Chemical production in Russia grew by 4.7% in January 2018

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Overall output of chemicals rose in 2017 by 4.7% year on year, with mineral fertilizers accounting for the greatest increase in production, according to Rosstat's data.

According to the Federal Service of State Statistics, last month's production of basic chemicals grew by 4.7% year on year. Production of mineral fertilizers went up significantly, whereas a number of other chemicals accounted for a minimal increase.

Thus, overall output of basic chemicals rose in 2017 by 4.3% year on year, with chemical fertilizers accounting for the greatest increase in production and ethylene - for the least growth.

274,000 tonnes of ethylene were manufactured in January, compared to 267,500 tonnes a year earlier, all producers maintained almost 100% of capacity utilisation. Overall, about 2,860,000 tonnes of this olefin were produced last year, up by 2.5% year on year.

Last month's production of benzene rose to 134,000 tonnes from 130,800 tonnes in January 2017. Overall output of this material reached 1,360,000 tonnes in 2017, up by 4.2%year on year.

January production of sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) was 113,000 tonnes (100% of the basic substance) versus 112,000 tonnes a year earlier. Overall output of caustic soda grew to 1,240,000 tonnes in 2017, up by 6.1% year on year.

Last month's production of mineral fertilizers was 2,019,000 tonnes (in terms of 100% nutrients) versus 1,940,000 tonnes in January 2017. Overall, Russian plants produced over 22,520,000 tonnes of fertilizers last year, up by 8.2% year on year.

Ras Tanura Refinery celebrates successful completion of major T&I

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Ras Tanura Refinery (RTR) recently celebrated the successful completion of a major turnaround and inspection (T&I), with proper planning and a collaborative effort from everyone involved credited for the success, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Responsible for a significant portion of fuel production in the Kingdom, production up-time of the RTR Gas Condensate Fractionation and the Platformer/Naptha Hydrotreater (NHT) units is of the essence at RTR. The T&Is on both units were completed in a new best-in-class duration for the respective units when compared to their global peers as per globally accepted Solomon Study refinery benchmarks. The Fractionation Unit T&I was completed in 27 days, and the Platformer Unit T&I was completed in 32 days, against their benchmarks of 28 days and 35 days, respectively.

"Planning and successfully executing the scope required a team effort," RTR general manager Yahya A. Abushal said during the celebration event. "The management team appreciates the efforts of the RTR team and the support extended by all of the departments within Saudi Aramco that went to extra lengths to support the RTR T&I, including Support Services and Central Engineering, along with all of our RTR contractor partners."

Refinery Maintenance manager Sami Burushaid said "beating Solomon top performers, increasing RTR’s 2017 cash margin significantly, and the additional value created are only glimpses of the success story of this exemplary T&I."

Raed AlSaadoun, Refinery Maintenance superintendent and T&I chairman, said: "The success of this major T&I was measured by zero safety incidents, worldwide best-in-class duration, significant cost avoidance, early startup, and most importantly, knowledge transfer to the major company asset — our young workforce."

The RTR Gas Condensate Fractionation unit, and the Platformer/NHT units were shut down for the T&I to carry out inspections and maintenance as per the Equipment Inspection Schedule (EIS), and to execute other maintenance and projects that require plant downtime. The plants are on a five-year T&I cycle.

PVC imports to Belarus rose by 39% in 2017

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Last year's overall imports of unmixed polyvinyl chloride (PVC) into Belarus grew by 39% year on year, totalling 34,600 tonnes, according to MRC's DataScope report.

According to the statistical committee of the Republic of Belarus, local converters increased their purchasing of PVC in December on the back of low prices of some suppliers. December imports were 3,200 tonnes, compared to 2,800 tonnes a month earlier. Thus, PVC imports rose to 34,600 tonnes in 2017 from 24,800 tonnes in 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 2017 Producers from Germany with the share of about 12% were the second largest suppliers.


ARLANXEO develops new rubber compound for self-sealing tires

MOSCOW (MRC) -- ARLANXEO, a leading global manufacturer of synthetic elastomers, has developed a rubber compound that can be used in the future to seal tires, as per the company's press release.

