PVC imports to Belarus rose by 0.6% in first nine months of 2018

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Imports of unmixed polyvinyl chloride (PVC) into Belarus grew in the first nine months of 2018 by 0.6% year on year to 25,700 tonnes, according to MRC's DataScope report.

According to the Statistical Committee of the Republic of Belarus, local converters reduced their purchasing of PVC to 2,600 tonnes in September 2018 from 3,200 tonnes a month earlier.

Thus, imports of unmixed PVC rose in the first nine months of 2018 to 25,700 tonnes from 25,500 tonnes a year earlier, with local windows producers accounting for a slight increase in demand.

Russian producers with the share of about 89% of the Belarusian market were the key suppliers of resin to Belarus over the stated period. Producers from Ukraine and Germany with the share of 6% and 3% were the second and third largest suppliers, respectively.


Shell adjusts German refineries output because of low Rhine level

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Royal Dutch Shell has recently adjusted output at its Godorf and Wesseling oil refineries in Germany because extremely low water levels on the Rhine were hampering barge traffic, reported Reuters with reference to the company.

Months of low water levels WL-KAUB have cut off key demand centers in Germany and Switzerland from coastal refining and storage hubs in the Netherlands and Belgium, wreaking havoc in the region’s oil market.

The Rhine’s low levels mean barges are unable to enter Wesseling harbour while Godorf harbour is also experiencing traffic limitations, a Shell spokeswoman said.

"We are utilizing all supply routes available to us and have adjusted production levels. We will continue to closely monitor the situation, she said."

The spokeswoman later added that the production adjustments were made a few weeks ago.

We remind that, as MRC informed earlier, in March 2018, Shell EP Middle East Holdings B.V. completed the sale of the entire share capital of Shell Iraq B.V (SIBV), which held its 19.6% stake in the West Qurna 1 oil field, for USD406 million, to a subsidiary of ITOCHU Corporation.

Royal Dutch Shell plc is incorporated in England and Wales, has its headquarters in The Hague and is listed on the London, Amsterdam, and New York stock exchanges. Shell companies have operations in more than 70 countries and territories with businesses including oil and gas exploration and production; production and marketing of liquefied natural gas and gas to liquids; manufacturing, marketing and shipping of oil products and chemicals and renewable energy projects.

Chevron granted waiver from US biofuel laws at Utah plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The US Environmental Protection Agency granted oil major Chevron Corp a 2017 hardship waiver from US biofuel laws for its Utah refinery earlier this year, reported Reuters with reference to a source familiar with the company’s operations.

Chevron, which reported a net income of USD9.2 billion in 2017, becomes the largest known company to be awarded a hardship waiver from the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which requires refiners to blend biofuels like ethanol into their fuel pool or buy compliance credits from competitors that do.

The waivers, which have grown significantly under the Trump administration, have angered corn-belt farmers who say it hurts demand for ethanol and other biofuels.

"When an oil company whose net profits surpass the total value of the Iowa corn crop claims it is experiencing ‘hardship,’ you know we’ve reached a new level of absurdity," said Geoff Cooper, CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association.

California-based Chevron declined to confirm whether it received a small refinery hardship waiver but did say that seeking them can level the playing field.

"EPA has acknowledged that it has granted several small refinery exemptions from the RFS. Any Chevron refinery not exempted from the RFS would be at a disadvantage in the highly competitive markets where we operate," the company said in an emailed statement.

The EPA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Refineries with a capacity less than 75,000 barrels-per-day can receive waivers from the RFS if they prove compliance would cause them disproportionate hardship. Chevron’s Salt Lake City, Utah, plant is 54,000 barrels-per-day.

The EPA, under President Donald Trump, expanded the waiver program, awarding 29 exemptions for the 2017 calendar year, up from 19 in 2016 and just seven in 2015, EPA data shows.

The EPA has attributed the program’s expansion to a lawsuit brought by two oil refiners who challenged the EPA’s denial of their waiver request. A federal judge ruled the EPA was using too narrow of a test to evaluate applications.

Biofuel backers say the expansion was politically driven by former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, who sought ways to lower compliance costs for refiners. The Chevron approval was granted under Pruitt, the source said.

The surge in hardship waivers has pummeled the price for compliance credits some refiners must buy.

Reuters previously reported that Chevron, along with Exxon Mobil Corp, sought a hardship waiver from US biofuel laws.

Exxon Mobil’s application status was unclear.

