC selected Ineos Technologies for its new polyethylene project in Ohio

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Ineos Technologies (part of Ineos Group) has announced that it has licensed its Innovene S Process for the manufacture of medium density and high density polyethylene (HDPE) to PTTGC America LLC, an affiliate of PTT, Thailand’s largest petrochemical and refining company, at its new cracker complex to be located near Dilles Bottom, Ohio, USA, said Ineos on its site.

The Innovene S HDPE plant will consist of two lines having a total capacity of 700 KTA, producing a wide range of polyethylene grades to serve the growing demand for high performance products in the US and export markets.

Peter Williams, CEO of Ineos Technologies, said: "Ineos is delighted to have been selected by PTTGC as its licensing partner for the HDPE plant in Ohio . We look forward to working with the PTTGC team to deliver an asset that will meet fully both the current and future requirements of PTTGC’s customers."

Panod Awaiwanond, General Manager of PTTGC America stated that: "PTTGC is very excited by this project based on the US Shale Gas economics. We have chosen a very dynamic location for the plant at Dilles Bottom, Ohio with a highly skilled work force and support of the local and state governments. The Ineos Innovene S technology fits with our economic and market needs to ensure a successful project for all of our new stakeholders."

As MRC reported earlier, in October 2014, Ineos Technologies entered into license agreements for its Innovene S and Innovene G polyethylene (PE) technologies to be used by the proposed ASCENT (Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise) petrochemical complex currently being evaluated by Odebrecht and Braskem in West Virginia, United States.

Ineos Group Limited is a privately owned multinational chemicals company consisting of 15 standalone business units, headquartered in Rolle, Switzerland and with its registered office in Lyndhurst, United Kingdom. It is the fourth largest chemicals company in the world measured by revenues (after BASF, Dow Chemical and LyondellBasell) and the largest privately owned company in the United Kingdom.