Sabic introduces new LEXAN resins for LED automotive lighting

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Plastics-maker Sabic has developed new materials for customers producing LED automotive lighting parts, as per the company's press release.

LEXAN HF4010SR resin is one of the new offerings. This polycarbonate (PC) material can make it possible for customers to develop complex headlight bezels with enhanced aesthetics. Sabic has also added new grades to its existing LEXAN XHT resin line, which can offer improved flow at high temperatures compared to other high-heat polycarbonate materials available today.

Sabic’s new materials targeting forward lighting parts come at a time when the complexity of these applications continues to increase. Current high-end LED headlamps weigh close to six kilograms with up to 200 components, thanks to the additional functionality they incorporate. Automakers are also striving to create highly distinctive lighting parts to help differentiate and increase the appeal of their vehicles.

Sabic has engineered the new LEXAN resin to address customers seeking to produce complex headlamp bezels with enhanced styling, but at a lighter weight and at a lower overall system cost.

"These new offerings are examples of how we listen to our automotive lighting customers, stay in touch with their emerging needs, and propose materials they can consider to meet the challenges in front of them," said Scott Fallon, global leader of Sabic’s Automotive business.

When designing injection-molded parts, a low draft angle is important because it enables greater styling freedom as well as a larger optical surface. However, the lower this angle, the more problems arise with parts sticking in the mold, creating scuff marks and potentially even resulting in a part with cosmetic defects.

To help the industry meet this challenge, Sabic has developed LEXAN HF4010SR resin. This material can enable customers to target draft angles between 0.5 and 1.0 degrees lower than the recommended draft angle for PC tools (typically between 3 and 5 degrees).

Bezels that are injection molded in LEXA HF4010SR can be directly metallized (no need for priming) and gloss and reflectivity performance under high temperature environments are both very good. The material has a unique wide processing window and high flow. Parts perform in environments requiring a maximum constant use temperature of up to 130 C.

According to market feedback, the increased styling capability made reachable with LEXAN HF4010SR can provide designers with new freedom to imagine and produce shapes with greater complexity, and integrate more features and functionality into each individual component. In addition, the production of headlamps with fewer bezels can be possible, which could then potentially lead to important weight and cost reductions. Potential cost savings up to USD2 per vehicle can be achieved by avoiding the use of complex tools, potentially enabling faster molding, part integration and weight-out.

LEDs are relatively cold light sources, but LED headlamps can still generate considerable amounts of heat. SABIC already has an extensive portfolio of XHT (extra high temperature) grades of LEXAN resin, with heat deflection temperatures (HDTs) of up to 183°C (under a load of 0.45 MPa). But many high-heat PCs still have problems with flow (for example, weaknesses are knit lines or limited flowability in comparison to regular PC) and these materials cost more than ‘standard’ PC.

To help customers address this issue, Sabic has added new grades to its existing LEXAN high flow XHT portfolio: LEXAN XHT1171, XHT2171 and XHT3171. These grades provide particularly high flow for high temperature PC resins - supporting customers looking at producing high quality parts, and can be considered as a drop-in alternative to standard PC.

As MRC wrote previously, in October 2016, the first product of a new generation of low density polyethylene (LDPE) foam grades from Sabic was designed to increase production efficiency at the foam manufacturer.

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) ranks among the world's 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.

China diesel in rare rally as tax fears, smog war stir supply worries

MOSCOW (MRC) - A rally in China's diesel prices has pushed the fuel to a rare premium over gasoline as dealers scramble to scoop up supplies amid fears of shortages due to Beijing's war on smog and possible tax changes, said Reuters.

Led by a spike in benchmark crude prices, wholesale diesel prices have jumped 11% since October to 6,700 yuan (USD1,011)/t on Tuesday in eastern Shandong province, a 320 yuan premium to gasoline, according to consultancy Longzhong Information Group.

