Wacker opens new production site for silicones in South Korea

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Wacker Chemie AG has opened a new production site for silicone elastomers in South Korea, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The plant is located around 100 kilometers southeast of Seoul at Jincheon, where the Group has already been producing silicone sealants since 2010 and specialty silicones for the electronics industry since 2012. In moving to the new site, WACKER is significantly expanding its production and therefore its position as a leading silicone manufacturer in the region. Some EUR15 million has been invested in the new production site.

"The opening of our new plant is a milestone for us and sends a signal to our customers that we want to continue growing in Asia and in South Korea especially," said Executive Board member Christian Hartel at the opening ceremony, which was attended by high-ranking officials and business partners. Asia is already one of the Group’s most important sales regions. "We generate around 40 percent of our sales in Asia. Our operations in South Korea play a key role here", said Hartel. "Our new production site enables us to strengthen and expand our position in the region over the long term."

Wacker has produced silicone sealants in Jincheon since 2010 and has also manufactured specialty silicone elastomers there for the electronics industry since 2012. "Due to the strong growth in demand for our silicones, production was increasingly being stretched to its limits", explained Executive Board member Auguste Willems. As it was not possible to expand the facilities on the existing premises, Wacker decided to move sites. "Our new plant in Jincheon is four times as big as the old one and provides enough space for future capacity expansions", he said.

The centerpiece of the new site is a 13,000 square meter production building. Silicone sealants for the construction industry and specialty silicone elastomers for electronic applications will be manufactured in separate facilities. The production lines have been equipped with cutting-edge manufacturing technology that enables fully automatic and therefore highly efficient production processes. Hyperpure silicones are produced and packaged in a dedicated cleanroom - a service that is becoming increasingly important for customers from the electronics industry in particular.

"Jincheon offers the space and technical facilities we need to meet the rising demand for silicones in the region long term. That applies both to our sealants and to our high-performance silicones, which our customers use to produce automotive displays or use in other demanding electronic applications", emphasized Willems. "With this investment, we can broaden the regional scope of our silicones business continuously and strengthen our presence as a leading silicone manufacturer in South Korea and Asia."

As MRC wrote before, Wacker Chemie AG is expanding its existing production plants for dispersions and dispersible polymer powders in South Korea. The Group is building a new spray dryer for dispersible polymer powders at its Ulsan site, which will have a total capacity of 80,000 metric tons per year. The Munich-based chemicals company is also constructing an additional reactor for dispersions based on vinyl acetate-ethylene copolymer (EVA), which are needed as the raw material for the spray dryer to produce dispersible polymer powders.

Wacker Chemie AG is a worldwide operating company in the chemical business, founded 1914. The company is controlled by the Wacker-family holding more than 50 percent of the shares. The corporation is operating more than 25 production sites in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. The product range includes silicone rubbers, polymer products like ethylene vinyl acetate redispersible polymer powder, chemical materials, polysilicon and wafers for semiconductor industry.

European PVC prices decreased in May for CIS markets

MOSOCW (MRC) - Negotiations on European polyvinyl chloride (PVC) prices for May delivery into the CIS markets began last week. Despite the rise in the cost of ethylene, European producers have decreased export prices this month, according to the ICIS-MRC Price Report.

The May contract price of ethylene was agreed up by EUR20/tonne from April, which led to an increase of, at least, EUR10/tonne, in PVC production costs. Thus, despite this fact, European producers had to reduce export prices for supplies to CIS markets due to low demand and high competition from other suppliers.

Demand for PVC from the main consumers was weak in March-April due to a long winter, and there was no significant demand surge for May shipment. In addition, the suppliers of North American PVC also significantly cut export prices in April and May, while in the Ukrainian producer announced a reduction in prices for the May supplies.

The current easing of the euro against the dollar and other regional currencies is slightly improving the export positions in the CIS markets.

Negotiations over May shipments of suspension polyvinyl chloride (SPVC) to the CIS markets were held in the range of EUR735-780/tonne FCA, whereas deals were done in the range of EUR755-800/tonne FCA a month earlier.

