LANXESS will be showcasing its pigment portfolio bauma 2019 in Munich

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Specialty chemicals company LANXESS will be showcasing its extensive pigment portfolio for coloring of construction materials together with distributor Harold Scholz & Co. GmbH at the bauma in Munich from April 8 to 14, 2019, said the company.

It is the largest international meeting place and most important multiplier for the industry. Here, LANXESS will showcase its product solutions for sustainable building and its expertise in coloring concrete products. The company’s Inorganic Pigments business unit (IPG) is the world’s largest manufacturer of iron oxides and one of the leading producers of inorganic pigments based on chromium oxides.

For decades, Bayferrox iron oxide pigments have been used reliably in all types of concrete materials. However, in more recent years, there have been many advancements in concrete technology. “New types of concrete such as self-compacting or ultra-high performance concrete are based on complex formulations, the components of which must be perfectly matched to meet requirements. This must also be kept in mind when iron-oxide pigments are used,” says Oliver Fleschentraeger, Market Segment Manager Construction in the Inorganic Pigments (IPG) business unit at LANXESS.

LANXESS has extensive expertise in the production and handling of pigments as well as in the processing in concrete manufacturing. To continue to provide superior support for the technological development of its customers in the future, the company has invested around 1 million Euro in the further modernization of its application laboratories for construction materials at its Krefeld-Uerdingen site in Germany and at Starpointe Burgettstown, Pennsylvania, in the USA.

"The technical service offering comprises extensive analyses regarding the colorimetric and physical pigment characteristics as well as their influence on concrete properties and rheological characteristics in customer-specific applications, which can be simulated under laboratory conditions,” explains Fleschentraeger. “In addition, we collaborate closely with raw material producers, equipment manufacturers, architects and universities in order to provide the best service for our customers," continues Fleschentraeger.

As MRC reported earlier, in December 2017, Lanxess announced the expansion of its Additives segment and plans to acquire the phosphorus chemicals business with a US production site from Belgian chemical group Solvay. Both companies signed an agreement to this effect.

Lanxess is a leading specialty chemicals company with about 19,200 employees in 25 countries. The company is currently represented at 74 production sites worldwide. The core business of Lanxess is the development, manufacturing and marketing of chemical intermediates, additives, specialty chemicals and plastics. Through Arlanxeo, the joint venture with Saudi Aramco, Lanxess is also a leading supplier of synthetic rubber.

Investigators to begin hunt for cause of Texas petrochemical disaster

MOSCOW (MRC) -- US investigators hope for the first time to enter the site of a massive fuel fire and chemical spill outside Houston to begin the hunt for a cause and to determine whether the operator followed safety regulations, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The blaze, at Mitsui & Co’s Intercontinental Terminals Co (ITC) storage facility in Deer Park, Texas, began March 17 and released toxic chemicals into the air and nearby waterways. Shipping along the largest oil port in the United States remained disrupted on Monday, as did operations at two nearby refineries.

Fumes from benzene-containing fuel and fear of another fire have prevented investigators from going into the tank farm’s "hot zone," officials said last Monday. Three tanks holding oils remain to be emptied this week, and responders continue to sop up fuels on the tank farm grounds.

Investigators from the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) and Environmental Protection Agency, as well as state and local authorities, plan to enter the site once it is safe.

Access to the site, along the Houston Ship Channel, will help determine what happened and how a fire at one tank holding tens of thousands of barrels of naphtha spread quickly to 10 other giant tanks.

"The escalation of the event, looking at how the fire spread from a single tank to others in the tank battery, is certainly something we’re interested in," said CSB lead investigator Mark Wingard, who arrived in Houston in late March.

Before CSB investigators enter the site, possibly later this week, they will focus on interviewing ITC personnel and witnesses of the fire, and collecting documentation on the facility and its tanks. The CSB’s investigation will also examine the "outside impacts" of the fires, Wingard said.

"There’s huge public interest in this case," he said. "People in this community want to know what happened and what they were exposed to."

