Arlanxeo to close Texas Keltan EPDM plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Synthetic rubber manufacturer Arlanxeo Holding B.V. will close its Keltan EPDM plant in Orange in the second quarter of 2020, reported RubbeNews with reference to the company's press release.

Arlanxeo said it was closing the Orange facility as part of a realignment of its Keltan production network to improve competitiveness and harmonize technology platforms across the Keltan portfolio.

The company said it would cooperate closely with workers, customers and suppliers to minimize the impact of the closure.

"We realize that the closure of Arlanxeo's Keltan EPDM unit will have a deep impact on our people in Orange," said Christian Widdershoven, executive vice president of high performance elastomers for Arlanxeo and a member of the company's executive leadership team. "Taking care of our employees that devoted time and efforts for the company over the last decades will be our first priority."

The Orange facility has capacity to produce about 70,000 metric tons a year of Keltan EPDM and employs about 300.

Arlanxeo did not say how many workers will be laid off because of the closure. It did say it would seek "to minimize involuntary separations and to provide alternative opportunities for those affected by the closure."

Christian Rooijakkers, Arlanxeo vice president of marketing and sales HPE, said Arlanxeo's business teams would support customers in North America and worldwide to make the transition to specifically developed Keltan grades as smooth as possible.

Arlanxeo will continue to make butadiene rubber and hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber at the Orange facility, its only production site in the US, the company said.

Arlanxeo did not give further details about the EPDM business realignment, but the company recently announced that it is steadily increasing sales of EPDM sold under Keltan KSA brand.

These grades are being produced in Saudi Arabia by Petro Rabigh, a 50-50 joint venture between Arlanxeo owner Saudi Aramco and Sumitomo Chemicals.

Arlanxeo is the sole distributor of Aramco's 50 percent share of the JV plant's EPDM output, Rooijakkers said at the recent K2019 trade fair.

Operational since 2018, the Petro Rabigh EPDM plant has a nameplate capacity of 75,000 tons a year, and Rooijakkers said it has "ramped up according to plan."

Arlanxeo also operates EPDM production facilities in Geleen, Netherlands, and Changzhou, China, each with listed annual capacity of 160,000 tons, along with a 40,000 tons a year unit in Triunfo, Brazil.

The company, then part of Lanxess, in 2016 closed down a 70,000 tons a year EPDM production facility in Marl, Germany.

As MRC wrote before, Arlanxeo is strengthening its market position by investing in its high-performance elastomer products CR (chloroprene rubber) and NBR (nitrile butadiene rubber), laying the foundation for the further increase of production capacity in order to meet the increasing global demand of these polymers. The turnaround of Arlanxeo's CR plant in Dormagen, Germany, announced in the beginning of 2018, was successfully completed in October 2019, allowing for a production of up to 70,000 metric tons of CR per year. The multiple million Euro investment to upgrade and modernize the plant is a strong signal of Arlanxeo’s long-term commitment to the CR business, leading to an increased flexibility and capability of the plant to produce specialty products.

EPDM products are used in applications like automotive, building & construction, plastics modification, consumer goods, cable & wire, and tubes and for the production of high impact polypropylene (PP).

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.

Arlanxeo was established in April 2016 as a joint venture of Lanxess - a world-leading specialty chemicals company based in Cologne, Germany - and Saudi Aramco - a major global energy and chemicals enterprise headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The two partners each hold a 50-percent interest in the joint venture. The business operations of Arlanxeo are assigned to the High Performance Elastomers and Tire & Specialty Rubbers business units.

Petrochemical group to upgrade heavy fuel oil with UOP technologies

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Honeywell announced at China International Import Expo (CIIE) 2019 that Dayuewan (Zhuhai) Petrochemical Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China Grain Petrochemical Group, will use a range of technologies from Honeywell UOP to upgrade heavy fuel oil into higher value petrochemical products at its complex in the Gaolan Port Economic Zone in Guangdong Province, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

When the project is completed, Dayuewan will be converting nearly all of its vacuum residue to light oil products, representing one of the highest conversion rates in the world. Meanwhile, this project will adopt a range of advanced process technologies to recycle hydrogen and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) at among the highest rates in the world.

