South Korea 2015 petrochemical exports down 21.60% on year

MOCOW (MRC) -- South Korea’s 2015 petrochemical exports plunged 21.6% to USD37.78 billion on year due to softened demand from China and the sustained low oil prices, according to a report released by the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), said TPS.

The main driver behind the plunge in South Korea’s petrochemical exports in 2015 was the sustained low oil prices which translated into lower unit price of petrochemical products.

For instance, the Dubai crude oil, which accounts for nearly 70% of total oil imports in South Korea, was averaged at USD26.90/b in January 2016. This was a sharp fall of 41.30% compared to the same month in 2015.

Structural factors that weakened South Korea’s petrochemical exports include the slowdown of the Chinese economy and increased self-sufficiency rates for petrochemical products in China.

Given that exports to China account nearly 50% of total petrochemical exports, this was regarded as a huge blow to South Kora’s export-oriented petrochemical industry.

Just as importantly, the sharp yuan depreciation by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has also weakened the competitiveness of South Korea’s petrochemical products.

Looking ahead, it is expected that petrochemical prices will continue to decline further due to low oil prices and exports to remain sluggish throughout Q1 2016.

As MRC informed previously, the South Korean government is pushing forward with consolidation of the petrochemical industries, which are mired in a supply glut and the protracted global economic recession. The restructuring on the petrochemical industry is currently led by the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy. Although working-level officials of major petrochemical firms such as LG Chem, Lotte Chemical, and SK Global Chemical held a meeting last month in order to discuss issues like capacity adjustment, they no longer do it out of concern that it might be construed as an act of collusion by the Fair Trade Commission.

Air Liquide strengthens its innovation capabilities in China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- French industrial gas company Air Liquide yesterday opened a 25-million-euro (USD27.6 million) research and technology center in Shanghai to address issues including carbon dioxide emission reduction and waste water treatment in China and Asia-Pacific, said the producer on its site.

The center intends to tackle environmental and societal challenges, including transition to cleaner energy, carbon dioxide emission reduction, waste water treatment, urban air quality, food safety, and health care.

Located in Xinzhuang Industrial Park in Minhang District, the 12,000-square-meter center is Air Liquide’s first to focus on innovation and its fifth center globally.

In 2015, Air Liquide Asia Pacific’s gas and services revenue grew 6 percent year on year to 3.85 billion euros, which accounted for 26 percent of its worldwide gas and services revenue.

Air Liquide is confident China’s industrial gas market will grow 6 to 8 percent annually, above the government’s economic growth target of around 6.7 percent.

As it was informed earlier, Air Liquide also signed a contract with Chinese outfit Xinneng Energy last month, which will see it invest more then EUR60m (USD65m) in a new ASU to produce up to 2,700t of oxygen (O2) per day, sticking its proverbial flag further into Chinese soil.

L'Air Liquide S.A., or Air Liquide, is a French multinational company which supplies industrial gases and services to various industries including medical, chemical and electronic manufacturers.

Tigers Polymer to bolster production in USA, Thailand

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Tigers Polymer will launch new plants in the U.S. and Thailand by this autumn to expand the lineup and boost the output of its automobile components, said Asia.nikkei.

The Japanese manufacturer of molded resin and rubber parts for autos, home appliances and construction expects to complete the plants by the end of February. The investment is expected to reach just over 2 billion yen (USD17.9 million).

The new U.S. plant with floor space of about 6,500 sq. meters is being built at the site of the company's existing plant in the state of Ohio at a cost of roughly 1.3 billion yen. This new plant, which will have production lines that can handle both injection and blow molding methods, is to sharply increase the company's capacity for car engine air-cleaner modules.

Tigers Polymer's existing U.S. plants have been operating at full capacity. The company's components are being adopted by an expanding range of vehicles manufactured by Japanese automakers in North America.

