Evonik expands fumed silica capacities in Antwerp

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Evonik is investing an amount in the upper double-digit million euro range in the expansion of its fumed silica capacities in Antwerp, Belgium, said the company on its web-site.

The production complex is scheduled to become operational in the summer of 2019. Typical applications of these specialty silica, which Evonik markets under the name AEROSIL, include coatings and paints, modern adhesive systems, transparent silicones as well as non-flammable high-performance insulation materials.

"The investment is a good fit for our strategy to concentrate more on distinct specialty chemicals businesses and to gradually create a more balanced portfolio," says Christian Kullmann, Chairman of the Evonik Executive Board. Silica are part of “Smart Materials”, one of Evonik’s four strategic growth engines with above-average market growth and margin potential. "With this investment in the silica business, which has low cyclicality, we are consistently following our growth course and solidifying our position as a leading global provider. Following the planned takeover of the Huber silica business and the continuous expansion of precipitated silica capacity, the AEROSIL® expansion in Antwerp is the next logical step," Kullmann notes. With this investment Evonik is executing a further project within the scope of its defined investment budget.

The global market for fumed silica shows growth rates exceeding 4 percent, which outpaces the global economy as a whole. The market for applications in specialty silicones, adhesives for wind turbines and in the area of non-flammable high-performance insulation is posting above-average development. "By expanding our capacities in Antwerp, we want to support the market growth for fumed silica in Europe and other important export markets, while at the same time boosting our integrated European silica-silane production," explains Johannes Ohmer, member of the Board of Management of Evonik Resource Efficiency GmbH. Thanks to its central location in Europe and modern harbour, Antwerp offers ideal framework conditions.

Based on the new AEROSIL expansion, Evonik will be able to supply customers not only with hydrophilic but also hydrophobic silica from Antwerp in the future. A modernization of the silane capacity is intended to secure the raw material supply for the AEROSIL production as well as for silanes used in tire production. AEROSIL is generated as fumed silica from the high temperature hydrolysis of silanes in a hydrogen flame.

Evonik is a leading global manufacturer of silica. In addition to the fumed silica AEROSIL and the precipitated silica ULTRASIL and SIPERNAT, Evonik also produces matting agents made from silica under the brand name ACEMATT. Overall, the global annual production capacity of Evonik for precipitated and fumed silica as well as matting agents reaches 600,000 metric tons.

As MRC informed earlier, in September 2016, Evonik Industries officially broke ground in Marl for construction of a new production plant for specialty polyamide 12 (PA12) powders. The specialty chemicals company will thus increase annual capacity for its VESTOSINT brand of PA12 powders by 50%. The amount invested lies in the mid-double-digit million euro range. The new plant is scheduled to come on stream at the end of 2017.

Evonik, the creative industrial group from Germany, is one of the world leaders in specialty chemicals. Profitable growth and a sustained increase in the value of the company form the heart of Evonik’s corporate strategy. Its activities focus on the key megatrends health, nutrition, resource efficiency and globalization. Evonik benefits specifically from its innovative prowess and integrated technology platforms. Evonik is active in over 100 countries around the world.


LyondellBasell to build the world largest PO/TBA plant in Texas

MOSCOW (MRC) -- LyondellBasell, one of the world's largest plastics, chemicals and refining companies, has announced the final investment decision to build the world's largest propylene oxide (PO) and tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA) plant in the Houston area, said the producer in its press release.

The project is estimated to cost approximately USD2.4 billion, representing the single-largest capital investment in the company's history. At the peak of construction, the project is expected to create up to 2,500 jobs and approximately 160 permanent positions when operational.

LyondellBasell has made the final investment decision to build the world’s largest PO/TBA plant at its Channelview Complex in Texas. The USD2.4 billion project is the company’s single largest capital investment to date and upon completion will produce an anticipated 1 billion pounds of propylene oxide and 2.2 billion pounds of tertiary butyl alcohol annually.

"This world-scale project is a key part of our organic growth strategy which is designed to meet rising global demand for both urethanes and cleaner-burning oxyfuels while creating real, long-term value for our shareholders," said Bob Patel, CEO of LyondellBasell. "Our investment in this plant combines the best of both worlds: our leading PO/TBA process technology with proximity to low-cost feedstocks, which gives LyondellBasell a competitive advantage in the global marketplace for these products."

