Wacker started up new plant for dispersible polymer powders in South Korea

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Following a construction phase lasting 20 months, Wacker Chemie AG has brought a new spray dryer for the production of dispersible polymer powders on stream in Ulsan, South Korea, as per the company's press release.

The plant is part of an ongoing site expansion aimed at boosting the company’s production capacity for dispersions and dispersible polymer powders in Asia.

Wacker is a world-leading producer of polymeric dispersions and dispersible polymer powders, which are important ingredients in the manufacture of building materials. Construction is currently booming in Asia. Growing just as strongly is the demand for high-quality, energy-efficient, sustainable construction solutions. This has prompted the Group to invest in the region and expand its production capacity for dispersions and dispersible polymer powders in South Korea. The commissioning of the new spray dryer represents a major milestone in the company’s expansion plans for its Ulsan site.

Wacker already produces vinyl acetate-ethylene copolymer (EVA) dispersions in Ulsan. The new spray dryer converts liquid dispersions into dispersible polymer powder by feeding them through an atomizer into a stream of hot gas, which dries them extremely quickly to yield a fine powder. The new plant will have a total capacity of 80,000 metric tons per year. On completion, the spray dryer will be one of the two largest of this kind in the world. The second plant with this capacity is located at Wacker’s Burghausen site. The new spray dryer will create some 50 new jobs in Ulsan.

Construction is also underway in Ulsan on a further reactor for EVA dispersions, the feedstock for dispersible polymer powders. The reactor is scheduled for start-up in the first quarter of 2020. Overall capital expenditure on the plant complex, spanning the full production chain from VAE dispersions through to dispersible polymer powders, will come to some 65 million euros.

"Our binders not only enhance the properties of building materials but also make construction activities more resource-efficient," says Peter Summo, head of the Wacker Polymers division. "The new plant in Ulsan will help us serve the growing market in Asia and additionally shorten our delivery routes and times."

The dispersible polymer powders that Wacker produces in Ulsan belong to the VINNAPAS family, one of the Group’s best-known brands. The new spray dryer will be used to produce VINNAPAS 5010 N and VINNAPAS 5044 N, for instance. These binders are needed in the construction industry to formulate high-quality tile adhesives, mineral plasters, self-leveling flooring compounds, energy-saving external thermal insulation composite systems (ETICS/EIFS), building adhesives, smoothing compounds and joint fillers, for example.

"By expanding our production capacity, we are boosting Ulsan’s economic competitiveness and ensuring that it will remain the first point of contact for regional manufacturers of building materials seeking to optimize their products with dispersible polymer powders," says Dal-Ho Cho, head of the Wacker Chemicals Korea subsidiary.

As MRC reported earlier, in 2013, Wacker ramped up a new EVA production plant - with an additional 40,000 tonnes annually - at its Ulsan site in South Korea back in February. The production capacity of the site has, thus, almost doubled, making the plant complex one of the biggest of its kind in South Korea - thereby solidifying the company's global leading position in this segment.

According to MRC's DataScope report, July EVA imports to Russia increased by 4% year on year to 3,490 tonnes from 3,350 tonnes in July 2018, and overall imports of this grade of ethylene copolymer into the Russian Federation decreased in January-July 2019 by 14, 3% year on year to 22,440 tonnes (26,170 tonnes in the first seven months of 2018).

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.

Shutdowns simultaneously at several plants did not affect PP prices in Russia

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Four Russian producers shut down their production capacities for scheduled maintenance works in September, but this factor did not affect the balance of the polypropylene (PP) market. As a result, PP prices virtually remained at the level of August, according to ICIS-MRC Price report.

The first shutdowns of Russian producers' production capacities began on 5 September, Tomskneftekhim took off-stream its production for a two-week turnaround. And then, within two weeks, Stavrolen, Poliom and Ufaorgsintez shut their production capacities with a total capacity of 470,000 tonnes per year for maintenance. However, a series of shutdowns for maintenance did not lead to a shortage of PP in the market, and did not affect prices.

The Russian PP market was surplus for eight months of the year, and ongoing outages did not lead to any acute shortage of PP in the market. Converters built up additional inventories of polymer for the period of shutdowns, and sellers also built up stocks.

