Chemical production in Russia up by 3% in January 2020

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Russia's output of chemical products rose in January 2020 by 3% year on year. Last year's production of basic chemicals increased by 3.4% year on year, according to Rosstat's data.
According to the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, polymers in primary form accounted for the largest increase in the January output.

281,000 tonnes of ethylene were produced last month, compared to 275,000 tonnes in January 2019 and 264,000 tonnes in December 2019. 2,984,000 tonnes of this olefin were produced in 2019.

Output of benzene were 133,000 tonnes in January 2020, compared to 122,000 tonnes in January 2019 and 132,000 tonnes last December. Overall production of this material reached 1,470,000 tonnes last year.

January production of sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) was 113,000 tonnes (100% of the basic substance) versus 110,000 tonnes in January and December 2019. Overall output of caustic soda totalled about 1,289,000 tonnes in 2019.

January production of mineral fertilizers was 1,923,000 tonnes (in terms of 100% nutrients) versus 2,078,000 tonnes and 1,913,000 tonnes in January and December 2019, respectively. Overall, Russian plants produced 23,588,000 tonnes of fertilizers last year.

Last month's production of polymers in primary form fell to 818,000 tonnes from 681,000 tonnes and 928,000 tonnes in January and December 2019, respectively. Overall output of polymers in primary form totalled 8,759,000 tonnes.

Chemours earnings down on titanium dioxide, fluoroproducts

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The Chemours Company, a global performance chemicals manufacturer reported a fall in revenue for the fourth quarter 2019. Chemours fourth quarter 2019 net sales were USD1.35 billion, a 7.6% fall from prior-year quarter, according to Kemicalinfo.

The company reported a loss of USD317 million in the fourth quarter of 2019 against a profit of USD142 million a year ago.

Results were driven primarily by lower volume in Titanium Technologies and lower volume and price in Fluoroproducts.

Revenues in the Titanium Technologies division were USD610 million, down 8.4% from the prior-year quarter. The decline is attributable to a lower volume of Ti-Pure titanium dioxide.

Revenues in the Fluoroproducts segment fell 5.4% year over year to USD614 million in the reported quarter. The decline is attributable to weakness in the electronics and automotive markets as well as the ongoing impact of illegal imports of HFC refrigerants into the European Union.

Revenues in the Chemical Solutions unit were USD129 million, down roughly 13% year over year. The company saw lower prices in the quarter mainly due to lower raw material prices.

For 2019, Chemours witnessed a loss of USD52 million against a profit of USD995 million recorded in 2018.Revenues for the year declined 16.8% year over year to USD5.53 billion.

As MRC informed before, in December 2019, Chemours announced plans to sell its methylamines and methylamides unit to Belle Chemical, an affiliate of Cornerstone Chemical. The sales price was not disclosed. Thus, Chemours had signed a letter of commitment with Belle Chemical Co. to sell Chemours' methylamines and methylamides business and production facilities at the Belle location. Earlier in 2019, Chemours announced it would stop making methylamines and methylamides at the plant. In 2020, it planned to start dismantling the methylamines operations. Once Belle takes possession of the plant, most of the employees at Belle and others assigned in supporting roles at other locations will become part of Belle, Chemours said. Cornerstone makes acrylonitrile (ACN) and melamine at Fortier, Louisiana.

ACN is a feedstock for the production of acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS).

According to MRC's DataScorpe report, overall ABS imports to the Russian market decreased in 2019 by 4% year on year to 33,700 tonnes. This figure was 35,200 tonnes in January-December 2018. ABS imports to Russia continued to decline for the third month in a row. December ABS imports to Russia fell by 26% month on month to 2,400 tonnes from 3,300 tonnes, imports of material into the country were 2,500 tonnes in December 2018.

Chemours is a global leader in titanium technologies, fluoroproducts and chemical solutions, providing its customers in a wide range of industries with market-defining products, application expertise and chemistry-based innovations. Chemours ingredients are found in plastics and coatings, refrigeration and air conditioning, mining and oil refining operations and general industrial manufacturing. Chemours has approximately 9,000 employees across 37 manufacturing sites serving more than 5,000 customers in North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Europe. Chemours is headquartered in Wilmington, Del.

Nouryon cuts production in China as coronavirus dampens demand

MOSCOW (MRC) -- All Nouryon's (Amsterdam, Netherlandsб formerly known as AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals) production plants in China except one are back in operation following the extended Lunar New Year holiday, but the facilities are running well below capacity because of the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, reported Chemweek with reference to Nouryon CEO Charlie Shaver's statement.

