PCS took off-stream butadiene extraction unit in Singapore for turnaround

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore (PCS) has shut its butadiene extraction unit (BEU) for maintenance, reported Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in Singapore informed that the company has halted operations at its unit mid-last week. The unit is likely to restart in mid-March 2016.

Located in Singapore, the plant has a production capacity of 100,000 mt/year.

We remind that, as MRC informed previously, in early December 2015, Shell issued a force majeure (FM) on supplies for butadiene from its cracker at Pulao Bukom (Singapore). The cracker was forced to shutdown in late November owing to technical issues. Located at Bukom Island in Singapore, the cracker has butadiene production capacity of 186,000 mt/year.

Indorama Ventures and Dhunseri Petrochem to form equal JV in India

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Thailand’s Indorama Ventures Public Company Limited (IVL) and India’s Dhunseri Petrochem Ltd. (Dhunseri) have agreed to enter into an equal joint venture to manufacture and sell polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resins for Indian domestic markets and for exports, as per IVL's press release.

Dhunseri will purchase a 50% stake in the 216,000 tonne Micro Polypet Pvt. Ltd. (MicroPet), a company owned by Indorama Ventures in the North Indian State, Haryana. IVL in turn will acquire a 50% stake in a carved out entity, called Haldia, of Dhunseri, with an effective capacity of 480,000 tonnes PET manufacturing located in the eastern state of West Bengal.

The JV is subject to regulatory approvals and expected to complete in H2 2016.

The joint venture will gain significant synergy benefits being the sole producer of PET Resin in North and East India and with both sites being effectively integrated with third party PTA suppliers, which will bring savings in SG&A and procurement.

IVL’s global market reach and high utilization rates are expected to supplement Haldia’s location benefit at Eastern India’s largest port while MicroPet enjoys a strong location advantage in the high-demand territory of North India.

Mr. Aloke Lohia, Group CEO and Founder of IVL said, "This joint venture will allow us to gain the highest benefits by covering a larger geographical area of the fast-growing India market with a complementary and experienced partner. India has a well-educated and booming middle class that will embrace the modern, hygienic lifestyle offered by PET packaging."

As MRC informed previously, in December 2015, IVL announced the acquisition of Indian PET manufacturer Micro MicroPet.

Indorama Ventures Public Company Limited, listed in Thailand, is one of the world’s leading petrochemicals producers, a global manufacturing footprint with 59 sites in 20 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. The company’s portfolio is comprises necessities and high value-added (HVA) categories of polymers, fibers, and packaging. IVL has about 14,000 employees worldwide and consolidated revenue of USD 7 billion in 2015.

Dhunseri Petrochem Ltd. is one of the largest producers of PET resin in India and among the top ten in the world. The company manufactures the finest bottle grade PET resin, for packaging of drinking water, carbonated soft drinks, edible oil, pharmaceuticals and many more. Dhunseri Petrochem Limited is the Petrochem division of Dhunseri Petrochem & Tea Limited.

Qinghai Damei Coal Industry to license Dows UNIPOL Polypropylene Process

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Qinghai Damei Coal Industry Co., Ltd., has signed a license agreement for UNIPOL Polypropylene Process Technology with Union Carbide Chemicals & Plastics Technology LLC, a wholly owned Subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company (Dow), said Dow on its site.

The coal based polyolefin complex, located in the Xining Economic and Technological Development Zone of Xining City, Qinghai Province in China, is expected to start up in 2015. The 400,000 tpa polypropylene plant will produce homopolymers, random copolymers and impact copolymers. This is the 12th UNIPOL Polypropylene Technology license signed in China since 2006. "With UNIPOL PP Process Technology, Qinghai Damei will expand its business with superior polypropylene quality, broad product capability and low investment cost," said Tracy Cleckler, president of Union Carbide Chemicals & Plastics Technology LLC.

"With UNIPOL PP technology’s broad capabilities, not only can we make large volume products, but we will also be the industry leader in polypropylene specialty grades at low conversion cost," said Bai Yongqiang, chairman of board of Qinghai Damei Coal Industry Co., Ltd.

