IRPC plans to shut PP plant in Thailand for maintenance

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Thailand’s IRPC, a PTT Plc subsidiary, is planning to take its polypropylene (PP) lines off-stream in June for routine maintenance, reported CommoPlast.

At the time of this report, there is no additional information on how long the plant would remain shut.

IRPC is the third-largest PP producer in Southeast Asia, having an annual capacity of 775,000 tons/year. The shutdown is expected to affect the supply of homopolymer of propylene (homopolymer PP), according to market sources.

There are also reports that Thailand’s PTT Global Chemical (PTTGC) has issued a sales tender for propylene (C3) cargoes for the second half of May loading. PTT usually supplies propylene (C3) feedstock to IRPC and HMC.

As MRC informed earlier, in late October, 2019, IRPC unexpectedly shut down its upstream propylene unit due to an unspecified technical issue. As a result, the company had to lower the operation rate at the downstream PP plant.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, PP shipments to the Russian market was 347,440 tonnes in January-April 2020 (calculated by the formula - production, minus export, plus import). Supply increased exclusively due to PP random copolymer.

PTT Global Chemical is a leading player in the petrochemical industry and owns several petrochemical facilities with a combined capacity of 8.45 million tonnes a year.

Formosa delays turnaround at its PVC plant in Lousiana to July

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Formosa Plastics USA has pushed a turnaround at its PVC plant in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to July, 2020, as per S&P Global with reference to a source familiar with company operations.

Initially, the company planned to conduct maintenance works at this plant with the capacity of 513 mt/year in May, 2020.

Formosa has not responded to requests for comment.

In March, Formosa Plastics was emerging from a turnaround at its 798,000 mt/year PVC plant and upstream 753,000 mt/year vinyl chloride monomer unit at its Point Comfort, Texas, complex.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russian producers of unmixed PVC decreased capacity utilisation in April. However, Russia's overall PVC output totalled 351,000 tonnes in January-April 2020, up by 2% year on year.

Formosa Petrochemical is involved primarily in the business of refining crude oil, selling refined petroleum products and producing and selling olefins (including ethylene, propylene, butadiene and BTX) from its naphtha cracking operations. Formosa Petrochemical is also the largest olefins producer in Taiwan and its olefins products are mostly sold to companies within the Formosa Group. Among the company's chemical products are paraxylene (PX), phenyl ethylene, acetone and pure terephthalic acid (PTA). The company"s plastic products include acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) resins, polystyrene (PS), polypropylene (PP) and panlite (PC).

Venezuela Maduro vows to raise gasoline price as Iranian tanker nears

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro pledged to begin charging citizens for gasoline, as the fourth cargo of a five-tanker flotilla bringing fuel from Iran approached the South American nation’s exclusive economic zone, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Iran is providing the country with up to 1.53 million barrels of gasoline and components to help it ease an acute scarcity that has forced Venezuelans to wait in hours-long lines at service stations or pay steep prices on the black market.

With the arrival of the gasoline, Maduro said he would end the policy of providing fuel effectively for free after more than two decades of frozen pump prices. He provided no details. "Gasoline must be paid for,” Maduro said in a state television address, saying that the price increase would be part of a “normalization and regularization plan."

"I have Venezuela’s support and understanding,” Maduro said, blaming the shortages on the United States, which sanctioned state oil company PDVSA last year as part of a push to oust Maduro, whom the U.S. accuses of having rigged elections in 2018. Service stations have begun testing new payment systems, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

In recent weeks, more than 100 service stations across the country have received new equipment that would allow them to charge for gasoline and ration retail sales, though their operators have not yet received clear instructions from the government or PDVSA, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Maduro in 2018 had pledged to increase prices at the pump, but never went through with the plan. Ending fuel subsidies is seen as politically risky in Venezuela, where a 1989 effort to raise gasoline and transportation prices contributed to a deadly wave of riots and looting.

