BASF opens its first automotive coatings production plant in Thailand

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BASF’s Coatings division today inaugurated a new automotive coatings plant at its Bangpoo manufacturing site, Samutprakarn province, Thailand, said the producer on its site.

The new plant is the first BASF automotive coatings manufacturing facility in ASEAN, and will produce solventborne and waterborne automotive coatings to meet growing market demand in the region.

"BASF is a trusted partner of all major automotive manufacturers around the world, with a broad competence in all coating layers," said Dirk Bremm, President of BASF’s Coatings division. "The inauguration of the new plant demonstrates our commitment to meeting customer expectations for advanced coating technologies and products in ASEAN, for ASEAN."

According to the LMC Automotive Report from November 2017, this year’s total car production in ASEAN is anticipated to reach around 3.9 million. Thailand will account for more than 50% of this market, representing the largest coatings market within ASEAN, followed by Indonesia and Malaysia. With an increasing number of automotive OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) engaging in production and technology development activities in ASEAN, there is also a growing need for local innovation in coatings solutions and products, as well as a high degree of technical service. "With our robust capabilities in Thailand, we meet the increasing demand for sustainable and eco-efficient solutions,” said Peter Fischer, Senior Vice President, Coatings Solutions Asia Pacific, BASF. “Working closely with our automotive customers globally and regionally, we are committed to be the partner of choice and drive for growth and success in the highly competitive ASEAN market."

The new production plant in Bangpoo complements the facilities at the Coatings Technical Competence Center ASEAN, which was opened in September 2015 at the same location. The technical center includes a laboratory for product development, high performance application facilities, color design, as well as a small batch production unit. The co-location of production and technical facilities enables operational efficiency and speed to market. The new plant’s design not only allows BASF to offer customized service, it also has the potential for future expansion and the flexibility to adapt to new production requirements and changing industry trends.

"BASF has been active in ASEAN for over 50 years, with a strong footprint in Thailand," added Andrea Frenzel, President South & East Asia, ASEAN & ANZ, BASF. "With our new automotive coatings plant, we aim to help Thailand strengthen its role as a key market and production hub for the automotive industry in ASEAN, and to support the economic development of the neighboring countries."

As MRC informed before, in December 2016, AkzoNobel finalized the acquisition of BASF’s global Industrial Coatings business, which supplies a range of products for industries including construction, domestic appliances, wind energy and commercial transport, strengthening its position as the global number one supplier in coil coatings.

BASF is the leading chemical company. It 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 generated sales of about EUR58 billion in 2016.

Ineos considers shifting refinery work due to Forties outage

MOSCOW (MRC) — Ineos may bring forward maintenance work at its Grangemouth refinery in Scotland due to the unplanned outage at its Forties North Sea crude pipeline, which threatens to choke the plant's feedstock, industry sources said on Wednesday, as per Reuters.

The Forties pipeline which carries about 450,000 bpd of Forties crude, roughly a quarter of the North Sea's total output, was shut early this week after a crack was found, sending global crude prices soaring to a 2-yr high. The original plan was to perform maintenance on the Grangemouth diesel-making hydrocracker throughout March 2018, and to shut down a crude distillation unit and a diesel hydrotreater from April 1 to May 13, 2018, the sources said.

Regional refinery margins, which move inversely to crude oil prices, declined to their lowest since March 2016 after the Forties pipeline was shut down, according to Reuters data. Ineos said on Wednesday it was still considering repair options on the pipeline and reiterated any repairs would take several weeks.

"Ineos could keep the Grangemouth refinery running but at a fair cost," one of the trading sources said. Moving maintenance forward now appears the most likely option, but nothing has been decided. For one thing, it was unclear if maintenance crews were available on short notice, he said.

Another trading source said the refinery was considering shutting down crude sections because importing crude into the site was complicated and costly. "Imports will kill a pretty much non-existent (refining) margin," he said.

Grangemouth stopped offering some oil products, including jet fuel, on Tuesday in the wake of Forties Pipeline System (FPS) outage, traders said. Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at consultancy Energy Aspect, said the 200,000-bpd refinery imported a maximum of 120,000 bpd of crude oil, mostly from West Africa, this year from the nearby Finnart oil terminal northwest of Glasgow. The rest of its crude supplies came through the FPS.

"The issue for Grangemouth is to make up for lost FPS volumes via imports. That faces both infrastructure constraints but also long transit times of around 20 days which may mean the refinery has to reduce runs if the FPS outage is prolonged," Sen said. Ineos did not immediately reply to a request for comment about plans for the refinery.

Sika opens new concrete admixtures and mortar products facility in USA

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Sika has opened a new concrete admixtures and mortar products facility in Texas, the USA, as per the companies press-release.

With the opening of a new facility near Houston, Sika is further expanding its presence in the fast-growing US market. The 16-hectare site will be used for manufacturing a comprehensive portfolio of concrete admixtures and mortar products. The facilities will also serve as a strategic business center which will help tap into the enormous growth potential of the construction market in Texas and the southwestern states of the USA.

