Indian ONGC to buy majority stake in refiner HPCL for USD5.78 billion

MOSCOW (MRC) -- India's biggest explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has agreed to buy the government's majority stake in state-refiner Hindustan Petroleum Corp for USD5.78 billion, reported Reuters with reference to ONGC's statement on Saturday.

It will pay a premium of about 14 percent on HPCL's current market price for the 51.1 percent stake, the company said in a statement to the stock exchange. It expects to complete the transaction by end-January.

The deal is part of the government's objective to combine various public sector enterprises "to give them the capacity to bear higher risks" and create more value for shareholders, ONGC said.

Purchasing a stake in India's third biggest state-owned refiner would also help ONGC to diversify its cash flow and reduce its vulnerability to changing global crude prices, it added.

India's finance minister Arun Jaitley said in February that the country plans to form a national oil major by combining other state-owned firms. India also wants to expand in global oil markets to meet its growing domestic demand for fuel.

India has about a dozen state-owned oil and gas companies, with significant overlaps in operations. Alone they do not have the financial clout to rival global oil majors in bids for overseas exploration and production assets. India is the world's third biggest oil consumer, importing about 80 percent of its crude needs. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target to reduce dependence on oil imports by 10 percent by 2020.

ONGC will pay 473.97 rupees per share for HPCL. The closing price for the shares on Friday was 416.2 rupees.

The proceeds from the HPCL stake sale will also help the federal government pay for welfare programs. Asia's third-largest economy has said it aims to raise 725 billion rupees through the sale of government stakes in various companies. (USD1 = 63.82 Indian rupees)

As MRC wrote previously, in April 2016, India-based JBF Petrochemicals signed a long-term agreement with ONGC Mangalore Petrochemicals Ltd. (OMPL) for the supply of paraxylene (PX), the main raw material in the production of purefied terephthalic acid (PTA). The agreement includes the supply of paraxylene (PX) over a period of 10 years, with a provision to further increase the period of supply by another 5 to 10 years by mutual consent.

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, as per BASF.

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."

BASF has been active in the automotive coatings industry in ASEAN for more than ten years. Today, BASF is the number one motorcycle coatings supplier in Thailand.

PVC imports to Belarus grew by 39% in Jan-Nov 2017

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Overall imports of unmixed polyvinyl chloride (PVC) into Belarus rose in January-November 2017 by 39% year on year, totalling 31,300 tonnes, according to MRC's DataScope report.

According to the statistical committee of the Republic of Belarus, local converters further reduced their purchasing of PVC in November, total imports were 2,800 tonnes, compared to 3,000 tonnes a month earlier. Thus, PVC imports grew in the first eleven months of 2017 to 31,300 tonnes from 22,500 tonnes in January-November 2016, with local windows producers accounting for the main increase in demand.

Russian producers were the key suppliers of resin to Belarus. They accounted for about 83% of the Belarusian market in January-November 2017. Producers from Germany with the share of about 13% were the second largest suppliers.


Imports of PP in Belarus grew by 1% in January - November 2017

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Overall imports of polypropylene (PP) into Belarus grew in January-November 2017 by 1% year on year to about 87,000 tonnes. Demand for all PP grades increased, as per MRC DataScope.

November PP imports into Belarus rose to 8,600 tonnes, compared with 6,400 tonnes in November; the main increase accounted for the supply of injection moulding propylene polymers. Overall imports of propylene polymers reached 87,000 tonnes in January-November 2017, compared to 86,200 tonnes a year earlier.

The structure of PP imports by grades looked the following way over the stated period.

November imports of propylene homopolymers (homopolymer PP) to the Belarusian market dropped to 5,600 tonnes from 4,700 tonnes a month earlier, all Russian producers reduced their PP shipments because of outages at some plants. Thus, overall shipments of homopolymer PP reached 58,400 tonnes in the eleven months of 2017, compared to 58,000 tonnes a year earlier. Russian producers with the share of about 87% of the total shipments were the key suppliers.

November imports of propylene copolymers to Belarus decreased to 2,900 tonnes from 1,700 tonnes a month earlier, local companies increased their procurement of injection moulding statistical copolymers (PP random copolymers) in Russia. Thus, overall imports of propylene copolymers reached 28,600 tonnes in January-November 2017, whereas this figure was 28,200 tonnes a year earlier.

Clariant launches new line of color masterbatches for plastic caps and closures

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Clariant, a world leader in specialty chemicals, has launched the SENSE line of color masterbatches intended for use in the production of caps and closures used on bottled water packaging. SENSEACTION masterbatches, which are available in a wide range of colors, are specially formulated, processed, tested, and certified to be free of detectable negative organoleptic (taste and odor) effects, said the producer in its press release.

The new line was developed to meet the high demands of bottled water producers and the processors who supply them with caps and closures, which are typically made of HDPE or polypropylene (PP). Although processors have always utilized safe, food-grade pigments to color caps and closures, there is the potential that pigments in them could contain trace elements that, even in minute quantities, could impart a detectable taste or odor to bottled water or beverages.

The SENSEACTION product range is designed to reduce the potential impact, explains Alessandro Dulli, Global Head of Packaging for Clariant Masterbatches: "This portfolio will help brand owners make good looking caps that reflect positively on their brand, free of undesirable organoleptic influences." He adds that the new masterbatch brand is built around three pillars: material selection, a dedicated manufacturing process, and a testing/certification process prior to sale.

SENSEACTION color masterbatches start with raw materials that are food-contact compliant, including pigments and carrier resins that are carefully selected for use in sensitive organoleptic applications. Manufacturing takes place exclusively using dedicated processes and special equipment at a dedicated masterbatch site. When manufacturing is complete, each lot of SENSEACTION masterbatch undergoes an exposure in water, which then is tested according to DIN 10995 at an independent external laboratory. A panel of professional testers, specially selected for their acute sense of taste and smell, evaluate the samples for adverse organoleptic effects.

This last measure is especially important, Dulli says, since very sensitive applications such as mineral water require superior organoleptic care compare to a standard food contact approved masterbatch. "In order to protect the reputation of a branded product, it is critical that the entire value chain works together to eliminate any factor that might create an off-taste or smell," he continues. "With our new SENSEACTION masterbatches, converters and their brand-owner customers can be certain they will get all the brilliant color they want in their cap and closures, with none of the unwanted negative organoleptic influences."

As MRC wrote before, in late 2016, Clariant announced plans to invest approximately CHF 10 mln - a global initiative to expand its ability to produce color and additive masterbatches and compounds using engineering polymers and high-temperature plastics like PEEK (polyether ether ketone) is progressing on schedule.

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.