As it was said earlier, Rosneft, Russia’s largest state-owned oil company, announces the cessation of operations in Venezuela and the sale of assets related to activities in this country due to US sanctions. As a result of the execution of the agreement and the sale of assets, Rosneft will receive a 9.6% stake in its one of its 100% subsidiaries.The Russian government acquired assets from Venezuela from Rosneft. The owner became a company 100% owned by the Russian Federation.

As MRC informed earlier, Rosneft produces at its facilities and sells ethyl alcohol and acetone in Russia, which are used in the manufacture of antiseptics. 15 thousand tons of these substances are produced per month. On the day the quarterly report was published, Rosneft told how its work has changed in the context of the coronavirus epidemic.

Acetone, along with phenol, is the main raw material component for the production of bisphenol A (BPA, by condensation), which, in turn, is used to produce polycarbonate (PC).

According to ScanPlast of Market Report, the total estimated consumption of PC granules in the Russian market (excluding imports and exports to Belarus) amounted to 22.7 thousand tons in the first quarter compared to 17 thousand tons for the same period last year. Demand increased by 33%.

Braskem lowers production of ethylene in Brazil, PP in the US on drop in demand

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Braskem has given an update on the impact that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is having on the company and measures it is taking to tackle current challenges, said CHemweek.

It has reduced staffing levels at its facilities to the minimum and cut by 50% the number of industrial workers and contractors at its sites. The company says that plant utilization rates in Brazil and the US were reduced in response to lower demand and inventory effects in the petrochemical and plastics production chain.

Utilization rates will be adjusted according to market demand and the potential opportunities for export to other regions, especially with the resumption of activities in Asia, the company says. In Brazil, adjustments so far included reduction in ethylene production to about 65% of its total capacity, which is 3.6 million metric tons/year (MMt/y), while in the US the company reduced its polypropylene (PP) production to about 85% of the 1.6 MMt/y total capacity.

Measures to preserve liquidity and maintain financial strength include disbursement of a revolving credit facility of USD1 billion; reduction of administrative expenses by approximately 10%; reduction of planned investments for 2020 from USD721 million to USD600 million; and working capital optimizations.

As MRC informed earlier, Brazil’s sole polyethylene (PE) producer Braskem will raise LDPE and PP prices for the rest of May by Real 150/mt (USD26.61/mt), according to industry sources, while HDPE and LLDPE prices will remain unchanged. Braskem is currently renegotiating its naphtha contract with Petrobras, as prices in North America have edged up on higher crude. The Brazilian petrochemical company’s JV with Idesa in Mexico also has limited feedstock supply. In the beginning of May, the company reduced the price of all PE grades in May to address falling demand and a decline in international feedstock prices.

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.
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).

OxyChem conducted PVC turnaround in Texas in May

MOSCOW (MRC) -- OxyChem, the chemical division of Occidental Petroleum, had planned for a turnaround at its polyvinyl cloride (PVC) plant in Pasadena, Texas, in April, but the work was pushed to May, reported S&P Global with reference to a source familiar with company operations.

The turnaround is slated to last seven to 10 days.

This plant's production capacity is 1 million mt/year.

Initially, the company planned to conduct seven-day maintenance works at this plant in April, 2020.

As MRC wrote before, OxyChem's La Porte complex has 1,250,000 tpa of vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) production capacity, which suffered a production upset in late June, 2015. VCM is an intermediate material that is later transformed into PVC.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russian producers of unmixed PVC decreased capacity utilisation in April. However, Russia's overall PVC output totalled 351,000 tonnes in January-April 2020, up by 2% year on year.

Occidental Petroleum Corporation (OxyChem) is a California-based oil and gas exploration and production company with operations in the United States, the Middle East, North Africa, and South America. Oxychem is Oxy"s Texas-based subsidiary which manufacture polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resins, chlorine and caustic soda used in plastics, pharmaceuticals and water treatment chemicals.