Shintech postpones expansion of PVC plant at its Louisiana complex

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Completion of Shintech's USD1.49 billion expansions across the PVC chain at its Louisiana complex has been pushed back to the first quarter of 2021 from late 2020 because of a slowdown in the work to ensure safety protocols on coronavirus pandemic concerns, said S&P Global.

n July 2018, Shintech began to construct a new integrated plant to PVC from salt. The new plant will be on industrial Isite developed by Shintech, located next to Shintech's existing plant in Plaquemine, Louisiana.

Shintech obtained permits to build a plant capable of producing 1.9 billion pounds (860 thousand tons) per year of vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), the raw material of PVC, and 660 thousand tons per year of caustic soda, and has commenced construction of the first phase of the plan. The first phase will increase production capacity by 640 million pounds (290 thousand tons) of PVC per year and 270 thousand tons of caustic soda per year. The amount of this investment is expected to be $1.49 billion, which Shintech will fund by itself. Completion of the construction is targeted for the end of 2020. Annual production capacity after the completion of the first phase will be 7.14 billion pounds (3,240 thousand tons per year) of PVC and 1,570 thousand tons of caustic soda per year.

As MRC informed earlier, Shintech completed a turnaround at its 1.4 million mt/year polyvinyl chloride (PVC) complex, also in Texas in April of 2020.

As per 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.

Shintech, the North American division of one of the largest Japanese companies - Shin-Etsu Chemical Co. Ltd. Shintech is a leading global manufacturer of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and silicone and specialty chemicals.

Qatar QAPCO extended shutdown and force majeure at LLDPE line

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Qatar Petrochemical Company (QAPCO) has failed to restart its linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) line and extented force majeure on shipments of material, reported CommoPlast.

The company unexpectedly shut down the LLDPE line on 3 May 2020 due to an unspecified technical issue. The shutdown has forced its sole marketing and distribution arm - Muntajat to declare force majeure on the shipment of these cargoes to Asian customers.

Apparently, the plant failed to restart on 12 May and official notification has been sent to customers informing that the company is working to bring the 570,000 tons/year LLDPE line online by 20 May 2020.

“The force majeure, therefore, would remain in place until further notice as the stoppage has significantly impacted and prevented our ability to meet our delivery obligations,” said, the official statement.

As MRC informed previously, in 2013, Qatar Chemical and Petrochemical Marketing and Distribution Company (Muntajat) took over the marketing and distribution responsibilities for Qatar’s globally recognised Lotrene brand of low density polyethylene (LDPE) and LLDPE. Muntajat has the mandate to export Qatar’s 10 million tonnes/year of chemicals and petrochemicals to markets worldwide.

In Qatar, LDPE and LLDPE are produced by Qatar Petrochemical Company (Qapco) and Qatofin, respectively, and these high-quality products are being sold to more than 4,500 customers worldwide under the brand name Lotrene.

Qatar’s chemical and petrochemical industry’s planned investments will further increase the country’s export portfolio to 23 million tonnes per year by 2020, from 10 million tonnes in 2013, according to Muntajat CEO Abdulrahman Ali Al-Abdulla's statement.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, March LLDPE shipments to Russia grew to 36,790 tonnes from 25,690 tonnes a month earlier, production increased. Overall LLDPE shipments into the Russian market totalled 110,000 tonnes in the first three months of 2020, up by 11% year on year. SabSibNeftekhim accounted for the main increase in shipments.

Toray to expand OPP film capacity in Japan

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Toray Industries, Inc., announced today that it will lift production capacity for Torayfan oriented polypropylene film for Automotive capacitors by 60% at its Tsuchiura Plant in Ibaraki Prefecture in 2022, said the company.

The goal is to capitalize on an expanding market for electric vehicles. Torayfan is a lighter plastic film among other plastic films. It is a very tough material with excellent mechanical and electrical properties. Its broad application extends from industrial to film capacitors and packaging. Film capacitors, a prime application of Torayfan, are commonly used in electric circuits of consumer electronics, IT equipment and inverter circuits for the power control units of electric vehicle motors.

Since film capacitors are relatively large components in power control units, PCUs have been desired to be smaller and lighter to enable Automotive OEMs to improve driving performance and efficiency while enhancing interior spaces and design flexibility. In order to reduce capacitor size, moreover, the film must be thinner. But the problem is that thinner films reduce voltage resistance. Torayfan dominates the automotive capacitor film market because of its unique technologically in maintaining thinness and voltage resistance.

Recent years have seen automotive emissions regulations tighten around the world amid a growing awareness of environmental issues. It has become difficult for vehicles employing internal combustion engines to clear regulatory requirements. It is against that backdrop that the demand for electric vehicles is set to grow 20% annually. The growth drivers are Europe and China, where stricter environmental legislation are to be in force. Toray’s Tsuchiura Plant increased capacity would cater to the demand expansion for automotive capacitors.

By swiftly boosting capacity at that facility, Toray hopes to further expand its business in the years ahead in keeping with its corporate philosophy of contributing to society by creating new value with innovative ideas, technologies, and products.

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.

