Asia naphtha demand fades as petchem firms snap up LPG

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Asian petrochemical makers are ramping up purchases of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) to use as an alternative feedstock to naphtha, looking to snap up cheap cargoes as heating demand for LPG fades in the wake of winter, reported Reuters.

LPG, often referred to as butane or propane, is commonly used in heaters or stoves in some countries, but can also be an ingredient in plastics used to churn out everything from drinks bottles to carrier bags.

Faltering demand for naphtha could drag on prices that have been in premiums to benchmark Japanese quotes for most of the year compared to discounts in the same period in 2016, while offering support to LPG markets.

Four traders said that Taiwan's Formosa Petrochemical Corp, Asia's top naphtha importer, last week bought its first spot LPG cargo of the year, with South Korea's LG Chem and Lotte Chemical also taking cargoes.

"Typically LPG prices fall in summer as heating demand weakens, and we increase our LPG purchase when prices are low," said LG Chem's spokesman, but he did not confirm any purchases.

Formosa's spokesman was unavailable for comments while Lotte Chemical has declined to comment.

"The Koreans and Formosa moved immediately when the value was in switch mode, (showing) impressive quickness," said one of the traders, who closely follows naphtha and LPG markets. He asked not to be identified as he was not authorized to speak with media.

Petrochemical companies in Asia are typically set up to shift around 5% to 15% of their feedstock to LPG when prices drop below 93% of the cost of naphtha.

Late last week, Asian spot propane price for cargoes to be delivered in the second half of May were less than 86% of naphtha's USD493.50 a ton.

The traders estimate that some 300,000 t of LPG is expected to replace naphtha in May, or around 7% of North Asia's naphtha demand. They said that could climb to 400,000 to 450,000 t in subsequent months.

"LPG prices will likely be weak relative to naphtha in the coming months, incentivizing petrochemical demand," said He Yanyu who leads Asia natural gas liquids market research at IHS Markit.

However, increased LPG purchases would likely mitigate the impact on naphtha markets from possible naphtha shipment delays from Qatar following a splitter outage.

And Asia is structurally short of naphtha, with a supply deficit averaging 4 MMt a month in 2016, data from IHS consulting firm showed.

We remind that, as MRC informed before, in early March 2017, top global oil exporter Saudi Arabia broke from the pack in the race to lock up Asian market share after agreeing to pump USD7 billion into a refinery-petrochemical complex in Malaysia. State oil giant Saudi Aramco's investment into Malaysia's RAPID project will secure an outlet for its crude oil for at least two decades and beefs up its downstream portfolio ahead of its initial public offering (IPO) next year. The competition in Asia among producers, including Russia and other Middle Eastern suppliers such as Iraq, Kuwait and Iran, is sharp. Asia's growing oil demand provides the only home for the producers' output, especially as they have lost market share in the United States to rising domestic shale oil production.

Under the deal with Malaysia's Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas), Aramco will supply up to 70% of the crude for RAPID, which will consist of a 300,000 bpd oil refinery and petrochemical plants. Aramco has also strengthened its ties with Indonesia, Southeast Asia's largest economy, providing 270,000 bpd of crude to the Cilacap refinery owned by Pertamina after taking a 45% stake.
MRC

Nexeo Solutions Announces Successful Completion of Ultra Chem Acquisition

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Nexeo Solutions, Inc., a leader in chemicals distribution, announced that it has successfully completed the acquisition of Ultra Chem, S. de R.L. de C.V. (Ultra Chem), a specialty chemicals distribution business based in Mexico City, Mexico, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

This acquisition expands Nexeo Solutions’ presence in specialty chemicals in Mexico and Latin America. "This acquisition creates meaningful value for our customers, suppliers and shareholders," said Nexeo Solutions’ President and CEO, David Bradley. "With the strength of our platform and the addition of Ultra Chem’s capabilities, we have the portfolio and resources necessary to drive growth in Mexico."

Aligned with Nexeo Solutions' M&A objectives, Ultra Chem is a strong cultural fit with a leading market position and technical sales force. The acquisition improves overall specialty mix, introduces food and beverage as a new end market and expands Nexeo Solutions’ presence with specialty chemicals in Mexico and Latin America. Following the close of this transaction, operations will continue out of Ultra Chem's existing facilities.

