European Commission set to reject anti-dumping duty request on Korean PTA

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The European Commission is set to reject a request to place anti-dumping duties on imports of purified terephthalic acid from South Korea, market sources said Friday, reported Apic-online.

"The duties remain at 0%, they have rejected the claim," a trader said. "It happened on April 11."

But the EC's official journal indicates the investigation is still under way.

"The case is still ongoing. Disclosure to interested parties has taken place and the Commission is still waiting for their comments," an EC spokesperson said Friday.

Nevertheless, the trader said buying interest in Europe for South Korean PTA had risen as a result ahead of the official decision.

The anti-dumping investigation into PTA imports from South Korea was launched by the EC in August 2016, following a complaint by three European PTA producers: BP Aromatics, Artlant PTA and Indorama Ventures Quimica, which together account for around half of the EU's PTA nameplate production capacity.

Market participants said prices for South Korean PTA had been very competitive in the past and had found a strong customer base among EU PET producers, most of who were contractual buyers.

The intense competition had kept profit margins very weak for EU PTA producers. It also kept Portugal's Artlant's PTA plant in Sines idled since November 2015, having previously restarted for just a month in October that year after remaining shut for around 16 months.

The EC's investigation was set to conclude within 15 months, a period that ends on November 3, 2017. Provisional measures, if any, are scheduled to be imposed within nine months, by May 3, 2017.

As MRC wrote before, in August 2017, China continued anti-dumping duties on a commodity chemical imported from the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Thailand. The tariffs on PTA became effective for another five years on 11 Aug 2016, with rates ranging from 2% to 20.1%. The ruling was made after official surveys showed that damage to the domestic industry would reoccur if the tariffs were terminated, the notice said. The ministry started imposing anti-dumping duties on the industrial organic compound in 2010.

Sinopec Qilu brought on-stream LDPE plant in China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Sinopec Qilu Petrochemical has brought on-stream its low density polyethylene (LDPE) plant following a maintenance turnaround, as per Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in China informed that the company has resumed operations at the plant on April 24, 2017. The plant was shut for maintenance on March 6, 2017.

Located at Shandong province in China, the LDPE plant has production capacities of 140,000 mt/year.

As MRC informed before, 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. Sinopec's upgrades come as China, the world's second-biggest oil consumer, is embracing more stringent fuel standards in its battle against pollution and suffering an overall glut in refining capacity. After the upgrades, the total refining capacity of the four refining sites will reach 130 MMtpy, or 2.6 MMbpd, while ethylene capacity will reach 9 MMtpy.

China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec Group) is a super-large petroleum and petrochemical enterprise group established in July 1998 on the basis of the former China Petrochemical Corporation. Sinopec Group's key business activities include the exploration and production of oil and natural gas, petrochemicals and other chemical products, oil refining.

Covestro Q1 profit beats market view on strong construction business

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Covestro, the plastics maker that parent Bayer plans to divest, reported a larger-than-forecast profit gain for the first quarter, on stronger volumes and prices of foam chemicals used in the construction industry, said Reuters.

Quarterly earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), rose by two thirds to 846 million euros (USD919 million), above the 761 million euros expected on average in a Reuters poll of analysts.

Covestro said it now sees the return on capital employed (ROCE) in 2017 clearly above 2016 levels, where it had previously seen a slight increase.

As MRC informed earlier, Covestro has announced that it will continue manufacturing MDI in Tarragona, Spain. The plant closure that had originally been planned for the end of 2017.

Covestro (formerly Bayer MaterialScience) is an independent subgroup within Bayer. It was created as part of the restructuring of Bayer AG from the former business group Bayer Polymers, with certain of its activities being spun off to Lanxess AG. Covestro manufactures and develops materials such as coatings, adhesives and sealants, polycarbonates (CDs, DVDs), polyurethanes (automotive seating, insulation for refrigerating appliances) etc.

Shipments of Iranian PC to Russia resumed

MOSCOW (Market Report) -- After eight months of a break, shipments of Iranian polycarbonate (PC) were resumed to the Russian market, an Iranian trader told MRC.

He said he intends to focus on PC sales to Turkey and Russia in the coming months.

Import prices of the first lot of material will be at USD2,400-2,420/tonne CPT Astrakhan, excluding VAT. PGPC-0407 and PGPC-0710 grades at a total volume of 225 tonnes are scheduled for delivery.

April domestic prices for Kazanorgsintez's PC remained at the same level - Rb185,000-186,000/tonne CPT Moscow, including VAT.

Lanxess invests EUR25 in its production site in Lillo/Antwerp

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Lanxess has announced plans to further strengthen its integrated production complex for polyamide and precursors for plastics in Antwerp. With an investment of roughly EUR 25 million in 2017, the specialty chemicals company will primarily implement measures to further enhance efficiency, said the producer on its site.

"Our integrated production complex in Lillo is the backbone of our global business for high-tech plastics. Given the trend toward lightweight construction in the automotive industry, for example, this is a major future market. Therefore we are continuously strengthening the competitiveness of this site. In total, our company has invested more than EUR300 million in Lillo since 2004 - a sum that shows our firm commitment to this site," said Matthias Zachert, Chairman of the Board of Management at Lanxess.

The announcement was made on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of caprolactam production at the site. Caprolactam is a key precursor for the production of Lanxess' high-tech plastics. Besides the automotive industry, these plastics are also used in electrical and electronics applications.

In recent years Lanxess has focused on building a balanced value chain for its high-tech plastics production operations, which absorbs the lion’s share of the intermediates produced for captive use. A milestone on that strategic path was the construction of a world-class polymerization plant with an annual capacity of 90,000 metric tons connected directly to the caprolactam production facility. Since its start in summer 2014, the polyamide is shipped from Antwerp to Lanxess’s global network of compounding facilities, where it is further processed into the high-tech plastics.

Production at the site began half a century ago on April 24, 1967. The plant was a pioneer in the harbor area, which has developed into the largest integrated chemical cluster in Europe.

The complex had a capacity of 160,000 metric tons of caprolactam per year in 2004 when LANXESS was founded; current capacity is 220,000 metric tons per year. Since the plant came on stream 50 years ago, 6,252,000 metric tons of caprolactam have been produced.

Lanxess not only expanded capacity considerably, it also modernized the complex. One recent major step was the implementation of a virtually energy self-sufficient infrastructure.

Lanxess has three production sites in the Antwerp docklands. Caprolactam and polyamide are produced in Lillo-Antwerp, glass fibers and rubber chemicals are manufactured in Kallo. Arlanxeo, a joint venture of Lanxess and Saudi Aramco, produces synthetic rubber at the site in Zwijndrecht. Lanxess has a total staff of roughly 1.250 in Belgium, including Zwijndrecht.

As MRC informed before, following the approval of all relevant antitrust authorities, the new synthetic rubber joint venture of Lanxess and Saudi Aramco started life on April 1, 2016, under the name Arlanxeo.

Lanxess is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 8.0 billion in 2014 and about 16,600 employees in 29 countries. The company is currently represented at 52 production sites worldwide. The core business of Lanxess is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals.