Hexion CEO returns from medical leave

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Hexion said that Craig Rogerson, chairman and CEO, has returned to work from a medical leave of absence, effective immediately. CFO George Knight, who served as interim CEO in Rogerson’s absence, will resume his prior role, said Chemweek.

In late March, Hexion announced that Rogerson will take a medical leave of absence “due to a condition consistent with COVID-19."

"I’m pleased to return, and I’d like to acknowledge George Knight and the senior management team for assuming additional duties during my absence," Rogerson says.

As MRC informed earlier, Hexion, a major American manufacturer of phenol and bisphenol A (BPA), plans to close its BPA plant in Pernis (Pernis, The Netherlands) in early October for scheduled maintenance. This 120 ktpa BPA production facility will be closed in the second week of October and is expected to resume production in three weeks.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast, in Russia, following the results of the first two quarters, the total estimated consumption of PC granulate in the Russian Federation (excluding imports and exports to Belarus) amounted to 47.3 thousand tonnes against 40.7 thousand tonnes in 2019. Total demand increased by 16%.

Hexion Inc., formerly Momentive Specialty Chemicals Inc., is a chemical company based in Columbus, Ohio. It manufactures thermosetting resins and related technologies and specialty products. Hexion has two divisions: the epoxy, phenolic and coating resins division and the forest products division.

AmSty, Ineos, Trinseo partner to develop PS recycling

MOSCOW (MRC) -- AmSty, INEOS Styrolution and Trinseo signed Joint Development Agreement to advance the circularity of polystyrene, said Trinseo.

AmSty, INEOS Styrolution and Trinseo are committed to a circular economy for polystyrene. This JDA represents the first global combined effort to explore advanced recycling technologies, optimize them for commercial use and call for all contributors along the value chain to make circularity of polystyrene a reality. The three companies are aiming at an economy where post-consumer polystyrene waste does not end up in landfills but is recognized as a valuable resource for the development of new materials for future use.

Polystyrene is a unique polymer suitable for multiple advanced recycling solutions like depolymerization. Its properties make it ideal for a circular economy – even enabling food contact compliancy of the recycled material, often considered the holy grail of polymer recycling.

All three companies have done their own independent research and have invested in various projects to further the commercialization of advanced recycling capacity. This new joint effort allows all participants to share best practices and optimize recycling technologies for large-scale commercial use.

As per ICIS-MRC Price Report, the high impact polystyrene (HIPS) and general purpose polystyrene (GPPS) market
participants in Russia said demand for material remained strong amid its shortage. Large buyers were generally provided with material according to their needs, whereas small ones could not fully meet their needs, as there were no free quantities of Nizhnekamskneftekhim's polystyrene (PS) for injection moulding, extrusion and production of XPS-boards at the beginning of autumn.

AmSty is a leading integrated producer of polystyrene and styrene monomer, offering solutions and services to customers in a variety of global markets. AmSty is a member of the American Chemistry Council and its Responsible Care initiative, and is headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas. AmSty is a joint venture equally owned by Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP and Trinseo LLC.

INEOS Styrolution is the leading global styrenics supplier, with a focus on styrene monomer, polystyrene, ABS Standard and styrenic specialties. With world-class production facilities and more than 90 years of experience, INEOS Styrolution helps its customers succeed by offering innovative and sustainable best-in-class solutions, designed to give them a competitive edge in their markets, and at the same time, help make the circular economy for styrenics a reality. The company provides styrenic applications for many everyday products across a broad range of industries, including automotive, electronics, household, construction, healthcare, packaging and toys/sports/leisure.

Trinseo is a global materials solutions provider and manufacturer of plastics, latex binders, and synthetic rubber. We are focused on delivering innovative and sustainable solutions to help our customers create products that touch lives every day — products that are intrinsic to how we live our lives — across a wide range of end-markets, including automotive, consumer electronics, appliances, medical devices, lighting, electrical, carpet, paper and board, building and construction, and tires. Trinseo had approximately USD3.8 billion in net sales in 2019, with 17 manufacturing sites around the world, and approximately 2,700 employees.

Rohm puts MMA on sales control in Europe

MOSCOW (MRC) -- RohmRohm (Darmstadt, Germany) says it has put methyl methacrylate (MMA) on sales control in Europe, effective immediately, said Chemweek.

“This step is necessary as demand has increased and raw material availability is limited,” it says, giving no further details.

The company, however, announced in July it planned to shut down its MMA plant at Worms, Germany, between 7-30 September for planned maintenance. Rohm raised its prices on 1 July by between 2-4% for MMA and other methacrylate monomer products in Europe for the second time this year. Rohm, the former methacrylates business of Evonik Industries, was sold to private equity firm Advent International last year.