Access also could provide officials with information critical to state and local lawsuits accusing the company of improperly releasing tons of volatile organic compounds into the surrounding air and water.

"We need to get to what was the root cause of this event and then begin to understand any aspect of negligence or obstruction that led to the event," Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia said in an interview.

In late March, the county filed a lawsuit against ITC seeking to recoup the costs of emergency responders and healthcare clinics set up in response to pollution from the fire. The county has not yet estimated the cost, which Garcia said is "going to be very significant."

An ITC spokeswoman declined to comment, citing pending litigation. In the past, a company official said ITC responded immediately to the fire and had no lack of resources to put out the fire.

Asked how long it would take for investigators to get onto the grounds, ITC Senior Vice President Brent Weber said he hoped it would be days not weeks. "They have been on the site," Weber said last Monday. "They’re staying out of the hot zone right now."

Fumes and clean-up efforts continued to affect shipping for a third week. Twenty-two cargo vessels were able to transit the area near the ITC tank farm on Sunday, the Coast Guard said, between 40 percent and 50 percent of normal.

Another 64 were in a queue waiting to pass last Monday. In total, 118 ships were anchored outside the port, said US Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Derby Flory.

As MRC informed before, Mitsui Chemicals took its naphtha-fed steam cracker off-stream for a maintenance turnaround in mid-June 2018. It remained under maintenance until end-July 2018. Located in Sakai, Japan, the cracker has an ethylene production capacity of 500,000 mt/year and propylene production capacity of 280,000 mt/year.

Nouryon starts work on chloromethanes expansion in Germany

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Nouryon (formerly AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals) will start construction in May on a project to further increase capacity for chloromethanes at its site in Frankfurt, Germany, supporting growing global customer demand, as per the company's press release.

The expansion is expected to be completed in 2020.

The company first increased chloromethanes production in Frankfurt in 2017; the new project will increase annual production capacity of the chloromethane methyl chloride by more than 30%. Methyl chloride is used for the manufacture of various construction materials, silicones, surfactants and pharmaceuticals.

"As well as investing in additional capacity, we will also make substantial upgrades to the facility, which will improve overall supply reliability for our customers and support their growth plans," said Knut Schwalenberg, Managing Director Industrial Chemicals at Nouryon. "We have a leading position in the European chloromethanes market and this is a significant investment to strengthen that."

As MRC reported previously, Nouryon will license its innovative continuous initiator dosing (CiD) technology to Karpatneftekhim, Ukraine’s largest polyvinyl chloride (PVC) producer. Nouryon’s patented CiD technology allows PVC producers to increase reactor output by up to 40%, improve product quality, and make the production process intrinsically safer - all with minimum capital expenditure.

Saudi Aramco international bond attracts strong interest

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Demand for Saudi Aramco's inaugural international bond, seen as a gauge of potential investor interest in the oil company's eventual initial public offering, is higher than USD30 billion, reported Reuters with reference to Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih.

That would represent an oversubscription of more than three times the size of the bond, if Aramco sticks to its plan to issue around USD10 billion in the debt sale, due this week.

State-owned Saudi Aramco met investors last week in a global bond roadshow ahead of the issue. The bond is expected to attract demand from both emerging markets and investment-grade buyers as Aramco's status as the world's largest oil company would put its bonds in the same league as debt issued by independent international oil majors like Exxon and Shell.

Speaking at an event in Riyadh, Falih said the issue will close on Wednesday and that he believed demand for the bond was "north of" USD30 billion.

Aramco, which declined to comment, will open the bond books later on Monday, sources told Reuters.

Aramco has said the bonds may range from three to 30 years in maturity. Sergey Dergachev, a manager of EM corporate debt at Germany-based Union Investment, said he expected the bond to have four tranches of three, five, 10 and 30 years and to range between USD10 billion and USD15 billion in size.

He said he expects demand for the paper to reach USD45 billion-USD50 billion, as its different maturities will attract a wide range of investors from different regions.

