VCI calls for innovation instead of product bans in EU new chemicals strategy

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Germany's chemical industry association VCI (Frankfurt) says that innovation rather than product bans should be the focus of the new EU chemicals strategy, which the European Commission intends to present in the fall, said Chemweek.

VCI’s announcement relates to a European Parliament vote, due to take place, on a list of demands from its environment committee on the new chemicals strategy, which was announced as part of the EU Green Deal.

According to VCI, the committee is calling for major changes to chemicals legislation including the removal of quantitative thresholds, many additional tests of chemicals and animal testing, and blanket bans on use without prior risk assessment.

"The chemical-pharmaceutical industry supports a chemical strategy that promotes innovations to implement the EU's climate goals, the circular economy, and digitalization. This requires a stable legal framework," says Gerd Romanowski, managing director/science, technology, and environment at VCI.

Flat-rate bans are counterproductive, Romanowski says. Europe can only achieve greater autonomy in the supply of products such as medicines and disinfectants through effective planning by companies, to have the necessary chemicals available, he says.

VCI says that the new EU chemicals strategy should rely on strong use of the extensive REACH data, as well as on simplifications and efficiency improvements, instead of bans. Meanwhile, cooperation between European agencies and scientific advisory bodies on the evaluation of chemicals should be strengthened, VCI says.

As MRC informed before, global oil consumption cut by up to a third in Q1 2020. What happens next in the oil market depends on how quickly and completely the global economy emerges from lockdown, and whether the recessionary hit lingers through the rest of this year and into 2021.

Earlier this year, BP said the deadly coronavirus outbreak could cut global oil demand growth by 40 per cent in 2020, putting pressure on Opec producers and Russia to curb supplies to keep prices in check.

We remind that in September 2019, six world's major petrochemical companies in Flanders, Belgium, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, and the Netherlands (Trilateral Region) announced the creation of a consortium to jointly investigate how naphtha or gas steam crackers could be operated using renewable electricity instead of fossil fuels. The Cracker of the Future consortium, which includes BASF, Borealis, BP, LyondellBasell, SABIC and Total, aims to produce base chemicals while also significantly reducing carbon emissions. The companies agreed to invest in R&D and knowledge sharing as they assess the possibility of transitioning their base chemical production to renewable electricity.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 595,170 tonnes in the first five month of 2020, up by 10% year on year. Deliveries of all ethylene polymers, except for linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE), rose partially because of an increase in capacity utilisation at ZapSibNeftekhim. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market was 457,930 tonnes in January-May 2020 (calculated by the formula production minus export plus import). Deliveris of exclusively PP random copolymer increased.

PVC production in Russia up by 1% in H1 2020

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Russia's overall production of unmixed polyvinyl chloride (PVC) totalled 509,300 tonnes in January-June 2020, up by only 1% year on year. Only three producers managed to increase their output, according to MRC's ScanPlast report.

June production of unmixed PVC in Russia was 77,200 tonnes versus 81,100 tonnes a month earlier, Kaustik Volgograd shut its production capacities for an unscheduled turnaround, and Bashkir Soda Company also took off-stream its production for an unplanned maintenance. Overall output of polymer rose to 509,300 tonnes in the first half of 2020 from 502,600 tonnes a year earlier, only three producers increased their production, whereas Bashkir Soda Company reduced its PVC production.

The structure of PVC production by plants looked the following way over the stated period.

RusVinyl (JV of SIBUR and SolVin) produced 28,500 tonnes of PVC in June, with emulsion polyvinyl chloride (EPVC) accounting for 2,300 tonnes, compared to 29,900 tonnes a month earlier. RusVinyl's overall SPVC output reached 177,100 tonnes in the first six months of 2020, compared to 166,800 tonnes a year earlier.

SayanskKhimPlast produced slightly over 27,000 tonnes of suspension PVC (SPVC) last month, whereas this figure was 27,700 tonnes in May. The Sayansk plant managed to produce 165,000 tonnes of PVC in January-June 2020, compared to 162,500 tonnes a year earlier.