Honeywell UOP is providing basic engineering and technology licensing, as well as technical and start-up services for the project, which includes a 1.4 million tons-per-year Uniflex™ MC™ slurry hydrocracking unit to upgrade bottom-of-the-barrel fuel oil into light oil products. This will be fed to a Unicracking™ unit to produce naphtha for a CCR Platforming™ unit. The project also includes three Polybed™ Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) units to supply high-quality hydrogen for the Uniflex process. The PSA units are designed to generate 320,000 cubic meters of hydrogen per hour.

"This project will enable Dayuewan to substantially modernize its operations by transformation and upgrading,’” said Henry Liu, vice president and general manager of Honeywell Performance Materials and Technologies Asia Pacific, and vice president and general manager of Honeywell UOP in China. “This combination of technologies are designed as an integrated operating block to maximize product yields, but with lower capital and operating expense than standard configurations."

The Uniflex MC technology enables a plant to convert more than 97% of its vacuum residue into lighter, more valuable petrochemical products. The process uses MicroCat catalyst, produced on site, to stabilize thermally cracked hydrocarbons into stable light oil products. It produces fuels and feedstocks for downstream petrochemicals manufacturing, both of which can improve plant’s profit margins.

The Honeywell UOP PSA technology efficiently recovers and purifies hydrogen perform catalytic processes that transform crude oil into light oil products and other petrochemical products. Honeywell UOP has installed more than 1,100 Polybed PSA units in more than 70 countries.

Since its establishment in December 2016, Dayuewan has been committed to the concept of green, energy-saving and high-efficiency technologies. It has established a modern petrochemical complex with advanced technologies, equipment and recyclable resources and which integrates production, processing, storage, and terminals.

As MRC informed earlier, Fujian Meide Petrochemical Co. Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of China Packing Group Company Ltd, will utilize the Honeywell Process Reliability Advisor for prescriptive monitoring of on-purpose propylene at its new UOP C3 Oleflex unit in Fuzhou, Fujian Province, China. The plant is designed to convert propane into 660,000 t/y of propylene. Status of the facility could not be confirmed.

Propylene is a feedstock for the production of PP.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, 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.

Honeywell is a global diversified technology and manufacturing company with a wide range of aerospace products and services, control, sensing and security technologies for buildings, homes and industry, turbochargers, automotive products, specialty chemicals, electronic and advanced materials, process technology for refining and petrochemicals and energy efficient products and solutions for homes, business and transportation.

McDermott licenses alpha-methylstyrene technology to Formosa Chemicals

MOSCOW (MRC) -- McDermott International, Inc. (MDR) has announced that it has been awarded a sizeable technology contract by Formosa Chemicals Industries Ningbo Limited for the technology license and basic engineering services for a grassroots alpha-methylstyrene (AMS) recovery unit in Ningbo, China, reported Chemweek.

This 10,000 MTA unit will utilize AMS technology jointly licensed by Versalis and McDermott's Lummus Technology to recover specialty chemicals for niche market sale.

"This award represents the first license of this AMS technology," said Leon de Bruyn, Senior Vice President of McDermott's Lummus Technology business. "The commercialization of this technology illustrates the effectiveness of our continuous innovation process. Lummus works to provide our customers market-leading solutions to enhance their competitiveness; the addition of the AMS recovery unit will enable Formosa to recover this specialty chemical with unmatched purity, ultimately enhancing the operating margins while lessening the environmental footprint."

The award strengthens the ongoing collaboration, dating back to 1995, between the Formosa organization and Lummus Technology. This technology incorporates many decades of operating and design experience by Versalis with Lummus design expertise.

McDermott's Lummus Technology is a leading licensor of proprietary petrochemicals, refining, gasification and gas processing technologies, and a supplier of proprietary catalysts and related engineering. With a heritage spanning more than 100 years, encompassing approximately 3,400 patents and patent applications, Lummus Technology provides one of the industry's most diversified technology portfolios to the hydrocarbon processing sector. Versalis (the chemical company of Italian energy major Eni) and Lummus have a long-standing collaboration to develop and offer a variety of petrochemical process licenses.