Speaking to CW on Wednesday, Shaver said the company's biggest plants in the country, including its Ningbo facility, are operating at 30–50% of capacity. This is in response to a fall demand in China for the company's products, which is currently at 30–50% of normal levels, he says.

Nouryon's China operations generate about EUR700 million (USD756 million) of the company's approximately EUR5 billion/year in sales. "Most of the products we make in China are sold in China," Shaver says.

Shaver expects the "demand constraints" to continue through March and April. "We may see some rolling effect for a few months," he says. "Supply chains are limiting our operations because we have customers in China whose plants are still down (after the holiday)." Nouryon customers that export from other countries to China are also impacted, Shaver says. Demand for the company's bleaching chemicals has weakened because pulp demand is falling with lower production in China of consumer products such as white goods.

Nouryon, meanwhile, is receiving offers of raw-material products elsewhere in the world from companies that would normally ship those items to China. "There's some downward pressure on pricing of raw materials across the board," Shaver says. "We have noticed in the last week or two that people are offering us products for sale. Some suppliers are offering us lower prices." He sees this as a "temporary dislocation," however. Shaver expects a "hit" from the coronavirus to the company's first-quarter results, but "no material impact" to its full-year earnings.

Nouryon's organic peroxides plant at Tianjin is the faciity that has not restarted. The company is relocating its Tianjin organic peroxides production to a new plant in an industrial park in a EUR90-million project. These plans have been delayed by several months because of the late return of construction workers to the site due to government restrictions, Shaver says. The new plant had originally been due to start up in the second quarter of 2020 with a capacity expansion of 30–70%. The company has not adjusted its overall capital expenditure plans, however, he says.

Nouryon makes organic peroxides at Ningbo as well as Tianjin. The company's other Chinese production sites are at Boxing; Guangzhou; Jiaxing; Songjiang, near Shanghai; Suzhou; and Taixing.

As MRC wrote previously, in February 2019, Nouryon (formerly AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals) announced that it would license its innovative continuous initiator dosing (CiD) technology to Karpatnaftochim, Ukraine’s largest polyvinyl chloride (PVC) producer. Nouryon’s patented CiD technology allows PVC producers to increase reactor output by up to 40 percent, improve product quality, and make the production process intrinsically safer - all with minimum capital expenditure.

Karpatneftekhim is one of the largest enterprises of Ukraine's petrochemical complex. Currently, the plant can produce annually 300,000 tonnes of PVC, 200,000 tonnes of caustic soda, about 180,000 tonnes of chlorine, as well as 250,000 tonnes of ethylene and 100,000 tonnes of polyethylene.

According to ICIS-MRC Price report, Karpatneftekhim increased capacity utilisation in December, total PVC production had increased to 23,550 tonnes against 21,700 tonnes in November. Overall PVC production in the country was 240,400 tonnes in January-December 2019, up by 15% year on year.

Akzo Nobel N.V., trading as AkzoNobel, is a Dutch multinational, active in the fields of decorative paints, performance coatings and specialty chemicals. Headquartered in Amsterdam, the company has activities in more than 80 countries, and employs approximately 55,000 people.

Output of products from polymers in Russia increased by 7.3% in January

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Russia's output of products from polymers grew in January 2020 by 7.3% year on year.
But at the same time, compared to December, it fell by 15.9%, MRC analysts said.

According to the Russian Federal State Statistics Service, January production of unreinforced and non-combined films was 85,500 tonnes, compared to 72,000 tonnes and 100,000 tonnes in January and December a year earlier.
Last year's output of film products was 205,000 tonnes.

Last month's production of boards, sheets and non-porous films rose to 28,400 tonnes versus 24,900 tonnes and 34,400 tonnes in January and December 2019. This figure for the entire 2019 was about 387,000 tonnes.

Last month's production of boards, sheets and non-porous films rose to 18,600 tonnes versus 19,700 tonnes and 24,900 tonnes in January and December 2019. This figure for the entire 2019 was about 277,000 tonnes.

The January production of plastic bottles and bottles fell to 1,551,000 tonnes units, compared to 1,595,000 tonnes units and 1,688,000 tonnes units in January and December 2019. Overall output of these plastic products totalled 20,140,000,000 units last year.

January production of plastic pipes, hoses and fittings reached 40,900 tonnes, compared to 31,700 tonnes and 47,930 tonnes in January 2019 and December 2019, respectively. Overall production of these products totalled 618,000 tonnes in 2019.

The January production of sacks and bags made of ethylene polymers reached the level of 1,883,000 tonnes units against 1,926,000,000 units and 2,210,000,000 units in January and December a year earlier. Overall output of these plastic products totalled 25,628,000,000 units last year.

