China plans to impose taxes on oil by-products

MOSCOW (MRC) -- China plans to impose consumption taxes on oil by-products such as mixed aromatics, light cycle oil and bitumen blend, tightening regulations on a fuel import market worth millions of dollars, reported Reuters.

The proposed taxes of more than USD145.01 per ton for the oil products could start in May, four sources with knowledge of the matter said, declining to be identified as they are not authorized to speak with media.

The taxes will effectively close a loophole often used by oil traders in China and will shut the door on nearly 20 MMt of imports of these products and improve sales of fuel produced locally, they said.

Outside of China, the policy change will have a ripple effect across trading companies and refineries in Asia and Europe which have relied on the world's second-largest oil consumer as a key outlet for such products.

"If taxes are imposed, I think this market will be dead," said a South Korean refining source who declined to be named due to company policy.

A consumption tax of 1,400 yuan per ton could be levied for light cycle oil (LCO), a refinery by-product that is consumed in China as low-grade diesel, two of the sources said.

Importers of mixed aromatics, petrochemical products such as benzene, toluene and mixed xylenes that are blended with gasoline to boost octane levels, may have to pay 2,100 yuan per ton as a consumption tax, similar to that levied for gasoline.

Bitumen blend, a popular feedstock choice among independent refiners, could see a 1,200 per ton tax levied on imports. The residue is often processed in crude distillation units or in upgrading units such as cokers to produce higher value fuels.

The Ministry of Finance did not respond to Reuters' request for comment.

In a proposal from state-owned refiner Sinopec to the Chinese government to tighten the tax scrutiny on LCO, a company executive cited customs data for LCO imports at 3.22 MMt from January to September 2016, up 194% on year.

This works out to an average of about 350,000 t a month.

This has risen to 600,000 t a month by March of this year after the lucrative trade attracted cargoes from the west, two traders familiar with the market said.

As MRC informed before, Japan is considering removing China from its list of Generalized System of Preferences or GSP countries due to China's economic strength. Under GSP rules, developing countries are taxed at a lower rate when exporting their products to developed countries. Japan's import tax on PET imports from China currently set at zero could be affected by any change.

EU clears ChemChina USD43 billion takeover of Syngenta with conditions

MOSCOW (MRC) -- ChemChina won conditional EU antitrust approval on Wednesday for its USD43 billion bid for Swiss pesticides and seeds group Syngenta, a deal that could help China boost its domestic agricultural output, said Reuters.

The deal is one of several reshaping the agricultural chemicals and seeds market, even as these deals trigger fears among some farmers that bigger, more powerful suppliers could be better placed to push up prices and economize on developing new herbicides and pesticides.

Reuters reported on Feb. 2 that the deal, the largest foreign acquisition by a Chinese company, would be cleared with conditions. The European Commission said planned asset sales would address its competition concerns.

"It is important for European farmers and ultimately consumers that there will be effective competition in pesticide markets, also after ChemChina's acquisition of Syngenta," European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement. Syngenta shares were trading up 1.1 percent after the clearance was announced.

ChemChina will sell a large chunk of its subsidiary Adama's pesticide, herbicides and insecticides business, its seed treatment products for cereals and sugar beet and a substantial part of its plant growth regulator business for cereals.

American Vanguard said it struck a deal with Adama to acquire three crop protection product lines, without disclosing financial terms.

Bernstein Research analyst Jeremy Redenius said that since Adama focuses on established crop chemicals that have lost patent protection, potential buyers of other assets would likely be from the same industry segment, such as FMC Corp (FMC.N), Nufarm (NUF.AX) and Sumitomo Chemical (4005.T).

Redenius added that BASF (BASFn.DE) was unlikely to bid due to its focus on patented substances. BASF and FMC declined to comment. Australia's Nufarm and Japan's Sumitomo were not immediately available for comment outside regular business hours.

Syngenta said the EU's go-ahead was a major step toward closing the transaction, expected in the second quarter of 2017.

Some of Syngenta's pesticides will also be put on the block. The world No. 1 pesticides maker sells its products in more than 90 countries under such brand names as Acuron, Axial, Beacon and Callisto. It sells seeds such as cereals, corn, rice, soybeans and vegetables. U.S. antitrust authorities nodded the deal through on Tuesday on condition ChemChina divests three products.

The EU approval came a week after it cleared the USD130 billion Dow Chemical (DOW.N) and DuPont (DD.N) merger in return for hefty asset sales, including global research and development facilities.