We remind that, as MRC wrote before, in March 2018, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP (part of Chevron) announced that it had successfully introduced feedstock and commenced operations of a new ethane cracker at its Cedar Bayou facility in Baytown, Texas. At peak production, the unit will produce 1.5 million metric tons/3.3 billion lbs. per year. This unit will be one of the largest and most energy efficient crackers in the world.

Headquartered in San Ramon, California, Chevron Corporation is the the second-largest integrated energy company in the United States and among the largest corporations in the world. Chevron is involved in upstream activities including exploration and production, downstream activities including refining, marketing and transportation, and advanced energy technology. Chevron is also invested in power generation and gasification processes.

Plastivaloire to acquire US auto parts rival TransNav

MOSCOW (MRC) -- French auto components moulder Groupe Plastivaloire is set to boost its industrial footprint in North America with the acquisition of its US rival TransNav Inc, USA, as per Plasticsnewseurope.

In October, Plastivaloire of Langeais, France signed a binding memorandum of understanding confirming the group would purchase 100% of the capital of the US parts moulder headquartered in New Baltimore, Michigan. Family-owned Plastivaloire, with 27 production and development sites, including plants in Tunisia, Turkey and Mexico, is awaiting approval for the deal from the US antitrust regulators. It expects a decision before the end of this year.

TransNav, run by the Dutch Vreeken family, operates three plants in Danville, Kentucky, at its New Baltimore base in Michigan and near Puebla, Mexico with a workforce of over 580. It has nearly 100 injection moulding machines from 20 – 4,400 tonne clamping force.

Eighty per cent of TransNav’s business comes from auto component production, supplying products such as moulded interior and external trim, wheel trim, and fuel tank parts to major US vehicle builders and global tier one suppliers.

TransNav is still growing and, according to Plastivaloire, is on course to achieve annual sales worth USD105m (EUR92m) in 2018.

Groupe Plastivaloire said this deal will establish it in the US for the first time, boosting its growth in North America in line with its strategy of internationalisation. Its takeover of TransNav will accelerate its annual sales which could now reach its 2020 target of EUR750m by the end of this year, the group said.

This will pass an “important milestone” on the way to Plastivaloire’s next goal of reaching a turnover of EUR1bn by 2025, according to its chief executive officer Patrick Findeling whose family manages the group.

The French company points to a number of valuable synergies achieved through its latest acquisition including the firms’ complementary client portfolios and shared technology expertise in tooling and complex injection moulding.

It will also complete the group’s market coverage in Europe and North America, positioning Plastivaloire at the heart of two Mexican vehicle manufacturing hubs with TransNav’s Puebla plant and its own existing operation at San Luis Potosi in central Mexico.

Engel event studies Chinese automotive industry

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Austrian injection moulding giant Engel has held its ‘trend.scaut’ event in Shanghai, exploring the automotive industry in Asia, the Chinese market and future challenges of electromobility, said Plasticsnewseurope.

The event was held parallel to FUMOTec automotive engineering and future mobility trade show, which took place in Shanghai at the end of October. Attended by more than 300 delegates, mainly including development and production managers from both Chinese and international companies, the event reviewed current and future challenges, new opportunities as well as innovative technologies within the automotive industry.

"We discussed new technologies and opportunities for the future on the basis of the specific requirements of local producers and were also able to reflect the topics in an international context," explained Gero Willmeroth, president East Asia and Oceania of Engel and based in Shanghai. The key-note programme included speakers from Volvo, Continental, China-based Nobo, electronics supplier Ecorea as well as JSC Automotive, ExxonMobil, Sabic and Engel.

Opening the event, Norbert Muller, head of the Engel centre for lightweight composite technologies, said the automotive market in Asia was continuing to develop “at a particularly dynamic pace”. "Over 100 vehicle brands are now competing in China," he said, adding that the focus is currently on electric vehicles.

Another development is that renowned Chinese suppliers are also positioning their products in the premium segment. "This results in important opportunities for the market entry of new technologies," said Muller, pointing to Engel’s innovative composite technologies.

Together with his team, Muller develops new, particularly cost-effective processes for large-scale composite lightweight construction. The process covers a broad range of technologies, from HP-RTM and SMC to the processing of thermoplastic semi-finished products as well as reactive technologies such as in-situ polymerisation (T-RTM).

"What is new is that composite manufacturers in Asia are also increasingly focusing on thermoplastic-based solutions," said Muller. "The possibility of functionalising thermoplastic composite materials immediately after moulding in the same mould using injection moulding can secure decisive time advantages."

Also speaking at the event was Jochen Siebert, the managing director of JSC Automotive, a management consultancy specialising in the Chinese automotive market.