Diesel, which normally trades at a discount to gasoline, touched a 500 yuan premium earlier this month, the widest premium in at least two years, even though the market remains well supplied. "Diesel prices have been rising madly ... almost every day ... buyers were worried that if they don't buy today prices will go up more tomorrow," said Li Yan of Longzhong Information.

Analysts said there had been a steady drawdown in diesel inventories over the last couple of years as refiners favored gasoline production at the expense of diesel, and as growth in diesel demand eased alongside a moderating economy. But refiners are still exporting the fuel and the market remains in surplus, illustrating the strength of market jitters about the potential impact of Beijing's battle to clear the nation's skies of pollution and potential changes in tax policy.

This year, curbing diesel truck use has been a key part of Beijing's war on smog. Catching the market by surprise, China last month also banned high-sulfur diesel fuel burned by tractors and trawlers from Nov. 1, two months earlier than expected, with some smaller refineries not yet ready to produce the low-sulfur fuel.

"Only seven to eight independent plants out of dozens are capable of producing the National Five general-purpose diesel ... that tightened the diesel pool," said a Jiangsu-based dealer with a state-run firm, referring to the 10-ppm sulfur non-automotive diesel. The official declined to be named as he's not authorized to speak to press.

Adding to jitters, sources said market talk started in July that the government may introduce a levy on "raw white oil", a refinery product often used in lubricants or cosmetics that can also be used as a cheaper diesel substitute.

Talk of the levy led to sharp production cuts. One plant, Taizhou Petrochemical run by China National Offshore Oil Co in Jiangsu province, had halved its production of the blending fuel in recent months, said a dealer and an analyst, before it announced earlier this month that it would close for maintenance until late December.

Buyers were also spooked by extra export quotas awarded to state oil refiners in late October for the final months of the year, fearing that increased overseas shipments would thin domestic supply. However, traders said the recent price rally would actually spur sales into China's home market, with domestic prices at a premium of 600 yuan/t to 800 yuan/t over Singapore spot market.

"We'll likely export less or even don't export for December," said a trader with a state oil refiner, who arranged two cargoes of diesel for export in November. Dai Jiaquan, head of oil research at CNPC's Economic and Research Institute expected the diesel rally to taper off in a month or two as larger refiners are maximising runs to cash in on the bumper margins.

INEOS to deliver the first ever US ethane from shale gas to China in 2019

MOSCOW (MRC) -- INEOS and China’s SP Chemicals agree long term supply agreement for ethane from US Shale Gas
Agreement includes construction of new carrier ship, the largest ethane carrier ever built, said the company on its website.

David Thompson, CEO of INEOS Trading & Shipping, said: ‘This is another world first for INEOS after importing shale gas to Europe in 2015. By bringing in US ethane from shale gas to China for the first time, we are now leading the way in shipping ethane worldwide to meet the needs of an expanding chemicals sector. We are excited to work with a client such as SP Chemicals and we look forward to delivering this historic project.

INEOS has today announced a long-term supply agreement with SP Chemicals to deliver ethane from US shale gas to China. The agreement, which will see US ethane from shale gas shipped to China for the first time, will supply SP Chemicals with a long-term competitive supply of ethane for its industrial production.

The deal will involve the construction of a 95,000cbm capacity ship which is expected to be delivered in 2019. Known in the US as a ‘Very Large Ethane Carrier’ or VLEC it will be the largest ethane carrier in the world, and will ship US ethane from shale gas to SP Chemicals’ new gas cracker facility, currently under construction in Taixing China. As with the INEOS Dragon ships, this vessel will be operated by EVERGAS. It will be the first VLEC in their fleet of 23 gas ships. The ship will be built in China under the management of the JACCAR Group.

Ethane is used to make ethylene - one of the world’s most important chemical building blocks. Ethylene is an important raw material used to make products for a wide variety of industrial and consumer markets such as transportation, electronics, textile and construction.