Iraq sets June 14 bid deadline for Kut oil refinery project

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Investors interested in bidding for a project to build a 100,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Kut have until June 14 to make offers, an oil ministry statement said on Wednesday, reported Reuters.

The refinery, south of Baghdad, is one of several crude oil processing projects offered by Iraq as part of plan to become self-sufficient in oil products.

Iraq is the second-largest crude oil producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries after Saudi Arabia.

As MRC wrote before, in late April, Iraq extended the deadline for foreign companies and investors to bid for the construction and operation of a new 100 Mbpd refinery near Mosul in the northern province of Nineveh.

Marathon Texas refineries restoring production after fire

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Marathon Petroleum Corp was restarting the 86,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Texas City, Texas, refinery on Tuesday night after a substation fire knocked out power, said sources familiar with plant operations, reported Reuters.

Marathon was also restarting normal production at the neighboring 459,000 bpd Galveston Bay Refinery in Texas City, the sources said. A 60,000 bpd resid hydrotreater was restarting at the big refinery.

A late afternoon fire on a Centerpoint Energy substation near Bacliff, Texas, 8 miles (12 km) north of the refineries, also disrupted production at Valero Energy Corp's 225,000 bpd refinery in Texas City, the sources said.

Marathon spokesman Chuck Rice said in a statement that the company was evaluating operations at the Galveston Bay Refinery after a power dip in the Texas City area.

"Even though we have a cogeneration facility for the Galveston Bay Refinery, a larger power dip can affect our operations," Rice said. "There were no evacuations or injuries."

Cogeneration plants produce electrical power and steam for refineries.

The City of Texas City Emergency Management Office said refineries on the south side of Texas City were using safety flares as they worked to restore power on Tuesday.

A Valero spokeswoman did not reply to messages asking about operations at the Texas City refinery on Tuesday night.

The Valero refinery's gasoline-producing unit was shut on April 19 following an explosion and fire on the alkylation unit at the refinery, the first of four fires at refineries and chemical plants across the United States in the past 2-1/2 weeks.

The Tuesday fire broke out on the Bacliff substation at about 4:30 p.m. CDT (2130 GMT) with flaring seen at the Marathon and Valero refineries about 20 minutes later, according energy industry intelligence service Genscape.

At about 6 p.m., Centerpoint said the fire, which was fueled by mineral oil inside the substation, was under control.

All personnel at the substation were accounted for and no injuries were reported, according to Centerpoint.

Huntsman Q1 income increased nearly four-fold

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Huntsman announces strong first Quarter 2018 results, with every division showing earnings growth versus the prior year; greater than USD100 mln in share repurchases completed to date, as per the company's press release.

First Quarter 2018 Highlights

Net income was USD350 million compared to USD92 million in the prior year period and USD287 million in the prior quarter.
Adjusted EBITDA was USD405 million compared to USD260 million in the prior year period and USD360 million in the prior quarter.
Diluted income per share was USD1.11 compared to USD0.31 in the prior year period and USD1.00 in the prior quarter.
Adjusted diluted income per share was USD0.96 compared to USD0.45 in the prior year period and USD0.76 in the prior quarter.
Net cash provided by operating activities was USD111 million. Free cash flow generation was USD56 million.
Balance sheet remains strong with a net leverage of 1.3x.
Completed share repurchases of approximately USD103 million through April 19, 2018, and approximately USD347 million remains on the existing share repurchase authorization.
Expanded the Polyurethanes downstream business with the acquisition of Demilec, a leading North American polyurethane spray foam producer, which was completed on April 23, 2018.

"All of our divisions improved over the previous year and we continue to expect all divisions will finish this year stronger than last year. Our continued focus on free cash flow produced cash generation well ahead of last year and puts us fully on pace to achieve our 2018 target of USD450-USD650m," said Huntsman CEO Peter Huntsman.

"We also announced the closing of the Demilec acquisition. This acquisition will provide further downstream growth while generating stronger margins and stability."

Huntsman completed the USD350m acquisition of spray-foam company Demilec from Sun Capital Partners in April.