Unipetrol awards EPCM contract for its Litvinov refinery to McDermott

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Unipetrol has trusted its engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) contract to McDermott International for its Litvinov refinery in Czech Republic. Under the contract, McDermott will be responsible to provide EPCM services for the upgrade of a hydrocracking unit at the Litvinov refinery, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Previously, the company carried out a feasibility study and basic engineering design and will now undertake the procurement and installation phase.

The Litvinov refinery, which broke ground way back in 1939, started production of gasoline from brown coal in 1942.

McDermott Europe, Africa, Russia and Caspian senior vice president Tareq Kawash said: “This award is testament to McDermott’s long-standing relationship and extensive track record with Unipetrol.

"We believe our ability to combine local knowledge and global expertise makes us uniquely positioned to execute this project."

McDermott said that it has worked with Unipetrol for the last 20 years by executing various feasibility studies, front end engineering and design (FEED) and EPCM projects for the latter’s refineries and petrochemical facilities across the Czech Republic.

The company said that the latest contract work for the Litvinov refinery will be fully performed from its office in Brno, Czech Republic with the project likely to be completed in second quarter 2020.

McDermott intends to immediately work on the project and will log the contract award in its first quarter 2019 backlog.

Recently, the company won a technology contract for the basic engineering and licensing of Irkutsk Oil’s 650 KTA ethylene plant in Russia. The company was also given an order to provide detailed engineering and material supply of six short residence time (SRT) pyrolysis heaters for the Russian ethylene plant.

Earlier in the month, McDermott commissioned a new CDAlky reactor at PetroChina’s refinery in Jilin, China, thereby enabling the downstream asset to produce motor fuel alkylate. The 9,000 barrels per day alkylation unit is among the four CDAlky projects bagged by the company from PetroChina.

In December 2018, the company was awarded two technology contracts from Indian Oil Corporation (IOCL) to provide the license and basic engineering design of a 200 KTA polypropylene plant in Barauni, India, and also for a 420 KTA polypropylene plant in the Indian state Gujarat.

As MRC informed before, in December 2018, McDermott International, Inc. announced a contract award from Bayport Polymers LLC, a joint venture of Total Petrochemicals & Refining USA, Inc., and Novealis Holdings LLC (a joint venture of Borealis AG and NOVA Chemicals Inc.), for its new High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) plant, the Borstar Bay3 Project, in Bayport, Texas.

Unipetrol , a.s. is a group of companies operating in the petrochemical industry in the Czech Republic. In 2005 Unipetrol became a part of the PKN ORLEN Group, the largest oil processor in Central Europe. The UNIPETROL Group is oriented mostly towards oil processing, fuel distribution and petrochemical production. In all of these business areas the Unipetrol Group is among the key players both in the Czech Republic and on the Central European market. The Group ranks among the leading firms in the Czech Republic in terms of its revenues, and employs almost 4,000 people.

Russian producers rolled over March SPVC prices for April

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Negotiations over April shipments of suspension polyvinyl chloride (SPVC) began in the Russian market on Tuesday. Local producers announced a roll-over of March prices for April shipments to the domestic market, according to ICIS-MRC Price report.

Prices of Russian polyvinyl chloride (PVC) has already risen three times since the beginning of the year, and in mid-March, buyers still had concerns about further price increases in April. Producers' stocks are small due to large exports at the beginning of the year, the import alternative is limited. Nevertheless, despite these factors, Russian producers announced that March prices rolled over for next month's deliveries.

Demand for PVC still remained weak from the domestic market because of seasonal factors, but producers do not have large stocks of resin. On the contrary, some of them sold out all their quotas even in the first weeks of the month.

Prices of Russian resin has significantly grown since the beginning of the year, but even in such conditions, customers have limited import alternative. Thus, there is the possibility of alternative and profitable PVC shipments from Europe and China, but supply is tight and it does not allow to completely replace Russian resin.

Quantities of foreign purchases of PVC in China rose by several times in March under the pressure of another increase in Russian PVC prices, but they are still not sufficient to put pressure on national producers, moreover, some quantities of March contracts will enter the market only in April due to the complexity of logistics.

The Russian rouble strengthened against the dollar in the second half of March, and prices began to go down in Asia. And these two factors significantly limited the possibility of raising April prices for the domestic market from Russian producers.

Demand for finished products from PVC has remained weak so far because of seasonal factors, most converters had problems with working capital. However, despite all these negative factors, demand for resin is still expected to increase from the domestic market in April.

April deals for resin with K=64/67 were negotiated in the range of Rb74,000-76,500/tonne CPT Moscow, including VAT, which corresponded to March level, for quantities of up to 500 tonnes. The price spread for special grades, particularly, with K=58/70, was more substantial and in some cases reached Rb79,000/tonne CPT Moscow, including VAT.

BASF opens innovative research center for catalysts and processes

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BASF officially opened a pioneering research center at the heart of the Verbund site in Ludwigshafen, close to the famous Ammonia Lab. This new pilot plant facility for catalyst and process development will be operated by the global research unit Process Research & Chemical Engineering, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

It houses highly automated experimental facilities for efficient process development and testing of new process catalysts. The highlights of the modernized lab include modular construction of the testing facilities, the use of digital technologies to better visualize and manage the pilot plant facilities, and a digitalized working environment.

