Wacker expands silicone elastomer production in China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Wacker has inaugurated a new production line for silicone elastomers at its Zhangjiagang site in China, said the producer on its site.

With an annual capacity of several thousand metric tons, the facility will help support WACKER’s future growth path in China and improve the availability of high consistency silicone rubber (HCR) in the Asia-Pacific region. The plant’s cutting-edge equipment includes world-class kneaders which are essential for manufacturing high quality HCR grades. The expansion measure – a lower double digit million investment - underscores WACKER’s commitment and technological leadership in the silicone rubber industry.

With its new manufacturing line in Zhangjiagang, China, Wacker is significantly expanding its global production capacity for high consistency silicone rubber (HCR). The facility will significantly shorten delivery lead times for customers in the region. (Photo: WACKER)

"Today’s event not only is another milestone in WACKER’s efforts to expand its operational footprint in China, but also shows our determination to further serve and develop local and regional markets," said Paul Lindblad, President of WACKER Greater China, at the inauguration ceremony. The expansion of Wacker’s silicone elastomer plant is yet another example of the company’s ongoing investments into its Chinese facilities. "The new manufacturing line will contribute significantly to our silicone rubber production capacity. This will enable us to improve our service to customers and business partners, who are willing to grasp the opportunities in today’s ever-changing and increasingly sophisticated marketplace", Lindblad said.

Wacker’s new production line is located in a new building complex covering 2,000 square meters. The facility’s kneaders are currently the largest of their kind in the industry. The plant’s mixing and screening equipment and the state-of-the-art waste treatment process are also setting industry standards in terms of productivity and sustainability. The new production line will enable shorter lead times, speed up market response, and improve overall customer experience.

As MRC informed before, in November 2017, rhe Group began 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. Ulsan’s plant complex, which covers the entire production chain from VAE dispersions to dispersible polymer powders, will be one of the largest of its kind in the world. Investments will total around EUR60 million and production was scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2019.

Wacker has been operating its own subsidiary in Greater China for over 25 years and has greatly expanded its regional activities since then. The company not only maintains seven sales offices in all the country’s key economic regions, but also two technical centers and three production sites. The Group produces silicones and polymers in Zhangjiagang and Nanjing. Both sites are located in Jiangsu province. The plants are the largest of their kind in China. In 2018, Wacker generated sales of over EUR1 billion in the Greater China region, including Taiwan.

Brazil oil workers join pension reform protests with strike action

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Oil workers at state-run Petroleo Brasileiro SA have begun a 24-hour strike in eight Brazilian states as part of nationwide protests against a government proposal to reform pensions, reported Reuters with reference to umbrella union group FUP's statement.

The pension reforms, aimed at restoring public finances and reviving a flagging economy, are fiercely opposed by some sectors of society for raising the minimum retirement age and workers’ contributions.

The union’s strikes of the kind announced on Friday rarely affect output because of the use of contingency teams.

Workers at nine refineries, including Reduc in Rio de Janeiro state and Paulinia in Sao Paulo state, were participating in the strike, which also affected a Petrobras port terminal in Pernambuco and a fertilizer plant in Bahia, FUP said.

On the Campos basin in Rio de Janeiro, workers were keeping operations to a minimum, it added.

In Rio de Janeiro, where the oil company is headquartered, the police used tear gas to disperse demonstrators and free roads near the port area, Globo TV reported.

In Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo, public transport was disrupted as subway workers adhered to the strike, affecting train schedules and closing some stations, local media reported.

Sao Paulo will host the inaugural game of the Copa America soccer tournament, which Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is expected to attend in the evening. A special plan is in place to make sure fans arrive to the stadium, according to the city’s transport department.

Roadblocks and demonstrations in streets and highways in and around Sao Paulo, including burning tires close to the city’s international airport, have been reported.

As well as seeking to block changes in public sector pensions, the oil workers were protesting against “the privatization of the Petrobras system,” FUP said, referring to the oil company’s sales of assets to reduce debt.

As MRC wrote previously, in late October 2017, Petrobras’s minority stakes in Braskem and Deten Quimica was excluded from Petrobras’s divestment program, according to a government decree published in Brazil’s Official Gazette last week. The decree prevents Petrobras from immediately selling its minority stake in Braskem, which had been announced this year. A new decree will be required to release the stock sale.

Headquartered in Rio de Janeiro, Petrobras is an integrated energy firm. Petrobras' activities include exploration, exploitation and production of oil from reservoir wells, shale and other rocks as well as refining, processing, trade and transport of oil and oil products, natural gas and other fluid hydrocarbons, in addition to other energy-related activities.

India announces retaliatory trade tariffs against the US

MOSCOW (MRC) -- India has said that, from Sunday, it will impose tariffs on 28 US products, including almonds and apples, reported BBC.

The new duties, some as high as 70%, are in response to Washington's refusal to exempt Delhi from higher taxes on steel and aluminium imports.

Earlier this month, US President Trump also announced the US was withdrawing India's preferential trade treatment.
Tariffs of up to 120% were announced by India in June last year, but trade talks had delayed their implementation.

