UPC Technology Corp starts maintenance at Panjin MA unit

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Taiwan's UPC Technology Corp has undertaken a planned shutdown at its maleic anhydride (MA) unit, according to Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in China informed that, the company has started a turnaround at the unit on February 12, 2020. The plant is expected to remain off-line till end-February, 2020.

Located at Panjin in China, the MA unit has a production capacity of 60,000 mt/year.

MA is a fundamental component of polymers, including polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and coatings used in the construction, automotive, marine, and energy industries.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, contrary to seasonal factors, Russian producers of unmixed PVC have maintained a high level of capacity utilisation. Overal PVC output totalled 91,700 tonnes in January 2020, up by 4% year on year.

UPC Technology Corporation is primarily engaged in the research, development, and manufacture of petrochemical products. It's products include acid & anhydride, plasticizers, UPR, polyol, fatty ester, epoxy resin and other specialty chemicals.

Portugese oil company Galp invests for a greener future

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Portuguese oil company Galp Energia said on Tuesday it will kick off its green business by installing renewable energy capacity of 10 gigawatts in the decade ahead, reported Reuters.

Galp, which last month bought solar power projects from Spain's ACS for 2.2 billion euros (USD2.38 billion), hopes to install 3.3 gigawatts of solar energy in Portugal and Spain alone by 2023, generating more than 10% in equity returns.

Fossil fuel companies are racing to adapt to investor-demands for more sustainable business models as public awareness of climate change grows.

Galp sees itself as well-placed to "build a competitive renewable business" from its location on the Iberian peninsula with its 1,800 solar hours per year.

From this year onwards, it said that more than 40% of Galp's capital expenditure, between 1 billion to 1.2 billion, will be spent on the energy transition, which includes renewable energy and a natural gas project in Mozambique.

Galp is the largest oil and gas group in Portugal, where it distributes gas and sells petrol.

Traditionally an oil refinery, Galp attracted interest from investors due to its growth prospects in oil and gas production in projects in Angola, Mozambique and Brazil, where China's Sinopec has 30% of its assets.

Globally, it competes with majors such as Royal Dutch Shell , BP, Total and Exxon.

BP last week set one of the oil sector's most ambitious targets for curbing emissions, although some environmental campaigners accused it of greenwash and said it had not given enough detail on how it would achieve its targets.

As MRC reported before, in September 2019, six world's major petrochemical companies in Flanders, Belgium, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, and the Netherlands (Trilateral Region) announced the creation of a consortium to jointly investigate how naphtha or gas steam crackers could be operated using renewable electricity instead of fossil fuels. The Cracker of the Future consortium, which includes BASF, Borealis, BP, LyondellBasell, SABIC and Total, aims to produce base chemicals while also significantly reducing carbon emissions. The companies agreed to invest in R&D and knowledge sharing as they assess the possibility of transitioning their base chemical production to renewable electricity.

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).

LyondellBasell announces quarterly dividend

MOSCOW (MRC) --- LyondellBasell, one of the largest plastics, chemicals and refining companies in the world, has just announced that it has declared a dividend of USD1.05 per share, as per the company's press release.

The dividend is to be paid March 9, 2020 to shareholders of record March 2, 2020, with an ex-dividend date of Feb. 28, 2020.

As MRC wrote previously, iin September 2016, LyondellBasell selected its La Porte, Texas, manufacturing complex as the site for a new high density polyethylene (HDPE) plant. The plant will be the first commercial plant to employ LyondellBasell's new proprietary Hyperzone PE technology and will have an annual capacity of 1.1 billion pounds (500,000 metric tons). Construction began in early 2017 with start-up planned for Q1 2020.

According to MRC's DataScope report, HDPE imports into Russia grew in January-December 2019 by 44% year on year, reaching 363,100 tonnes. Pipe grade and film grade polyethylene (PE) accounted for the greatest increase in imports.

LyondellBasell is one of the world's largest plastics, chemical and refining companies. The company manufactures products at 57 sites in 18 countries. LyondellBasell products and technologies are used to make items that improve the quality of life for people around the world including packaging, electronics, automotive parts, home furnishings, construction materials and biofuels. LyondellBasell sells products into approximately 100 countries and is the world's largest licensor of polyolefin technologies.

HDPE imports to Kazakhstan rise by 2% in 2019

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Last year's imports of high density polyethylene (HDPE) into Kazakhstan grew by 2% year on year, totalling 131,200 tonnes. The geography of HDPE shipments changed significantly in 2019, according to MRC's DataScope report.

HDPE imports to Kazakhstan were 16,700 tonnes in December 2019, compared to 8,900 tonnes a month earlier, local companies doubled their purchasing of HDPE in Uzbekistan. Overall HDPE imports totalled 131,200 tonnes in 2019, compared to 128,300 tonnes a year earlier. Procurement of polyethylene (PE) from Uzbekistan increased significantly, whereas shipments from Russia decreased.

The structure of PE imports by grades looked the following way over the stated period.

The geographical proximity and the growth of export opportunities allowed producers from Uzbekistan to significantly raise their HDPE deliveries to Kazakhstan last year. Overall imports grew to 66,800 tonnes from 52,500 tonnes a year earlier.

Russian producers were the second largest suppliers. HDPE shipments to the local market fell to 45,000 tonnes in 2019 from 64,900 tonnes a year earlier.

Local companies also began to purchase HDPE in Turkmenistan last year, but quantities are still insignificant and totalled about 2,000 in 2019.


Westlake earnings and sales fall on weak pricing

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Westlake Chemical Corporation saw lower profits in the fourth quarter of 2019, hurt by reduced global sales prices for its major products, according to Kemicalinfo.

The chemical maker posted a profit of USD72 million down around 41% from USD123 million it earned in the prior-year quarter.

Decrease in profit was attributed to lower global sales prices for key products due to trade uncertainties and a slower global economic growth.

Sales in the Olefins segment fell around 19% year over year to USD398 million in the reported quarter. Operating income in the segment tumbled roughly 46% to USD49 million. The decline was mainly due to reduced sales prices for major products resulting from higher olefins production and greater impacts from turnaround activity.

The Vinyls segment generated sales of USD1.5 billion, down around 1% year over year. Operating income in the segment was USD68 million, down around 46% year over year. The decline was caused by reduced sales prices for caustic soda and PVC (polyvinyl chloride) resin.

Revenues for full-year 2019 were USD8.12 billion, down around 6% year over year.

Westlake Chemical said that it remains focused on optimizing its operations and lowering its cost position.

In February 2018, as MRC informed before, Westlake Chemical announced plans to expand its capacities for the production of PVC and VCM at three of its chemical facilities. Two of the plants are located in Germany (Burghausen, Gendorf) and one is located in Geismar, Louisiana. The expansions in Burghausen and Geismar are expected to be completed in 2019. The Gendorf expansions are expected to be completed in 2020 and 2021.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, contrary to seasonal factors, Russian producers of unmixed PVC have maintained a high level of capacity utilisation. Overal PVC output totalled 91,700 tonnes in January 2020, up by 4% year on year,

Westlake Chemical Corporation is an international manufacturer and supplier of petrochemicals, polymers and building products with headquarters in Houston, Texas. The company's range of products includes: ethylene, polyethylene, styrene, propylene, chlor-alkali and derivative products, PVC suspension and specialty resins, PVC Compounds, and PVC building products including siding, pipe, fittings and specialty components, windows, fence, deck and film.