Sika’s extensive new factory has opened following a 12-month construction period. The site also houses special equipment for the production of polymers that form the backbone of high-performance concrete admixtures. This facility – the Group's 22nd in the United States – will supply customers in the major Texas conurbation as well as in the southwestern US. With a total of 20 million inhabitants and a booming construction industry, the megacities of Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio are among North America’s fastest-growing urban areas. From this new
site, Sika will focus on developing the Texas and southwestern US markets.

It will also open a training center for customers and applicators, as well as setting up sales and customer service
functions. This will ensure that the region is supplied with a wide product range from all target markets and a full service.

Christoph Ganz, Regional Manager North America: "By opening this new facility, we are continuing the expansion of our supply chain in the rapidly expanding metropolitan regions of North America. Texas is currently the fastest-growing construction market in the US, and the new factory in southern Texas will help us position ourselves ideally to benefit from this boom.

Thanks to the commissioning of 13 additional factories in the last five years alone, we now have comprehensive geographical coverage of the dynamic North American market and have thus laid the foundations for continuing our above-average growth."


OPEC sees balanced oil market by late 2018 as cuts erode glut

MOSCOW (MRC) — OPEC expects the world oil market to be balanced by late 2018 as its deal with other producers to cut output reduces excess oil in storage, even as US and other producers outside the group pump more crude, said Reuters.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, in a monthly report, cut its estimate of global demand for its crude in 2018 by 270,000 bpd to 33.15 MMbpd, in part because of higher US supply. But the 14-country producer group said its oil output in November, as assessed by secondary sources, was below the 2018 demand forecast at 32.45 MMbpd, a drop of about 133,000 bpd from October.

The report follows the Nov. 30 decision by OPEC, Russia and several other non-OPEC producers to extend their oil output-cutting deal until the end of 2018 to finish clearing a global glut of crude that built up from 2014.

"This should lead to a further reduction in excess global inventories, arriving at a balanced market by late 2018," OPEC sad in the report. Oil prices are trading near to $64/bbl, close to their highest since 2015, supported by the OPEC-led effort and an unplanned shutdown of a British oil pipeline. The price of crude is still about half its level of mid-2014.

OPEC said oil stocks fell further in October. Its production figures showed compliance with the supply cuts increased in November from already high rates.

Adherence by the 11 OPEC members with output targets has risen to 121%, according to a Reuters calculation, higher than October's level.

November oil imports from India to Iran skid to lowest since February 2016

MOSCOW (MRC) -- India's refiners imported nearly half as much crude oil from Iran in November as the month before, ship tracking data showed, cutting purchases to a 21-month low in protest at Tehran's decision to award a giant gas field to a Russian company, reported Reuters.

India, the world's third largest crude oil consumer, received about 266,000 bpd of oil from Iran last month, a decline of 43% from October and 55% from a year ago, according to a review of tanker arrival data from trade sources and numbers available on Thomson Reuters Eikon.

For the fiscal year to March 2018, Indian refiners have opted to order about a quarter less Iranian crude as Tehran decided to award development rights for its huge Farzad B gas field to Russian rivals instead of an Indian consortium that discovered the field.

For April–November, the first eight months of this fiscal year, India shipped in 19% less Iranian oil, at about 427,200 bpd.

But India's oil imports from Iran will likely rise in December, as vessels holding about 4 MMbbl of oil sailed from the Iranian ports in end-November and discharged cargoes in early December.

Iran, facing the potential threat of further US sanctions, has also cut oil prices in efforts to retain Asian customers and boost the appeal of its crude compared with other Middle Eastern supply.

Last month's drop in Iranian crude purchases left the Middle East's slice of India's overall oil imports squeezed to 57% in November from about 69% in October. Iraq continued to be the top oil supplier to India, followed by Saudi Arabia.

India's imports of Iraqi oil surged in November when Basra Light discounts widened to USD0.30–USD0.70/bbl compared with official selling prices.

Meanwhile African oil's share of India's overall imports climbed to about 16% in November from about 10.5% in the previous months, as supplies from the region, mainly Nigeria, improved after a repair to a key pipeline in late October.

Most of the Nigerian cargoes were received by India in the first fortnight of November, indicating that refiners lifted buying in October, a month for which Brent's premium to Dubai narrowed averaged USD1.55/bbl.

Elsewhere, Latin America's share of India's oil imports jumped to about 19% in November from 12% the month before on higher intake of Mexico's Maya crude, the data showed.

Mexico's crude oil exports had already surged in October to 1.35 MMbpd, the highest since September 2016.

Mexico emerged as the third-biggest supplier, replacing Iran, which tumbled to 7th position. Nigeria replaced Venezuela as the fourth-largest supplier.

India's Essar Oil, which used to depend heavily on Iranian oil is gradually diversifying its crude imports under new management led by Russia's Rosneft. The private refiner took two very large crude carrier (VLCCs) shipments of Mexican Maya grade in November, the data showed. Overall India imported 4.7 MMbpd of oil in November, meaning growth of about 12% from a year ago as the country raised its refining capacity.