This solution for so-called self-sealing tires replaces the spare wheel and also presents an alternative to a repair kit or run-flat tire. An appropriate rubber compound from ARLANXEO, which is applied on the interior of the vehicle tire, enables holes occurring in the tire to be automatically sealed, so the driver can continue driving.

"With our development, we are giving an important impulse for the mobility of tomorrow," says Frank Luckgen, Global Marketing Director Tire in the Business Unit Tire & Specialty Rubbers (BU TSR) at ARLANXEO. "As a spare tire and the corresponding tools are no longer required, the weight of the vehicle and subsequently also its energy consumption are further reduced. In the case of electric vehicles, this can result in a longer range, for example," explains Luckgen.

The compound developed by ARLANXEO is applied on the interior of the tire. If, for example, a nail or other sharp object causes a hole in a tire, the rubber compound can seal the defect automatically. The tire is sealed immediately, regardless of the location and environment, while the car is moving.

"To ensure that our compound can guarantee optimal sealing in any climate zone regardless of the speed a vehicle is traveling, we are currently carrying out further tests under extreme conditions following successful laboratory tests," says Matthias Gotta, Head of Global Sales and Marketing in BU TSR. "Even in the case of strongly fluctuating external temperatures, the tires should be sealed in the same quality."

ARLANXEO conducts the corresponding tests with various partners under real-life conditions. Once the tests have been successfully completed, the compound will be launched on the market in the course of 2018.

As MRC wrote before, in January 2018, ARLANXEO announced that it is expanding its global chloroprene rubber (CR) production at the site in Dormagen, Germany. The production capacity there will be increased to as much as 70,000 tons per year overall that will be available to the market already during the first quarter of 2019. ARLANXEO is investing an upper single-digit million in the expansion project overall.

ARLANXEO was established in April 2016 as a joint venture of Lanxess - a world-leading specialty chemicals company based in Cologne, Germany - and Saudi Aramco - a major global energy and chemicals enterprise headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The two partners each hold a 50-percent interest in the joint venture. The business operations of ARLANXEO are assigned to the High Performance Elastomers and Tire & Specialty Rubbers business units.

Westlake Chemical to expand chlor-alkali, PVC and VCM capacities in Germany and Louisiana

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Westlake Chemical Corporation has announced that it will expand capacities for the production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) at three of its chemical facilities, as per the company's press release.

Two of the plants are located in Germany (Burghausen, Gendorf) and one is located in Geismar, Louisiana. The expansions in Burghausen and Geismar are expected to be completed in 2019. The Gendorf expansions are expected to be completed in 2020 and 2021.

The expansion projects are expected to add approximately 750 million pounds annually of additional PVC and approximately 200 million pounds annually of additional VCM to the company’s production. Specialty PVC will be expanded at Burghausen and suspension PVC will be expanded at Geismar. VCM production will be expanded at Geismar and Gendorf. In addition, chlor-alkali production will be expanded at the Gendorf facility, adding approximately 55 million pounds annually of chlorine capacity and the associated 60 million pounds annually of membrane caustic soda capacity.

"The chlor-alkali, PVC and VCM capacity expansions in Germany will be our first since we completed the acquisition of our Vinnolit subsidiary in 2014," said Westlake Chemical President and CEO Albert Chao. "These PVC and VCM expansions support our integrated vinyl products chain and demonstrate Westlake’s commitment to provide our global customers with additional production to meet their growing needs."

As MRC informed before, in mid-July 2016, US petrochemical producer Westlake Chemical restarted its Petro-1 steam cracker in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The startup talk was on the tail end of an 80-day planned outage that started on April 19. The turnaround also included a capacity expansion of 113,000 mtpa. The company operates two steam crackers at the site - Petro-1, with current ethylene capacity of 567,000 m tpa, and Petro-2, with 886,000 m tpa.

Westlake Chemical Corporation is an international manufacturer and supplier of petrochemicals, polymers and building products with headquarters in Houston, Texas. The company's range of products includes: ethylene, polyethylene, styrene, propylene, chlor-alkali and derivative products, PVC suspension and specialty resins, PVC Compounds, and PVC building products including siding, pipe, fittings and specialty components, windows, fence, deck and film.