Dow to expand Fort Saskatchewan ethylene plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Dow plans to install a new furnace in its steam cracker at Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Canada, increasing its ethylene capacity, currently 1.42 million metric tons/year (MMt/y), by 130,000 metric tons/year, as per Chemweek.

Dow will split the cost of the project and the incremental volume equally with an unnamed regional customer, according to CEO Jim Fitterling, who announced the news this morning during the company's fourth-quarter earnings call. Start-up is slated for the first half of 2021.

"This expansion leverages our unique cost-advantaged feedstock position in western Canada," Fitterling said. "The additional ethylene will be consumed by existing polyethylene assets in the region, making the investment immediately accretive once it comes online."

Fitterling also said Dow will soon begin commissioning two new furnaces at its Texas-9 steam cracker at Freeport, Texas, with start-up planned for the middle of the second quarter. The facility's ethylene capacity, currently 1.5 MMt/y, will increase to 2 MMt/y, the largest in the world.

There are three polyethylene producers in western Canada. Dow has three linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) lines totaling 705,000 metric tons/year of capacity at Fort Saskatchewan, and at Red Deer, Alberta, the company has a 75,000 metric tons/year LLDPE line and two high-density (HDPE) lines totaling 755,000 metric tons/year.

Nova Chemicals has four LLDPE lines totaling 1.482 MMt/y of capacity and a 50,000 metric tons/year HDPE line at Joffre, Alberta. Nova also operates two ethylene plants at Joffre, one with 810,000 metric tons/year of capacity, and another, co-owned equally with Dow, totaling 635,000 metric tons/year.

Celanese EVA Polymers has three low-density (LDPE) plants totaling 168,000 metric tons/year at Edmonton, Alberta, as well as a 105,000 metric tons/year ethylene–vinyl acetate (EVA) plant.

As MRC informed before, on 9 September 2019, Dow Chemical began major maintenance on the LHC 1 cracker at Terneuzen, Netherlands. More than 1,500 extra employees from various external companies carried out maintenance work in the subsequent period.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 2,093,260 tonnes in 2019, up by 6% year on year. Shipments of all PE grades increased. PE shipments rose from both domestic producers and foreign suppliers. The estimated PP consumption in the Russian market was 1,260,400 tonnes in January-December 2019, up by 4% year on year. Supply of almost all grades of propylene polymers increased, except for statistical copolymers of propylene (PP random copolymers).

The Dow Chemical Company is an American multinational chemical corporation. Dow is a large producer of plastics, including polystyrene, polyurethane, polyethylene, polypropylene, and synthetic rubber.

HOERBIGER acquires majority of RAGSOL GmbH

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The HOERBIGER Group has acquired the majority stake of the Austrian oil and gas solutions provider RAGSOL GmbH, previously belonging to RAG Austria AG. RAGSOL provides comprehensive solutions and unique products for mature oil and gas fields with the goal of producing oil and gas more efficiently, at lower cost, and environmentally friendly, according to Hydrocarbonprocessing.

RAGSOL gives customers in the upstream segment of the oil and gas industry access to more than 80 years of experience in operating and optimizing mature wells, combined with new state-of-the-art technology. This acquisition is a perfect fit for HOERBIGER’s Compression Technology Strategic Business Unit, complementing the present offerings in its Service Division.

"The unique products and smart brownfield approach of RASGSOL let the customers increase the efficiency of mature oil fields, reducing operating costs by up to 40 percent and extending the life of the fields. The RAGSOL solutions help our customers to manage their valuable natural resources in a responsible and eco-friendly way” says Wolfgang Sautter, Head of Division Service, HOERBIGER Compression Technology. "At HOERBIGER, we are looking forward to bringing this exciting new offering to a bigger, worldwide market with our global footprint" he continues.

“At RAGSOL we are very excited to get the great opportunity to line up with an innovative and highly experienced company like HOERBIGER. Based on our solutions, combined with the excellent network and know-how of HOERBIGER, I am convinced that RAGSOL will become an important technology player in the area of mature oil and gas assets worldwide” says David Doppelreiter, Managing Director of RAGSOL GmbH.

"RAG Austria AG is delighted to have found a perfect partner for the RAGSOL technologies to be applied in HOERBIGER’s world wide oil and gas activities. RAG will focus its future efforts in its growing large-scale gas storage business and the relevant activities in hydrogen storage and gas technologies" says Markus Mitteregger, CEO of RAG Austria AG.

Air Liquide signs three long-term contracts with BASF in Antwerp

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Air Liquide has signed three new long-term contracts, which include the construction and operation of a new nitrogen removal unit (NRU), in the Antwerp Basin with German chemical company BASF, said the company.

Leveraging on five existing onsite production plants in the Antwerp basin, the contracts also include a 15-year agreement for the renewal of Air Liquide’s air gas supply to existing installations and provide additional oxygen to a new ethylene oxide plant to be built by BASF.

In addition, Air Liquide will purchase part of the methane fraction generated during the BASF production process and valorise it as a feedstock in its hydrogen production plants at the site contributing to circular economy and reducing CO2 emissions by up to 15,000 tonnes per year on the Antwerp site.