To implement this concept, a 60-year old building was completely gutted and updated over the past two years. Now that the cutting-edge research facility has opened on the ground floor, renovations will continue on the floor above. BASF is investing a single-digit million euro sum each year in this complex project. Once the upgrades are completed in a few years, this building will be the central hub for experimental work with automated pilot plants for liquid and gaseous substances.

“With the increasing importance of the BASF segments Chemicals and Industrial Solutions, there is a growing need for product research and especially process research,” said Dr. Detlef Kratz, head of the research unit Process Research & Chemical Engineering. “In our pilot plant facility, we are using state-of-the-art infrastructure to carry out experiments. This enables us to pursue new research approaches and reduce the length of research and development projects, while also continuing to improve the quality of the data collected. We are thus systematically pursuing our goal of increasing the likelihood of success of our projects.”

During the planning and construction of the pilot plants, some of which are modular, aspects such as user-friendliness and easy maintenance were just as important as the aim of simplifying work processes via digitalization. The pilot plants can be managed and monitored from separate quiet workspaces or directly in front of the pilot plant via computer, tablet or smartphone. With the software hteControlTM, experimental programs can be visually planned and carried out with various distributed control systems. Measurement and analysis data are automatically collected, logically amalgamated and made available for further evaluation.

Professional data management completes the concept of the new technical center. The individual data systems at the pilot plants are perfectly harmonized. Seamless integration of process and analytical data enables automatic integration and evaluation of processes. Employees now have the optimal conditions to discover new solutions for process development and catalysis.

As MRC reported earlier, in December 2017, BASF’s Coatings division inaugurated a new automotive coatings plant at its Bangpoo manufacturing site, Samutprakarn province, Thailand. 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 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.

PE imports to Ukraine increased by 2% in January-February 2019

MOSCOW (MRC) - Imports of polyethylene (PE) into Ukraine increased to 41,900 tonnes in the first two months of 2019, up 2% compared to the same period of 2018. At the same time, only the linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) and ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) segments accounted for a increase in imports, according to MRC's DataScope report.

Last month's PE imports to Ukraine decreased to 20,800 tonnes from 21,100 tonnes in January, with high density polyethylene (HDPE) accounting for a decrease in imports. Overall PE imports reached 41,900 tonnes in January-February 2019, compared to 41,200 tonnes a year earlier. Imports of LLDPE and EVA increased, while demand for other ethylene polymers decreased.

The supply structure by PE grades looked the following way over the stated period.

February imports of HDPE decreased to 6,500 tonnes against 7,100 tonnes in January, the reduction in supplies accounted on injection moulding and blow moulding polyethylene, while imports of film HDPE increased. Overall HDPE production reached 13,600 tonnes in the first two months of 2019, compared to 14,400 tonnes a year earlier. The main reduction in imports accounted for injection moulding and pipe HDPE, while external purchases of film and blow moulding polyethylene increased.

February imports of low density polyethylene (LDPE) rose to 6,700 tonnes from 6,100 tonnes a month earlier, local companies increased their LDPE purchases in Russia. Overall LDPE imports reached 12,800 tonnes over the stated period, down by 1% year on year.

February imports of linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) into the country were about 6,600 tonnes, which was close to the previous month level. In general, January - February LLDPE imports into Ukraine increased to 13,100 tonnes compared with 11,600 tonnes year on year.
Local films producers accounted for the main increase in imports.

Imports of other grades of polyethylene, including EVA for the period under review reached about 2,300 tonnes against 2,200 tonnes a year earlier.


Johnson Matthey to build cathode material plant in Poland

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Chemical company Johnson Matthey has announced the construction of a new factory for the production of its battery cathode materials, said the company.

This year will see the begin of construction of the production facility in Konin, Poland, after which production should start in 2021 or 2022.

According to the Group, the plant is expected to initially provide capacity for 10,000 tons of cathode material per year. Depending on demand, these will be expanded later to up to 100,000 tons per year. With regard to the location, the company has only said that the production facility planned in central Poland will be positioned “close to major customers in the supply chain for battery electric vehicles".

Competitor Umicore is also about to open a site in Poland. The Belgian group is investing 1.38 billion zloty (321 million euros) in a cathode materials factory that is scheduled to go into operation at the end of 2020.

For their plans, Johnson Matthey, in addition to its plant in Poland, the manufacturer has now concluded a ten-year contract with Nemaska Lithium for the supply of lithium hydroxide for its battery cathode materials, in which the quantities supplied are aligned with Johnson Matthey’s production plans.

As early as 2017, the chemicals group announced plans to invest 200 million pounds (around 234 million euros) in expanding its battery materials business. Meanwhile, U.S. manufacturer Cummins acquired Johnson Matthey’s electric and hybrid vehicle business. This was the Johnson Matthey Battery Systems division, a site with 50 employees.