TPC Group to rebuild Texas butadiene plant in several years

MOSCOW (MRC) -- TPC Group said on Tuesday the company was "evaluating and planning" to rebuild parts of its southeast Texas petrochemical complex that were destroyed in a pair of November 2019 explosions, reported S&P Global.

The butadiene processing facility "is expected to take a number of years to rebuild," the company said.
In the meantime, TPC said the company can operate the site in Port Neches, Texas, as a terminal to serve current and potential future customers and suppliers.

TPC also will lay off an unspecified number of workers because fewer will be needed to operate a terminal, the company said.

"The company communicated to its employees today it is has made the very difficult yet necessary decision to reduce the workforce at its Port Neches operations," TPC Group said. "The company does not expect that we will need employees beyond those necessary to operate as a terminal for more than three to five years. The downsizing will impact salaried employees as well as union/hourly employees."

The site, which had made more than 16% of US butadiene supply, has been shut since a pair of explosions damaged the butadiene processing facility on November 27, sending one tower high into the air. The explosions damaged surrounding tanks and prompted evacuations in surrounding communities.

TPC Group said neighboring industrial plants that had shut down or reduced rates in the aftermath of the explosions were up and running. The company also was making "good progress" restoring terminal capabilities that require dock, tank farm and pipeline operations in the first half of 2020.

Those neighboring plants include what was then Huntsman's propylene oxide/methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) unit, which shut after the explosions because the company stored MTBE at the TPC Group site.

Indorama Ventures acquired that and other chemical intermediate and surfactant units from Huntsman in early January for USD2 billion, and brought forward a planned turnaround with the TPC site idled. The turnaround was expected to wrap up by the end of March, according to an Indorama presentation.

TPC Group said Tuesday that 96% of the high purity butadiene and more than 50% of material containing 1,3 butadiene has been transported from the blast site. Once those transfers are complete, TPC Group said it would move crude C4, raffinate, polyblend and other process materials to other locations and finish securing the site.

Butadiene is one of the feedstocks for the production of acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS).

According to MRC's DataScopr report, overall ABS imports to the Russian market decreased in 2019 by 4% year on year to 33,700 tonnes.

Headquartered in Houston, TPC was acquired in 2012 by private equity groups First Reserve and SK Capital.

Sharq to restart No. 4 MEG plant in Jubail in early March

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Arabia’s SHARQ, or Eastern Petrochemical Company, has planned to resume operations at its No.4 monoethylene glycol (MEG) plant, according to Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in Saudi Arabia informed that, the company is expected to bring on-stream the plant following a maintenance turnaround in first week of March 2020. The plant was shut on February 6, 2020.

Located at Jubail in Saudi Arabia, the No. 4 MEG plant has a production capacity of 700,000 mt/year.

As MRC reported earlier, SHARQ shut its high density polyethylene (HDPE) and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) lines for a two-month turnaround in January 2020. Located in Al Jubail, Saudi Arabia, each of the two PE lines has a production capacity of 400,000 tons/year. The precise duration of the shutdown was not available at the time of press.

PTA is used to produce polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is used in the manufacturing of plastic bottles, films, packaging containers, in the textile and food industries.

As per MRC's ScanPlast report, the estimated consumption of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) in Russia decreased by 16% year on year in December 2019. Russia's overall estimated PET consumption totalled 696,810 tonnes in 2019, up by 1% year on year (690,130 tonnes in 2018).

Pemex fails to send USD26 million credit note to Braskem Idesa

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Mexico's Braskem Idesa has not received a credit note worth about USD26 million from state-run Pemex for failing to supply an agreed amount of ethane, reported S&P Global with reference to Braskem's statement Thursday.

According to Braskem Idesa, the payment is related to "limited damages" and is provided for in an ethane contract signed by the two companies. The contract integrates the Mexican petrochemical complex's financing structure.
Braskem Idesa was not available for comment immediately Thursday on when the note was due or what its next steps would be.

Braskem Idesa is a joint venture between Brazil's Braskem and Mexico's Idesa and has a nameplate production capacity of 1.05 million mt/year each of ethylene and polyethylene (PE).

On Wednesday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said his government was analyzing the possibility of canceling the supply contract between Pemex and Braskem Idesa. The joint venture, on the other hand, said it has been talking to Pemex and will take the appropriate contractual measures if necessary.

The deal was signed in February 2010 and involves Pemex providing Braskem Idesa with 66,000 b/d of ethane for 20 years. However, the state-owned company has been struggling to fulfill its part of the agreement. In 2018, former Braskem president Fernando Musa said Pemex was facing operational challenges and could not deliver all the ethane it needed.

In the first half of February, Braskem Idesa said the company received its first imported ethane cargo so it could produce polyethylene at the complex in Veracruz.

Pemex did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.

As MRC informed before, Braskem is no longer pursuing a petrochemical project, which would have included an ethane cracker, in West Virginia. And the company is seeking to sell the land that would have housed the cracker. The project, announced in 2013, had been on Braskem's back burner for several years.

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).

Braskem S.A. produces petrochemicals and generates electricity. The Company produces ethylene, propylene, benzene, toluene, xylenes, butadiene, butene, isoprene, dicyclopentediene, MTBE, caprolactam, ammonium sulfate, cyclohexene, polyethylene theraphtalat, polyethylene, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Eni Italian plants unaffected by coronavirus

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Italian oil major Eni continues to operate its domestic refineries and power plants in northern Italy normally, reported S&P Global with reference to a company spokesman's statement Thursday, despite sending home staff at its headquarters in Milan as local coronavirus cases mount.