"In the U.S., new-car sales have been solid as gasoline prices have been falling," said Harunobu Genda, director of the Japanese parent. "Furthermore, we expect demand for cars there to increase steadily."

In Thailand, a plant with 10,000 sq. meters of floor space is going up in a vacant section of the site occupied by a manufacturing unit in Ayutthaya Province. The new plant, Tigers Polymer's fourth production base in the Southeast Asian country, will make air conditioning ducts. The facility also will absorb the manufacturing operations from the company's first Thai plant, whose productivity has suffered from a series of incremental expansions.

Domestic demand for cars has been weak, but vehicle exports from Thailand remain high. The company sees room for further growth in Thailand as a production base. Tigers Polymer is already the No. 1 supplier of blow-mold products to Japanese companies in Thailand, but it hopes to win more orders by expanding its product line, raising productivity and bolstering cost competitiveness, all with the establishment of the new plant.

The company, whose shares trade on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's first section, counts molded resin autoparts and hoses for home appliances and construction as its main products. It has added foreign production bases over the years to keep up with the business expansion of Honda Motor, its main customer.

As it was informed earlier, Honda Motor Company is planning to increase production of its partially or fully electric vehicles (EVs) to account for two-third of the global sales by 2030.

Tigers Polymer now generates more than 50% of sales outside Japan. Group sales for the current year ending in March are projected to reach 41 billion yen.


Shell unveils changes to leadership, downstream structure in US, Canada

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Unconventional resources director and US chair, Marvin Odum, will leave Shell at the end of March 2016, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Concurrent with Odum’s departure, and in a move that will simplify Shell’s structure, the Athabasca oil sands project and the Scotford upgrader in Canada will join the global downstream organization under downstream director, John Abbott.

Meanwhile, Shell's shale resources business will join the global upstream organization under upstream director Andy Brown. As a result of these changes, the unconventional resources business will cease to exist.

Since joining Shell as an engineer in 1982, Odum had held a number of commercial and technical leadership roles of increasing responsibility. He has held the position of US chair and president of Shell Oil Co. since 2008, and joined Royal Dutch Shell’s executive committee as upstream Americas director in July 2009.

"Marvin has had a long and distinguished Shell career and I’m grateful to him for the central role he’s played in the company’s success," said Ben van Beurden, CEO of Shell. "He leaves our important businesses in the Americas well positioned for the next phase of their development."

Odum will be replaced as US chair and president of Shell Oil Co. by Bruce Culpepper, currently executive vice president of HR, unconventional resources and regional coordination.

In his new role, which is effective April 1, 2016, Culpepper, who is a US citizen and has worked for Shell for 34 years, will continue the company’s advocacy in the US on a wide range of energy policy issues.

As MRC informed earlier, Royal Dutch Shell plc agreed to sell its shareholding in the Shell Refining Company (SRC) in Malaysia to Malaysian Hengyuan International Ltd (MHIL).

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.


Showa Denko took off-stream VAM plant in Japan

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Showa Denko has shut a vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) plant for a maintenance turnaround, as per Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in Japan informed that the plant was taken off-stream on February 19, 2016. It is slated to remain under maintenance until end-March 2016.

Located in Oita, Japan, the plant has a production capacity of 175,000 mt/year.

As MRC wrote before, Showa Denko (SDK) has decided to establish a new production site for thermosetting bulk molding compound (BMC) in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, China, jointly with Eternal Materials Co., Ltd., a synthetic resin manufacturer based in Taiwan. BMC is a thermosetting bulk molding compound made from unsaturated polyester resin as main component, kneaded together with glass fiber and other additives. BMC is used as headlamp reflectors and engine covers for car applications, and encapsulation material for home electrical appliances and precision parts.

Showa Denko K.K. is mainly engaged in the petrochemical business. The Petrochemical segment manufactures and sells olefin, organic chemicals and others. The Chemical Product segment supplies chemicals, industrial gases, special gas and functional drug for semiconductors, functional high molecular materials, among others.