Covestro receives responsible care initiative of the year award for active-learning-based employee safety training

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The American Chemistry Council (ACC) recognizes Covestro LLC with its 2020 Responsible Care® Initiative of the Year award, for the company’s unique safety training format inspired by popular “escape room” teambuilding experiences, said Americanchemistry.

Covestro’s production site in Newark, Ohio, created the “Escape Room: Hazard Recognition Safety Training” program to deliver important hazard recognition training information to employees on five common facility safety hazards: 1) Hazardous/Unidentified Chemicals, 2) Hand Safety, 3) Lock-Out/Tag-Out (LOTO), 4) Electrical Hazards and 5) Slips, Trips and Falls.

An “escape room” is a popular teambuilding experience that takes place in a themed room, where participants are challenged to work together, solving puzzles and finding clues to complete a mission and “escape the room."

Covestro’s hazard recognition safety training program is based on an “Active Learning” approach, which transforms traditional, slide presentation-based lecture-style training into an interactive experience that has increased employees’ ability to recognize and mitigate common hazards and promotes greater teamwork and engagement around safety topics.

The Active Learning training sequence emphasizes training based not only on interaction with educational materials, but also on the employee’s own knowledge and guidance from colleagues. The “escape room” format gives employees the opportunity to apply learnings into real-world situations.

"Continued education and training is a priority for Responsible Care companies, to enhance safety in all facility operations,” said Tara Henriksen, ACC’s Managing Director of Responsible Care. “Covestro’s Escape Room training program based on teamwork and engagement helps to make education fun and effective, and can serve as a model for other ACC member companies."

Feedback from training participants has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Covestro, with participants praising the active learning education format that emphasizes teamwork. "In addition to employees recognizing and mitigating key hazard scenarios, the Escape Room exercise helps to build stronger teams and interpersonal relationships. The hands-on approach allows for greater knowledge retention, which is demonstrated by an improvement in the quality of submittals to the facility’s Near Miss/Hazard reporting system,” said Adam Houdeshell, production trainer at Covestro and one of the designers of the Escape Room. Rounding out the design team for the initiative are Chad Embrey, Melissa Van Balen and Chase Ashcraft.

The training format can be modified to address additional topics, as well as be expanded to other Covestro sites globally. Covestro has implemented the Escape Room training format at its largest site in the U.S., as well as production sites in China and India, and has plans to launch the training at sites in Germany, Thailand and Italy.

The Responsible Care Initiative of the Year was selected by ACC members and Responsible Care Partner company representatives, who heard presentations from three company finalists at a special Responsible Care webinar and then voted to select the winning project.

As MRC informed earlier, Covestro has closed the sale of its European polycarbonates (PC) sheets business to the Munich-based Serafin Group effective January 2, 2020. This includes key management and sales functions throughout Europe as well as production sites in Belgium and Italy.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, overall estimated consumption of PC granules totalled 12,600 tonnes in the Russian market in January-February 2020 (excluding imports and exports to/from Belarus), compared to 9,600 tonnes a year earlier. Demand increased by 31%.

Covestro (formerly Bayer MaterialScience) is an independent subgroup within Bayer. It was created as part of the restructuring of Bayer AG from the former business group Bayer Polymers, with certain of its activities being spun off to Lanxess AG. Covestro manufactures and develops materials such as coatings, adhesives and sealants, polycarbonates (CDs, DVDs), polyurethanes (automotive seating, insulation for refrigerating appliances) etc. With 2018 sales of EUR 14.6 billion, Covestro has 30 production sites worldwide and employs approximately 16,800 people (calculated as full-time equivalents) at the end of 2018.

Dunkin Donuts completes global transition from EPS to paper cups

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Restaurant chain Dunkin’ Donuts says that it has now transitioned all of its global outlets from polystyrene foam (EPS) cups to paper cups, meeting the timetable established by the brand two years ago, said Canplastics.

In Dunkin’ U.S. restaurants, the foam cups have been replaced by double-walled paper cups. The chain reports that it is also on track to fully transition to new, recyclable hot coffee cup lids in all of its U.S. restaurants by the end of this summer.

The new cups are made with paperboard certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) Standard and are currently used to serve all Dunkin’ hot beverages.

In a May 11 statement, the company noted that while a limited number of restaurants may still have foam cups in their inventory, its distribution centres are no longer offering foam cups, making only the new, double-walled paper cups available to Dunkin’ U.S. franchisees for use in their restaurants.

Dunkin’ also says it is on track to be fully transitioned to recyclable cup lids in its U.S. restaurants by the end of this summer. “The new lids are made of polypropylene that can be recycled in cities and towns that offer #5 recycling,” the company said. “This transition, along with the move to the double-walled paper cups, will remove a collective 19 million pounds of polystyrene from the waste stream annually."

As per ICIS MRC Price Report, according to the expectations of some participants in the Russian EPS market, there is no reason to expect a quick recovery in demand in the EPS boards market. Despite a major fall in EPS prices, there have been no signs of market revival in June so far. The average dollar exchange rate will also decrease during this period, therefore, contract prices of SIBUR-Khimprom's EPS will go down for large- and medium-sized converters by another Rb6,000-7,000/tonne in June.