ExxonMobil completes heavy lift of hydrocracker tower at Rotterdam refinery

MOSCOW (MRC) -- ExxonMobil successfully completed the heavy lift of its vacuum fractionation tower for the hydrocracker at its Rotterdam refinery this April, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

About 50 m long and, with added platforms, 11 m wide, the vacuum fractionation tower is the largest piece of equipment placed on the foundation intact. The tower is designed to separate products under reduced pressure so less energy is needed.

The tower was delivered to the refinery in October 2016. Upon arrival of the tower at a “laydown” yard, pre-dressing of the tower began. This allowed the platforms, insulation, 13 t of piping, 2 km of cable and instrumentation to be installed.

The final dressed tower weighs about 400 t -- roughly comparable with a fully loaded Boeing 747 plane. The tandem lift operation lifted the vacuum fractionator from horizontal to vertical position and then a crawler crane lifted the tower over a nearly 30 m tall pre-cast concrete table-top foundation to place it in position.

This milestone was preceded by the lift of the three reactors, which took place Feb. 21–25.

Once the hydrocracker expansion project is complete, the Rotterdam refinery will produce ExxonMobil’s EHCTM Group II base stocks in Europe for the first time. Production start-up is on track for late 2018.

As MRC informed earlier, ExxonMobil is in talks to buy a refining-petrochemical complex in Singapore that could boost its fuel and chemical production in Asia.

PPG calls for merger talks with AkzoNobel

MOSCOW (MRC) -- PPG Industries, the U.S. paints and coating maker that is trying to buy smaller Dutch peer Akzo Nobel (AKZO.AS), said Reuters.

On Tuesday, Akzo repeated its opposition to PPG's 24.5 billion euro ($26.1 billion) offer, saying it would face antitrust difficulties and would be bad for employees.. A large number of Akzo shareholders have urged the company's management to enter discussions.

In a statement on Wednesday, PPG said it was ready to address Akzo's concerns, including commitments to funding research and development, fair employment terms, equitable locations of divisional headquarters, and spending on community investment and sustainability targets.

"We once again invite AkzoNobel to meet with us ... We are prepared to address all of AkzoNobel's concerns in a collaborative and substantive manner," PPG Michael McGarry said in a statement. In response, Akzo said PPG's proposals were "unacceptable."

"Let's not get caught up in other issues around the proposal such as engagement," the Dutch company said. "We remain firmly focused on developing our exciting plans for the future of AkzoNobel to unlock significant value for shareholders and all stakeholders, which we will present on April 19."

Akzo has said it prefers its own plan to sell its chemicals division, representing about a third of company sales and profits, rather than entering talks with PPG. Analysts say Akzo is unlikely to be able to match PPG's cash and share offer, worth 90 euros per share at current prices.

Akzo shares were up 0.8 percent at 78.57 euros at 1246 GMT, suggesting investors doubt PPG will ultimately succeed.

Lotte Chemical operates No. 2 cracker near full capacity rates

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Lotte Chemical Titan,a subsidiary of Lotte Chemical, is presently running its No. 2 naphtha cracker near optimum levels, according to Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in Malaysia informed that the company is operating its cracker at around 95-98% of production capacity rates.

The cracker plant was brought on-stream last week following a maintenance turnaround, it was shut in early-February 2017.

Located in Pasir Gudang, Malaysia, the cracker has an ethylene capacity of 435,000 mt/year and propylene capacity of 260,000 mt/year.

As MRC reported earlier, in April 2016, Lotte Chemical Corp. finalized the takeover of Samsung Group’s chemical units.The company said that it paid for money to acquire Samsung SDI Chemical on Apr. 29 and completed the acquisition of Samsung Group’s chemical businesses in about six months after the announcement of "Big Deal" in October 2015. Samsung Fine Chemicals, which was completely taken over by Lotte in Feb., changed its name to Lotte Fine Chemical, while SDI Chemical, which completed the acquisition process on the 29th, changed its name to Lotte Advanced Materials through the general meeting of stockholders.

Lotte Chemical Titan produces Malaysia's most comprehensive portfolio of olefins and polyolefins which contribute to the enhancement of everyday life. Lotte Chemical Titan's production site in Malaysia consists of eleven process facilities, two co-generation plants and three tank farms. They are located on 2 sites in Pasir Gudang and Tanjung Langsat in the state of Johor. In 2006, Lotte Chemical Titan acquired PT Lotte Chemical Titan Nusantara, Indonesia’s first and largest polyethylene plant in the country. This acquisition boosted the polyolefins capacity by approximately 50%, thus making the company one of the largest producers in South East Asia. Lotte Chemical Titan was acquired by Lotte Chemical Corp., forming part of the Lotte conglomerate of Korea, in 2010. The company thus became one of Lotte Chemical Corp.’s largest overseas subsidiaries.