"We are pleased that LyondellBasell continues to view the Houston area as important to their global operations, creating jobs and opportunities for Houstonians," said Bob Harvey, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership. "This new project further advances Houston's position as a global hub of petrochemical manufacturing, leveraging Houston's strategic access to the Americas and top markets around the world."

Once in operation, the plant will produce an anticipated 1 billion pounds (470,000 metric tons) of PO and 2.2 billion pounds (1 million metric tons) of TBA annually. PO is used in the manufacture of bedding, furniture, carpeting, coatings, building materials and adhesives, while the TBA will be converted to two ether-based oxyfuels, methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and ethyl tertiary butyl ether (ETBE). Both MTBE and ETBE are high-octane gasoline components that help gasoline burn cleaner and reduce emissions from automobiles.

LyondellBasell plans to sell the PO and derivative products to both domestic and global customers, while the oxyfuels will be primarily sold into Latin America and Asia. A portion of the TBA will remain in the domestic market in the form of high purity isobutylene which is used in tires and lubricants.

The majority of the products will be exported via the Houston Ship Channel.

The PO/TBA project will have a split facility design to optimize product balances and realize synergies between LyondellBasell sites. The proposed location for the PO/TBA plant is the LyondellBasell Channelview Complex located in Channelview, Texas. The associated ethers unit, which will convert TBA to oxyfuels, is proposed for the company's Bayport Complex near Pasadena, Texas.

The company has completed front-end engineering design work and received the required environmental permits. Site preparation is underway and construction is expected to begin during the second half of 2018. It is anticipated the project will be completed by the middle of 2021. Final site selection is contingent upon final approval of certain economic incentives by the state of Texas.

The PO/TBA project is part of LyondellBasell's USD5 billion organic growth program taking place on the U.S. Gulf Coast. LyondellBasell recently completed ethylene expansion projects at the company's La Porte, Channelview and Corpus Christi sites in Texas, finalizing a multi-year plan to increase annual ethylene capacity in the U.S. by 2 billion pounds (900,000 metric tons).

Additionally, as MRC informed before, LyondellBasell began construction of a world-scale polyethylene (PE) plant at its La Porte Complex, which utilizes the company's proprietary Hyperzone PE technology and will more than double that site's PE capacity to 2 billion pounds (900,000 metric tons) per year upon completion in 2019.

LyondellBasell is one of the world's largest plastics, chemical and refining companies. The company manufactures products at 57 sites in 18 countries. LyondellBasell products and technologies are used to make items that improve the quality of life for people around the world including packaging, electronics, automotive parts, home furnishings, construction materials and biofuels.

European Commission clears DuPont deals linked to Dow merger

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The European Commission has conditionally approved the sale by DuPont of part of its crop protection business to FMC Corp. and DuPont's acquisition of FMC's health and nutrition business, as per ABSNews.

The deals cleared Thursday help DuPont meet Commission requirements for DuPont's pending USD62 billion merger with Dow Chemical.

The merger was announced in December 2015 and was initially expected to close in the first half of 2016. But it was delayed several times while U.S. and foreign regulators reviewed it.

The European Commission cleared the merger in March, subject to conditions including DuPont selling major parts of its global pesticide business.

As MRC reported earlier, in late June 2017, DuPont and the Dow Chemical Company reached a proposed agreement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division that will enable the firms to advance the proposed merger of equals. The companies received the approval on condition that DuPont will divest certain parts of its crop protection portfolio. Dow will therefore sell its global Ethylene Acrylic Acid copolymers and ionomers business.

Dow and DuPont had already secured clearance in several jurisdictions, including approvals in the US, Europe, Brazil and China. Currently, both the companies are working constructively with regulators to receive clearance from the remaining jurisdictions. The companies anticipate the merger will be completed in August this year with the intended spin-offs to occur within 18 months of closing.

The Dow Chemical Company is an American multinational chemical corporation. Dow is a large producer of plastics, including polystyrene, polyurethane, polyethylene, polypropylene, and synthetic rubber.

