European petrochemicals production of BP falls 8.4% in 2015

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BP's petrochemicals production in Europe fell 8.4% year on year to 3.5 mln mt in 2015, as per Plastemart.

Global petrochemicals production rose 5.3% to 14.8 mln mt in 2015, pulled up by the 19.7% growth in production outside of the US and Europe to 7.6 mln mt, BP said in a statement. In the US, production slid 4.6% to 3.7 mln mt.
In Europe, steam cracker outages contributed to the drop in production last year.

At the end of March, BP Refining and Petrochemicals declared force majeure on a cracker at Gelsenkirchen, Germany, due to a power outage. BPRP has two crackers at the site with a combined capacity of 1.05 million mt/year. At the beginning of July, BPRP declared force majeure on propylene deliveries from the Mineraloelraffinerie Oberrhein refinery at Karlsruhe, Germany, of which it owns a stake.

2015 was marked by an "unusually" high number of cracker outages in Europe- touching a high of 25% in March of total production in NWE. The asset reliability of European crackers and downstream units is expected to remain a concern in 2016, following a year of unprecedented production issues throughout the chain. Polymer production units and crackers have suffered from technical issues stemming from high utilization rates, combined with older technology, leading to a string of production problems.

Industry analysts believe that this will continue: "(Declarations of) force majeure are a regular occurrence in the European polymer business because of the age of most petrochemical production sites. There is no doubt that force majeures will occur in 2016," Joe Pilaro, head of US consultancy Brae Partners, said to Platts in December.

As MRC reported before, in late 2014, BP announced its plans to invest over USD200 million to upgrade its purified terephthalic acid (PTA) plants at Cooper River, South Carolina and Geel, Belgium. he investments will position these assets amongst the most efficient PTA manufacturing facilities in the world.

BP is one of the world's largest oil and gas companies, serving millions of customers every day in around 80 countries, and employing around 85,000 people. BP’s business segments are Upstream (oil and gas exploration & production), and Downstream (refining & marketing). Through these activities, BP provides fuel for transportation; energy for heat and light; services for motorists; and petrochemicals products for plastics, textiles and food packaging. It has strong positions in many of the world's hydrocarbon basins and strong market positions in key economies.

European PP rapidly becoming cheaper for CIS markets

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Europe's February contract price of propylene was agreed by EUR60/tonne lower from January. Many European producers announced a more significant reduction in their export polypropylene (PP) prices for the CIS markets than the fall in monomer prices, according to ICIS-MRC Price report.

Negotiations over February prices of European PP began on Monday. Many market participants said most local producers reduced their export PP prices by EUR100-120/tonne, which was substantially greater than the decrease in monomer prices. A producer cut its prices by EUR290/tonne from the level as of early January.

This week's deals for February shipments of propylene homopolymer (homopolymer PP) were negotiated in the range of EUR940-980/tonne FCA, while a month earlier deals were discussed in the range of EUR1,050-1,100/tonne FCA. A producer reduced its prices to EUR880/tonne FCA. Some market participants said some producers had temporary restrictions in delivery dates. But, in general, there were no problems with the PP supply.

Deals for block copolymers of propylene (PP-block) were negotiated in the range of EUR1,000-1,050/tonne FCA. Negotiations over January shipments of statistical propylene copolymer (PP-random) were held between EUR1, 100-1,150/tonne FCA.

Some market participants reported the similarity of the present situation with the last year's one. In February 2015, European producers also significantly cut their export PP prices, in some cases, prices reached EUR800/tonne FCA. And since March 2015, a dynamic growth of prices began, the PP prices rose by EUR100/tonne per month, and the price increase stopped only in June (EUR1,390-1,440/tonne FCA).

In 2015, the dynamic growth of prices in March-June was caused by a shortage of PP, which, in its turn, was caused by scheduled and unscheduled shutdowns at European plants and was also enhanced by outages at some Middle Eastern plants.

Russian LDPE prices increased in February

MOSCOW (MRC) - Some Russian producers increased prices for low density polyethylene (LDPE) for shipments in February, despite the excess supply and weak demand. The price increase was roubles (Rb) 1,500-2,000/tonne, according to ICIS-MRC Price Report.