"The short part of the curve, three and five years, will be strongly bid by locals and some Asians. The 30-year will be heavily in demand by US and Taiwanese investors."

Pension funds and insurance companies in the US and Taiwan are traditionally interested in investing in long-term securities to match the long duration of their own capital.

Lured by Aramco's vast profits - which were nearly three times those of Apple last year - a large number of investors are willing to buy the bonds even if they offers less than Saudi government debt, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

"The success of this bond issue will be the litmus test and a crucial precursor for the anticipated Aramco IPO within the next two years," said Salah Shamma, head of investment, MENA equities, at Franklin Templeton.

Aramco last year postponed a planned initial public offering to 2021.

The bond issue, announced last week, follows on the heels of Aramco's agreement to buy a 70 percent stake in petrochemicals firm Saudi Basic Industries from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) in a deal worth USD69.1 billion.

Al-Falih said on Monday he hopes Aramco's SABIC acquisition will be completed within six months.

In a company presentation last week, however, the company said the deal will close in 2020.

The transaction will give PIF firepower to proceed with its plans to create jobs and diversify the largest Arab economy beyond oil exports.

Falih said in addition to SABIC, there will be other assets, "non-strategic assets", that PIF may exit.

"I think the vision of the PIF goes way beyond the USD69 billion that Saudi Aramco will provide to the PIF, which is very bold, it's global and domestic at the same time," he said.

PIF has invested in ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies and in electric carmakers Lucid Motors and Tesla. "So don't be surprised, just as bold as they were in entering some of these investments, that they do exit," said Falih.

PIF will be looking globally to acquire emerging companies in emerging industries "to create value for them, but at the same time to leverage those acquisitions and investments for the benefit of the kingdom's strategy," he said.

As MRC wrote previously, in October 2018, State oil giant Saudi Aramco signed an agreement to invest in a refinery-petrochemical project in eastern China, part of its strategy to expand in downstream operations globally. The memorandum of understanding between the company and Zhejiang province included plans to invest in a new refinery and co-operate in crude oil supply, storage and trading, according to details released by the Zhoushan government after a signing ceremony in the city south of Shanghai. Zhejiang Petrochemical, 51 percent owned by textile giant Zhejiang Rongsheng Holding Group, is building a 400,000-barrels-per-day refinery and associated petrochemical facilities that was expected to start operations by the end of last year.

Saudi Aramco, officially the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, is a Saudi Arabian national oil and natural gas company based in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Aramco"s value has been estimated at up to USD10 trillion in the Financial Times, making it the world"s most valuable company. Saudi Aramco has both the largest proven crude oil reserves, at more than 260 billion barrels, and largest daily oil production.

Kazanorgsintez shut LDPE production

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Kazanorgsintez (part of TAIF Group) has begun shutting down its low density polyethylene (LDPE) production for a scheduled turnaround, according to ICIS-MRC Price Report.

The plant's representatives said a gradual shutdown for the scheduled maintenance at Kazanorgsintez's 3rd LDPE line began on 10 April. The full shutdown of this line's LDPE production is planned to be carried out today. The outage will be long and will last for almost one month. The third line's production capacity is 140,000 tonnes/year.

It is also worth noting that next shutdowns for maintenance at Russian LDPE plants are scheduled for July. Thus, Angarsk Polymers Plant and Gazprom neftekhim Salavat will take off-stream their production capacities for turnarounds.

PJSC "Kazanorgsintez" (part of TAIF Group) is one of Russia's largest plants. Kazanorgsintez produces 40% of overall Russian polyethylene (PE) and is the country's largest exporter. To date, the plant produces PE, polycarbonate (PC), PE pipes, phenol, acetone, bisphenol A. Kazanorgsintez is Russia's only PC producer. It manufactures a total of 170 items of products. Kazanorgsintez's annual output is 1.6 million tonnes. The plant is Russia's largest producer of high density polyethylene (HDPE). The plant's annual HDPE production capacity is 540,000 tonnes and its annual LDPE capacity is 225,000 tonnes.