Honeywell breaks ground on advanced Chinese coal-to-olefins plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Honeywell announced that its Honeywell UOP business broke ground on a new manufacturing capacity outside Shanghai to produce materials used to convert methanol from coal into feedstocks for making plastics, a significant milestone to enable China to meet the growing demand for plastics, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

When it enters production in 2017, the catalyst production line in Zhangjiagang City in Jiangsu Province will produce state-of-the-art catalysts used in Honeywell UOP’s Advanced Methanol-to-Olefins (MTO) process technology.

Honeywell UOP developed the MTO process to convert methanol, which can readily be produced from coal or natural gas, into the olefins ethylene and propylene that are the primary chemicals used to manufacture plastics. The heart of the MTO process is a proprietary catalyst that facilitates the conversion of methanol into olefins.

In 2011, Wison Clean Energy Company became the first company to license the Honeywell UOP MTO process, which entered commercial production in 2013. Since that time, seven other companies concluded MTO licensing agreements with Honeywell UOP. The most recent of these was Luxi Chemical Group last December.

While global demand for ethylene and propylene is growing by 4% to 5% per year, China is expected to invest more than USD100 billion in coal-to-chemicals technology by 2020. This would reduce China’s dependence on imported oil for the manufacture of plastic resins, films and fibers that are used to make millions of different products.

Honeywell’s facility in Zhangjiagang opened in 2015. It produces other types of catalysts that are used in Honeywell UOP’s Oleflex process, which converts propane into propylene, and in continuous catalyst regeneration (CCR) Platforming, which is used to produce high-octane gasoline. Over the past five years, Honeywell UOP has licensed its Oleflex technology to 30 producers globally, including 23 in China.

Honeywell UOP has an 80-year history in China, beginning in 1937 when it built one of China’s first refineries in Yumen. It was one of the first American companies invited back to China during the 1970s, to help modernize the Chinese petroleum industry. More recently, Honeywell UOP hydroprocessing and Platforming technology has helped China develop cleaner-burning transportation fuels to combat air pollution.

Middle East, SE Asia polyethylene to be displaced as China, India import demand shrinks

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Net demand from the two biggest polyethylene (PE) import markets in Asia - China and India - will decrease, lending to a displacement of Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian material globally, according to market participants on the sidelines of the Asian Petrochemical Industry Conference which runs May 19-20 in Singapore, reported Apic-online.

Traders put net 2016 import estimates of China at slightly more than 8 million mt/year while India is expected to import just under 1 million mt this year, about 20-30% less than last year's volumes.

This was due to upcoming capacity in China, Iran and India amounting to around 3 million mt/year. They will dominate the commodity grade polyethylene market for year to come as Middle Eastern producers starts to manufacture more of the specialty PE grades, the market sources added.

As the biggest polyethylene demand center China gradually imports less, Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian supplies to China would need to find a new home, according to market observers.

As MRC wrote previously, according to new analysis from IHS, a surge in new plastics chemical capacity from low-cost producers in North America (NA), the Middle East and China is driving an oversupply of PE and polypropylene (PP), pressuring margins and potentially altering the global competitive landscape.

French strike not hurting refinery output of ExxonMobil

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The ongoing anti-labor reform strike that has paralyzed some sectors of the French oil industry and disrupted fuel supply has not impacted output at ExxonMobil's two refineries, said Hydrocarbonprocessing, citing a spokeswoman of the company.

Striking workers were however blockading its oil terminal in Southern France, the spokeswoman said.

The company operates two of France's eight refineries. The 240-Mbpd Port Jerome-Gravenchon refinery near Le Havre port in northern France, and the 140-Mbpd Fos-sur-Mer refinery near Marseille in the south.

As MRC informed earlier, in mid-May, a 37-year-old contract worker from Brownsville, Texas, died early Wednesday morning near a unit under maintenance at ExxonMobil's Beaumont refinery. The worker was struck in the head and neck area by piping that was being removed from a heat exchanger, a local sheriff's office spokesperson said, according to the report.

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.

Output of products from polymers in Russia grew 7.9% in Jan-Apr 2016

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The increase in Russia's production of finished products from polymers continued in April 2016 under the pressure of seasonal factors. Last month's output of main products from polymers grew by 10.5% compared to March and by 7.9% year on year, reported MRC analysts.

Polymer pipes, hoses and fittings, and non-combined films have accounted for the greatest increase in production for the second consecutive month, whereas the segment of porous sheets continued to show a decrease in the output.

According to the Federal Service of State Statistics, April production of plastic pipes, hoses and fittings rose to 43,600 tonnes from 41,100 tonnes a month earlier. Overall production of these products totalled 147,700 tonnes in January-April 2016, up by 9.5% year on year.

Last month's output of unreinforced and non-combined films grew to 79,300 tonnes from 79,000 tonnes in March. Production of films increased in the first four months of 2016 by 9.3% year on year, totalling 203,000 tonnes.

April production of plates, sheets and non-porous films reached 27,500 tonnes, compared to 24,500 tonnes a month earlier. Overall output of these products rose to 88,800 tonnes in January-April 2016, up by 2.8% year on year.

Last month's production of plates, sheets and polymer porous films was 20,800 tonnes, compared to 19,600 tonnes in March. Overall output of polymer products dropped in the first four months of the year by 0.7% year on year to 75,400 tonnes.

Naphtachimie announces FM on ethylene production

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Naphtachimie has declared a force majeure on ethylene production from its plants in Lavera, France, as per Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in Europe informed that the FM was declared recently owing to an ongoing nationwide strike against proposed labour reforms by the French government.

Located at Lavera in France, the cracker has a Ethylene production capacity of 775,000 mt/year.

We remind that, as MRC reported earlier, last week, a nationwide strike against a French government labor law reform has cut output at Total's refineries in France. CGT delegate Thierry Defrense told Reuters that some 63% of members were participating in the strike, cutting production at Total facilities including its 198,000-bpd Normandy refinery. Overall, Total operates five refineries in France.

And last Friday, oil workers from the hardline French CGT union voted to shut down production at Total's Normandy refinery and to prolong the strike at Grandpuits refinery for 72 hours, a union official said. The vote, aimed at pressuring the socialist government of President Francoise Hollande to withdraw a labor reform bill which the unions consider as unfavorable to workers, could stoke concerns over refined products supply in France.

Total's five refineries in France had already been running at "minimum output" since May 17.