This award was reflected in McDermott's second quarter 2019 backlog.

As MRC informed before, on 19 March, 2018, Formosa Petrochemical Corp (FPCC) undertook an emergency shutdown at its No. 1 cracker in Mailiao owing to technical issues. The plant remained off-line for around one day. Located at Mailiao in Taiwan, the No. 1 cracker has an ethylene production capacity of 700,000 mt/year, propylene production capacity of 350,000 mt/year and butadiene production capacity of 109,000 mt/year.

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

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

McDermott is a premier, fully integrated provider of technology, engineering and construction solutions to the energy industry. For more than a century, customers have trusted McDermott to design and build end-to-end infrastructure and technology solutions to transport and transform oil and gas into the products the world needs today. Operating in over 54 countries, McDermott's locally focused and globally-integrated resources include approximately 32,000 employees, a diversified fleet of specialty marine construction vessels and fabrication facilities around the world.

Formosa Petrochemical is involved primarily in the business of refining crude oil, selling refined petroleum products and producing and selling olefins (including ethylene, propylene, butadiene and BTX) from its naphtha cracking operations. Formosa Petrochemical is also the largest olefins producer in Taiwan and its olefins products are mostly sold to companies within the Formosa Group. Among the company's chemical products are paraxylene (PX), phenyl ethylene, acetone and pure terephthalic acid (PTA). The company"s plastic products include acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) resins, polystyrene (PS), polypropylene (PP) and panlite (PC).

Penoplex rolls over October PS prices for Russian market in November

MOSCOW (Market Report) -- Penoplex, Russia's largest producer of foaming polystyrene (PS), has not raised its November selling prices of general purpose polystyrene (GPPS) for the Russian market, thus, rolling them over from October, according to ICIS-MRC Price report.

Thus, the company's prices for November shipments will be in the range of Rb96,000-98,000/tonne, CPT Moscow, including VAT, this month.

Demand for material was strong, and the plant's entire future monthly output was distributed among customers over the course of one day.

As reported earlier, Penoplex raised its October selling GPPS prices by Rb2,000/tonne for Russian buyers.

Penoplex is a large Russian producer of polymer-based building and decorative materials. The company began its activity in 1998 with the launch of Russia's first line for the production of heat-insulating materials from extruded polystyrene foam under the PENOPLEX trademark. The company has eight production sites, seven of which are located in Russia and one - in the Republic of Kazakhstan (Almaty region), with a total production capacity of 4 million cubic metres.

Gazprom neftkehim Salavat reduces November PS prices for Russian market

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Gazprom neftekhim Salavat, one of Russia's largest production complexes for oil refining and petrochemicals, reduces its November selling polystyrene (PS) prices for Russian buyers, according to ICIS-MRC Price report.

There was a shortage of general purpose polystyrene (GPPS) in the Russian PS market in late October, whereas the shortage was even more acute in the high impact polystyrene (HIPS) market. On the back of this, some market participants expected October prices of Russian PS to roll over for November, despite the price pressure from foreign markets.

Meanwhile, Gazprom neftekhim Salavt reduced prices for its material by Rb2,000/tonne.

As reported earlier, Nizhnekamskneftekhim (NKNH, part of the TAIF group), also lowered its selling HIPS and GPPS prices for the Russian market by a similar amount.

OAO "Gazprom neftekhim Salavat" (formerly OAO "Salavatnefteorgsintez") is one of the leading petrochemical companies in Russia, carrying out a full cycle of processing hydrocarbon material. The list of products manufactured by the plant includes more than 140 items, including 76 grades of the main products: gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, fuel oil, toluene, solvent, liquefied gases, benzene, styrene, ethylbenzene, butyl alcohols, phthalic anhydride and plasticizers, polyethylene, polystyrenes, silica gels and zeolite catalysts, corrosion inhibitors, elemental sulfur, ammonia and urea, glycols and amines, a wide range of household products made of plastics, surfactants and much more.