South Korea exports down 14 straight months in Feb, petchem exports slip 6.4% on-year

MOSCOW (MRC) -- South Korea’s exports slipped for 14 consecutive months to USD36.4 billion in February, according to a latest report released by the country’s Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy (MOTIE), reported TPS.

According to the Ministry, this was down 12.2% from the same month in 2015.

By industry, South Korea’s petroleum and petrochemical exports fell 26.9% and 6.4% on year. However, the decline was not as significant as the previous month, when exports plunged 40.4% and 14.5% on year respectively.

In February, South Korea’s petroleum and petrochemical sectors continued to suffer from the sustained low oil prices which directly translated into lower unit price of export products.

Nonetheless, the country’s petrochemical export volume showed a sign of recovery on a notable increase in petrochemicals demand from China following the end of a week-long Lunar New Year holiday in mid-February.

We remind that, as MRC wrote 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 in September 2015, 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. At the time of the meeting, the company officials talked about issues such as volume purchase of naphtha and sharing of wharf and storage facilities to save cost.

The focus of the first-stage talks between the companies and the ministry is on consolidating firms producing purified terephthalic acid (PTA), which include Hanwha General Chemical and Samnam Petrochemical.

Rehau and Tonsmeier found PVC recycling joint venture

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The PVC window frame recycling operations of German plastics converter Rehau and those of Tonsmeier Kunststoffe GmbH und Co. KG are to be merged under a new joint venture by the name of Dekura GmbH, said Euwid-recycling.

Subject to regulatory approval, Tonsmeier will acquire a minority stake in the joint venture, which will be majority-owned and controlled by Rehau, the two companies announced on Thursday. Tonsmeier is to merge its existing post-consumer PVC window waste management and window profile recycling operations into Dekura GmbH. The company had to close its Hoku division at its Hoxter site, which produced profiles made from recycled PVC, in the spring of 2015.

The new joint venture will act as an autonomous, independent company on the market and operate two sites in Germany, in Hoxter and Bad Schmiedeberg, and one site in Tillmitsch, Austria. Their combined workforce of 170 employees will be taken over and the administrative, purchasing and sales organisations will be integrated into Dekura. "Targeted investments" are planned to strengthen the three sites, the joint venture partners reported.

Dekura does not just consider itself a reliable partner on the PVC recycling market and supplier of secondary raw materials, according to Rehau. The parent company also states that it aims to improve the quality of the joint venture's products and to drive the development of new smart products based on recycled raw materials by establishing an expertise network with Rehau group's existing recycling centres.

Tonsmeier Kunststoffe GmbH & Co. KG will remain active in the collection and recycling of polyolefins, technical plastics and PVC materials from pipe products at its sites in Herford and Borde-Hakel.

As MRC informed earlier, polymer pipework specialist Rehau (Germany) in 2012 officially opened the first UK facility to produce pre-insulated pipework for district heating and biomass applications at its factory in Blaenau, Gwynedd / North Wales.

Lanxess to expand range of highly reinforced polyamides, polyesters for extremely strong structural components

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Specialty chemicals company Lanxess is expanding its range of highly reinforced polyamides and polyesters for the design of extremely strong structural components, said the producer on its site.

The polyamide 6 grades Durethan BKV 60 EF and XF are being joined by a polyamide 66 with a glass fiber content of 60 percent, which is to be marketed under the name Durethan AKV 60 XF. The new high-performance thermoplastic combines the benefits of a highly reinforced, easy-flowing compound with the advantages of a polyamide 66 resin.

"The material exhibits excellent strength and stiffness. It unlocks a whole new dimension of design freedom for all-plastic parts, plastic/metal hybrid technology and continuous-fiber-reinforced semi-finished thermoplastic composites. What’s more, it can be used as a metal substitute in a whole range of applications," says Ralf Heinen, a plastics expert at Lanxess.

As is to be expected, compared to its polyamide 6 "cousins" with the same glass fiber content, the new highly filled polyamide 66 structural material offers better resistance to chemicals. Another advantage of the new material is its excellent processing characteristics. Despite the high glass fiber content, it exhibits the same flowability as polyamide 66 with a 35 percent glass fiber content. It can also be injection molded at the same temperatures.