We remind that, as MRC reported before, Rohm (Darmstadt, Germany) says it will shut down its MMA plant at Worms, Germany, for over three weeks in September for planned maintenance. The plant will be closed on 7–30 September. Located in Worms, Germany, the plant has a production capacity of 225,000 mt/year.

The principal application, consuming approximately 75% of the MMA, is the manufacture of polymethyl methacrylate acrylic plastics (PMMA). Methyl methacrylate is also used for the production of the co-polymer methyl methacrylate-butadiene-styrene (MBS), used as a modifier for polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's overall PVC production reached 557,000 tonnes in the first seven months of 2020, up by 1% year on year. Only three Russian producers managed to increase their output.

BASF acquires technology from US firm

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BASF says it has acquired the proprietary technology for L-glufosinate ammonium from AgriMetis (Lutherville, Maryland), a developer of biotechnological innovations for crop protection, said Chemweek.

The acquisition enables BASF’s agricultural solutions business to offer its customers an even more efficient product to protect against unwanted weeds with an improved formulation, the company says. The new product is currently in the registration process in the US and will be launched there in the next few years. It is also planned to be launched later in other relevant regions.

According to BASF, the new product can help farmers reduce the amount of crop protection products they need to apply by up to 50%. This is because, unlike today’s glufosinate products, which consist of the active L-glufosinate ammonium and the inactive D-glufosinate ammonium, the technology acquired by BASF converts D-glufosinate ammonium into L-glufosinate ammonium, making it more effective, it says.

The worldwide market for crop protection and seeds is growing as population numbers increase, BASF says. “This step enables us to further develop our glufosinate ammonium portfolio and is an important part of our future offering to best support our customers in combating the increasingly rapid development of weed resistance,” says Vincent Gros, president/agricultural solutions at BASF.

As per MRC, BASF is continuing the modernization and expansion of its Ludwigshafen, Germany, complex with construction of a medical center focused on occupational medicine. Work on the new building will begin in early 2021 with completion scheduled for mid-2023, the company says. Meanwhile, due to the economic environment caused by COVID-19, BASF has examined all planned construction projects and decided no longer to pursue a project to construct a new office building at Gate 2 of the site, on the plot of what used to be the Friedrich-Engelhorn skyscraper.

As MRC reported earlier, BASF has restarted its No. 1 steam cracker in Germany following a maintenance turnaorund. Thus, the company resumed operations at the plant on September 30, 2019. The plant was shut for maintenance in mid-August, 2019. Located at Ludwigshafen in Germany, the No. 1 cracker has an ethylene production capacity of 235,000 mt/year and a propylene production capacity of 125,000 mt/year.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's overall PE production totalled 1,712,400 tonnes in the first seven months of 2020, up by 58% year on year. Linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) accounted for the greatest increase in the output. At the same time, overall PP production in Russia increased in January-July 2020 by 24% year on year to 1,063,700 tonne. ZapSibNeftekhim accounted for the main increase in the output.

BASF is the leading chemical company. It produces a wide range of chemicals, for example solvents, amines, resins, glues, electronic-grade chemicals, industrial gases, basic petrochemicals and inorganic chemicals. The most important customers for this segment are the pharmaceutical, construction, textile and automotive industries. BASF generated sales of EUR59 billion in 2019.

Australia proposes paying oil refiners billions to stay open

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Australia has proposed offering incentives worth AD2.3 billion (USD1.67 billion) over 10 years to keep the country's four remaining oil refineries open and said it would invest in building fuel storage as part of a long-term fuel security plan, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The country's refiners have been battered by the coronavirus-driven collapse in fuel demand, racking up losses which they say threaten the future of their plants as they compete against much bigger refineries around Asia. "The government is committed to a sovereign on-shore refinery capacity despite the threat to the viability of the industry," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

To shore up near term fuel security, the government said it would include AD211 million in its upcoming budget to boost storage of diesel, crucial for farms, mines, trucks and back-up power.

"The events of 2020 have reminded us that we cannot be complacent. We need a sovereign fuel supply to shield us from potential shocks in the future," Morrison said in a statement. The government said it would work with the industry to design a "refinery production payment" as an incentive to keep the four plants open. Together with an exemption from new fuel storage requirements, the incentives would be worth about AD2.3 billion over 10 years.

The four refiners - BP Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp, Viva Energy Group and Ampol Ltd - all welcomed the proposals but made no commitment to keep their plants open. "There's recognition the refining sector is at a bit of a critical crossroads and needs the long-term confidence to maintain operations and investment ... and I think the package goes a long way to achieving that outcome," Viva Chief Executive Scott Wyatt told Reuters.

BP and Ampol Ltd said they needed to see details of the measures to understand the impact on their businesses.

Earlier this year, as MRC wrote previously, 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.

And 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 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.