Dow Chemical issues order control letter for VAM

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Dow Chemical, the world's petrochemical major, has put order controls in place for vinyl acetate monomer (VAM), reported S&P Global with reference to a letter to US customers obtained Thursday.

The letter dated January 8 said, effective immediately, volumes will be based on previous monthly averages of purchased volumes, or limited to monthly maximum volumes specified in contracts. The letter does not provide details about how long the order control will be in place.

A Dow spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.

VAM is derived from ethylene and acetic acid, and is a precursor to polyvinyl acetate, which is used to make glue.

Earlier Thursday, market sources said LyondellBasell Acetyls declared force majeure on supplies from its La Porte, Texas, facility.

As MRC informed earlier, in the first week of November 2019, Dow said the Glycol 2 plant at its Plaquemine, Louisiana, facility was in "recovery mode" after a vessel ruptured the morning of 3 November. The company says there were no injuries, nor have any offsite emissions been detected, and other production units at the site continue to run normally. The Glycol 2 plant includes an ethylene oxide production unit and downstream production of isopropanolamines and alkyl alkanolamines, according to a permit issued by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

VAM is the main feedstock for the production of ethylene-vinyl-acetate (EVA).

According to MRC's DataScope report, November EVA imports to Russia dropped by 8,9% year on year to 3,440 tonnes from 3,780 tonnes in November 2018, and overall imports of this grade of ethylene copolymer into the Russian Federation decreased in January-November 2019 by 18,9% year on year to 35,95 tonnes (44,330 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2018).

The Dow Chemical Company is an American multinational chemical corporation headquartered in Midland, Michigan, United States. Dow is a large producer of plastics, including polystyrene (PS), polyurethane, polyethylene, polypropylene, and synthetic rubber.

HDPE production in Russia grew 10% in 2019

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Russia's production of high density polyethylene (HDPE) totalled about 868,000 tonnes in 2019, down by 10% year on year. All manufacturers reduced production volumes, primarily due to long scheduled maintenance works, according to MRC's ScanPlast.

December HDPE production in Russia grew to 72,500 tonnes, whereas this figure was 65,800 tonnes a month earlier. Only Gazprom neftekhim Salavat and Kazanorgsintez raised their output. Thus, overall HDPE production reached 868,500 tonnes in 2019, compared to 960,800 tonnes a year earlier. All manufacturers reduced polyethylene production volumes, while Gazprom Neftekhim Salavat and Stavrolen showed the greatest reductions due to long stops for scheduled repairs.

The structure of polyethylene production by plants looked the following way over the stated period.

Russia's December HDPE production at Kazanorgsintez increased to 40,800 tonnes from 36,600 tonnes a month earlier. The Kazan producer partially shifted its capacities to the production of linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE). The Kazan plant's overall HDPE output reached 495,700 tonnes in January-December 2019, down by 2% year on year. At the same time, it is worth noting that the decrease in the production of HDPE helped to increase LLDPE production.

Stavrolen produced about 20,700 tonnes last month versus 20,400 tonnes in November, the Budenovsk producer limited its production capacities due to restrictions on ethylene production. The plant's overall output reached 262,300 tonnes over the stated period, down by 11% year on year.

Gazprom neftekhim Salavat increased its capacity utilisation in December, the plant's total production grew to 10,400 tonnes from 8,100 tonnes a month earlier. The Bashkir plant's overall HDPE output reached 106,000 tonnes in 2019, down by 11% year on year. Such a great reduction in HDPE production was caused by a long turnaround in July, whereas the Salavat producer did not shut its production capacities for maintenance last year.

In the period under review, Nizhnekamskneftekhim produced mainly linear polyethylene (LLDPE), the volumes of HDPE production was insignificant.


Zagros Petrochemical restarts No. 1 methanol plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Zagros Petrochemicals has brought on-stream its No.1 methanol plant following an unplanned outage, as per Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in Iran. informed that the company resumed operations at the plant on December 23, 2019. The plants was shut on December 20, 2019 owing to a technical glitch.

Located in Assaluyeh, Iran, the No. 1 plant has a production capacity of 1.65 million mt/year.

As MRC informed earlier, in August 2019, Haldor Topsoe, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engineering, and GTM ONE have signed a licence agreement for the design, construction, and operation of a 3000 tpd methanol plant based on Topsoe’s SynCOR MethanolTM technology. The plant will be erected at the Khimprom site in Volgograd, Russia.