There are currently 47 operating lines worldwide using UNIPOL Polypropylene Technology from Dow Performance Plastics Licensing and Catalysts. The UNIPOL Polypropylene Process is an all gas-phase process for producing the broadest range of polypropylene resins. Its simple design is consistent in terms of product quality and energy efficiency, requiring no equipment for handling, separating or recycling solvents.

As MRC informed earlier, W. R. Grace & Co. has announced that it will provide its UNIPOL polypropylene (PP) technology and services to Yunnan Yuntianhua PetroChemical Co., Ltd. for a new PP production facility in Anning Yunnan, China.

The Dow Chemical Company is an American multinational chemical corporation. As of 2007, it is the second-largest chemical manufacturer in the world by revenue (after BASF) and as of February 2009, the third-largest chemical company in the world by market capitalization (after BASF and DuPont). Dow is a large producer of plastics, including polystyrene, polyurethane, polyethylene, polypropylene, and synthetic rubber.

Bulgaria investigates possible fixing of fuel prices

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Bulgaria's anti-monopoly watchdog has launched an investigation into the country's only oil refinery and seven fuel retailers over possible cartel agreements to fix prices of petrol and diesel fuels, reported Reuters.

The Commission for Protection of Competition said in a statement it had started investigating the Bulgarian units of Royal Dutch Shell, OMV, Hellenic Petrolleum , Nis Petrol, Lukoil, Rompetrol and Bulgarian Petrol.

It has also launched a probe into Lukoil Neftochim Burgas oil refinery for possible breaches of competition rules while selling its fuels on the local market.

"We will not comment until we see the documents," a spokeswoman for Lukoil Bulgaria said. The other companies were not immediately available for comment.

The watchdog carried out an analysis on the fuel sector in the European Union country between 2013 and 2015 and found the retail price policy of the seven companies was very similar and too slow to reflect drops in wholesale fuel and production prices.

"This could have been a result of anti-competition practices - cartel agreements," the watchdog said.

It also said the prices at which the country's oil refinery Neftochim Burgas sold its fuels for automobiles on the local market were higher than prices for exports, with all other conditions being equal.

As MRC informed before, OAO Lukoil Holdings, Russia's No. 2 oil producer, will invest USD1 billion in the oil firm Samara-Nafta to increase production. Lukoil acquired Samara-Nafta from Hess Corp. in 2013 for USD2 billion as part of a strategy to stabilize and increase oil production. Lukoil has for years fought declining output at its main, Soviet-era fields in Western Siberia. The investment in Samara-Nafta will increase production by between 5% and 7% over the next five years from 2.5 million tonnes a year, Prime news agency cited the company as saying.

Lukoil, a Russian-based company, is one of the global leaders in the production and refining of crude oil and gas resources. The world's largest privately owned oil and gas company, measured by proven oil reserves, LUKoil has operations in over 40 countries.

Demand for PC continued to decline in January 2016

MOSCOW (MRC) - Demand of polycarbonate (PC) in the Russian market was about 4,600 tonnes in January 2016, down 39% from January 2015, according MRC ScanPlast.

January is traditionally a month of low demand and a lull in the market. The first half of January - was holidays, in the second half of month market participants are usually looking for new price level from producers and purchases are reduced to the bare minimum. In addition, in the first month of the year the built surplus of PC is traditionally shipped to foreign markets.

Russia's exports of PC granules exceeded 2,000 tonnes in January 2016. While in January 2015 there were no exports at all. This resulted from a sharply weakened purchasing capacity in 2015, which led to surplus of material in the market in the year-end.

At the beginning of last year import substitution was the main trend in the market and Russian PC granules were in great demand regardless of the season, which fuelled prices even in the off-seasons. The share of imported PC granules in the consumption of Russian companies continues to decline. In January PC imports reached their lowest level in the past few years and amounted to just 315 tonnes. At the same time, 88% from them were PC grades for injection moulding, which is not typical for the structure of imports.

Earlier this share was traditionally held by PC for extrusion. But due to the devaluation of many producers of sheets almost completely switched to Russian PC granules. In injection moulding segment import substitution is not always possible, as the Russian material does not always meet the necessary requirements and the purchase of imported PC is still inevitable.

Many players believe that the upcoming spring season (April-May) will be the last surge of activity in the market, and in autumn (September-October) will be extremely low level of demand and the market will continue to shrink further.