U.S. specialty chemical markets ease to close out third quarter

MOSCOW (MRC) – The American Chemistry Council (ACC) reported that U.S. specialty chemicals market volumes ended the third quarter on soft note, falling 0.1 percent in September after rising 0.2 percent in August, said Americanchemistry.

Of the 28 specialty chemical segments that ACC monitors, 11 expanded in September, off from 18 in August. Fourteen markets declined in September and three were flat. In September, large market volume gains (1.0 percent and over) occurred only in foundry chemicals. On a sequential basis, diffusion was 45 percent, off from 70 percent in August, but up from 38 percent in July. All changes in the data are reported on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis.

Performance chemistry reflects trends in manufacturing. In the first quarter, specialty chemical market volumes fell and the second quarter was flat. For the third quarter as a whole, volumes fell and were off from fourth quarter 2018 levels.

During September, the overall specialty chemicals volume index was up only 0.3 percent on a year-over-year (Y/Y) 3MMA basis. Year-earlier comparisons have eased after the third quarter of 2018. In September, the index stood at 114.1 percent of its average 2012 levels. This is equivalent to 7.78 billion pounds (3.52 million metric tons). On a Y/Y basis, there were gains in 12 market and functional specialty chemical segments. Compared with last year, volumes were down in 16 segments. On a year-earlier basis, diffusion was 43 percent.

Specialty chemicals are materials manufactured on the basis of the unique performance or function and provide a wide variety of effects on which many other sectors and end-use products rely. They can be individual molecules or mixtures of molecules, known as formulations. The physical and chemical characteristics of the single molecule or mixtures along with the composition of the mixtures influence the performance end product. Market sectors that rely on such products include automobiles, aerospace, agriculture, cosmetics and food, among others.

Specialty chemicals differ from commodity chemicals. They may only have one or two uses, while commodity chemicals may have multiple or different applications for each chemical. Commodity chemicals make up most of the production volume in the global marketplace, while specialty chemicals make up most of the diversity in commerce at any given time and are relatively high value, with greater market growth rates.

This data set is the only timely source of market trends for 28 market and functional specialty chemical segments. Chemistry directly touches over 96 percent of all manufactured goods, and trends in these specialty chemical segments provide a detailed view of trends in manufacturing. The data also shed light on how various consumer end-use markets are performing compared with others in the marketplace.

As MRC informed earlier, the Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), a leading economic indicator created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), fell 0.4 percent in October on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis following stable activity during the third quarter. On a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, the barometer was off 0.5 percent (3MMA).

As MRC informed earlier, Russia's output of products from polymers rose in September by 5.2% year on year. However, this figure increased by 1.7% year on year in the first nine months of 2019. According to the Russian Federal State Statistics Service, September production of unreinforced and non-combined films was slightly over 107,300 tonnes, compared to 110,000 tonnes a month earlier. Output of films products grew in January-September 2019 by 9.1% year on year to 893,000 tonnes.

SIBUR closes sale of certain assets including production facilities to Tatneft

MOSCOW (MRC) -- SIBUR and Tatneft have closed the sale and purchase of certain production and other assets that to date have been registered in the name of SIBUR Togliatti and Togliattisintez legal entities, said the company.

After the deal, Tatneft intends to further develop the acquired assets in line with its gas and petrochemical strategy, while SIBUR will concentrate efforts on establishing and developing global-scale production of basic polymers, high-potential medium-tonnage products and premium special chemicals.

"Our main focus is on the long-term development of our core business and operational excellence,” said Pavel Lyakhovich, member of the Management Board and Managing Director at SIBUR. “At the same time, we will continue to cooperate with the Togliatti-based companies as partners."

As it was infortmed earlier, SIBUR Holding's Biaxplen has purchased a 50% stake in Manucor SpA, an Italy-based biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) films maker. Under the deal, Manucor and Biaxplen will share their greatest practices in terms of sales and marketing, RandD, technical support and production. The transaction is predicted to open new opportunities for Biaxplen in Europe.

Besides, in October 2019,, ZapSibNeftekhim affiliate produced the first batch of polyethylene (PE) granules using its own ethylene feedstock at its Tobolsk complex in Siberia. Earlier this year, ZapSib produced a test batch of PE from imported feedstock, "while today the process is running smoothly using our own feedstock," SIBUR said. Commissioning and start-up are "well under way", and after ramping up to its full capacity, the petrochemical facility will produce 1.5m tonnes/year of PE - making ZapSib’s Tobolsk project Russia’s largest polymer production facility.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,436,390 tonnes in the first eight months of 2019, up by 9% year on year. Shipments of all PE grades increased. At the same time, the PP consumption in the Russian market was 909,260 tonnes in January-August 2019, up by 10% year on year. Shipments of PP block copolymer and homopolymer PP increased.

PAO SIBUR Holding is the largest petrochemical company in Russia and Eastern Europe with full coverage of the industry cycle from gas processing, production of monomers, plastics and synthetic rubbers to plastics processing.

Philippines JG Summit to restart PE unit late November

MOSCOW (MRC) -- JG Summit Petrochemical, a major petrochemical producer in the Philippines, is expected to restart its polyethylene (PE) unit at Batangas after maintenance in late November, reported NCT with reference to market sources.

The turnaround at this facility began on 6 October, 2019.

The company produces 325,000 tons/year of high density polyethylene (HDPE)/linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) at its facility.

As MRC wrote previously, in November 2017, JG Summit Olefins Corp. awarded an engineering, procurement and construction contract to Posco Engineering & Construction to expand an existing naphtha cracker and build a hydrogenation unit in Simlong, Batangas, Philippines.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,589,580 tonnes in the first nine months of 2019, up by 7% year on year. Shipments of all PE grades increased.

Deficit of PS might intensify in Ukrainian market in November

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The existing shortage of material, especially of high impact polystyrene (HIPS), in the Ukrainian polystyrene (PS) market, may worsen next month, according to ICIS-MRC Price report.

Thus, sentiments of participants of the domestic PS market changed last week, as the Russian plant - Nizhnekamskneftekhim - said PS quantities will either be significantly reduced or completely absent for Ukrainian buyers in November.

The updated information on import prices and available quantities of Russian material for November will only appear at the end of this week.

At the same time, the main Iranian PS supplier to the Ukrainian market - Tabriz - will also have available HIPS quantities no earlier than in a month.

PPI restarts its PP unit after extended maintenance

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Philippine Polypropylene Inc. (PPI) restarted its polypropylene (PP) unit on October 15 after extended maintenance, reported NCT.

PPI’s unit at Mariveles in Bataan province experienced an unplanned outage in mid-September due to a technical issue.

The PP unit has an initial capacity of 160,000 tons/year which could be increased 225,000 tons/year, according to the company website.

Meanwhile, as MRC informed before, another Philippines producer - JG Summit - has started maintenance at its PP and polyethylene (PE) units at Batangas. The company produces 190,000 tons/year of PP and 325,000 tons/year of high density polyethylene (HDPE)/linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) at its facilities. The PP plant will be offline until early November, while PE unit - for two months from October to the end of November.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, the estimated PP consumption in the Russian market was 976,790 tonnes in January-September 2019, up by 4% year on year. Shipments of PP block copolymer and homopolymer PP increased.