Trinseo and Fernholz to jointly develop high quality recycled PS

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Trinseo, the global materials company and manufacturer of plastics, latex binders, and synthetic rubber, announced today the initiation of a joint development project with Fernholz - a leading manufacturer of plastics packaging - to develop a high-quality polystyrene (PS) product composed of 25% recycled material through a chemical recycling dissolution process, as per the company's press release.

The collaboration is expected to have commercial viability by mid-year 2020.

At the industry renown K 2019 trade fair, Trinseo announced plans to offer PS packaging with an average of 30% recycled content to customers in Europe by 2025. This partnership with Fernholz is a key milestone in progressing closer to this pledge.

"This project with Fernholz highlights that partnership along the value chain is key to showing polystyrene’s position as a highly sustainable, fully recyclable material for every end market," said Nicolas Joly, Global Business Director, Polystyrene and Feedstocks at Trinseo.

Dissolution of PS is a process in which post-consumer waste is dissolved in a solvent followed by a series of purification steps, separating the polymer from additives and contaminants, resulting in a PS polymer containing recycled post-consumer waste.

"Polystyrene is, for us, a key plastic material and state of the art product for the FFS (form-fill-seal) market, which is highly used in the dairy industry," said Uwe Fernholz, Managing Director and Owner of Fernholz Verpackungen. "We do see a great potential not only for this traditional FFS market but a rebound to other markets if we can prove the specific advantages of polystyrene in regard to recycling. We are delighted to support this project and emphasis customers to do similar."

Trinseo is engaged in further initiatives to unlock the circularity of PS, namely in depolymerization, clean mechanical recycling, as well as dissolution. PS circularity is well positioned as it diverts waste material away from landfills, leading to a reduction in greenhouse gases and harmful emissions.

With a leadership position in the development of circular PS, Trinseo is a founding member of Styrenics Circular Solutions, a consortium that explores new methods for PS recycling. In North America, AmSty – a Trinseo joint venture and leader in polystyrene and styrene monomer production – recently formed a joint venture of its own with Agilyx – a world leader in chemical recycling of waste plastic – named Regenyx LLC. The joint initiative is dedicated to fully recycling post-consumer PS materials back into new PS products, using the circular method known as the PolyUsable process.

As MRC informed before, Trinseo and its affiliate companies in Europe have announced a price decrease for all polystyrene (PS) grades in Europe. Effective December 1, 2019, or as existing contract terms allow, the contract and spot prices for the products listed below went down as follows:

-- STYRON general purpose polystyrene grades (GPPS) -- by EUR20 per metric ton;
-- STYRON and STYRON A-Tech and STYRON X- Tech high impact polystyrene grades (HIPS) - by EUR20 per metric ton.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated consumption of PS and styrene plastics totalled 411,080 tonnes in the first ten months of 2019, which corresponds to the last year's level. October estimated consumption of PS and styrene plastics rose by 2% year on year, totalling 46,740 tonnes.

Trinseo is a global materials company and manufacturer of plastics, latex and rubber. Trinseo's technology is used by customers in industries such as home appliances, automotive, building & construction, carpet, consumer electronics, consumer goods, electrical & lighting, medical, packaging, paper & paperboard, rubber goods and tires. Formerly known as Styron, Trinseo completed its renaming process in 1Q 2015. Trinseo had approximately USD4.6 billion in net sales in 2018, with 16 manufacturing sites around the world, and approximately 2,500 employees.

Hitachi considering deal to sell chems unit to Showa Denko

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Hitachi Ltd. is in talks with Showa Denko K.K. to sell its chemical unit Hitachi Chemical Co, said Reuters.

Hitachi is looking to offload its chemical unit so it can focus resources on what it believes to be growing sectors such as information technology and social infrastructure, the sources said.

If a deal is reached, Showa Denko is expected to launch a tender offer in mid-December to make Hitachi Chemical a wholly owned subsidiary for around ?900 billion (USD8.26 billion), the sources said.

An acquisition of that scale would be the largest yet for Showa Denko, and would boost the company’s revenue from advanced automotive batteries and functional materials, two segments that are growing fast as carmakers race to make more electric-powered vehicles.

Hitachi Chemical’s board agreed to negotiate with Showa Denko as a preferred bidder in what will probably be a tender offer that will include the rest of the company’s publicly listed shares, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public.

As it was written earlier, in March, Hitachi sold its car navigation unit Clarion Co. to French auto parts maker Faurecia SA.

Hitachi and Honda Motor Co. said last month they will merge four auto parts suppliers under a new company to boost competitiveness.

Hitachi Chemical, established in 1962, makes a wide range of products, including materials for semiconductors and lithium-ion batteries as well as auto parts. The company logged a group net profit of ?28.7 billion on sales of ?681.0 billion in the business year through March.

Tokyo-based Showa Denko, a manufacturer of various chemical products set up in 1939, posted a group net profit of ?111.5 billion on sales of ?992.1 billion in 2018.

Silvergate launches new masterbatch products for film producers

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Wrexham-based masterbatch manufacturer Silvergate Plastics has developed a new solution which addresses the build-up of pigments in machinery, said PRW.

The company developed the tailor-made masterbatches after film manufacturers had reported pigment build-up in machines despite regular clean downs.

The clogging, Silvergate said in a release, slows down cycle times and disrupts overall production.

The new solution incorporates “quality ingredients that work together to improve dispersion during manufacture”.

Available in different colours, Silvergate’s new masterbatch formulation was developed specifically to address the issue for the film market.

Manufacturers trailing the products have reported improved colour accuracy for plastic films, plus increased productivity.