The new polyamide 66 can also be used as a substitute for metals in components under the hood. Potential applications include valve covers, transmission and engine oil pans, brackets and intake pipes. Engine mountings and coupling rods in the chassis area are also viable applications for the material.

As MRC informed previously, in January 2016, Lanxess started up a second production line for high-performance plastics compounding at its facility in Gastonia, North Carolina. The new line represents an investment of about USD15 mln and doubles the site’s annual production capacity from 20,000 to 40,000 metric tons.

Lanxess is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 8.0 billion in 2014 and about 16,600 employees in 29 countries. The company is currently represented at 52 production sites worldwide. The core business of Lanxess is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals.

MEGlobal extends sales control on contract volume to customers until April

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Kuwait-owned MEGlobal will be extending sales control for monoethylene glycol (MEG) to its customers into April due to continued shortages of gas feedstock at its Kuwaiti production units, a source close to the company told TPS.

The company had announced to its customers that they will only be able to supply its minimum contract requirements in January. Supply was expected to resume after Q1 2016.

MEGlobal also operates three monoethylene glycol (MEG) manufacturing plants in Alberta, Canada, with a combined nameplate capacity of 1.2 million mt/year.

The company was recently acquired by Kuwait's EQUATE Petrochemical Company in December 2015, when EQUATE assumed 100% ownership in MEGlobal, previously the 50-50% joint venture between state-owned Petrochemical Industries Company (PIC) and Dow Chemical Company. EQUATE's two MEG facilities in Shuaiba have a combined annual production capacity of 1.15 million mt/year.

As MRC wrote before, global MEG production is likely cross 28.74 mln tons by 2017. In 2011, the world production of MEG grew by over 1 mln tons, crossing the 20.65 mln ton mark.

SABIC broadens composites portfolio with addition of fiber-reinforced thermoplastic tapes

MOSCOW (MRC) -- SABIC, one of the world’s leading petrochemical companies, has expanded its growing portfolio of innovative material solutions with the recent investment in a majority stake in Fibre Reinforced Thermoplastics B.V., with manufacturing operations in Lelystad, The Netherlands, as per the company's press release.

SABIC’s new Fibre Reinforced Thermoplastics (FRT) business specializes in the production of engineered thermoplastic, fiber-reinforced unidirectional tapes. These tapes can be used across a wide variety of industries, ranging from building and construction to transportation and energy.

"This investment will enable SABIC to develop new thermoplastic products, processes and design solutions to help our customers take full advantage of the unique light weighting opportunities offered by composites," said Ernesto Occhiello, EVP Specialties, SABIC.

"At SABIC, we engage with our customers to develop advanced products that support their specific needs and help them realize their ambitions," said Andrey Turchin, SABIC’s FRT business leader. "Our innovative UDMAX composite tapes complement SABIC’s existing range of thermoplastic solutions for customers striving to build smaller, lighter and stronger components that meet stringent industry standards," he continued.

UDMAX tapes are made using a unique proprietary HPFIT technology, which quickly and precisely enables the spread and combination of thousands of glass or carbon fibers with a thermoplastic matrix. As a result, the tapes have a high density of fibers, high quality fiber impregnation in the resin matrix, minimal void content and fewer broken fibers. They can be used to form composite materials that can in turn be used to manufacture components with superior performance to alternative materials, such as laminates and molded parts.

As MRC informed previously, in October 2015, SABIC announced a restructuring to make itself more agile and cost-efficient, following a comprehensive review of the challenges facing the Middle East’s biggest petrochemicals company. The new organizational structure had been in place by January 1. Sabic’s innovative plastics unit was broken up and reallocated to other divisions, including chemicals and polymers and a new unit called specialties.

SABIC bought General Electric's (GE) plastics unit in 2007 for USD11.6 billion. The company has access to the abundant sources of natural gas feedstock produced during oil extraction by state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co.