Altana H1 2020 profits, sales fall on weaker demand

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Altana (Wesel, Germany) says that net profits in the first half of 2020 declined 24% year on year (YOY), to EUR72 million (USD85 million) on 7% lower YOY sales, to EUR1.08 billion, reported Chemweek.

This was primarily due to a big decrease in demand in various industrial areas, above all the automotive sector, the company says. EBITDA and EBIT fell by 9% ad 17%, to EUR202 million and EUR124 million, respectively. Second-quarter figures have not been disclosed.

Only Actega, the company’s division producing specialty coatings, sealants, printing inks, and adhesives, recorded growth in sales, up 9% YOY, to EUR200 million. BYK, producing additives and instruments, saw a 6% YOY decrease in sales, to EUR504 million. Sales of the company’s Eckart division, making metallic and pearlescent pigments, fell by 16% YOY, to EUR155 million. Sales at Elantas, the division that manufactures liquid insulation materials, went down 12% YOY, to EUR219 million.

The company’s EBITDA margin was 18.7%, broadly at the same level as the year-earlier period's 19.2%, attributed to the positive effect of the measures it implemented to counteract the pandemic’s impact. Meanwhile, Altana increased its R&D expenditure by 3% YOY, within the uncertain economic environment caused by COVID-19, and with R&D expenditure representing almost 8% of sales, it continues to invest above-average amounts in innovations, the company says.

“Our longstanding customer proximity, our innovative and financial strength, and our decentralized structure are important success factors enabling us to safeguard our operating business even in this period,” says Martin Babilas, CEO at Altana. "Our top priority was to protect the health of Altana employees worldwide. At the same time, we not only managed to maintain our ability to supply our customers and provide them with service, but also to continue to invest in the future in a targeted manner.”

Altana expects the global economy to recover slightly in the second half of 2020. As a result, it expects a sales drop in the upper-single-digit percentage range, the company says.

As MRC informed earlier, in February, 2014, the specialty chemicals group ALTANA acquired technologies and customer-specific know-how in the field of polypropylene (PP) wax emulsions from Royal DSM. The products can be used to coat glass fibers which are needed for the manufacturing of composites. They are typically used in the construction industry and the automotive sector.

As in December, 2019, German specialty chemicals company Altana acquired Schmid Rhyner AG, a Swiss overprint varnish company. Schmid Rhyner specializes in print finishing solutions. In 2018, it generated sales of roughly EUR 50 million with around 80 employees. Founded in 1880 and headquartered in Adliswil, Switzerland, with a subsidiary in New Jersey, USA, the company sells its products in over 100 countries worldwide. In addition to protecting packaging with high-quality matt and gloss coatings, Schmid Rhyner products achieve a variety of optical effects. The company also develops innovative solutions for digital printing.

According to MRC's DataScope report, PP imports into Russia rose in the first six months of 2020 by 21% year on year to 105,300 tonnes. Propylene homopolymer (homopolymer PP) accounted for the main increase in imports.

Altana is a global leader in true specialty chemicals. The Group offers innovative, environmentally compatible solutions for coating manufacturers, paint and plastics processors, the printing and packaging industries, the cosmetics sector and the electrical and electronics industry. The product range includes additives, special coatings and adhesives, effect pigments, sealants and compounds, impregnating resins and varnishes, and testing and measuring instruments.

Indorama Ventures acquires PET recycling facilities in Poland

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Indorama Ventures Ltd. (IVL, Bangkok, Thailand) announced that it has, through its indirect subsidiary Indorama Netherlands B.V., signed a Conditional Share Purchase Agreement with O.R.V. Ovattificio Resinatura Valpadana S.P.A. and OPOKA LTD., to acquire a 100% equity stake of Industrie Maurizio Peruzzo Polowat spolka z ograniczona odpowiedzialnoscia (IMP Polowat), a limited-liability company incorporated under the laws of Poland, according to Chemical Engineering.

This transaction is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2020, subject to regulatory approvals.

IMP Polowat consists of two production sites located in Bielsko-Biala and Leczyca, Poland, and processes post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) flakes and pellets, with a combined capacity of approx. 27,000 metric tons per year (m.t./yr), consisting of 23,000 m.t./yr rPET flakes and 4,000 m.t./yr of rPET pellets. This facility will be an attractive recycling platform for IVL in Eastern Europe, and will open up new opportunities to meet the increasing rPET demand for more sustainable packaging solutions.

The combination of access to local bottle supply and trusted product quality will secure opportunity for IVL for growth and expansion over time. The acquisition is consistent with IVL’s ambitious target in scaling its recycling capacity to reach 750,000 m.t./yr by 2025.

