Severstal increases stake in joint venture with Linde GmbH

MOSCOW (MRC) -- PAO Severstal announces it has closed a deal to increase its shareholding in its joint venture with Germany's Linde GmbH for the production of coil-wound heat exchangers (CWHE) for use in medium-scale and large-scale LNG plants. Following the completion of the transaction, Severstal will have a 50% stake in the joint venture, said the company.

The joint venture was established in June 2017 under a scheme to localise production of CWHE in Russia. In 2019, as previously announced, Severstal signed an agreement to purchase a 26% stake in the joint venture with Linde.

Increasing its stake reflects one of the key priorities of Severstal's updated strategy – guaranteeing superior customer experience by providing high-tech customized solutions to the energy industry.

Alexander Shevelev, CEO of Severstal, commented: "Increasing our share in the joint venture was a logical step towards increasing our presence in the dynamically developing market of LNG production, storage and transportation. Heat exchangers are not assembled on a production line, but are exclusively made to order. The key advantage of this is the ability to develop unique engineering solutions for specific projects. This allows us to consider all the nuances of technological processes at a customer's plant and, as a result, maintain close contact with our partners at each stage of the project implementation. At the moment, the JV’s order capacity is approaching 100%, and there is potential to build additional capacity. In October 2019, the joint venture received its first export order, which is due for delivery in 2020."

As MRC informed earlier, Linde has announced that it has started up a state-of-the-art hydrogen and carbon monoxide facility in Clear Lake, Texas (TX), as well as a new air separation unit in LaPorte, TX. The plants will supply oxygen, nitrogen and carbon monoxide to Celanese, under a previously announced long-term agreement, and hydrogen to other customers via Linde’s US Gulf Coast pipeline system.

Besides, Linde PLC has recieved a contract to provide technology for PJSC Sibur Holding’s cracker at Amur gas chemical complex (GCC). GCC is an integrated 1.5 million tons per year polyethylene and polypropylene production complex to be built near Svobodny in Russia’s far-east Amur region. The contract was awarded to Linde under a consortium with Sibur subsidiary and project contractor NIPIgazpererabotka (Nipigaz).

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.

Merck opens pharma lab in China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- German pharma and life sciences major Merck KGaA (MRK: DE) today announced the opening its M Lab Collaboration Center in Shanghai, China, the company’s largest of nine centers worldwide, said Chemweek.

Merck Innovation Hub, the first in China, started in late 2019, with the company announcing a 100 million renminbi (USD14 million) seed fund injected into the China Innovation Hub.

“With the booming pharmaceutical industry in Asia and greater emphasis on novel drug therapies, we see an increase in R&D on leading-edge treatments including cell and gene therapies in China,” said Udit Batra, a member of the Merck executive board and chief executive, Life Science. “Our M Lab Collaboration Center offers customizable solutions and services that help bio pharmaceutical and biologics companies improve their processes from drug discovery, development to manufacturing — saving costs and increasing speed to market,” he added.

With a total lab size of approximately 10,000m2, Merck’s newest M Lab Collaboration Center is located in Pudong, at the heart of the biomedical sciences and research community in Shanghai.

It includes pilot scale and process development support labs that offer non-GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) lab space where pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical manufacturers can explore ideas, learn innovative techniques and work side-by-side with the company's scientists and engineers to solve critical process development and production challenges.

As mRC informed earlier, Merck celebrated the opening of its new packaging center at the science and technology company’s headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany. The new 161,458-square-foot facility will be dedicated to the packaging and shipping of Merck’s current portfolio of pharma medicines in more than 90 countries and help meet increasing patient needs for flagship medicines Glucophage®, Concor and Euthyrox in the areas of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and thyroid disorders respectively. It will also provide capacity for potential future pharma products currently in clinical development such as evobrutinib in the area of neurology-immunology or tepotinib in the area of oncology.

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.

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.

As MRC wrote previously, Marathon Petroleum Corp idled its 166,000 barrel-per-day (bpd)refinery in Martinez, California beginning April 27 in response to the coronavirus pandemic’s hit to demand for refined products.

Meanwhile, Marathon Petroleum Corp plans to operate the gasoline-producing fluidic catalytic cracker (FCC) at its 585,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Galveston Bay Refinery in Texas City, Texas. The 140,000 bpd FCC restarted on Sunday, 12 April, after repairs following a March 23 brief power outage that shut the unit.

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.

Nouryon opens integrated services office in Houston

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Nouryon says it has opened a new integrated services office for its North America business in Houston, Texas, reported Chemweek.

The facility will employ 50 people initially, covering logistics, customer service, engineering, procurement, manufacturing support, and sustainability, with more than 100 to be employed eventually, it says.

The company has three major chemical production sites and employs nearly 700 people in the Houston area, according to Nouryon. The company opened the world’s first metal alkyls production site in Battleground, Texas, in 1959 and later added sites in Pasadena and Houston, it says.

"We have a long history with Houston, and this is the right time for Nouryon to build on our successful relationship with the city," says Charles Shaver, CEO at Nouryon. "While the world faces one of its greatest economic challenges, we are demonstrating our commitment to Houston by bringing in high quality jobs and future employment opportunities," he says.

As MRC wrote previously, in February 2019, Nouryon (formerly AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals) announced that it would license its innovative continuous initiator dosing (CiD) technology to Karpatnaftochim, Ukraine’s largest polyvinyl chloride (PVC) producer. Nouryon’s patented CiD technology allows PVC producers to increase reactor output by up to 40 percent, improve product quality, and make the production process intrinsically safer - all with minimum capital expenditure.

According to ICIS-MRC Price report, Ukrainian company Karpatneftekhim (Kalush, Ivano-Frankivsk region) has increased prices of suspension polyvinyl chloride (SPVC) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) for July deliveries to the domestic market by USD70-80/tonne under the pressure from higher feedstock prices.

OMV, partner build photovoltaic plant in Austria

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Austrian oil and petrochemicals major OMV and electricity company VERBUND on Wednesday began construction of a photovoltaic (PV) power plant at Schonkirchen, northeast of Vienna, said the company.

The project's total power generating capacity will be around 14.25 GWh. Its first phase, with 10.96 GWh, is due to start up in November. Financial details were not disclosed. Austria sees the expansion of PVs as central to achieving its renewable electricity targets.

By 2030, all electricity produced in Austria “should come from renewable sources,” said Wolfgang Anzengruber, VERBUND’s chairman. OMV and VERBUND are currently also working on a “green hydrogen” project, called UpHy, which is looking at producing hydrogen for use in road vehicles and refinery processes.

On a 13.3-hectare (133,200 m2) compound owned by OMV, a photovoltaic plant with a PV capacity of 11.4 MWp will be built in Schonkirchen in the first phase of construction. The east-west facing solar park will use 34,600 PV modules to produce around 10.96 GWh of solar power, corresponding to the annual electricity consumption of some 3,400 households and saving around 8,000 metric tons of CO2. Start-up is planned for the end of November 2020.

The final phase of construction will see another 10,400 PV modules added to the plant. This will increase the total capacity to 14.85 MWp, generating around 14.25 GWh. This is enough to meet the annual power demand of 4,400 households and will save an additional 2,400 metric tons of CO2 per year.

As MRC informed earlier, in March 2020, OMV signed agreement to increase its shareholding in Borealis to 75%, repositioning in a low-carbon world.

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.

OMV (Osterreichische Mineralolverwaltung AG) is an Austrian oil company, the largest in Central Europe. Headquarters - in Vienna.