S Korean petrochemical exports to China on continuous decline

MOSCOW (MRC) -- South Korea’s petrochemical exports to China declined further in 2015 on China’s increased self-sufficiency rates for petrochemical products, said TPS with reference to a report released by the Export-Import Bank of Korea (Korea EXIM Bank).

According to the EXIM Bank, South Korea’s petrochemical exports to China were estimated to be at USD14.42 billion from January to October 2015.

China remained as the largest recipient of petrochemical products from South Korea, accounting for 45.10% of total petrochemical exports from South Korea.

However, this is a slight decrease from 2014 when petrochemical exports to China accounted for 45.70%.

Indeed, South Korea’s petrochemical exports to China have been on the continuous decline since 2010 when it accounted for nearly 48% of total exports.

In recent years, China’s petrochemical production capacity has increased significantly in tandem with the Chinese government’s efforts to boost self-sufficiency rates for its burgeoning petrochemical sector.

Consequently, it is estimated that China’s self-sufficiency rates for petrochemical products, mainly synthetic resins, synthetic fibre and synthetic rubber materials had reached nearly 80% in 2014, a sharp increase of 14.20% from 2010.

In particular, self-sufficiency rates for purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) are estimated to have reached 103% and 106% respectively in 2015.

This has translated into the plunge in South Korea’s PTA exports to China which declined by 88% on year.

Other products that have registered a sharp fall in exports to China in 2015 were benzene derivatives such as caprolactam and phenol which plunged by 65% and 64% on year respectively.

Looking ahead, the EXIM Bank forecasted that South Korea’s petrochemical exports to China will continue decline as further capacity expansions for coal-based plants are expected in China for the next five years.

In addition, weakened demand for petrochemical products due to the slowdown of the Chinese economy and increased competition from the Middle East producers will also reduce South Korea’s petrochemical exports to China.

We remind that, as MRC reported earlier, in August 2015, The Ministry of Commerce, Government of China announced it would review anti-dumping duties on PTA imported from South Korea and . Anti-dumping duties ranging between 2 and 20.1% were imposed on PTA imports from these two countries in August 2010, for a period of five years. The ministry's decision to review these duties follows an application made by domestic producers in June 2015 requesting the ministry to reinvestigate the case and extend the duties which are due to expire.
MRC

Saudi Kayan brings forward ethylene glycol/ethylene oxide unit maintenance

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Co on Tuesday brought forward by one month maintenance plans for some units at its complex in Jubail, said Zawya.

The Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) affiliate will start the shutdown on March 1 rather than March 30, it said in a bourse filing. The shutdown had been postponed from Oct. 31, 2015.

The company said its ethylene glycol/ethylene oxide plant would be shut for maintenance and repairs for 48 days. That would result in halting production of polycarbonate, ethoxylates and amines for 53 days.

Kayan said the financial impact of the shutdown would amount to around 96 million riyals (USD25.6 million), which will be reflected in its first- and second-quarter results.

When it first announced the maintenance plan in February 2015, it had warned the shutdown would result in a loss of 340 million riyals and that it would halt production for 60 to 75 days.

As MRC informed before, Saudi Arabia’s Oil Ministry allocated an additional 10m cbf/d (2.8m cbm) of ethane to Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Co (Al Jubail / Saudi Arabia) to enable an expansion of capacity at its Al Jubail complex. The company plans to widen its ethylene production by at least 93,000 t/y and its ethylene oxide capacity by 61,000 t/y from the second quarter of 2017.

Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Company is a manufacturing affiliate of the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic).
MRC

Asahi Kasei mothballs Mizushima cracker, new cracker to start up on April 1

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Japan’s Asahi Kasei Chemicals has shut its cracker permanently on Feb 12, a company source told TPS.

The cracker in Mizushima has an ethylene capacity of 504,000 mt/year and a propylene capacity of 300,000 mt/year.

