Dow Chemical faces USD54,000 in OSHA Fines for Louisiana blast

MOSCOW (MRC) -- An explosion at a Dow Chemical Co. plant has led to USD53,976 in proposed fines from federal workplace safety regulators, reported Bloomberg.

The fines covering four alleged serious violations of safety rules for chemical processing were issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after an inspection of the plant in Plaquemine, La.

Dow Chemical spokeswoman Ashley Mendoza on Wednesday said the company “cooperated completely with OSHA during its inspection” and is appealing the citations.

The explosion occurred Nov. 3 when a tank containing water and low levels of ethylene oxide and sulfuric acid burst open, news reports immediately after the accident.

The Plaquemine plant produces glycol ethers. No one was injured, Dow confirmed at the time.

Dow subsequently declared force majeure on its US ethlylene oxide (EO) which was lifted at the end of January. EO is used to make monoethylene glycol (MEG) among other chemicals.

As MRC informed earlier, USA based Dow Chemical is planning to shut three polyethylene (PE) plants in the USA and Argentina to avoid piling inventories amid sluggish global demand conditions due to the COVID-19 related lockdown.

MEG is one of the main feedstocks for the production of polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

As per MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PET consumption was 65,3700 tonnes in March 2020, up by 1% year on year. The estimated PET consumption in Russia decreased in January-March 2020 by 3% year on year to 175,170 tonnes.

Gazprom neftekhim Salavat shut DOP production

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Gazprom neftekhim Salavat shut down its dioctyl phthalate (DOP) production for a scheduled maintenance, reported MRC analysts.

Market participants and a plant's representative said Gazprom neftekhim Salavat took off-stream its DOP production for a long scheduled turnaround. The outage began on 12 May and will last for about 30 day.

Gazprom neftekhim Salavat produces more than 100 products, more than 50% of which are large-capacity ones, such as motor gasolines, diesel fuels, heating oils, styrene, polystyrene, low density polyethylene, high density polyethylene, DOP plasticizer, butyl alcohols, sulfur, ammonia, carbamide, acrylic acid, butacrylate and others. Oil refining and petrochemicals are shipped to all federal districts of the country. The export geography covers over 50 countries, including Finland, China, Brazil, Great Britain, countries of Western Europe, the Baltic countries.

COVID-19 - News digest as of 15.05.2020

1. Mitsui Chemicals full-year net profit falls

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Japanese producer Mitsui Chemicals on Thursday reported a 50.1% fall in its full-year net profit as sales dropped following the spread of the coronavirus, said Chemweek. Sales prices fell due to the fall in naphtha and other raw materials as well as fuel prices. Operating income fell due to unfavourable terms of trade in addition to decrease in sales resulting from the spread of the coronavirus and increase in fixed costs.


Mitsubishi Chemical eyes turnaround at Kashima cracker in H1 May

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Mitsubishi Chemical is likely to undertake a planned shutdown at its naphtha cracker, according to Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in Japan informed that, the company has scheduled to start turnaround at the cracker by mid-May 2020. The cracker is likely to remain under maintenance till end-June, 2020.

Located at Kashima, Japan, the cracker has an ethylene production capacity of 540,000 mt/year and a propylene capacity of 260,000 mt/year.

As MRC informed earlier, the company last started a two-month maintenance at this cracker in H1 May, 2018.

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.

Mitsubishi Chemical with headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, is a diversified chemical company involved in petrochemicals, polymers, agrochemicals, speciality chemicals and pharmaceuticals. The company's main focus is on three business pillars: petrochemicals, performance and functional products, and health care.

Borealis supports Austrian face mask initiatives through production of meltblown fabrics at its pilot line in Linz

MOSCOW (MRC) - Borealis announces that it has started production of meltblown fabrics for face mask applications on its unique pilot line in Linz, Austria, said the producer in its press release.

Borealis has managed quickly to convert the way of working from pure development to smaller scale pilot production to regularly produce rolls of fine fibre fabrics for face masks. Recently developed by Borealis, a new proprietary polypropylene (PP) meltblown resin has boosted filtration properties due to its capability for finer fibres. By exploiting a robust network of co-operation partners in the country, Borealis is helping bolster the supply of filtration media to increase face masks production.

A broad variety of PP based meltblown fabrics might not be visible to us, but belong to our daily lives. Such advanced PP solutions for meltblown fabrics are used not only in household appliances (e.g. vacuum cleaners), but also air cooling and heating devices. Their crucial importance for the hygiene and healthcare industries - in particular for face masks and protective wear - has been made painfully apparent as the global coronavirus pandemic has led to dramatic global shortages of essential personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers and others.

Borealis holds a 35-year track record in PP meltblown innovations and grades, and the unique pilot line in Linz has played an important role in the development. The pilot line is now being re-purposed to help meet the need for face masks. By teaming up with value chain partners, local and regional governmental organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), Borealis shows its dedication to enhance health and safety of communities in which it does business. This is done by supplying filtration fabrics for face masks in order to quickly respond to an urgent need in the region. The temporarily converted small-scale pilot testing facilities are located in the Application Hall at Borealis Innovation Headquarters in Linz. The newly developed Borealis HL912FB is being used to produce meltblown fabric to be applied for customised inlays in cotton-based mouth-nose masks, for conventional mouth-nose masks, and also for high-end face masks worn by medical professionals (FFP1 to FFP3).

A typical mask is made out of spunbonded outer layers and a meltblown middle layer. The spunbonded layers provide the structure while the meltblown layer is providing the barrier properties. For high-end FFP1 to FFP3 masks, more advanced meltblown structures with extremely fine fibres are essential. Borealis offers both the unique meltblown materials and a variety of spunbond PP grades.

The well-known Borealis meltblown resins HL708FB and HL712FB are reference grades for filtration. Recently, a new resin Borealis HL912FB was introduced to the market, which can be processed at higher processing temperatures allowing the production of even finer fibres. According to in-house testing, the use of Borealis HL912FB results in a significant improvement in filtration efficiency. All three grades are manufactured at Borealis facilities in Europe and made available to customers worldwide.

"The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a sudden steep increase in the need for PPE, while supply chains are being disrupted around the globe. We would like to assure our partners that we remain the reliable supplier of advanced polymers for the manufacture of high-quality face masks and other PPE," says Lucrece Foufopoulos, Borealis Executive Vice President Polyolefins, Innovation and Circular Economy Solutions. "True to our company purpose, ‘Life demands progress – we are re-inventing for more sustainable living’, we are offering innovative solutions like Borealis HL912FB and are re-purposing our own pilot facilities to a small-scale production line for meltblown fabrics. We have capitalised on our close collaboration with governments, NGOs and value chain partners to optimally deploy our innovation and manufacturing capabilities at the service of society."

As MRC reported earlier, Austria-based petrochemicals producer Borealis declared force majeure on its steam cracker operations at Stenungsund, Sweden, on 11 May 2020, following a technical incident that led to the shutdown of the olefins plant. The company has informed the affected customers. Borealis says it does not know when the force majeure will be lifted. The shutdown has impacted the output of the company’s downstream production and supply of certain low density polyethylene (LDPE) grades. Its LDPE plant was shut down and the potential start-up date of the facility is currently being investigated.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, 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.

Borealis is a leading provider of innovative solutions in the fields of polyolefins, base chemicals and fertilizers. With headquarters in Vienna, Austria, Borealis currently employs around 6,500 and operates in over 120 countries.