Sasol updates progress on Louisiana petchem complex project

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Costs have risen and startup schedules have been extended for Sasol Ltd.’s integrated ethane cracker and downstream derivatives complex under construction in Westlake, La., near Lake Charles, said

Preliminary findings from a detailed review of the Lake Charles Chemicals Project (LCCP) that began in March indicate total capital expenditures for the project, including site infrastructure and utility improvements, could increase to as much as USD11 billion from a previous estimate of USD8.9 billion, Sasol said.

The company attributed rising capex for LCCP to the interplay of several factors, including:
• Construction delays caused by higher-than-expected rainfall in the region.
• Higher labor costs.
• Increased prices under certain lump-sum contract bids.
• Bulk material requirements in excess of those included in original project estimates.

A policy to decelerate capital spending until June 2018 as part of Sasol’s low oil-price response plan also has contributed to further project cost increases as well as resulted in an extended project schedule for LCCP, the company said.

As MRC informed earlier, Sasol Ltd., the world’s biggest producer of liquid fuels from coal, said nine-month synthetic-fuels production climbed 3 percent from a year earlier, while output from its Oryx gas-to-liquids facility in Qatar declined.

Sasol Limited is an integrated energy and chemical company based in Johannesburg, South Africa. It develops and commercialises technologies, including synthetic fuels technologies, and produces different liquid fuels, chemicals and electricity.


PPG to acquire global coatings services provider MetoKote

МОSCOW (MRC) -- PPG has reached an agreement to acquire MetoKote and its affiliates. MetoKote is a Lima, Ohio-based coatings services business with 2015 global sales of approximately USD200 million, said Pfonline.

The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter 2016, subject to customary closing conditions. Financial terms were not disclosed.

MetoKote has more than 1,500 employees and operates on-site coatings services within several customer manufacturing locations, as well as at regional service centers, located throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Customers ship parts to MetoKote service centers, where they are treated to enhance paint adhesion and painted with electrocoat, powder or liquid coatings technologies. Coated parts are then shipped to the customer’s next stage of assembly. MetoKote coats an average of more than 1.5 million parts per day.

"This acquisition will help us to better understand and meet our customers’ critical coatings requirements," said Viktor Sekmakas, PPG executive vice president. "We are responding to customers’ requests to streamline the purchasing, delivery and application of coatings by adding MetoKote’s capabilities to PPG. This will simplify our customers’ operations, enabling them to focus on their core competencies of product design and manufacturing. Having a more intimate understanding of our customers’ coatings needs will help us to offer enhanced, end-to-end solutions and services going forward."

Platinum Equity, a global investment firm with a portfolio of approximately 25 operating companies that serve customers around the world, has owned MetoKote since October 2013.

"MetoKote's success is a result of a great partnership with the management team and a lot of hard work by the company's dedicated employees," said Platinum Equity Partner Bob Wymbs. "Working together we have grown the business, diversified its customer base and positioned MetoKote for long-term success."

Mr. Wymbs said that during Platinum Equity's ownership, MetoKote implemented a range of strategic and operational initiatives that have helped the company grow and adapt to changes in the market. Platinum Equity acquired MetoKote in October 2013.

"Platinum Equity has been a great partner, from helping us set strategy to providing the support we needed to execute," said MetoKote President and CEO Jeff Oravitz. "Working together we realigned the company's global footprint, sharpened our focus on high-growth markets, and made important investments to strengthen key customer relationships. We are on a strong path for continued growth and success."

As MRC informed earlier, PPG Industries agreed to acquire US-based IVC Industrial Coatings for an undisclosed amount. The company operates five manufacturing facilitates in the US, one plant in Guangdong, China, and a small development lab in Manchester, England.

PPG Industries, Inc. (PPG) is a global supplier of protective and decorative coatings. Performance Coatings, Industrial Coatings and Architectural Coatings- EMEA segments supply protective and decorative finishes for customers in a range of end use markets, including industrial equipment, appliances and packaging; factory-finished aluminum extrusions and steel and aluminum. Founded in 1883, PPG has global headquarters in Pittsburgh and operates in nearly 70 countries around the world.

Evonik starts operating membrane coating facility

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Essen-based Evonik Industries, a leading specialty chemicals manufacturer, further steps up its activities in the attractive membrane business. The specialty chemicals company has recently started operating a thin-film composites plant to coat membranes for use in organic solvent nanofiltration and gas separation at its Marl site in Germany, as per the company's press release.

Evonik is a global leader in the area of organic solvent nanofiltration, an innovative technology for particularly effective material separation in organic solvents. The group’s hydrophobic polyimide membranes, sold under the brand names DuraMem and PuraMem, are used in processes such as the efficient recovery of valuable homogeneous catalysts, solvent recycling, or gentle processing of natural oils.

In the new thin-film composite plant, thin membrane films are coated with special silicone or other materials. The resulting composite membranes are then turned into solvent-resistant or gas-tight spiral-wound modules in a further production process. The corresponding silicone coating, also manufactured by Evonik, is a key factor for the separation properties of the membrane.

"The start-up of the thin-film composite plant is a consistent step in our growth plan for the attractive membrane business," notes Dr. Matthias Kottenhahn, head of the High Performance Polymers Business Line at Evonik. "It gives our customers direct access to an advanced membrane technology for resource-efficient material separation."

With its investment in Marl, Evonik Industries is now creating the prerequisite for the continuous expansion of its membrane portfolio with attractive new products. The group is also using its membrane products for the optimization and new design of proprietary production processes.

