Boiler repair work at ExxonMobil Mossmorran ethylene plant to end in June

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Boiler work at the ExxonMobil-operated 830,000-metric tons/year ethylene plant at Mossmorran, UK, is scheduled for completion in June, reported Chemweek with reference to OPIS.

Two of the three boilers at the plant exploded in August 2019, resulting in the plant being taken offline until the end of February. OPIS sources say that the plant is currently able to operate at full capacity with two boilers in operation but that the third boiler will be working by June.

A source tells OPIS that the work planned at Mossmorran in the coming months will be more limited than previously scheduled. "It's mostly safety-critical work apart from the boiler work," says the source. "That's continuing because it's infrastructure- and safety-critical. You need three boilers because if one of the two boilers running goes down, you can turn the third one on. The plant has two (boilers) fully functioning and the third one is being finished for June."

The six-month spell that saw the ethylene unit out of action also meant that the neighboring 12,500-metric tons/day Shell natural gas liquids (NGL) plant supplying it with ethane was forced to flare the surplus product. OPIS revealed earlier this week that turnarounds at the two plants scheduled for July 2020 have been postponed to April 2021.

The Shell NGL plant is supplied by gas via a 220-kilometer pipeline from the Shell-operated St. Fergus gas plant and that will also see maintenance work in April next year, sources have told OPIS. St. Fergus has a gas intake capacity of 1,600 million standard cubic feet/day.

ExxonMobil declined to comment on the boiler work, and Shell and ExxonMobil did not wish to comment earlier this week when asked about plant turnaround postponements.

As MRC informed before, in September 2019, ExxonMobil announced plans to spend GBP140 million over the next two years in an additional investment program at its Fife ethylene plant, which has a capacity of more than 800,000 t/y.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 557,060 tonnes in the first three month of 2020, up by 7% year on year. High density polyethylene (HDPE) and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) shipments rose because of the increased capacity utilisation at ZapSibNeftekhim. Demand for LDPE subsided. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market was 267,630 tonnes in January-March 2020, down 20% year on year. Homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers accounted for the main decrease in imports.

ExxonMobil is the largest non-government owned company in the energy industry and produces about 3% of the world's oil and about 2% of the world's energy.

LG Chem operates SM plant in Daesan at full capacity rates

MOSCOW (MRC) -- LG Chem is currently operating its styrene monomer (SM) plant at optimum capacity levels, according to Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in South Korea informed that, the company is presently running its plant at 100% of it's production capacity rates.

Located at Daesan in South Korea, the plant has a production capacity of 180,000 mt/year.

SM is the main feedstock for the production of polystyrene (PS).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, March 2020 estimated consumption of PS and styrene plastics dropped by 2% year on year, totalling 42,130 tonnes. The estimated consumption totalled 121,880 tonnes in the first three months of 2020, down by 2% year on year. Overall, Russian plants produced 42,790 tonnes in March 2020. Overall output of high impact polystyrene (HIPS) and general purpose polystyrene (GPPS) totalled 32,100 tonnes in March 2020. 98,390 tonnes of HIPS and GPPS were produced in January-March 2020. The decrease in Russian plants' output was 3%.

LG Chem Ltd., often referred to as LG Chemical, is the largest Korean chemical company and is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. According to ICIS report, it is 15th biggest chemical company in the world in 2011. It has eight domestic factories and global network of 29 business locations in 15 countries. LG Chem is a manufacturer, supplier, and exporter of petrochemical goods, IT&E Materials and Energy Solutions.

PP imports to Russia rise by 23% in Jan-Apr 2020

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Polypropylene (PP) imports into Russia grew in first four months of 2020 by 23% year on year to slightly over 71,000 tonnes. Propylene homopolymers (homopolymer PP) accounted for the main increase in imports, according to MRC's DataScope report.

In April, Russian companies reduced their import deliveries partially because of the quarantine restrictions and the rouble devaluation, imports were 17,500 tonnes versus 21,500 tonnes a month earlier. Thus, overall PP imports to Russia exceeded 71,000 tonnes of propylene polymers in January-April 2020, compared to 57,900 tonnes a year earlier. Not all grades of propylene polymers accounted for the increase in purchasing in foreign markets, whereas imports of homopolymer PP rose noticeablly.

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

April imports of homopolymer PP were 6,700 tonnes versus 9,800 tonnes a month earlier, shipments of injection moulding homopolymer PP from Azerbaijan slumped. Thus, overall imports of homopolymer PP totalled 29,100 tonnes in the first four months of 2020, compared to 18,900 tonnes a year earlier.

Last month's imports of propylene block-copolymers (PP block copolymers) were 5,400 tonnes versus 5,100 tonnes in March, demand for pipe grade PP remained strong from Russian companies. Imports of PP block copolymers into Russia reached 20,100 tonnes in January-April 2020, compared to 16,200 tonnes a year earlier.

April imports of stat-copolymers of propylene (PP random copolymers) decreased to 2,700 tonnes from 3,300 tonnes a month earlier, with films products manufactures accounting for the main reduction in shipments. Overall imports of this grade of propylene copolymers were 10,800 tonnes in January-April 2020, compared to 11,400 tonnes a year earlier.

Russia's imports of other polymers of propylene totalled about 11,000 tonnes in the first four months of the year, compared to 11,500 tonnes a year earlier.


PVC imports into Ukraine fell by 7% in Jan-Apr, exports up by 44%

MOSCOW (MRC) - Imports of suspension polyvinyl chloride (SPVC) into Ukraine decreased by 7% in the first four months of this year, compared to the same period in 2019 and reached about 14,300 tonnes. At the same time, sales of Ukrainian PVC to foreign markets dropped by 44% year on year, according to a MRC's DataScope report.

Last month's SPVC imports into the Ukrainian market decreased to 2,800 tonnes from 3,700 tonnes in March, plastic products producers cut purchases amid the spread of coronavirus. Overall SPVC imports reached 14,300 tonnes in January-April 2020, compared to 15,500 tonnes a year earlier. Weaker demand for PVC in the domestic market made some producers to increase exports in April.
The key suppliers of PVC to the Ukrainian market were producers from Europe, their share in total imports for the period under review amounted to about 80%. Producers from the USA with the share of about 19% were the second largest suppliers.

Last month, Karpatneftekhim had to increase export sales due to falling demand from the domestic market, the export sales of Ukrainian PVC amounted to 17,800 tonnes against 12,100 tonnes in March. Overall, about 72,300 tonnes were shipped for export in the first four months of 2020, compared to 50,100 tonnes a year earlier.

COVID-19 - News digest as of 19.05.2020

1. India gas demand gradually picking up as virus restrictions ease

MOSCOW (MRC) -- India’s natural gas consumption is recovering slowly as the world’s biggest lockdown starts to ease with the gradual resumption of economic and industrial activity, reported Reuters with reference to several industry sources. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is starting to pull back from one of the world’s tightest lockdowns of 1.3 billion people, which has left millions out of work and stranded in cities far from home while infections keep rising. The government has already allowed some economic activity to resume in areas where there are few cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.