The French industrial gas giant will build the NRU to supply BASF with high purity gas to enable a more efficient production of MDI, an important chemical component that is used in house insulation, helping save energy in buildings and other applications.

The new NRU is scheduled to be operational by mid-2021.

Francois Jackow, Executive Vice-President and a member of the Executive Committee supervising activities in Europe, said, “The signature of these new contracts demonstrates Air Liquide’s extensive capabilities to develop innovative and sustainable solutions and to create value for its customers over the long term."

"It also reflects our commitment to support our customers meet the challenge of the energy transition in line with our Climate Objectives."

As MRC wrote earlier, BASF, the world's petrochemical major, has restarted its No. 1 steam cracker following a maintenance turnaorund. Thus, the company resumed operations at the plant on September 30, 2019. The plant was shut for maintenance in mid-August, 2019. Located at Ludwigshafen in Germany, the No. 1 cracker has an ethylene production capacity of 235,000 mt/year and a propylene production capacity of 125,000 mt/year.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing 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.

BASF is the leading chemical company. It produces a wide range of chemicals, for example solvents, amines, resins, glues, electronic-grade chemicals, industrial gases, basic petrochemicals and inorganic chemicals. The most important customers for this segment are the pharmaceutical, construction, textile and automotive industries. BASF generated sales of around EUR63 billion in 2018.

S Koreaan Hyundai Motor to shut production as virus curtails auto parts supply

MOSCOW (MRC) -- South Korea's Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors will suspend car production indefinitely at all its local plants, reported S&P Global with reference to the company's statement Friday, due to a lack of auto parts from its China-based suppliers.

The shortage resulted from a prolonged shutdown of Chinese plants due to the coronavirus outbreak, it said.
Hyundai Motor operates seven plants in South Korea -- five in Ulsan, and one each in Asan and Jeonju. The Ulsan and Asan plants will suspend production Friday while Jeonju will stop production on Monday.

On the other hand, Kia Motors plans to suspend production at its eight local plants on Monday -- three each in both Hwaseong and Gwangju, and two in Gwangmyeong.

Hyundai Motor and its sister company, Kia Motors, had cut production last week after China-based South Korean suppliers stopped production since January 24 at the start of the Lunar New Year holidays.

The Chinese government told manufacturers to stop operations until February 9 to keep the virus from spreading farther.

"The expected date of operation resumption is depending on the supply of components," Hyundai Motor said.

It is the first time that Hyundai Motor has shut its plants since 1997 during the Asian financial crisis.

To offset the shortfall, Hyundai Motor said it will increase supplies from domestic and Southeast Asian suppliers.

In 2019, Hyundai Motor produced 1.79 million vehicles while Kia Motors made 1.45 million vehicles, up 2.2% and down 1.3%, respectively, from 2018.

Other local carmakers, such as GM Korea, SsangYong Motor and Renault Samsung Motors Corp., have either suspended or are considering cutting production.

SsangYong Motor suspended production at its Pyeongtaek plant from February 4 to February 12, citing the supply shortage.

As MRC wrote before, Russian dealers of Hyundai sold 178,809 cars in 2019, which corresponds to the level a year earlier. As a result, Hyundai ranked fourth in sales among all automakers in Russia, and the brand’s market share was 10.2% versus 9.9% a year earlier, according to AEB.

In September 2010 Hyundai Motor Company launched a plant in St. Petersburg (Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Rus). Currently, the factory produces Hyundai Solaris and Kia Rio models. The Hyundai plant accounts for the bulk of cars produced in St. Petersburg. Hyundai Motor's Russian plant operates on a full production cycle. Creating a car begins with stamping body panels from steel coils. The welding process is fully automated. All paintwork both outside and inside the body is applied by robots.

Polypropylene (PP) is one of the main feedstock materials for the production of interior parts of the car.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, the estimated PP consumption in the Russian market was 1,260,400 tonnes in January-December 2019, up by 4% year on year. Supply of almost all grades of propylene polymers increased, except for statistical copolymers of propylene (PP random copolymers).

Fujian Medie Petrochemical shut PP unit in China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Fujian Meide Petrochemical, a wholly owned subsidiary of China Flexible Packing Group, shut down one of its polypropylene (PP) unit last week, reported S&P Global.

Located in Fujian province, this PP unit's annual production capacity is 500,000/mt.

Many downstream PP plants in China were heard to have reduced their operating rates or shut down as they were not able to transport their products to the customers due to the closure of major roads in eastern China.

As MRC informed previously, Fujian Meide Petrochemical delayed the startup of its newly built propane dehydronation (PDH) plant in Jiangyin, southeastern Fujian province, to the second half of February. The new PDH with the capacity of 660,000 mt/year was originally scheduled to start up in the first half of February, 2020. High cost of feedstock propane was the cause of the delay.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, the estimated PP consumption in the Russian market was 1,260,400 tonnes in January-December 2019, up by 4% year on year. Supply of almost all grades of propylene polymers increased, except for statistical copolymers of propylene (PP random copolymers).