Celanese/Mitsui methanol plant in Texas begins 10-day restart

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The 1.3 million mt/year Celanese/Mitsui methanol plant in Clear Lake, Texas, has begun a 10 day restart, according to Plastemart.

The restart process began Saturday and should last until November 29, the companies said in a filing with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

The unit shut November 12 to allow for repairs to a secondary reformer. This joint-venture facility is the largest methanol production plant in the US.

As MRC wrote before, in October 2015, Mitsui & Co. announced that Fairway Methanol LLC, a 50-50 joint venture between Mitsui and US-based chemicals company Celanese, had commenced production of methanol at its planned annual production capacity of 1.3 million tons. Mitsui says it is utilizing its shale gas business in the US as the starting point for expanding the scope of its downstream activities in the gas value chain, including chemicals and infrastructure.

Mitsui Chemicals,a Japanese chemical company, is a part of the Mitsui conglomerate. The company has a turnover of around 15 billion USD and has business interests in Japan, Europe, China, Southeast Asia and the USA. The company mainly deals in performance materials, petro and basic chemicals and functional polymeric materials.

Celanese Corporation is a global technology leader in the production of differentiated chemistry solutions and specialty materials used in most major industries and consumer applications. Based in Dallas, Texas, Celanese employs approximately 7,500 employees worldwide and had 2014 net sales of USD6.8 billion.

Sasol’s C3 polypropylene expansion project commissioned Increases production by 100 000 tonnes per annum.

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Sasol’s new C3 expansion project was inaugurated on Monday and will increase the company’s production of polypropylene by some 100 000 tonnes per annum, said Mineweb.

"This particular investment further entrenches Sasol as a global chemicals player,” said Stephen Cornell, joint president and CEO of Sasol Limited. "With more than R1 billion invested, we are proud to unveil yet another major capital investment in South Africa, our home."

The inauguration concludes a project that has been three years in the making and which created 920 jobs during the construction process. The investment was designed to remove bottlenecks at Secunda’s PP1 and PP2 plants through the installation of hydraulic capacity. "We also undertook this work without shutting down the plants," said Cornell, "and despite the complexity, the project had an excellent safety record."

Polypropylene is one of the world’s most widely-used petrochemical products and doubles as both a plastic and a fibre. The product has a variety of applications which include packaging for consumer products, plastic parts for various industries including the automotive industry, and textiles. Strong underlying trends in the packaging of consumer products, in particular, underpinned the investment rationale for Sasol.

Cornell says overall consumption of polypropylene is growing at 4% year-on-year in South Africa, and the additional material will be sold domestically and into export markets through Sasol’s Chemicals Business.

"We will continue to partner with our downstream convertor manufacturers, to supply them with particular grades which will allow them to broaden their offering and compete in international markets."

Sasol expects the expanded capacity will result in additional export sales of USD1.7 billion over the project’s life.

As MRC informed earlier, Fluor Corporation has been awarded a contract by Sasol Group Technology, a division of Sasol South Africa Ltd., for the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) of the Additional Oxygen Capacity Train 17 outside battery limits project at its Secunda plant in South Africa.

Sasol Limited is an integrated energy and chemical company that began in Sasolburg, South Africa in 1950. It develops and commercialises technologies and builds and operates world-scale facilities to produce a range of product streams including liquid fuels, chemicals.

Intertape Polymer to invest USD20 mln in capacity enhancement in India

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The US-based Intertape Polymer Group Inc, which manufactures paper and film-based pressure-sensitive tapes for the packaging industry, is planning to invest USD20 million to strengthen its business and enhance capacity in India, as per Plastemart.

This announcement follows Intertape’s acquisition of controlling stake (74%) in Powerband Industries Pvt Ltd (a global supplier of acrylic adhesive-based carton sealing tapes and stretch films located in Daman), in September this year. The remaining 26% stake in Powerband is held by the Desai family which founded the company in 1994.

Intertape’s new investment plan involves capacity expansion of the Powerband plant in Daman as well as the construction of a greenfield facility in the country. With this, the company is aiming to grow its business beyond North America, where it has been a dominate player, to fast-growing Indian market, which is expected to witness manifold increase in packaging requirement.

Greg Yull, IPG's president and chief executive officer, comments on the occasion of acquiring stake in Powerband in September 2016, "We believe that it is critical to IPG’s growth that we expand from being a primarily North American producer to becoming a greater participant in the global market. This transaction materially furthers IPG’s strategy to expand globally due, in part, to Powerband’s presence in virtually every significant global market, as well as providing IPG with the benefit of access to a low cost and high growth jurisdiction."