Bashkir Soda Company shut its PVC production for 5 days in mid-June because of disruptions in ethylene shipments, and as a result, the final June output fell to 15,800 tonnes from 22,000 tonnes a month earlier. The Baskhir plant's overall production of resin reached 130,700 tonnes in January-June 2020, down by 5% year on year.

Kaustik Volgograd shut its production capacities for maintenance in May-June, as a result, the plant's total PVC output was 1,500 tonnes and 5,900 tonnes, respectively. The plant's overall production of resin exceeded 36,500 tonnes in the first half of 2020 versus 36,000 tonnes a year earlier.


COVID-19 - News digest as of 13.07.2020

1. Marathon Galveston Bay, Texas, refinery overhaul to finish in late July

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Marathon Petroleum Corp plans to finish a multi-unit overhaul in late July at its 585,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) Galveston Bay Refinery in Texas City, Texas, said sources familiar with plant operations, said Hydrocarbonprocessing. Marathon shut the 225,000-bpd Pipestill 3B crude distillation unit (CDU) on Monday to begin connecting to it the units shut for the overhaul, the sources said. Marathon spokesman Sid Barth declined to comment. The company began the overhaul on May 23 with the shutdown of a 65,000-bpd reformer, a 60,000-bpd residual oil hydrotreater and an aromatics unit, the sources said. Five days later, the 60,000-bpd hydrocracker, the 31,500-bpd alkylation unit and a 47,500-bpd aromatics recovery unit were shut along with a sulfur recovery unit. The overhaul was originally scheduled to begin in March, but was pushed back twice to reduce the risk that large numbers of contract workers at the refinery would spread novel coronavirus, according to the sources.


Fujian Meide Petrochemical delays start-up of its new PDH unit in Fujian to September

MOSCOW (MRC) -- China's Fujian Meide Petrochemical, a wholly owned subsidiary of China Flexible Packing Group,
is planning to start up its newly-built propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant in Jiangyin, Fujian province, around September this year, reported S&P Global with reference to a company source.

The new PDH with the capacity of 660,000 mt/year was originally scheduled to start up in the first half of February, 2020, then - in the second half of February. High cost of feedstock propane was the cause of the delay.

Afterwards, the company postponed the start until June and then - July, 2020.

Propylene is the main feedstock for the production of polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, PP shipments to the Russian market was 457,930 tonnes in January-May 2020 (calculated by the formula production minus export plus import). Deliveris of exclusively PP random copolymer increased.

Zhejiang Petrochemical to maintain 80% capacity unitlisation at new ACN plant in China throughout July

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Zhejiang Petrochemical Co Ltd is running its new acrylonitrile (ACN) plant at 80% operating rate and is likely to maintain this rate for the rest of July, reported S&P Global.

The company started up new ACN plant on 23 June, 2020, and produced on specification material in the week ended 4 July.

Based in Zhejiang, China, this plant is able to produce 260,000 tons/year of ACN. Initially, the company planned to begin operations at this production in early May, but then postponed the start to the second half of May. Zhejiang Petrochemical last announced mid-June to be the start.

As MRC informed earlier, Zhejiang Petrochemical Co Ltd started up its ethylene cracker in late December 2019 and its polyolefin plants in late December 2019-January 2020.

Market sources reported then that one of its polypropylene (PP) plant with capacity of 450,000 tons/year started up by 30 December 2019, followed by another line with same capacity by 15 January 2020.

Meanwhile its 450,000 tons/year of linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) and 300,000 tons/year of high density polyethylene (HDPE) were launched around similar time with PP plants.

ACN is the main feedstock for the production of acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's ABS output was 780 tonnes in May 2020. Production of Russian ABS plastics totalled 4,240 tonnes in January-May 2020, down by 17% year on year.