In an announcement on Friday, India's Ministry of Finance said the decision was in the "public interest".
An earlier list had also listed a 29th item - artemia, a type of shrimp - but this was removed.

US-India bilateral trade was worth USD142bn in 2018, a sevenfold increase since 2001, according to US figures.

But USD5.6n worth of Indian exports - previously duty-free in the US - will be hit now the country has lost preferential treatment under America's Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).

Media captionSujitha Rajendrababu tells the BBC how getting a job at a car factory has changed her life
The move is the latest push by the Trump administration to redress what it considers to be unfair trading relationships with other countries.

Tensions have since been rising between the two countries. Last year, India retaliated against US tariff hikes on aluminium and steel by raising its own import duties on a range of goods.

President Trump has also threatened to impose sanctions if India purchases oil from Iran and if it goes ahead with plans to buy Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missiles.

The latest tariffs from India come just days before country's Foreign Minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, is due to meet his US counterpart, Mike Pompeo, at a G20 summit in Japan. Mr Trump and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi are also expected to hold talks.

Clariant expands range of FDA compliant rigid desiccant cards

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Clariant announced a new flat-profile molecular-sieve desiccant, ADP Plate, along with an expanded line of Dri-Card laminated-film desiccant cards. Both products are FDA compliant, said the company.

Developed by the Clariant Healthcare Packaging business line, the new products are being unveiled at the Clariant Chemicals (China) Ltd. Booth (N5D30) at the 2019 CPhI China trade show, held June 18-20 at Shanghai’s New International Exposition Centre (SNIEC).

Flat-profile desiccant cards are needed for package moisture control when pouch-style desiccant sachets do not fit (e.g. in flat packages/packets), in food or other products where package surfaces are flat, or in scoopable/mixable powder products, where desiccant sachets can be difficult to see and to separate out of powder stirred into a beverage.

New ADP Plate desiccants offer very high moisture protection for medical and diagnostic devices, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical powders, and other package ingredients that require a very dry package environment. They feature injection-molded plastic cards embedded with highly adsorbent molecular sieve desiccant. Available in a standard 85 mm x 53 mm x 1.6 mm size or in custom sizes, these low-profile cards fit neatly into flat packages and reduce significantly the risk of desiccant leakage. This format also offers unique branding options, enabling customers to specify custom colors or messages that can be applied using ink-free laser markings during the manufacturing process.

The company’s expanded line of Dri-Card desiccants, which are comprised of calcium chloride desiccant laminated between colorful, bright orange film layers, offer another flat-profile option for moisture-controlled packages containing powdered, confectionary, and food products. They are available in five standard sizes from 25 mm x 50 mm up to 85 mm x 85 mm, as well as custom sizes.

"For the applications like sports nutrition powders, food and spice powders, and any especially flat packages, the expanded flat profile desiccant options can help customers improve their packaging and product appeal,” says Mark Florez, Head of Product Development and Application for Clariant Healthcare Packaging in North America. “In powdered products, ADP Plate and Dri-Card can help support organic claims by preventing clumping without the use of non-organic anti-agglomerates and anti-caking agents.” Florez adds that both products are manufactured in pharmaceutical desiccant plants that meet the applicable GMP requirements.

As MRC informed earlier, in March 2017, Clariant was awarded a contract by Dongguan Grand Resource Science & Technology Co. Ltd. to develop a new propane dehydrogenation unit in cooperation with CB&I. The project includes the license and engineering design of the unit, which is to be built in Dongguan City, Guangdong Province, China.

Clariant AG is a Swiss chemical company and a world leader in the production of specialty chemicals for the textile, printing, mining and metallurgical industries. It is engaged in processing crude oil products in pigments, plastics and paints. Clariant India has local masterbatch production activities at Rania, Kalol and Nandesari (Gujarat) and Vashere (Maharashtra) sites in India.

U.S. refiner group sues Trump EPA over high-ethanol gasoline

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The main U.S. refining industry association said it sued to block the Trump administration’s effort to expand sales of higher ethanol blends of gasoline, arguing the move exceeded the administration’s authority, said Reuters.

The legal challenge from the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) association escalated a battle between the oil and corn industries over the nation’s biofuel policy, which requires refiners to blend biofuels like corn-based ethanol into their gasoline, often at great expense.

President Donald Trump had directed the Environmental Protection Agency to lift a summertime ban on the sale of gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol, called E15, in an effort to help farmers suffering from the U.S. trade war with China. The EPA unveiled its rule doing so on May 31.

The summertime E15 ban had been implemented during the Obama administration to reduce smog emissions, but Trump’s EPA said E15’s impact on air quality was similar to that of E10, which could already be sold year-round.

The tension over the policy move reflects how Trump has struggled to please both Big Oil and Big Agriculture, two critical constituencies in the Republican president’s 2020 re-election bid.

AFPM asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to review the EPA’s rule, in papers filed on Monday, said Diana Cronan, a spokeswoman for the group.

AFPM has one month to provide the court with the outline of its case, she said.