Arkema partners with Nutrien in hydrogen fluoride supply deal

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Arkema has announced a long-term partnership with Nutrien, the world’s largest integrated fertilizer company, for the supply of anhydrous hydrogen fluoride (AHF) to Arkema’s Calvert City, Kentucky site, as per Chemweek.

The project will secure Arkema’s access to AHF, the main raw material used in fluorine chemistry. It supports the company’s growth of fluoropolymers in the water treatment, electronics and batteries segments and offers greater environmental protection than more traditional production processes, the company says.

As part of the agreement, Arkema will invest USD150 million in a 40,000 metric tons/year AHF production plant at Nutrien’s Aurora, North Carolina site, scheduled to start up in the first half of 2022. About half the capacity will be used in the production of high value added polymers and fluoro derivatives, and the remainder for the production of low-global warming potential fluorogases. AHF is the key raw material in the fluorine chemistry, including production of fluoropolymers and specialty derivatives.

The Aurora facility will produce AHF from naturally occurring fluoride that Nutrien will recover in the process of phosphate production and convert it to AHF, replacing the more usual source of mined fluorspar ore. Arkema says that this innovative investment is the first of its kind in the United States and is in line with its new climate plan as it reduces overall energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The partnership will secure the supply of AHF at a stable and competitive price, and support the continuing development of new applications, notably for batteries, 5G electronics, and water treatment.

In its 2 April 2020 strategy update, Arkema said that it will explore possible alternatives to minimize its exposure to the most emissive applications of its fluorogases. The business comprises two separate operations, specialty segment with sales of about EUR200 million (USD224.4 million) last year and which is an essential contributor to Arkema’s fluoropolymers and fluoro derivatives for electronics and batteries. The remaining fluorogases business with emissive applications, such air conditioning and refrigeration and which last year had sales of €500 million, will be either divested or placed into partnerships, Arkema said.

As MRC reported before, Arkema said earlier this week that it has finalized the divestment of its functional polyolefins business to SK Global Chemical. The divestment was announced last year. Arkema says the sale forms part of its strategy to refocus the group’s activities on specialty materials.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 721,290 tonnes in the first four month of 2020, up by 4% year on year. Low density polyethylene (LDPE) and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) shipments grew partially because of the increased capacity utilisation at ZapSibNeftekhim. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market totalled 347,440 tonnes in January-April 2020 (calculated by the formula production minus export plus import). Supply exclusively of PP random copolymer increased.

Arkema is a global manufacturer in specialty chemicals and advanced materials, with 3 business segments - High Performance Materials, Industrial Specialties, and Coating Solutions - and globally recognized brands. The Group reports annual sales of EUR8.8 billion. Buoyed by the collective energy of its 20,000 employees, Arkema operates in close to 55 countries.

Exxon Baytown, Texas, refinery workers ratify contract

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Workers represented by the United Steelworkers union (USW) at Exxon Mobil Corp’s Baytown, Texas, refinery ratified a new three-year contract night, a company spokesman said, as per Reuter.

The contract provides a 2% pay increase in the first year and 2.5% pay increase for the second year, said sources familiar with the agreement. The pay increase in the third year will match the increase agreed to in a new national pattern agreement to be worked out between the USW and oil companies in January 2022, according to the sources.

"We are pleased with this successful outcome and settlement of the contract for the Baytown Refinery,” said Exxon spokesman Jeremy Eikenberry. “We believe this agreement is mutually beneficial for both the union workers and the company."

The Baytown refinery is Exxon’s largest refinery in the United States.

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.

Ukrainian EPS imports down by 19% in Jan-Apr 2020

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Overall imports of expandable polystyrene (EPS) to the Ukrainian market fell in the first four months of 2020 by 19% year on year to 7,900 tonnes, according to MRC's DataScope report.

This figure was at 9,800 tonnes in January-April 2019.

Russian material accounted for 60% (4,800 tonnes) of the total shipments in the first four months of 2020, compared to 47% (4,600 tonnes) a year earlier. Chinese EPS shipments slumped over the stated period to 17% (1,340 tonnes) from 46% (4,500 tonnes) in January-April 2019.

April 2020 EPS imports to Ukraine were 2,000 tonnes, as a month earlier, shipments were at 4,000 tonnes in April 2019.

The share of Russian material dropped to 40% (810 tonnes) in April from 46% (930 tonnes) a month earlier. The share of Chinese shipments rose to 44% (900 tonnes) in April 2020 from 7% (150 tonnes) in March.


Ukraine reduces GPPS and HIPS imports in Jan-Apr 2020 by 5%

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Overall imports of general purpose polystyrene (GPPS) and high impact polystyrene (HIPS) to Ukraine dropped in the first four month of 2020 by 5% year on year to 6,740 tonnes, according to MRC's DataScope report.

This figure was at 7,000 tonnes in January-April 2019.

April GPPS and HIPS imports into the country fell by 16% from March: from 1,920 tonnes to 1,610 tonnes. Imports of these grades of material were at 1,300 tonnes in April 2019.

Imports of Russian GPPS and HIPS of Nizhnekamskneftekhim to Ukraine remained in January-April 2020 at the last year's level, totalling 3,500 tonnes. The share of Nizhnekamskneftekhim's material grew to 53% in the overall structure of imports to the Ukrainian market in the first four months of 2020 from 50% in January-April 2019.

April imports of material from Russia decreased by 13% from March to 800 tonnes. The share of Nizhnekamskneftekhim's GPPS and HIPS was 50% in April versus 71% a year ealrier.


COVID-19 - News digest as of 03.06.2020

1. Orbia puts on hold plans to divest Vestolit vinyls business

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Orbia Advance Corp., formerly Mexichem (Mexico City) says that in view of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the global economy and capital markets, it has decided to pause its efforts to divest or seek an alternative strategy for its Vestolit vinyls business, reported Chemweek. Orbia says it is "prepared to wait for the right environment to maximize shareholder value in any transaction involving its Vestolit business". The company adds that Vestolit is a "fundamentally strong business, with a unique global footprint and strong cash generation, and will continue to focus on driving sustainable, profitable growth."