DuPont is an American chemical company that was founded in July, 1802. The company manufactures a wide range of chemical products, leading extensive innovative research in this field. The company is the inventor of many unique plastics and other materials, including neoprene, nylon, Teflon, Kevlar, Mylar, Tyvek, etc. DuPont was the developer and main producer of Freon used in the production of refrigeration equipment.

Bayer: Group performance matches prior year despite declines at Crop Science

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The Bayer Group’s performance in the second quarter of 2017 matched the prior-year period, despite the company registering declines at Crop Science, said the company on its web-site.

"At Crop Science, we experienced a significant decline in sales and earnings in connection with high channel inventories in Brazil, the world’s second-largest agriculture market," CEO Werner Baumann said when he presented the interim report for the second quarter on Thursday. "However, we generated an encouraging increase in earnings and margins at Pharmaceuticals and Animal Health," he noted. Business declined at Consumer Health, primarily due to the difficult market environment in the United States. Sales and earnings of the company’s Life Science businesses were down overall. Covestro, for its part, once again posted substantial growth in sales and earnings. In view of performance at Crop Science and Consumer Health, the Bayer Group has revised its outlook for the full year.

As regards the planned acquisition of Monsanto, Baumann believes the company remains on track. "We are making progress in our discussions with regulatory authorities and are on schedule," he said. On June 30, 2017, Bayer had filed an application with the European Commission seeking approval for the planned acquisition of Monsanto, representing a further significant milestone in the transaction.

Sales of the Bayer Group increased by 3.0 percent to EUR 12,193 million (Q2 2016: EUR 11,833 million) in the second quarter of 2017. Adjusted for currency and portfolio effects (Fx & portfolio adj.), sales advanced by 1.9 percent. Sales of the Life Science businesses amounted to EUR 8,714 million (Q2 2016: EUR 8,858 million), down by 2.8 percent (Fx & portfolio adj.) year on year. Group EBITDA before special items came to EUR 3,056 million (Q2 2016: EUR 3,054 million), matching the prior-year quarter (plus 0.1 percent). At EUR 2,151 million (Q2 2016: EUR 2,138 million), EBIT was also in line with the previous year (plus 0.6 percent), and included net special charges in the amount of EUR 205 million (Q2 2016: EUR 104 million). These primarily reflected value adjustments at the Pharmaceuticals segment, expenses in conjunction with the acquisition of Monsanto, and charges relating to efficiency improvement programs. EBIT before special items moved ahead by 5.1 percent to EUR 2,356 million (Q2 2016: EUR 2,242 million).

Net income declined by 11.3 percent to EUR 1,224 million (Q2 2016: EUR 1,380 million), and core earnings per share (total) by 16.2 percent to EUR 1.40 (Q2 2016: EUR 1.67). Core earnings per share from continuing operations fell by 12.6 percent to EUR 1.81 (EUR 2.07). Material effects included the reduction of Bayer’s interest in Covestro and the increased number of shares following the issuance of the mandatory convertible notes in November 2016.

Net cash provided by operating activities (total) climbed by 16.7 percent to EUR 2,313 million (Q2 2016: EUR 1,982 million). Net financial debt of the Bayer Group declined by EUR 1.0 billion to EUR 9.4 billion between March 31, 2017, and the end of the second quarter. Cash inflows from operating activities and positive currency effects offset the outflow for the dividend payment. The Group generated proceeds of approximately EUR 1.0 billion from the sale of Covestro shares.

Wanhua-BorsodChem to set up MDI bulk storage facility in Rotterdam

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Wanhua & BorsodChem has announced the set-up of a new MDI bulk storage facility in the Rotterdam area, as per GV.

Two new tanks will be located at LBC Tank Terminals, one of the largest chemical storage service providers in the world.

Wanhua said that this bulk storage facility is ideally located to serve as the company’s regional European distribution hub of Wannate MDI products imported from China for European customers. The tanks will be commissioned in July 2017.

We remind that, as MRC informed previously, in March 2017, the Chinese Wanhua Chemical Group announced the formation of the new business division "Performance Chemicals Business Unit". The newly formed division consolidates the previous ADI and Specialty Amines business units to further strengthen its core competencies in the production and marketing of aliphatic isocyanates, speciality amines and other chemicals.