Last month's production of linoleum and floor coverings was 8,770,000 square metres, compared to 8,720,000 square metres and 8,890,000 square metres in January and December 2019. Overall output of these plastic products totalled 147,360,000 units last year.

The January production of window and door blocks made of plastic reached the level of 2,154 square meters and 62,800 square meters, respectively, against 1,080 square meters and 65,400 square meters in January and 1,956 square meters and 98,900 tonnes square meters in December a year earlier. In 2019, the total volume of production of these plastic products amounted to 24,825 square meters and 1,049 square meters, respectively.

First major shale gas project to add 40% to Saudi Aramco ethane production

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Aramco has received regulatory approval for the development of the Jafurah shale gas field in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, reported S&P Global.

The announcement was made on Friday at a meeting chaired by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS). Aramco will invest 412 billion Saudi riyals (USD110 billion) to develop the field, the largest unconventional nonassociated gas field in the country, with a length of 170 kilometers (km) and a width of 100 km. The volume of gas resources in the field is estimated at 200 trillion cubic feet of wet gas, which contains gas liquids that can be used in the petrochemical industry.

Staged development will gradually increase the field's production to reach approximately 2.2 billion standard cubic feet/day of gas by 2036, representing 25% of the country's current production, MBS pointed out. Production will begin in 2024, Aramco says. Because of the field's characteristics, it will be able to produce about 130,000 b/d of ethane, accounting for about 40% of current production. The company also expects the field to produce approximately 550,000 b/d of gas liquids and condensates required by the petrochemical industry, representing about 34% of current production. Petrochemical development in Saudi Arabia has been held back in recent years by a shortage of ethane, which has led producers to focus their attention on mixed-feed steam crackers and crude oil-to-chemicals projects. The Jafurah project could help rebalance this trend.

The news heralds a major expansion of hydraulic fracturing in Saudi Arabia. Aramco already uses the technique on a small scale to produce around 190 million cubic feet of gas per day from its remote North Arabia gas basin, where production began in 2018. The company has worked with international oil service companies Halliburton, Schlumberger, and Baker Hughes on the Jafurah field and the development of fracking technology to exploit it. Previously the lack of fresh water was a major inhibitor to shale development, but Amin Nasser, CEO of Aramco, said the company now has a process using seawater, which will be used in the Jafurah project. The company is also considering construction of a desalination plant.

Aramco chairman Yasir bin Othman al-Rumayyan says that the Jafurah development is expected to enhance the company’s leading position in the worldwide energy sector and help achieve its goal of being the world’s preeminent integrated energy and chemicals company. Baker Hughes in 2018 estimated that the country had recoverable shale gas reserves of 645 trillion cubic feet, which would give it the fifth-largest shale gas deposits in the world. If Aramco meets its targets for the Jafurah field, Saudi Arabia would become the world's third-largest producer, after the US and Russia, by 2030. MBS said that the development would earn, within 22 years, a net income for the government of about USD8.6 billion/year and provide an estimated gross domestic product of USD20 billion/year. It will make Saudi Arabia one of the most important gas producers in the world, in addition to being the most important oil producer. It is envisaged that, after satisfying domestic demand, Jafurah gas could be supplied to neighboring countries and could also help lead Saudi Arabia into the LNG export market.

We remind that, as MRC informed earlier, in October 2019, McDermott International announced that it had been awarded a contract by Saudi Aramco and Total Raffinage Chimie (Total) for their joint venture (JV) Amiral steam cracker project at Jubail, Saudi Arabia. Amiral is a JV in which Aramco holds 62.5% and Total the rest. The plant, designed to produce 1.5 million metric tons/year (MMt/y) of ethylene, will be one of the world's largest mixed-feed crackers.

Aramco and Total launched their USD5-billion Amiral JV project in October 2018. The steam cracker will be fed with a mixture of 50% ethane and refinery off-gases. It will supply ethylene to a downstream 1 MMt/y polyethylene manufacturing complex and other petrochemical products. The project aims to fully exploit operational synergies with the adjacent refinery, owned by Satorp, another JV between Aramco and Total. Third-party investors, including Daelim and Ineos, will locate plants at the value park adjacent to Amiral with a combined investment of USD4 billion. A final investment decision is expected in 2021.

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).

Saudi Aramco is an integrated oil and chemicals company, a global leader in hydrocarbon production, refining processes and distribution, as well as one of the largest global oil exporters. It manages proven reserves of crude oil and condensate estimated at 261.1bn barrels, and produces 9.54 million bbl daily. Headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, the company employs over 61,000 staff in 77 countries.