In June, Indorama acquired a PET recycling facility in Brazil, adding to its previous acquisition of Brazil’s largest PET manufacturing facility from M&G Polimeros in 2018. In 2019, IVL acquired plastics recycling assets in the U.S. (in California and Alabama), and in 2018 acquired a plastics recycling business in France, as well as PET manufacturing assets in Germany and Egypt.

As MRC informed before, Indorama Ventures expects repairs to its 440,000 mt/year Louisiana cracker could take several months. Lightning struck the cracker Aug. 2, prompting its shutdown. Indorama initially started up the revamped cracker in May 2019, but shut it down several months later for repairs and technical improvements after repeated flaring. The company restarted it in December, and it reached commercial production in February.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PET consumption totalled 367,720 tonnes in the first six months of 2020, up by 19% year on year. Russian companies processed 62,910 tonnes of PET in June.

Indorama Ventures Public Company Limited, listed in Thailand, is one of the world's leading petrochemicals producers, a global manufacturing footprint with 59 sites in 20 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. The company's portfolio is comprises necessities and high value-added (HVA) categories of polymers, fibers, and packaging. Indorama Ventures has approx. 24,000 employees worldwide and consolidated revenue of USD 11.4 billion in 2019.

ADNOC invests 3.5B to upgrade refining capabilities and maximize Value for Abu Dhabi and the UAE

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) confirms significant progress made on its “Crude Flexibility Project” (CFP), with 73% project delivery of ADNOC’s ongoing upgrade of refining capabilities in Ruwais and strengthening the role of Ruwais as a critical driver for industrial growth for Abu Dhabi and the UAE, said the company.

For more than 40 years, ADNOC has predominantly refined Murban grade crude, extracted from its onshore fields in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The CFP allows for the Upper Zakum grade, extracted from Abu Dhabi's offshore oil fields, to be processed along with over 50 other types of different crudes.

H.E. Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and ADNOC Group CEO said: “We continue to focus on stretching the margin of every barrel of oil we produce to maximize the value of our resources, while also making responsible investments in the current market environment. This investment is another step in our progress to develop Ruwais into a dynamic, global hub for downstream activity, further strengthening ADNOC's role as a key driver of the UAE's long-term industrial growth and economic diversification".

In 2018, ADNOC announced plans to diversify the feedstocks it processes. The USD 3.5 BN (AED 12.8 BN) CFP upgrade initiative is a core driver of ADNOC Downstream’s 2030 smart growth strategy. The project will increase the value ADNOC derives from every barrel of oil, both by boosting refining margins and by leaving more high-value Murban crude available for export.

Much of the physical infrastructure required for the CFP has now been put in place. Major structural elements, notably 2 new fractionators and 24 atmospheric residue desulfurizer reactors have been installed at the site over the past two months. Each of the 317-ton fractionators was transported to the UAE from South Korea. Installing the 80-meter structures took three weeks across June and July 2020. They will serve to separate the component products within the crude oil to allow for further refining.

Upon completion in mid-2022, the CFP will allow ADNOC to process up to 420,000 bpsd (Barrels per Stream Day) of heavier and sourer grades of crude oil, as part of the 840,000 bpsd refinery in Ruwais.

The development of a more flexible and adaptive refining capability in Ruwais represents a cornerstone of ADNOC Downstream’s 2030 smart growth strategy, launched at ADNOC’s Downstream Investment Forum in 2018. Since the Forum, ADNOC has attracted significant foreign investment to Ruwais and expanded its downstream partnerships across its refining, fertilizer, and pipeline assets. ADNOC continues to deliver on the expansion of its downstream business in the UAE, which will see the Ruwais industrial hub transformed into a globally competitive chemicals cluster, leveraging the UAE’s close geographic proximity to global growth markets, access to competitive feedstocks, streamlined utilities and services offer, as well as Abu Dhabi’s attractive fiscal and regulatory environment. Investment at Ruwais will stimulate private sector activity and support long-term specialized employment opportunities, particularly in Al Dhafra.

As MRC informed earlier, in late July 2019, ADNOC said its Ruwais refinery west cracker was offline for maintenance.

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

According to MRC's DataScope report, PE imports to Russia dropped in January-June 2020 by 7% year on year to 328,000 tonnes. High density polyethylene (HDPE) accounted for the main decrease in imports. At the same time, PP imports into Russia rose in the first six months of 2020 by 21% year on year to 105,300 tonnes. Propylene homopolymer (homopolymer PP) accounted for the main increase in imports.