EU clears Synthomers takeover of Omnova, subject to conditions

MOSCOW (MRC) -- EU antitrust regulators said they had cleared polymer maker Synthomer Plc’s planned acquisition of U.S. rival Omnova Solutions Inc, subject to conditions, said the Reuters.

The approval is conditional on Synthomer’s offer to divest its global VP Latex business to address concerns of the European Commission that competition of vinyl pyridine latex would be reduced. The product is used by tyre manufacturers to make safer and more solid tyres.

"Synthomer and Omnova are the only two manufacturers of this type of latex in Europe but we can approve their merger because the companies offered to divest all of Synthomer’s VP Latex production," - Margrethe Vestager, commissioner in charge of competition, said in a statement.

Synthomer announced its plans to buy Omnova for an enterprise value of USD824 million in July to strengthen its global position.

As per MRC's ScanPlast, Russia's overall production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) reached 975,000 tonnes in 2019, up by 2% year on year. At the same time, not all Russian producers raised their output. December total production of unmixed PVC was about 81,400 tonnes versus 84,600 tonnes a month earlier, RusVinyl decreased their capacity utilisation in November. Overall PVC production reached 975,000 tonnes in January-December 2019, compared to 958,600 tonnes a year earlier. All plants raised their output, except for Kaustik Volgograd.

Omnova is a US based specialty chemical company which develops, manufactures and markets emulsion polymers, speciality chemicals and decorative products and provides engineered surfaces for various commercial, industrial and residential end uses. On completion of the acquisition of Omnova, Synthomer will strengthen further its position as a major global player in water-based polymer solutions, with best-in-class process technology and a strong R&D platform with global geographic coverage and increased customer proximity.

Private equity firm Clearlake Capital buys Pretium Packaging

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Pretium Packaging LLC, one of the largest packaging blow molders in North America, has a new private equity owner. Santa Monica, Calif.-based Clearlake Capital Group LP announced Jan. 15 that it has purchased Pretium from Genstar Capital LLC, said Plasticstoday.

San Francisco-based Genstar has owned Pretium since 2014. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Under Genstar's ownership, Pretium has been on an acquisition spree. That may continue under Clearlake, according to Arta Tabaee, managing director of the investment firm.

In a news release, Tabaee said Clearlake will support Pretium CEO Paul Kayser and his team "in completing strategic acquisitions in this highly fragmented market."

Pretium is No. 14 on Plastics News' ranking of North American blow molders, with sales of $425 million. The company has 19 plants and 1,800 employees. Key end markets include food and specialty beverage, health care, sports nutrition, personal care, beauty and household products.

The Chesterfield, Mo.-based company primarily molds PET, high density polyethylene and polypropylene, including both virgin and post-consumer resins.

In a 2019 interview with Plastics News, Kayser said he expected Pretium to be a $1 billion company within the next five years, as the firm continues to seek out acquisition candidates and expand existing business. The company focuses on customers in the small-to-medium run market where orders can range from maybe a million to 20 million units per year. That's a sweet spot where Pretium can use its flexibility and automation expertise, he said.

Clearlake does not currently own any other plastics processing companies, according to a list of portfolio firms on its website. The company touts its Operational Improvement Approach to acquisitions, a proprietary framework that offers firms "resources and expertise that small- and medium-sized companies typically do not possess."

In the release, Kayser said: "We are thrilled to welcome Clearlake as Pretium continues driving organic growth and executes our platform consolidation strategy. With strategic resources, operational insights, and support from Clearlake, we look forward to continuing to deliver quality rigid packaging solutions to our valued customers."

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,904,410 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2019, up by 6% year on year. Shipments of all PE grades increased. PE shipments increased from both domestic producers and foreign suppliers. The PP consumption in the Russian market was 1,161,830 tonnes in January-November 2019, up by 7% year on year. Deliveries of all grades of propylene polymers increased, with the homopolymer PP segment accounting for the largest increase.

Pretium's recent acquisitions include Custom Blow Molding of Escondido, Calif., in 2016; Patrick Products Inc. of Leipsic, Ohio, in 2017; Cox Container LLC of Troy, Ala., in 2018; and two deals in 2019: Olcott Plastics Inc. of St. Charles, Ill., and Starplex Scientific Inc. of Toronto.