All Eni employees based in the company's San Donato Milanese and central Milan offices were asked on Wednesday to work home until February 28, the spokesman said. He declined to say if any actual or suspected cases of coronavirus has been identified at the sites.

"Given the operational complexity of its industrial activities in the offices, the company will maintain the functional supervision to guarantee the complete safety of its operations," the spokesman said.

San Donato Milanese, on the outskirts of Milan, is a major administrative and operational center for Eni which includes an oil and gas research center and Enipower, which operates six thermoelectric plants in Italy.

Eni operates two refineries in northern Italy, the 190,000 b/d Sannazzaro plant near Milan, and a biorefinery near Venice.

Italy has become Europe's worst-affected country by coronavirus. Italy's coronavirus cases surged by 100 to over 500 Thursday, with 14 total deaths, mostly in the highly-industrialized Lombardia and Veto regions of northern Italy.

On Tuesday, Chevron sent home about 300 workers from its trading office in London's Canary Wharf district after an employee reported flu-like symptoms after having recently returned from a country infected with the coronavirus, according to sources close to the matter.

As MRC informed earlier, Italy’s Versalis (part of Eni) took its cracker in Dunkirk, France offline in early September, 2019, due to a fire which broke out at the company’s petrochemical plant. Local media sources also reported that the fire was brought under control with no reported injuries. The cracker has a production capacity of 380,000 tons/year of ethylene and 95,000 tons/year of propylene.

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

Eni is an Italian multinational oil and gas company headquartered in Rome. It has operations in in 79 countries, and is currently Italy's largest industrial company with a market capitalization of 68 billion euros (USD 90 billion), as of August 14, 2013. The Italian government owns a 30.3% golden share in the company, 3.93% held through the state Treasury and 26.37% held through the Cassa depositi e prestiti. Another 39.40% of the shares are held by BNP Paribas.

The Ministry of Economy of Ukraine investigats import polymer materials into the country

MOSCOW (MRC) - The Interdepartmental Commission for International Trade of Ukraine considered the statement of the largest petrochemical plant in Ukraine - Karpatneftekhim about initiating and conducting a special investigation regarding imports to Ukraine regarding imports of polyethylene and polyvinyl chloride, as well as caustic soda to Ukraine, reports Uryadovy Kurjer.

The company also requests a reduction in rail transportation tariffs and asks the government to take measures to protect domestic producers.

The publication notes that in accordance with the Law of Ukraine "On the application of special measures regarding imports to Ukraine", the Commission considered the statement of Karpatneftekhim "On the initiation and conduct of a special investigation regarding the import into Ukraine of polymer products regardless of the country of origin and export."

The Commission examined the evidence provided in the statement on the growth of imports of polymer materials into Ukraine and causing significant harm to national producers as a result of such imports. And also took into account the information of the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Agriculture of Ukraine on the results of the consideration of the application.

Based on the results of the review, the Commission found that the statement provided sufficient evidence, based on which it can be considered that the import of polymer materials into Ukraine, regardless of the country of origin and export, grew.

In addition, the statement provides sufficient evidence that the import into Ukraine of polymeric materials, regardless of the country of origin and export, was carried out in such volumes and under such conditions that it could cause significant damage to the national producer.

In connection with the above and in accordance with Article 9 of the Law, the Commission adopted a decision dated 21.02.2020 No. SP-440/2020 / 4411-03, according to which it initiated a special investigation regarding the import of goods into Ukraine regardless of the country of origin and export, has the following description: polymeric materials, in particular polyethylene with a specific gravity of 0.94 or more and polyvinyl chloride, not mixed with other substances that can be classified according to UKT FEA according to codes 3901 20 90 00 and 3904 10 00 00.

A special investigation was entrusted to the Ministry of Economy. If the investigation concerns the interests of individuals or legal entities, such persons have the right to send information to the Ministry of Economy that may be useful for the investigation.

Commission Decision of February 21, 2020 No. SP-440/2020 / 4411-03 shall enter into force on the day of publication of this message.

Earlier it was reported that Karpatneftekhim from January 2 stopped the production of low-pressure polyethylene (HDPE) due to the high cost of raw materials, which are not covered by the current world prices of the polymer.

The city council of the Ukrainian city of Kalush, where Karpatneftekhim is based, reviewed and agreed on the text of an appeal to the President of Ukraine, the head of the Verkhovna Rada and the Prime Minister of Ukraine on the situation that has developed at the enterprise.

According to a DataScope survey by Market Report, last year, the total volume of polyethylene imports to the Ukrainian market grew by 10% compared to the year 2018 and amounted to 268.7 thousand tons. The largest increase in external supplies came from low-pressure polyethylene (HDPE). At the same time, according to the results of the first month of the current year, the total volume of imports of polyethylene (PE) on the Ukrainian market decreased by 8% compared to the indicator of 2018 and amounted to 19.4 thousand tons. The largest decline in external supplies was due to linear polyethylene (LLDPE).

Karpatneftekhim is one of the largest enterprises in the petrochemical complex of Ukraine. Currently, the company is capable of annually producing 300 thousand tons of polyvinyl chloride, 200 thousand tons of caustic soda, about 180 thousand tons of chlorine, as well as 250 thousand tons of ethylene and 100 thousand tons of polyethylene.