David Thompson, CEO of INEOS Trading and Shipping, said, "This is another world first for INEOS after importing shale gas to Europe in 2015. By bringing in US ethane from shale gas to China for the first time, we are now leading the way in shipping ethane worldwide to meet the needs of an expanding chemicals sector.We are excited to work with a client such as SP Chemicals and we look forward to delivering this historic project."

Chan Hian Siang, CEO of SP Chemicals, said, "SP Chemicals is honoured and very happy to work with INEOS, a first-class global company, to ship ethane over a journey of more than 18,900 km across the Pacific Ocean from USA to Taixing City, Jiangsu province, PRC. It has long been a dream for SP Chemicals to integrate upstream. SP Chemicals will commission a gas cracker plant in 2019 to produce 650,000 tons per annum of ethylene. This first long-term supply agreement for ethane with INEOS will be an important milestone for SP Chemicals to achieve self-sufficiency for its ethylene requirements."

Jacques De Chateauvieux, Chairman of the JACCAR Group, said, "This Contract illustrates JACCAR’s ability to offer a comprehensive solution with type C Tri-lobe VLEC tanks developed by JHW Engineering and Contracting, in co-operation with the Hartmann Group up to the contracting and operating by Evergas. We feel honoured by the trust of INEOS in us in delivering and operating the world’s largest VLEC with type C tanks."

Steffen Jacobsen, CEO of Evergas, said "We are very pleased to further strengthen our relationship with INEOS co-operating on the seabourne transportation of Ethane from the US to China".

Novatek aims to launch Yamal LNG on Dec 8

MOSCOW (MRC) - Russia's Novatek has provisionally set Dec. 8 as the official launch date for its Yamal LNG plant, two sources with direct knowledge of the event planning told Reuters.

Novatek's partners on the project are France's Total , the China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and China's Silk Road Fund. The project, on the Yamal Peninsula above the Arctic Circle, will be Russia's second LNG plant after Sakhalin-2 on the Pacific island of Sakhalin.

At full capacity, the Yamal facility will be able to produce 16.5 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas a year, which it will ship to Europe and Asia. It is being built in three phases.

One of the sources received an invitation for a Dec. 8 opening of phase 1 and an industry source confirmed the date but both said the date may change, depending on the schedule of high-ranking officials expected at the event.

A Novatek spokesman said he could not confirm Dec. 8 as the launch date. The company has said that it aimed to open the plant before the end of this year.

BASF confirms discussions with Letter One

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BASF is in discussions regarding a potential merger of BASF Group’s oil and gas activities with Letter One’s oil and gas activities bundled in the DEA Group, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

BASF would hold the majority of the shares in the joint enterprise. An Initial Public Offering (IPO) of the joint enterprise would be an option in the medium term. The outcome of the discussions is open and there is no assurance that any transaction will be consummated.

BASF’s oil and gas activities are bundled in the Wintershall Group. Wintershall focuses on exploration and production in oil and gas-rich regions in Europe, North Africa, Russia, South America and the Middle East.

Together with Gazprom, the company is also active in the transport of natural gas in Europe. For the full year 2016, net sales of the Oil & Gas segment of the BASF Group amounted to around EUR2.8 B, EBITDA was around EUR1.6 B and EBIT around EUR500 MM.

As MRC informed previously, within the next five years, BASF plans to invest globally more than EUR200 million in its plastic additives business, approximately half of which in Asia, focusing on capacity expansions and operational excellence. Plastic additives improve product properties such as scratch resistance or light stability, and optimize plastics manufacturing processes. As the leading global supplier of plastic additives with manufacturing assets in all regions, BASF is a major partner to the plastics industry.

BASF is the largest diversified chemical company in the world and is headquartered in Ludwigshafen, Germany. BASF produces a wide range of chemicals, for example solvents, amines, resins, glues, electronic-grade chemicals, industrial gases, basic petrochemicals and inorganic chemicals. The most important customers for this segment are the pharmaceutical, construction, textile and automotive industries. BASF had sales of over EUR74 billion in 2014 and over 113,000 employees as of the end of the year.