BASF and Avantium establish JV for bio-based chemicals

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BASF and Avantium have formed a new JV for the production and marketing of furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), which is produced from renewable resources, as well as the marketing of polyethylenefuranoate (PEF) based on the new chemical building block FDCA, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The aim of the JV, named Synvina and headquartered in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, is to build a position in the production of FDCA and PEF. The JV will focus on building a production plant with an annual capacity of up to 50 Mtpy at BASF’s Verbund site in Antwerp, Belgium, and licensing the technology for industrial scale production. Synvina will use the YXY process developed by Avantium for the production of FDCA.

Industry experts consider bio-based FDCA to be a promising platform chemical and a building block for various downstream products and applications. Most significantly, FDCA is used for the production of PEF, a polyester suitable for food and beverage packaging as well as for fibers for carpets and textiles. For the packaging industry, PEF offers better characteristics in comparison to conventional plastics, such as improved barrier properties for gases like carbon dioxide and oxygen, leading to a longer shelf life of packaged products. It also offers a higher mechanical strength, thus thinner PEF packaging can be produced and fewer resources are required.

PEF is suitable for foil pouches, bottles for carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks, water, dairy products, still and sports drinks and alcoholic beverages as well as personal and home care products. Alongside the polyester PEF, FDCA can be processed to polyamides for engineering plastics and fibers, to polyurethanes for foams, coatings and adhesives and to esters for personal care products and lubricants.

Synvina will continue Avantium’s established partnering activities with leading brands associated with FDCA and PEF. The goal of the cooperation platform is to develop a complete supply chain for PEF as sustainable bio-based packaging material. Together with Toyobo, the companies will jointly boost the PEF polymerization and further develop PEF films for food packaging, in electronics applications such as displays or solar panels, industrial and medical packages. With Mitsui, Synvina will work on developing PEF thin films and PEF bottles in Japan. Furthermore, Synvina aims to continue the development partnerships with The Coca-Cola Company, Danone, ALPLA and other companies on the Joint Development Platform for PEF bottles.

As MRC informed before, in June 2016, Albemarle and BASF announced that they had signed a definitive agreement under which BASF will acquire Albemarle’s Chemetall surface treatment business for about USD3.2 billion in cash. BASF says that Chemetall complements its current portfolio by adding the surface treatment business to BASF’s coatings offerings.

BASF is the largest diversified chemical company in the world and is headquartered in Ludwigshafen, Germany. BASF produces a wide range of chemicals, for example solvents, amines, resins, glues, electronic-grade chemicals, industrial gases, basic petrochemicals and inorganic chemicals. The most important customers for this segment are the pharmaceutical, construction, textile and automotive industries. BASF generated sales of more than EUR70 billion in 2015.

PetroRabigh restarts PE units in Saudi Arabia

MOSCOW (MRC) -- PetroRabigh has brought on-stream its high density polyethylene (HDPE) and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) units following an unplanned outage, as per Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in Saudi Arabia informed that the company resumed operations at the units last week. Both the units were shut in early October, owing to a technical glitch.

Located in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, the high density polyethylene (HDPE) and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) units have a production capacity of 300,000 mt/year each.

As MRC informed previously, in April 2015, Rabigh Refining & Petrochemical Co. (Petro Rabigh) received ownership of the Rabigh Phase II project from Saudi Aramco and Sumitomo Chemical, major shareholders in Petro Rabigh, and will now integrate the project into Petro Rabigh's existing refining and petrochemical complex in Rabigh, Saudi Arabia.

The Rabigh II project, expected to cost about USD 8.1-billion, involves expanding an existing ethane cracker and adding production of ethylene propylene rubber, thermoplastic polyolefins, methyl methacrylate monomer, polymethyl methacrylate, low-density polyethylene/ethylene vinyl acetate, paraxylene/benzene, cumene and phenol/acetone. Production facilities are expected to begin operations "one after another, beginning in the first half of 2016," Sumitomo said.

PetroRabigh, a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Japan's Sumitomo Chemical, has an annual output capacity of 18 million tonnes of refined products and 2.4 million tonnes of petrochemicals. Thus, the complex currently has a cracker to produce 1.3-million t/y of ethylene and 900,000 t/y of propylene, as well as downstream production of polyethylene, polypropylene, propylene oxide, ethylene glycol and butene-1.

