Clariant completes expansion to compound high-temperature fluoropolymers at Lewiston

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Clariant has recently completed a significant expansion at its plant in Lewiston, ME, adding equipment that increases its capacity to compound high-temperature fluoropolymers, which include FEP, ETFE, and PVDF, as per Plastemart.

These materials are important for the production of medical catheters because of their flexibility, lubricity and chemical resistance. Demand for these polymers and for specialized masterbatches, which Clariant markets for medical applications under its MEVOPUR brand, continue to grow worldwide.

Another expansion at the Lewiston plant, planned for completion in 4Q 2017, will add another compounding line featuring a 70-mm extruder. This line will enable the plant to more rapidly produce larger batch sizes of MEVOPUR pre-colored medical plastic compounds (e.g.: 3000 to 6000kg /6000 to 12000lbs or larger).

Clariant already operates several smaller lines - in Lewiston and Clariant’s other MEVOPUR facilities - which produce masterbatches and pre-colored compounds in lot sizes ranging from 25 to 2500kg/50 to 5000 lbs. In addition, production capacity for compounds is also being added during the first half of 2017 in Singapore, to handle increasing demand of color compounds for local and international customers. These small- and medium-sized lots are in high demand, especially in the medical market, since many resin producers have discontinued or severely curtailed their custom-color offerings in anything smaller than full-truck or railcar quantities.

Clariant’s MEVOPUR materials are offered for applications in medical devices and pharmaceutical packaging, where strict regulations on materials and change control apply. The Lewiston plant is one of three global sites designed and operated to produce materials used in medical devices and pharmaceutical packaging. The other two facilities are located in Malmo, Sweden, and Singapore. All are certified to EN:ISO13485 (2012) and can use the same validated raw-material ingredients and processes so that the same products can be produced at any of the sites. Raw materials are pre-tested to standards commonly required for device and drug filings, e.g.: USP <87><88> (‘USP Class VI’) and ISO10993.

As MRC reported earlier, in mid-March 2017, Clariant was awarded a contract by Dongguan Grand Resource Science & Technology Co. Ltd. to develop a new propane dehydrogenation unit in cooperation with CB&I. The project includes the license and engineering design of the unit, which is to be built in Dongguan City, Guangdong Province, China.

Clariant AG is a Swiss chemical company and a world leader in the production of specialty chemicals for the textile, printing, mining and metallurgical industries. It is engaged in processing crude oil products in pigments, plastics and paints. Clariant India has local masterbatch production activities at Rania, Kalol and Nandesari (Gujarat) and Vashere (Maharashtra) sites in India.

Vietnamese sole refinery plans to sell 5%–6% stake in IPO in Q4

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Vietnam's Dung Quat oil refinery plans to sell a 5%–6% stake in the company in the fourth quarter of 2017 via an initial public offering (IPO), it said in a statement, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The IPO is part of a government plan to sell state-owned enterprises including Binh Son Refining and Petrochemical Co, which runs USD3 B Dung Quat. It is currently the sole refinery operating in the country.

The firm sell up to 36% to strategic partners within 12 months of the IPO, state media reported.

The statement did not disclose how much Binh Son might aim to raise in the IPO.

Binh Son's officials were not immediately available to comment.

Rosneft, Russia's biggest oil producer, Gazprom Neft (GPN), Thailand's top energy company PTT and the Kuwait Petroleum Corp are among foreign firms that have expressed interest in Dung Quat, located in the central province of Quang Ngai.

The refinery will shut for maintenance from June 5 to July 23.

Vietnam's second oil refinery, Nghi Son, is being built by investors including Binh Son parent PetroVietnam at a cost of USD7.5 B. The commercial start-up of Vietnam's new USD7.5 B Nghi Son oil refinery will be delayed to 2018, from an initial expected start-up in the third quarter of this year, according to a notice on a government website.

As MRC wrote previously, in late September 2016, Russia's Rosneft signed a contract to supply 96 MMt of crude oil to PV Oil, an affiliate of state oil and gas PetroVietnam, starting this year. The contract, signed on the sidelines of an international economic forum in Russia's St Petersburg, will last between 2017 and 2040. The volume to be supplied by the Russian firm is equivalent to nearly six years of Vietnam's crude oil production, which totalled 16.7 MMt in 2015, based on Vietnam's government data.