As MRC wrote before, in early 2013, as part of a North American reorganization due to competitive pressures and volatile costs, polyolefin film manufacturer Intertape Polymer Group Inc. shifted work at its plant in Truro, N.S., to a factory in Utah. The Truro plant continued to make some products for the Montreal-based company, which manufactures plastic wrapping and tapes for packaging. Thus, the shrink film business in Truro was transferred to Tremonton, Utah, which created one facility in North America for this business. Also, a plant in Kentucky was closed and its production was shifted to Illinois.

Intertape Polymer Group Inc is one of the leading players in the development, manufacture and sale of a variety of paper and film based pressure-sensitive and water-activated tapes, polyethylene and specialised polyolefin films, woven coated fabrics and complementary packaging systems for industrial and retail use. The company employs approximately 2,200 employees with operations in 18 locations, including 12 manufacturing facilities in North America, one in Europe and one in India.

Hedge fund asks Marathon Petroleum to consider breaking up company

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Hedge fund Elliott Management unveiled a 4% stake in Marathon Petroleum Corp on Monday, urging the company to launch a strategic review and consider spinning off its three main businesses, said Reuters.

Marathon responded by saying it disagreed with the letter and was moving ahead with its own plan as fast as possible, a reply that signaled rising tension between the refiner and the activist investor.

Marathon has hired boutique investment bank Evercore Partners to advise on its engagement with Elliott, people familiar with the matter said. Marathon and Evercore did not immediately return calls seeking comment on the defense plan.

The deadline for Marathon shareholders to nominate directors is Dec. 15, meaning Elliott could seek board seats if talks between the two sides fail to improve.

Elliott, which joins fellow activist Jana Partners as a Marathon shareholder, also said the company needs to speed up its so-called "drop down" plan related to its master limited partnership, MPLX Inc. Findlay, Ohio-based Marathon last month said it would seek to place some of its assets into MPLX, a move Jana said it supports.

Elliott, however, said in a letter to Marathon's board that the company should proceed with the drop down immediately and should better communicate what exactly is being put into MPLX.

Marathon should consider spinning off just Speedway, its retail chain of gasoline and convenience stores, or to separate all three of its retail, refining and pipeline businesses. Marathon shares were up 5 percent at $45.70 on Monday while MPLX's stock was up 3 percent to USD33.98.

The company said it disagreed with Elliott and was confident in its plan to deliver substantial shareholder value.

As MRC informed earlier, Marathon Petroleum plans to buy MarkWest Energy Partners, the second-largest US processor of natural gas, for about USD15.8 billion in stock and cash.

Marathon Oil Corporation is a United States-based oil and natural gas exploration and production company. Principal exploration activities are in the United States, Norway, Equatorial Guinea, Poland, Angola and Iraqi Kurdistan.

Eni signs a framework agreement with GE to develop renewable energy projects

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Eni has signed an agreement with General Electric (GE) to develop renewable energy projects and hybrid solutions with a focus on energy efficiency, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Through this agreement, Eni and GE intend to jointly identify and develop large-scale power generation projects from renewable energy sources.

The agreement covers a wide range of innovative technologies, including onshore and offshore wind generation, solar power, hybrid gas-renewable projects, electrification of new and existing assets, waste-to-energy projects, the ‘green’ conversion of mature or decommissioned industrial assets and the deployment of technologies developed by Eni’s R&D department.

Through this partnership, Eni aims to enhance its ability to implement projects in the renewable energy sector, leveraging on the strong relationship developed over many years with GE in planning, constructing and operating Oil & Gas industrial plants worldwide and drawing on GE’s broad and diversified technological portfolio of products and solutions in both the conventional and the renewable energy sectors.

Eni has been operating in the renewable energy sector since 1980. In 2015 Eni launched the Energy Solutions Department, with the objective of creating and building large-scale industrial projects in Italy and abroad.

As MRC informed earlier, Eni reported that its third-quarter loss attributable to shareholders from continuing operations narrowed to 562 million euros from 783 million euros.

Eni is an Italian multinational oil and gas company headquartered in Rome. It has operations in in 79 countries, and is currently Italy's largest industrial company with a market capitalization of EUR68 billion (USD 90 billion), as of August 14, 2013. The Italian government owns a 30.3% golden share in the company, 3.93% held through the state Treasury and 26.37% held through the Cassa depositi e prestiti. Another 39.40% of the shares are held by BNP Paribas.