LG Chem secures USD5 B in loans from South Korean lenders to expand battery business

MOSCOW (MRC) -- LG Chem, a South Korean petrochemical major, will be backed by South Korea’s state lenders with USD5 billion in policy loans to finance its expansion in secondary battery factories across the world over the next five years as a part of the government push to promote battery business, according to Kemicalinfo.

LG Chem signed an agreement with Korea Development Bank, Export-Import Bank of Korea, and Nonghyup Bank to scale up secondary battery industry, according to the Financial Services Commission on Monday.

Under the agreement, the three lenders will pool total finance of USD5 billion to back LG Chem’s battery manufacturing expansion across the world from 2020 to 2024. Also, the banks and the battery maker will create a fund worth 150 billion won (USD126 million), which will be used to provide financing to small and medium-sized players as well as collaborate on industry-related research projects.

The Korean government in September organized a team of financial institutions to help local electronics parts and materials makers grow stronger. LG Chem has become the first beneficiary.

Last week, LG Chem announced that the company and General Motors Co will invest USD2.3 billion to build an electric vehicle battery cell joint venture plant in Ohio, which will be one of the world’s largest battery facilities.

Earlier in June, the Korean battery maker entered into another joint venture agreement with China’s top automotive group Geely in the electric car battery business, with each contributing USD87.2 million.

As MRC reported earlier, LG Chem restarted its Deasan cracker following an unplanned outage. The company resumed operations at the cracker on June 18, 2019. The cracker was shut owing to a technical issues on June 8, 2019. Located at Daesan,South Korea, the cracker has an ethylene capacity of 1.27 million mt/year and propylene capacity of 650,000 mt/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 1,724,670 tonnes in the first ten months of 2019, up by 7% year on year. Shipments of all PE grades increased. The estimated PP consumption in the Russian market in January-October 2019 totalled 1,066,520 tonnes, up by 7% year on year. Supply of block copolymers of propylene (PP block copolymer) and homopolymer of propylene (homopolymer PP) increased, demand for statistical copolymers (PP random copolymer) decreased.

LG Chem Ltd., often referred to as LG Chemical, is the largest Korean chemical company and is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. According to ICIS report, it is 15th biggest chemical company in the world in 2011. It has eight domestic factories and global network of 29 business locations in 15 countries. LG Chem is a manufacturer, supplier, and exporter of petrochemical goods, IT&E Materials and Energy Solutions.

Chevron charge points to billions more in gas writedowns

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Oil and gas producers could wipe billions of dollars more off the value of US natural gas assets in the months ahead, analysts said, after Chevron Corp became the fourth oil major to slash its estimates for sector values, reported Reuters.

A long, steady increase in US gas production - much of it a byproduct of the shale oil boom - has pushed prices for the fuel heading toward a 25-year low and a number of analysts have already forecast that the oversupply will worsen in 2020.

Prior to Chevron’s impairment, BP PLC, Repsol SA and Equinor ASA had written down billions worth of North American shale assets in recent months.

Chevron on Tuesday said it expects to take writedowns to the tune of USD10 billion to USD11 billion in the fourth quarter, more than half of which is related to its Appalachia gas shale assets. Shares of the company were down 0.7% at USD117.04 in early trading.

It also flagged a cut to its longer-term commodity price outlook without specifying numbers, and said it was planning to sell some natural gas projects.

"It ... highlights that many companies are still carrying assets on their balance sheet that were acquired or developed with cost structures that are materially higher than today’s levels," Berenberg analysts Henry Tarr and Ilkin Karimli said.

BP Plc said in its 2018 annual report that it determines the size of its recoverable oil and gas reserves based on a long-term Brent oil price of USD75 a barrel and a Henry Hub natural gas price of USD4 per mmbtu.

European peer Shell has also long expected improvement in prices and forecast in its 2018 annual report that Henry Hub natural gas prices would rise to USD3.50 in 2020 and 2021 from USD3.25 per mmbtu in 2019.

Benchmark gas prices are currently around USD2.28 and Morgan Stanley analysts on Wednesday lowered their forecast for next year to USD2.25 from USD2.50.

Spain’s Repsol last week recorded a 4.8 billion euro (USD5.29 billion) asset loss, primarily on its North America assets. BP took a USD3.3 billion charge in the third quarter with USD2.3 billion relating to heritage shale assets from the BHP portfolio it acquired last year for USD10.5 billion.

Norway’s Equinor wrote off USD2.8 billion in the third quarter, while Exxon Mobil Corp took a USD2 billion charge in 2017 against the value of natural gas reserves from its buyout of XTO Energy.

"The pricing companies have to use for reporting their proved reserves are on pace to be around 15% lower than last year, so I’d expect reserve write-downs to be prolific," Edward Jones analyst Jennifer Rowland said.

As MRC wrote oreviously, in March 2018, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP, a subsidiary of Chevron Corporation, successfully introduced feedstock and commenced operations of a new ethane cracker at its Cedar Bayou facility in Baytown, Texas. At peak production, the unit will produce 1.5 million metric tons/3.3 billion lbs. per year.

We also remind that US-based Phillips 66 remains open to developing another ethane cracker for its Chevron Phillips Chemical (CP Chem) joint venture, the refiner's CEO said in March 2018.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,724,670 tonnes in the first ten months of 2019, up by 7% year on year. Shipments of all PE grades increased. The estimated PP consumption in the Russian market in January-October 2019 totalled 1,066,520 tonnes, up by 7% year on year. Supply of block copolymers of propylene (PP block copolymer) and homopolymer of propylene (homopolymer PP) increased, demand for statistical copolymers (PP random copolymer) decreased.

Headquartered in San Ramon, California, Chevron Corporation is the the second-largest integrated energy company in the United States and among the largest corporations in the world. Chevron is involved in upstream activities including exploration and production, downstream activities including refining, marketing and transportation, and advanced energy technology. Chevron is also invested in power generation and gasification processes.