Clariant and Chemtex form biofuel partnership

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Clariant’s Business Line Biofuels and Derivatives announced that a strategic partnership has been formed with Chemtex Global Corporation for the realization of second-generation biofuel projects, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Under the partnership, the two parties will collaborate to market and sell Clariant’s sunliquid® technology licenses, as well as services and supplies for advanced biofuel plants in China. As the largest passenger car market in the world, the environmental impact posed by transport greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions has become a big challenge for the Chinese government. In 2017, the State Council of PRC endorsed a new strategic plan1 to further utilize bioethanol converted from agricultural residue as gasoline for motor vehicles. Under the nationwide blending mandate proposed, all gasoline used for motor vehicles will need to contain bioethanol as an additive. Clariant, with its innovative sunliquid® technology that offers an efficient process for converting agricultural residues into low-emission, carbon negative biofuel, is fully supporting the rollout of the mandate.

"China represents one of the key growth markets for Clariant. This strategic partnership with Chemtex is another milestone reached in our continued pursuit of the corporate goal of Adding Value with Sustainability,” says Christian Librera, Clariant’s Head of Business Line Biofuels and Derivatives. “It is also pivotal in further strengthening our position in the national 2G biofuels market by providing our customers a comprehensive solution for the development, construction, and commissioning of their commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plants in China along the ‘green’ development path of the country."

In addition to reducing GHG emissions by offering 2G biofuel that is climate-friendly, the sunliquid® process also makes great use of agricultural residues, which so far are mostly burned in the fields after harvesting to become a seasonal source of air pollution.

The combined offerings of Clariant and Chemtex will provide a comprehensive package of 2G ethanol technology licenses and Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) services, enabling customers in China to successfully design, build and operate their own full-scale plants. While Clariant will offer its sunliquid® technology licenses, technical services and the supply of starter cultures from its proprietary enzyme and yeast platform, Chemtex will be responsible for engineering, procurement and construction.

As MRC informed before, in June, 2020, TechnipFMC and Clariant Catalysts announced that they have entered into a joint development agreement for the demonstration and commercialisation of Clariant’s new state-of-the-art AcryloMax propylene ammoxidation catalyst for the production of acrylonitrile (ACN). This new collaboration will bring together Technip Energies’ well-established expertise in fluid bed technologies and process development with Clariant’s longstanding experience and knowledge in the development, manufacturing and supply of catalysts for the petrochemical industry.

Russia's output of chemical products rose in June 2020 by 2.6% year on year. However, production of basic chemicals increased year on year by 4.9% in the first six months of 2020. According to the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, polymers in primary form accounted for the greatest increase in the output in January-June. Production of benzene was 106,000 tonnes in June 2020, compared to 110,000 tonnes a month earlier. Overall output of this product reached 721,000 tonnes over the stated period, up by 3.9% year on year.

Clariant AG is a Swiss chemical company and a world leader in the production of specialty chemicals for the textile, printing, mining and metallurgical industries. It is engaged in processing crude oil products in pigments, plastics and paints.

Cepsa ran its refineries at up to 85% in July

MOSOW (MRC) -- Spanish-based integrated oil group Cepsa said July 30 it expects refinery rates at its Spanish complexes to edge up to 85% during the month of July and steadily approach the optimal run rate by year-end, assuming the positive trend in demand continues, reported S&P Global.

The gradual reopening of the Spanish economy in Q2 resulted in increased volumes towards the end of the quarter and by the end of June all fuel retail stations were operational,

Cepsa said, noting that at the end of June its refineries were running at a 82% utilization rate. This compares to a rate of 74% reported for the Q2 period, during which refining output fell 19% year on year to 4.4 million mt.

As MRC wrote previously, Cepsa (Madrid, Spain) reports a 30% rise year on year to EUR86 million (USD101 million) in clean EBITDA on a current cost of supply (CCS) basis for its chemicals business in the second quarter, due to a rebound in margins and volumes in the phenol/acetone segment and “high demand” in the detergents sector.

We remind that Cepsa Quimica (Shanghai) shut its phenol and acetone plant in Shanghai for 5 days from December 10, 2019, due to the repair work on the gas pipeline in the Shanghai Caojing Chemical Industry Park, where the plant is located.

Phenol is the main feedstock for the production of bisphenol A (BPA), which, in its turn, is used to produce polycarbonate (PC).

According to MRC's ScanPlast, Russia's overall estimated consumption of PC granules totalled 47,300 tonnes in the first two quarters of 2020 (excluding imports and exports to/from Belarus), compared to 40,700 tonnes a year earlier. Demand increased by 16% year on year.