As MRC informed earlier, Nexeo Solutions, Inc. a global leader in plastics distribution, announced that it has completed the acquisition of DSM product inventory and has started serving customers who were previously provided with DSM products by K.D. Feddersen Norden AB in the Nordic region.

Nexeo Solutions is a leading global chemicals and plastics distributor, representing products from world-class producers to a diverse customer base. From product specification to sustainable solutions, the Company goes beyond traditional logistics to provide value-added services across many industries, including chemicals manufacturing, oil and gas, coatings, personal care, healthcare, automotive and 3D printing. The Company leverages a centralized technology platform to identify efficiencies and create solutions to unlock value for suppliers and customers.
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China, Myanmar reach agreement on oil pipeline

MOSCOW (MRC) -- China and Myanmar have reached an agreement on an oil pipeline between the neighboring countries and the project will open "very quickly," China's vice foreign minister Liu Zhenmin said on Monday, reported Reuters.

An oil refinery to receive crude via the pipeline had already been completed near the Southwestern city of Kunming, Liu said.

As MRC wrote before, in mid-March 2017, China Petroleum and Chemical Corp started operating a major crude oil pipeline that connects eastern Jiangsu province with refineries in south China. The pipeline, which spans 560 kilometers, runs at an annual capacity of 20 MMt, Sinopec said.

Besides, it became known that Sinopec group, parent of Sinopec Corp, will invest USD29.05 billion to upgrade four refining bases between 2016 and 2020 to produce higher-quality fuels.
MRC

SABIC PMMA plant to be commissioned in Q2

MOSCOW (MRC) -- SAMAC Poly Methyl Methacrylate Plant, which is a joint venture between Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) and Mitsubishi Rayon Co. Ltd, is expected to be commissioned in the second quarter of 2017, said Argaam.

Commercial operations will begin six months following the commissioning, it said. This follows the successful completion of the mechanical works at the plant on April 9, SABIC said.

The company expects an impact to show on its financial results after the beginning of the commercial operations.

In 2014 SABIC’s Saudi Methacrylates Company (SAMAC) entered into strategic partnership with Mitsubishi Rayon worth SAR 1.35 billion to build and operate two manufacturing plants in Jubail Industrial City.

The first plant is to produce methyl methacrylate monomer (MMA) with a 250,000-metric-ton annual capacity, and the other is to produce poly methyl methacrylate (PMMA) with an annual capacity of 40,000 metric tons.

As MRC informed before, in October 2016, Sabic announced that it had developed next generation low density polyethylene (LDPE) foram grades. The first product of a new generation of LDPE foam grades from SABIC was designed to increase production efficiency at the foam manufacturer.

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) ranks among the worldпїЅs top petrochemical companies. The company is among the worldпїЅs market leaders in the production of polyethylene, polypropylene and other advanced thermoplastics, glycols, methanol and fertilizers.

MRC

Petronas to take off-stream its HDPE plant in Malaysia

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Malaysia's state oil firm Petronas Chemical Group (PCG) is likely to shut one of the two high density polyethylene (HDPE) units for maintenance, as per Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in Malaysia informed that the company has schedule to shut the 120,000 mt/year unit for turnaround in mid-April 2017 for a period of around 8-10 days.

Located at Kerteh in Terengganu, Malaysia, the plant has a total production capacity of 240,000 mt/year.

As MRC informed before, in January 2017, Petronas said its new USD27 billion refining and petrochemical complex project in the southeast Asian country is on track for start-up in 2019. Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters then that Saudi Aramco had shelved its plans for a partnership with the company, known as Petronas, on the Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) project.

RAPID, located within the Pengerang Integrated Complex in the southern Malaysian state of Johor, is designed to have a 300,000-bpd oil refinery and a petrochemical complex with a production capacity of 7.7 MMt.

Petronas, short for Petroliam Nasional Berhad, is a Malaysian oil and gas company wholly owned by the Government of Malaysia. The Group is engaged in a wide spectrum of petroleum activities, including upstream exploration and production of oil and gas to downstream oil refining; marketing and distribution of petroleum products; trading; gas processing and liquefaction; gas transmission pipeline network operations; marketing of liquefied natural gas; petrochemical manufacturing and marketing; shipping; automotive engineering; and property investment.
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