South Korean chemicals producers pressed to scale down excessive capacity

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The Financial Services Commission, South Korea's financial regulator, said that local chemicals producers will be under pressure to reduce their excessive output capacity amid a protracted economic slump, as per GV.

Under the measures, local banks will prod chemicals manufacturers to slim down their production capacity as part of efforts to reduce financial risks.

The set of measures came as the country's corporate sector faces a double whammy of low profitability and a slump in revenues amid an economic slowdown.

As MRC reported before, Korean petrochemical company SK Global Chemical scheduled a maintenance turnaround at its linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) plant in South Korea. The plant is planned to be shut in September-October 2016. It is likely to remain off-stream for around 40 days. Located in Ulsan, South Korea, the No.1 LLDPE plant has a production capacity of 210,000 mt/year.

BASF strengthening global network for pigment production

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BASF is strengthening its global production network for pigments with two new investments. At the site in Nanjing, China, the company has increased its production capacities for high-performance diketopyrrolopyrrole pigments (DPP), said the producer on its site.

In Ludwigshafen, BASF is going to expand its capacities for the production of versatile alpha blue pigments, which are particularly characterized by their excellent fastness properties, by the fall of 2016.

The color-intensive and extremely lightfast and weatherproof DPP pigments, which are marketed by BASF under the product name Irgazin, are - among other applications - used for automotive, industrial and powder coatings, paints and inks as well as for plastic applications. By expanding its capacities in Nanjing, BASF has responded to the ever-increasing demand for high-performance pigments, particularly in Asia-Pacific.

"DPP pigments are a high-quality alternative to lead-chromate-based pigments that are increasingly being regulated all over the world. With these innovative products, we help our customers develop more sustainable solutions," explains Jeff Knight, Senior Vice President of the business unit Dispersions & Pigments Asia-Pacific.

In its plant in Nanjing, which commenced operation in 2013, BASF has, in the meantime, started producing various DPP pigments, above all for the Asian market. With its comprehensive production network for DPP pigments, which includes sites in all regions, the company is in a position to rapidly and reliably supply high-quality pigments all over the world that comply with standardized specifications.

On its Ludwigshafen site, BASF is going to expand the capacities for the production of alpha blue pigments which will be available from fall 2016 onwards. The reddish copper phthalocyanine pigments which - in addition to other blue and green pigments that are based on the same chemistry - are sold by BASF under the Heliogen brand, are characterized by their excellent fastness properties. In addition, alpha blue pigments stand out due to their versatile applicability that includes plastic coloring, printing applications as well as industrial and automotive coatings and paints.

"While this capacity expansion is our response to the growing demand in the market, it also increases our delivery reliability," says Dr. Alexander Haunschild, Senior Vice President of the business unit Pigments & Resins Europe. “Taking into account the latest trends in color, we expect that customer demand for alpha blue pigments is going to continue to increase significantly."

As MRC informed previously, BASF will form a global business unit (GBU) combining all of its pigments activities effective January 2016. In the second half of 2016, BASF intends to carve out its pigments business and establish separate legal entities.

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.

Linde to acquire American HomePatients

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Linde (Munich) announced that it has agreed to acquire American HomePatients (Brentwood, TN) from Highland Capital Management as part of its strategy to expand the homecare market, said Bloomberg.

The company will be integrated into Linde's US subsidiary, Lincare, expanding Lincare's customer base to significantly more than 1 million patients in the United States. Completion is subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016.

Linde already has a significant position in the U.S. homecare market following its USD3.8 billion acquisition in 2012 of Lincare Holdings Inc., which also provides medical gases to patients at home. Linde is expanding the operation to benefit from an aging population even though the company said this month that cuts in Medicare, the government program that provides health services to the elderly, will hurt earnings in the next few years.

American HomePatient employs about 2,700 people and is mainly active in the eastern U.S., Linde said Monday. Highland Capital acquired the company in 2010 after building up its stake in the maker of medical gases over several years. The company serves patients with severe forms of lung disease and sleep apnea.

As MRC informed earlier, Czech Republic-based oil distribution company Unipetrol awarded two separate contracts to Linde Engineering and Technip for conducting reconstruction work at the company's damaged ethylene plant in Zaluzi.

The Linde Group is a world-leading gases and engineering company with around 62,000 employees in more than 100 countries worldwide.

Russia asked to buy 80,000 tonnes of rubber from Thailand

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Thailand has encouraged Russia to sign a contract for the purchase of 80,000 tonnes of rubber worth USD139.1 million soon. This will ensure supplies for Russian automobile and aircraft production, reported GV.

The Russian government has also agreed to persuade its private enterprises to invest in Thailand. At the same time, Russia has urged Thai investors to expand investment in its country.

According to the Trade Negotiations Department, Russia is Thailand's 23rd-largest trading partner, with average bilateral trade worth USD4.91 billion last year, accounting for 1.08 % of Thailand's total trade value. Thailand has a trade deficit with Russia. In the first eight months of this year, two-way trade amounted to USD1.68 billion, down by 50.73 % year on year.

We remind that, as MRC wrote previously, Sumitomo Rubber Industries will boost auto tire production capacity at a key site in Thailand by 9% on strong exports to the US and anticipated sales growth in Southeast Asia.

Sinochem receives approval to expand refinery, build petchem complex at Quanzhou

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The provincial development and reform commission in Fujian Province, China on Monday approved Sinochem’s plan to add 60,000 bbl/day capacity at its recently commissioned 240,000 bbl/day Quanzhou refinery and build a new petrochemical complex by 2018, said Chemweek.

The project was given the go ahead by Fujian’s environmental protection department in October.

The Rmb43.3 billion (USD6.8 billion) project will expand Quanzhou’s existing crude unit by 25% to 300,000 bbl/day. Sinochem will also add 13 chemical units including a 1-million m.t./year ethylene plant, 800,000 m.t./year para-xylene unit, 300,000 m.t./year aromatics extraction plant, 400,000 m.t./year polyethylene unit and several other facilities, including a 10,000 bb/day gasoline hydrogenation and a 20,000 bbl/day diesel hydrogenation unit.

As MRC informed earlier, last year Sinochem got approva from the National Development and Reform Commission for preliminary work for a 1 mln tpa ethylene project in Quanzhou of the southeastern Fujian province.

Quanzhou, Sinochem’s only wholly-owned refinery, started operations in July last year and mainly processes Saudi Arabian light, Arab heavy and Iraq’s Basrah light crudes, as well as some Angolan and Omani grades.