Royal Dutch Shell shuts ethylene cracker complex at Pulau Bukom

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Royal Dutch Shell has shut its ethylene cracker complex at its Pulau Bukom manufacturing site in Singapore for maintenance to repair external corrosion in some areas, as per Reuters.

"We have had to initiate a shutdown of the ethylene cracker complex for maintenance work to rectify accelerated external corrosion in specific areas," as per a company email statement. "As a result, we have declared force majeure on our ability to supply a number of chemical products from Singapore."

The cracker produces more than 900,000 tpa of ethylene. Shell has informed its customers, and its supply team is working with them on alternate sources of supply.

The company declared force majeure on base chemical products on Dec. 1, on high purity ethylene oxide and glycols on Dec. 4, and on propylene oxide, monopropylene glycol and polyols on Dec. 7. The spokeswoman did not say how long the cracker will be shut or how long the force majeure will be in place.

The impact of the shutdown on the regional market, however, is expected to be minimal because there are few maintenance shutdowns scheduled over the winter for other crackers in Asia, which means petrochemical supplies will remain ample, Seoul-based industry sources said.

Shell first experienced a glitch at the ethylene cracker complex in October and declared force majeure on base chemical products before lifting the shipping halt a few days later. Shell also operates a 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) refinery at Bukom where a refining unit was hit by a fire in August. The unit is still shut following a stop work order by the Singapore government in September.

Royal Dutch Shell plc is an Anglo-Dutch multinational oil and gas company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands and with its registered office in London, United Kingdom. It is the biggest company in the world in terms of revenue and one of the six oil and gas "supermajors". Shell is vertically integrated and is active in every area of the oil and gas industry, including exploration and production, refining, distribution and marketing, petrochemicals, power generation and trading.

Cathay raises USD135m to expand monomer and bio-polyamide production in China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Industrial biotechnology company Cathay Industrial Biotech (Cathay) has raised USD135m through new financing to increase the capacity of monomer and bio-polyamide production at its Chinese plant, as per Chemicals Technology.

The new financing will be used by the bio-based chemical producer to increase production capacity at its existing facility in Jinxiang.

With the expansion of the plant, Cathay will expand the production capacity of long chain dibasic acids (LCDA), 1,5-pentanediamine (DN-5), and downstream polyamide business.

"We will be the first to have large-scale production capacity for DN-5, as well as launch a full line of bio-based DN-5 polyamides."

Cathay plans to complete the expansion of LCDA production by the second quarter of 2016, while the expansion of DN-5 and DN-5-based polyamides will be completed by late 2016.

Shanxi Lu'an Mining will provide the new financing for the expansion, and it will commercialise the technology developed by Cathay for raw materials and production.

DN-5 is a renewable diamine, which can be used in polyamide and diisocyanate coatings markets.

The company started production of C11 through C18 LCDA in 2003 and renewable dodecanedioic acid in 2008. Cathay also plans to produce renewable polyamides using DN-5, their LCDA and other monomers for the engineering polymers and textile segments.

We remind that, as MRC informed previously, in April 2014, Invista, a world leader in fibers, resins and chemical intermediates, started construction of a 150,000 tpa polyamide (PA) 66 plant at the Shanghai Chemical Industry Park (SCIP) in China. The company is also constructing a hexamethylene diamine (HMD) monomer plant there. The polymer and monomer plants were expected to start up in 2015.

ExxonMobil extends Singapore aromatics unit shutdown

MOSCOW (MRC) -- ExxonMobil is likely to extend a shutdown of its aromatics plant in Singapore after an unexpected outage on December 8, a customer of the company told TPS.

The plant was originally expected to be down for around 7-9 days, according to the source last week.

ExxonMobil cut paraxylene (PX) supply to one customer by 1/3 for December due to the outage, according to the source. The source did not initially anticipate supply disruptions due to this shutdown.

"For January, we have not been told of any supply disruptions so far," the source added.

Exxonmobil did not disclose specific details about why the plant was taken off-stream.

The company states that its aromatics plant in Jurong is able to produce 420,000 mt/year of PX, 330,000 mt/year of benzene, 206,000 mt/year of orthoxylene (OX), and 242,000 mt/year of toluene.

As MRC wrote previously, ExxonMobil is studying a proposal to expand its 334,600-bpd refinery in Beaumont, Texas. ExxonMobil has pulled together a group of experts at the plant to do more detailed studies on potentially adding a third crude distillation unit (CDU). The new CDU could make the Beaumont refinery the largest in the US, with capacity rising to as much as 850,000 bpd.

ExxonMobil is the largest non-government owned company in the energy industry and produces about 3% of the world's oil and about 2% of the world's energy.

DSM Engineering Plastics expands EMEA distribution through strengthened strategic partnerships

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Royal DSM, a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and materials, has announced that it has expanded its distribution capability through strategic partners Nexeo Solutions, Resinex and Ter Plastics Polymer Group to cover the entire EMEA region, said the company in its press release.

As of January 1, 2016, DSM’s engineering plastics portfolio will be available to customers throughout the EMEA region.

The move is intended to strengthen the position of DSM Engineering Plastics in the wider EMEA market and improve market share. It underlines DSM Engineering Plastic’s strategy of delivering value to customers with a strong focus on specialties development, and on providing its products to an expanded customer base through its strategic channel partners.

According to Anna Mojana, Distribution Manager, DSM Engineering Plastics: "This is a positive step forward and represents a win-win-win situation for DSM, our strategic distributors and our end-customers. DSM’s range of world class products will now be more easily available throughout EMEA, which will help grow our market share."

As MRC reported earlier, in 2013, Royal DSM signed a partnership agreement with long fibre thermoplastic (LFT) specialist Plasticomp (Winona, Minnesota/USA) to develop bio-based LFT composite materials based on DSM’s "EcoPaXX" polyamide 4.10. The lightweight materials, which include compounds reinforced with glass fiber as well as carbon fiber, will be targeted at automotive and other performance-driven markets.

Royal DSM is a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and materials. DSM delivers innovative solutions that nourish, protect and improve performance in global markets such as food and dietary supplements, personal care, feed, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, automotive, paints, electrical and electronics, life protection, alternative energy and bio-based materials.

BASF strengthens business with wood binders

MOSCOW (MRC) -- On January 1, 2016, BASF will combine the marketing and development of its wood binders of the Kaurit, Kauramin, and Lupranat brands, said the producer on its site.

This is in response to the needs of the wood-working industry. BASF customers will benefit from a single source for all adhesive systems. BASF is the only supplier in the world to offer both amino resin-based and isocyanate-based wood binders. Previously, customers have had to deal with two separate sales units.

BASF is also to expand its research in wood binder solutions. In close partnership with customers, the tried-and-tested Kaurit and Lupranat brands are to be combined to form completely new wood binder systems: "Our customers are always looking for ways to lower costs and increase their productivity. We see tremendous potential in the combination of amino resins and isocyanates. We intend to create binder systems that shorten process times and improve the characteristics of wood-based materials," says Wolfgang Gutting, Vice President Amino Resins at BASF.

BASF has over 100 years' experience in the wood-working industry and offers an extensive product portfolio that includes binders, process aids, wood preservation agents, varnishes, pigment preparations, and more.

As MRC informed previously, in September 2015, BASF began its first production of diphenylmethane diisocyanate (MDI) at its wholly-owned site in Chongqing, China. Production will be ramped up gradually in line with market demand. MDI is an important component for polyurethanes – an extremely versatile plastics material that contributes towards improved insulation, provides lighter materials for cars, and helps save energy in buildings. MDI production will support these key industries in China’s western areas.

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.