Total sells chemical unit Atotech to Carlyle for USD3.2 billion

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Total SA has agreed to sell a specialty chemicals business to investment firm The Carlyle Group for USD3.2 billion, part of the French oil major’s efforts to slim down and raise cash in the face of a slump in oil prices, reported The Wall Street Journal.

The companies said the transaction values Atotech BV, a supplier of plating chemicals, at 11.9 times the unit’s adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in 2015.

Atotech has a staff of 4,000, based mainly in Germany and China.

Total has responded to the oil price collapse over the past two years by increasing oil and gas output, cutting operating costs, capital investment and raising cash through asset sales. The company has said it planned to sell USD10 billion worth of assets in the three-year 2015-2017 period.

The Total strategy to deal with an oil barrel worth less than half what it was 2,5years ago is far from original though the French company has been more successful than most of its peers to carry it out. The company managed to keep booking billion-dollar profits in 2014 and 2015 despite the collapse of the price of its main products.

The company has decided to cut its investment to between USD15 billion and USD17 billion a year in 2017, down from more than USD20 billion a year when the oil price was above USD100 a barrel.

At the same time it gets rid of noncore petrochemical businesses such as Atotech or adhesive maker Bostik two years ago, Total has also acquired assets it sees as promising in the future. The company expects to dispose a net USD2 billion worth of assets in 2016.

Over the past few months, Total has bought shale oil assets in the U.S. and French battery maker Saft while selling assets it considers aren't profitable enough now or won't be in the future and assets that aren't part of its core business such as Atotech.

Total Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne has recently insisted the company will remain a strong actor in the oil transformation industry, which includes oil refining activities, petrochemical industries and fuel retailing.

Total S.A. is a French multinational oil and gas company and one of the six "Supermajor" oil companies in the world with business in Europe, the United States, the Middle East and Asia. The company's petrochemical products cover two main groups: base chemicals and the consumer polymers (polyethylene, polypropylene and polystyrene) that are derived from them.

Axens technology licensed for Pertamina’s Balikpapan, Cilacap refineries

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Axens signed several technology licensing agreements with Pertamina for its major expansion project to upgrade residue into gasoline in Balikpapan and for a new middle distillate hydrotreater in Cilacap, to comply with new regulations, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The Balikpapan project consists in a grassroots Resid FCC unit with a design capacity of 90 Mbpd, a LPG sulfur removal unit, a propylene recovery unit and a new 80 Mbpd middle distillate hydrotreater. The gasoline produced by the Resid FCC unit will be selectively hydrodesulfurized in a Prime-G unit with a design capacity of 48 Mbpd to produce ultra-clean gasoline.

The Cilacap project consists of a 36 Mbpd grassroots Prime-D distillate hydrotreater unit, allowing the production of ultra-low sulfur diesel.

The integration of Axens’ suite of technologies will enable Pertamina to significantly reduce Indonesia’s dependence on foreign imports of transportation fuels.

As MRC informed earlier, Rosneft and Pertamina signed a JV agreement that serves as the underlying agreement for the creation of a JV company that would implement the construction of the Tuban refining and petrochemical complex located in the eastern part of Java, Indonesia.

Pertamina is an Indonesian state-owned oil and natural gas corporation based in Jakarta. It was created in August 1968 by the merger of Pertamin (established 1961) and Permina (established 1957). Pertamina is the world's largest producer and exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Opinions of European producers over October PVC prices for CIS countries differ

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Negotiations over prices of European polyvinyl chloride (PVC) for October shipments to the CIS markets began this week. Local producers do not have unified opinion regarding October prices, according to ICIS-MRC Price report.

The contract price of ethylene in Europe for for October deliveries was agreed by EUR15/tonne higher than in September, which increased PVC production costs by an average of EUR7,5/tonne. However, producers had ambiguous opinions: there were desires bot to maintain or reduce prices and to achieve a price rise.

Negotiations over October shipments of suspension polyvinyl chloride (SPVC) to the CIS markets were held in the range of EUR715-810/tonne FCA this week, whereas in September deals were done in the range of EUR730-810/tonne FCA. Some producers announced price increases to EUR830/tonne FCA, but companies do not intend to negotiate such a price.

There were no major restrictions on producers' export quotas in October, although some market participants reported minor disruptions in PVC shipments by some producers.