In addition, in most cases, the outages were short, Tomskneftekhim already resumed its PP production last week after the shutdown. Poliom and Ufaorgsintez are expected to launch their PP production by the end of this week. Stavrolen planned to restart its production on 15 October.

This year's last shutdown is scheduled for October - Nizhnekamskneftekhim intends to take off-stream its production capacities for 10 days from 3 October. Some market participants do not rule out that an outage at the Nizhnekamsk plant may affect the balance of the propylene copolymer market, since it is the key supplier. At the same time, the main consumers have been building up additional inventories of propylene copolymers for quite a long time, and the short outage at Nizhnekamskneftekhim might go unnoticed by consumers.

In the second half of September, prices of propylene homopolymers (homopolymer PP) virtually remained at the level of August. Spot prices of Russian homopolymer PP raffia were kept in the range of Rb94,500-96,000/tonne CPT Moscow, including VAT.

Some sellers had a limited supply of homopolymer PP raffia, thus, many sellers in the south sold all their stocks of Turkmen PP. But next shipments of polymer from Turkmenistan are already expected in October.

Some sellers' supply of injection moulding homopolymer PP has significantly subsided by late September, but there was no excitement in this regard. Prices of Russian PP remained in the range of Rb97,000-98,000/tonne CPT Moscow, including VAT.

OMV refinery in Burghausen resumed normal operations

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Germany's Burghausen refinery, run by Austrian energy group OMV, was back to normal operations, and fully supplying petrochemical products, reported S&P Global with reference to the company's statement.

Following an incident on August 24 at its petrochemical section, the plant has been producing at reduced rates until 12 September after the restart.

As MRC informed before, all petrochemical units at Burghausen refinery had gradually restarted following a technical incident and had come back in operation by Sunday, 1 September 2019.

The cracker at this site can produce 450,000 tonnes of ethylene and 210,000 tonnes of propylene per year.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,255,800 tonnes in the first seven months of 2019, up by 9% year on year. Shipments of all PE grades increased. At the same time, the estimated PP consumption in the Russian market was 796,120 tonnes in January-July 2019, up by 11% year on year. Shipments of PP block copolymer and homopolymer PP increased.

Imports of injection moulding PET chips into Belarus grew by 27% in January-July

MOSCOW (MRC) - Import deliveries of injection moulded PET chips to the Belarusian market increased by 27% in seven months of this year and reached 14,250 tonnes compared to 11,240 tonnes in January-July last year, said MRC DataScope.

July imports of material into Belarus decreased by 6% and amounted to 2,040 tonnes compared to 2,180 tonnes in July last year, in June of the current supply amounted to 1,760 tonnes.

The share of Russian imports for this period was 85% (12,150 tonnes) compared with 9% (10,680 tonnes) for the same period last year.
July imports of material from Russian increased by 13% to 2,000 tonnes against 1,760 tonnes in June.

Celanese raises September VAM prices in Europe, Middle East and Africa

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Celanese Corporation, a global chemical and specialty materials company, has increased its September list and off-list selling prices for Vinyl Acetate Monomer (VAM) in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as per the company's press release.

The price rise below is for orders shipped on or after 18 September, 2019 , or as contracts otherwise allow, and is incremental to any previously announced increases.

Thus, VAM prices rose by EUR50/mt for Europe, the Middle East & Africa.

As MRC reported earlier, Celanese last raised its VAM prices for the stated above regions and Asia on 30 July, 2019, by EUR125/mt.

According to MRC's DataScope report, July EVA imports to Russia increased by 4% year on year to 3,490 tonnes from 3,350 tonnes in July 2018, and overall imports of this grade of ethylene copolymer into the Russian Federation decreased in January-July 2019 by 14, 3% year on year to 22,440 tonnes (26,170 tonnes in the first seven months of 2018).

Celanese Corporation is a global technology leader in the production of differentiated chemistry solutions and specialty materials used in most major industries and consumer applications. Based in Dallas, Celanese employs approximately 7,700 employees worldwide and had 2018 net sales of USD7.2 billion.