The start-up also marked the production launch of the third generation of DuraMem and PuraMem membranes. Their market introduction is planned for the second half of the current year.

As MRC wrote previously, in March 2016, Evonik Industries announced its plans to expand its promising membrane business. To this end, the specialty chemicals company will further expand its Austrian site in Lenzing/Schorfling to double the existing production capacities for the hollow-fiber membrane modules of its SEPURAN brand.

Evonik, the creative industrial group from Germany, is one of the world leaders in specialty chemicals. Its activities focus on the key megatrends health, nutrition, resource efficiency and globalization. Evonik benefits specifically from its innovative prowess and integrated technology platforms. Evonik is active in over 100 countries around the world.

Axiall gains as Lotte offer raises prospect of bidding war

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Axiall Corp. jumped the most in almost four months after South Korea’s Lotte Chemical Corp. made a takeover offer, raising the prospect of a bidding war for the U.S. maker of vinyl and polyethylene, said Bloomberg.

While Lotte didn’t disclose terms of the possible deal, the enterprise value may be close to USD3.1 billion, according to a report Tuesday by RBC Capital Markets, which didn’t say where it got the information. That works out to USD27.40 a share, compared with an offer of USD23.35 from Westlake Chemical Corp., RBC said.

Axiall is casting about for suitors as Westlake tries to replace nine of the target company’s directors with its own nominees in a June 17 proxy contest. After Westlake’s unsolicited January bid was rejected, the company sweetened the offer in March. Axiall said the price was still too low and the two sides blame each other for ending talks.

"The acquisition price may go higher as Lotte has to compete with Westlake," said Lee Ji Yeon, an analyst at IBK Securities. "In terms of diversifying its business, it’s good news for Lotte."

Axiall climbed 8.8 percent to close at USD25.35 in New York, its biggest gain since Feb. 16. Westlake rose 1.4 percent to USD46.27. Lotte Chemical fell 3.5 percent to close at 260,500 won (USD224.03) in Seoul.

The "board has not made any decisions concerning the Lotte offer," according to an Axiall letter to employees contained in a corporate filing. The company didn’t include any details of the proposal.

Westlake and Axial didn’t return requests for comment.

As MRC informed earlier, Lotte formed a venture with Axiall last year to build a plant for making ethylene in the U.S., with production to start in 2018. The South Korean company submitted a plan to acquire Atlanta-based Axiall on June 3, according to a regulatory filing.

Axiall would expand Lotte Chemical’s products to include polyvinyl chloride and chloro-alkali, while helping secure a foothold in the U.S. market, the South Korean company said in a statement.

Lotte Chemical is a member of the Lotte Group in Korea, which has been listed on the Korean Stock Exchange since 1991. Lotte Chemical is a leading manufacturer of petrochemical products, such as ethylene, propylene, butadiene, polyethylene, polypropylene, ethylene oxide/glycol, compound resin, polyethylene terephthalate, polycarbonate, methyl methacrylate, ethylene oxide derivatives, benzene, toluene, mixed xylene, purified terephthalic acid and purified isophthalic acid among others. Lotte Chemical, headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, has manufacturing facilities located throughout South Korea, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, UK and the USA.

Axiall Corporation is a leading integrated chemicals and building products company. Headquartered in Atlanta, Axiall has manufacturing facilities located throughout North America and in Asia to provide industry-leading materials and services to customers.

Unipetrol breaks ground on polyethylene unit

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Unipetrol AS has started construction on a grassroots polyethylene (PE) production unit at its Chempark Zaluzi petrochemical complex in Litvinov, Czech Republic, said the producer on its site.

The company officially broke ground on construction activities for the 270,000-tonnes/year PE3 unit during a ceremony held on June 7, Unipetrol said. The unit remains on schedule to be commissioned shortly after construction reaches mechanical completion in mid-2018, the company said.

Unipetrol’s total investment in the PE3 project amounts to about USD357.5 million, the biggest investment to date in the history of the Czech petrochemical industry.

The PE3 project comes as part of Unipetrol’s 2013-17 group strategy, the core of which entails further integration of the company’s refining and petrochemical businesses.

Designed to replace the complex’s existing 120,000-tpy PE1 unit, the two-line PE3 unit will join the remaining 200,000-tpy PE2 unit to boost Unipetrol’s overall HDPE production at the site to 470,000 tpy from its current 320,000 tpy.

In addition to increased production safety and reliability, PE3 also will enable higher utilization of the complex’s recently damaged steam cracker, which following its reconstruction, will be able to produce 544,000 tpy of ethylene feedstock for the more-profitable HDPE units as global demand for basic ethylene continues to decline.

Technip Italy SPA is providing engineering, procurement, and construction services for the PE3 unit, which will be equipped with Ineos Technologies Ltd.’s proprietary Innovene S slurry technology for production of mono and bimodal HDPE.

Unipetrol , a.s. is a group of companies operating in the petrochemical industry in the Czech Republic. In 2005 Unipetrol became a part of the PKN ORLEN Group, the largest oil processor in Central Europe. The UNIPETROL Group is oriented mostly towards oil processing, fuel distribution and petrochemical production. In all of these business areas the Unipetrol Group is among the key players both in the Czech Republic and on the Central European market. The Group ranks among the leading firms in the Czech Republic in terms of its revenues, and employs almost 4,000 people.