Feedstock ethylene for its 390,000 mt/year of styrene monomer (SM) plant will come from a new 750,000 mt/year steamcracker which is a joint venture between Asahi Kasei and Mitsubishi Chemical.

The new unified cracker is expected to start up on April 1.

We remind that, as MRC reported before, Asahi Kasei is likely to shut its second SM plant for a maintenance turnaround in March 2016. It is slated to remain off-stream for around 2 weeks. Located in Mizushima, Japan, the cracker has a production capacity of 390,000 mt/year.

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

Wacker lifts sales in 2015 above EUR5 billion for the first time

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Following a generally robust fourth quarter, Wacker Chemie AG achieved its sales target for full-year 2015 and slightly exceeded its earnings expectations, as per the company's press release.

According to preliminary calculations, the Munich-based chemical group posted total sales of EUR5.3 billion in 2015 (2014: EUR4.83 billion), some 10% above the 2014 figure. This increase was chiefly the result of higher volumes and favorable exchange-rate effects. Every division generated year-over-year sales growth in 2015.

The group’s preliminary earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) amounted to EUR1.04 billion (2014: EUR1.04 billion). EBITDA was at the prior-year level despite substantially lower special income from advance payments retained and damages received from solar-sector customers. In full-year 2015, these special-income items amounted to some EUR137 million (2014: EUR206 million). Adjusted for this effect, EBITDA increased by 9% in the reporting year. The group’s earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) grew by 6% year over year to EUR470 million in 2015 (2014: EUR443 million). Wacker’s preliminary net income for 2015 reached EUR240 million (2014: EUR195 million).

"Our chemical business in particular performed well in the fourth quarter," said Group CEO Rudolf Staudigl on Tuesday in Munich. "Chemical sales were substantially higher than in the comparable final-year quarter. This more than compensated for the fact that polysilicon prices were lower and semiconductor-wafer volumes were down slightly year over year. On the whole, we generated the strongest final-quarter sales to date".

Net cash flow for the group was slightly positive, as forecast, although declining significantly year over year. It amounted to EUR20 million (2014: EUR216 million). The main reasons for this decrease were substantially higher investment spending and lower cash inflows from damages received from solar customers. Group net financial debt was at the prior-year level, as expected. It amounted to about EUR1.07 billion as of December 31, 2015 (Dec. 31, 2014: EUR1.08 billion).

As MRC wrote previously, in 2013, Wacker Chemie AG officially launched its new production plant for ethylene-vinyl-acetate copolymer (EVA) dispersions at its Ulsan site in South Korea. The additional 40,000 tonnes from the second reactor line increased the site's EVA-dispersion capacity to a total of 90,000 tonnes per year. The production capacity of the site has, thus, almost doubled, making the plant complex one of the biggest of its kind in South Korea.

Wacker Chemie AG is a worldwide operating company in the chemical business, founded 1914. The company is controlled by the Wacker-family holding more than 50 percent of the shares. The corporation is operating more than 25 production sites in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. The product range includes silicone rubbers, polymer products like ethylene vinyl acetate redispersible polymer powder, chemical materials, polysilicon and wafers for semiconductor industry.
MRC

ExxonMobil completes startup at ethylene plant at Beaumont, after power outage

МOSCOW (MRC) -- US petrochemical producer ExxonMobil Chemical has completed the start up process of its 820,000 m tpa ethylene complex in Beaumont, Texas, said Plastemart.

The Beaumont complex has two equal-sized steam cracking units with total combined ethylene capacity of 820,000 mtpa.

"Operations are normal and we anticipate no impact to production," spokesman Todd Spitler said in confirming market reports of a successful restart. The unit shut January 21 after an area wide power outage. The startup process started within a week of the outage.

The Beaumont cracker has an ethylene capacity of 900,000 tonnes/year.

As MRC informed earlier, ExxonMobil is studying a proposal to expand its 334,600-bpd refinery in Beaumont, Texas, into the largest in the US. According to the Reuters report, 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.
MRC