HDPE production in Russia decreased by 6% in January-April 2017

MOSCOW (MRC) - Production of high density polyethylene (HDPE) in Russia decreased to about 312,300 tonne in the first four months of 2017, down 6% year on year. Gazprom neftekhim Salavat and Nizhnekamskneftekhim showed a significant decrease in production, according to MRC ScanPlast report.

April HDPE production in Russia was 73,900 tonnes, while in March it was about 83,500 tonnes. Kazanorgsintez and Stavrolen reduced their capacity utilisation because of shutdowns for maintenance at ethylene production capacities. Overall HDPE output reached 312,300 tonnes in the first four months of 2017, compared to 330,700 tonnes a year earlier. Kazanorgsintez and Stavrolen's higher output did not allow to offset the reduction in production at the other two plants.

Structure of PE production over the reported period looked as follows.

Russia's April HDPE production at Kazanorgsintez decreased to 46,100 tonnes from 51,700 tonnes a month earlier. The producer's total HDPE production was 178,800 tonnes in the first four months of the year, up 14% year on year.

Stavrolen produced about 18,400 tonnes of HDPE in April, while in January it was produced about 25,000 tonnes. The plant's HDPE output reached 91,500 tonnes in the first four months of 2017, up by 2% year on year.

Gazprom neftekhim Salavat increased its HDPE production to 9,400 tonnes in April because of a one-week shutdown for maintenance at the beginning of the month, compared to 6,700 tonnes a month earlier. Thus, overall HDPE production at the Baskhir plant reached 31,300 tonnes in the first four months of 2017, down by 14% year on year.

Nizhnekamskneftekhim shifted to the production of linear polyethylene and in the second half of January and returned to the production of HDPE only in May. HDPE production at Nizhnekamskneftekhim was 10,700 tonnes over an incomplete month of work.


Covestro plans for succession of CEO

MOSCOW (MRC) -- CEO Patrick Thomas has confirmed to the Supervisory Board of Covestro that he will complete his contract as expected on September 30, 2018, said the company on its website.

The Supervisory Board has therefore decided on the succession of Patrick Thomas as Chairman of the Board of Management in today’s meeting.

Dr. Richard Pott, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, said: "We sincerely regret Patrick Thomas’ retirement. However, with the end of his contract in fall 2018, Patrick Thomas will have been at the top of Covestro for more than ten years and of course we respect this step. Under his leadership, the company has achieved remarkable success, becoming a leading innovator in the chemical industry with outstanding financial results. We therefore thank him sincerely for his excellent work and support in facilitating a foresighted succession plan."

Patrick Thomas said: "I would like to take this opportunity to thank all employees of Covestro. They have done a great job in the last few years and have made Covestro a very successful company. I look forward to ensuring a successful transition over the next 16 months."

Linde, Praxair reach agreement on details of merger

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Linde AG and Praxair Inc. agreed on a blueprint for their USD35 billion combination, leaving the fate of the proposed deal in the hands of a divided Linde supervisory board that derailed the plan for the merger of the industrial gas suppliers once before, said Bloomberg.

Teams from both companies put together a so-called business combination agreement, though there is no assurance the document will result in a transaction, Munich-based Linde said in a statement Wednesday. The companies announced a preliminary deal in December, and Linde’s board is scheduled to decide whether to proceed next week. Praxair’s board also needs to approve the agreement, the Danbury, Connecticut-based company said.

Having agreed on the finer points of the plan to create the world’s largest producer of industrial gases, chief dealmaker and Linde Chairman Wolfgang Reitzle now has to run the gauntlet of Linde’s 12 directors who are split over the proposal. France’s Air Liquide SA, the largest industrial-gas supplier, completed its biggest deal last year with the USD13 billion acquisition of Airgas Inc. Combining Linde and Praxair -- the world’s next-biggest providers -- would leave three major companies, including Air Products & Chemicals Inc.

Linde’s supervisory board shot down the idea of a transaction in 2016. The board remains in stalemate, split between executives who are for the deal and worker representatives worried about job losses, according to people with knowledge of the situation.

With the decisive vote a week away, Reitzle is willing to use his double voting right to overpower worker opposition, the people said. On top of worker protests, the proposal got a lukewarm reception from shareholders at the annual general meeting earlier this month, when Linde and Praxair had planned to present the merger document. Legal complexities led to the delay, the company said at the time.

At the AGM, Linde management was criticized for the way it’s going about getting a deal. A first attempt broke down in September, followed by a management shuffle and then a revival of talks in November.

The industry supplies gases such as oxygen and hydrogen used at hospitals, oil refineries, chemical plants and steel fabricators.