Demand for LDPE in January is traditionally weak because of several factors, including the long New Year holidays.
The first month of 2016 was no exception, but the problem of low demand for finished products was weighted by the shortage of working capital.

PE supply was excessive in the market during the month, however, this factor did not prevent some producers to raise prices in February by Rb1,500-2,000/tonne.

Tomskneftekhim and Ufaorgsintez raised LDPE prices. Ufaorgsintez gradually increased LDPE prices during the second half of January.

Belarusian LDPE producer Polymir also raised the prices for the Russian market by Rb1,200-3,000/tonne.

Kazanorgsintez and Gazprom neftekhim Salavat have rolled over January LDPE prices for February delivery, although it did not rule out the possibility of increasing them later.

The price rise was reluctantly accepted by converters. At the same time it is a high probability of a severe deficit of LDPE in the next 3-4 months on the back of Kazanorgsintez's turnaround in mid-April - early May, which was seen last year, when LDPE prices grew by more than 20%. In the current year, the period of LDPE shortage in the market can last even longer.

According to preliminary data, Tomskneftekhim, Russia's largest LDPE producer, is to shut down its production for a one-month turnaround in June.

PolyOne acquires certain TPE assets from Kraton

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Expanding on its global footprint and expertise in thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) innovation and design, PolyOne Corporation has announced it has acquired certain technologies and assets from Kraton Performance Polymers, Inc., said the producer on its site.

The two companies also entered into a supply agreement, whereby Kraton will provide PolyOne certain raw materials used in production for the acquired business.

The end markets utilizing the acquired technologies span new and fast growing applications in adhesive and removable protective films, as well as existing applications served by PolyOne, such as packaging, medical devices and personal care products. The purchase price of USD72 million represents a multiple of 9x EBITDA.

"Since our highly successful TPE acquisition of GLS in 2008, we've continually invested in, globalized and grown in TPE innovation and its broad value-added uses," said Robert M. Patterson, president and chief executive officer, PolyOne Corporation. "We are very pleased to have made this investment for our customers and their product design, development and performance goals."

As MRC informed earlier, in February 2014, PolyOne Corporation announced the addition of new capabilities to its OnColor HC Plus portfolio. These expanded offerings add medical-grade LDPE, nylon, PEBA, PS and PVC to the globally available palette of specialty healthcare colorants, and are pre-certified to meet or exceed biocompatibility requirements for ISO 10993 and/or USP Class VI protocols.

PolyOne Corporation, with 2014 revenues of USD3.8 billion, is a premier provider of specialized polymer materials, services and solutions with operations in specialty polymer formulations, color and additive systems, polymer distribution and specialty vinyl resins.

Linde and Mitsui plan to invest USD4 bln in petrochemical projects in Iran

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Germany-based Linde, a leading industrial gases company, and Japan’s Mitsui Chemicals plan to invest USD4 billion into petrochemical projects in Iran, said a senior official in a report, according to TradeArabia.

Linde is considering investment in several Iranian projects, including Damavand Petrochemicals, in cooperation with Japan’s Mitsui, Marzieh Shah-Daei projects director at the National Petrochemical Company (NPC), was quoted as saying in a Press TV report.

She added that the projects to benefit from the investment have not been finalised yet.

Germany’s BASF, the world’s largest chemical producer, also plans USD6 billion of investment in Iran’s petrochemical sector, NPC's director of planning Hamid Reza Rostami said in December. He added that the company will make the investment in Asaluyeh where Iran is carrying out its largest gas development project by tapping gas from the giant South Pars field in the Gulf.

Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh has said the lifting of sanctions would enable Iran to fulfill its 20-year vision plan, including its target to produce $70 billion of petrochemicals a year at current prices, it added.

Meanwhile, another report said that two leading German chemical companies have signalled their readiness to invest around EUR4 billion to EUR8 billion (USD4.34 billion to USD8.68 billion)) towards the development of petrochemical projects in Iran, said a senior official.

The two firms are yet to finalise the amount of investments in Iran but are currently conducting studies on investment potentials in Iran's petrochemical sector, Abbas Shari-Moqaddam, head of Iran’s National Petrochemical Company (NPC), was quoted as saying in The Iran Project.

The names of the firms were not released.

As MRC informed previously, as of early 2015, number of active Iranian Petrochemical complexes were 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.

Besides, 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.