PVC imports into Ukraine fell by 20% in January-August, exports up by 4%

MOSCOW (MRC) - Imports of suspension polyvinyl chloride (SPVC) into Ukraine decreased by 20% in the first eight months of this year, compared to the same period in 2019 and slightly exceeded 25,000 tonnes. Sales of Ukrainian PVC to foreign markets increased by 4% year on year, according to a MRC's DataScope report.

Last month's suspension polyvinyl chloride (SPVC) imports into the Ukrainian market rose to 2,000 tonnes from 1,700 tonnes in July, with North American resin accounting for the main increase in shipments. Overall SPVC imports exceeded 25,000 tonnes in January-August 2020, compared to 31,300 tonnes a year earlier.

At the same time, the high level of capacity utilisation allowed the Ukrainian producers to increase export volumes. European producers with the share of about 80% of the total imports over the stated period were the key suppliers of PVC to the Ukrainian market. Producers from the USA with the share of about 17% were the second largest suppliers.

Last month, Karpatneftekhim increased the volume of external sales, the export sales of Ukrainian PVC amounted to 6,000 tonnes against 2,600 tonnes in July. Overall, about 111,000 tonnes of PVC were shipped for export in January-August 2020, compared to 106,400 tonnes a year earlier.


Kazanorgsintez shut down HDPE production for turnaround

MOSCOW (MRC) - Kazanorgsyntez, TAIF Group, Russia's largest producer of polyethylene, has begun a sequential shutdown for scheduled maintenance works of its high density polyethylene (HDPE) production facilities, MRC analysts reported.

According to the clients of the enterprise, Kazanorgsintez began a sequential shutdown for the maintenance works of HDPE capacities last weekend, a complete shutdown of capacities is planned by the end of this week. The shutdown will be quite long and will last approximately until the end of October. The plant's production capacity is 540,000 tonnes per year.

It is also worth noting that in line with the maintenance works of HDPE capacities, there will be short shutdown of low density polyethylene (LDPE) production facilities. The plant's annual production capacity is 225,000 tonnes.

As already noted, Ufaorgsintez shut its LDPE facilities for maintenance over the weekend for repairs.

Kazanorgsintez is the largest domestic producer of polymers and ethylene copolymers, a leading enterprise in the chemical industry of the Russian Federation, which is of strategic importance for the development of the economy of the Republic of Tatarstan and is part of the TAIF Group of Companies. At present, the company produces ethylene, polyethylene, polycarbonate, polyethylene pipes, bisphenol, phenol, acetone, ethylene glycols, ethanolamines and other organic synthesis products. The product range includes over 170 items. Kazanorgsintez's annual output is 1.7 million tonnes. The products comply with international quality standards and are exported to 31 countries around the world. The main types of raw materials for production are: ethane, ethylene, liquefied hydrocarbon gases (propane, butane), benzene, ethylene oxide, propane-propylene fraction, vinyl acetate.

PDVSA says idled offshore oil facility in Venezuela is in satisfactory condition

MOSCOW (MRC) -- An idled oil storage facility off Venezuela's eastern coast is in "satisfactory" condition, an official with state company Petroleos de Venezuela said, after a series of incidents in recent months raised concerns about environmental hazards, reported Reuters.

About 1.3 million barrels of Corocoro crude have been stuck for over a year aboard the Nabarima FSO (floating storage and offloading facility), part of the Petrosucre joint venture between PDVSA, as the company is known, and Italy's Eni SpA, as US sanctions have complicated the nation's exports.

With no operating crew on board, in July the vessel presented an 8% incline that created the risk of a spill, and in late August a sea water leak led to flooding in the engine room. Both issues were resolved.

In the company's first public comments on the issue, PDVSA offshore executive director Pedro Figuera said in a late Wednesday night tweet that the vessel "complied with environmental and operational standards."

"The conditions of normalcy and operational reliability of the Nabarima vessel have been deemed satisfactory," Figuera wrote, along with a video of workers aboard the vessel.

Eni had said earlier on Wednesday that the vessel was "stable" and that it was evaluating options to offload the crude, some of which would need authorization under the US sanctions regime.

The concern over the Nabarima comes a month after an oil slick, which opposition lawmakers said came from PDVSA's El Palito refinery, washed up on the shores of Morrocoy national park in western Venezuela, known for pristine beaches and sensitive mangroves.

As MRC informed before, Russian state oil company Rosneft's decision to cease operations in Venezuela and sell its assets there to a Russian government-owned company was a "maneuver" made in reaction to collapsing oil prices, a US State Department official said earlier this year.

We remind that Angarsk Polymers Plant, part of Russian oil giant Rosneft, has resumed its low density polyethylene (LDPE) production after an unscheduled shutdown because of a technical issues at the ethylene unit. The plant"s customers said Angarsk Polymers Plant had brought on-stream its LDPE production by 28 August after the forced shutdown due to technical problems at its ethylene production. And the first shipments of polyethylene (PE) to customers began on 31 August. The outage lasted slightly over two weeks and began on 10 August The plant"s annual production capacity is about 75,000 tonnes.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, June estimated LDPE consumption in Russia grew to 55,260 tonnes from 45,490 tonnes a month earlier. Kazanorgsintez raised its PE output after a spring shutdown for a scheduled turnaround. Russia's estimated LDPE consumption rose to 291,270 tonnes in January-June 2020, up by 5% year on year. Russian producers raised their production, and LDPE imports also increased.

We also remind that 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.

BP looks to cut jobs, including union positions, at its Whiting refinery

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BP, the London-based energy giant, is looking at an unspecified number of job cuts at its BP Whiting Refinery, according to NWI.

BP lost a staggering USD16.8 billion in in the second quarter after the global coronavirus pandemic caused crude oil prices to fall off a cliff and greatly weakened demand for gasoline, with people staying home more often. It's also looking to reduce its carbon emissions, even buying the remaining stake in the Fowler Ridge Wind Farm off of Interstate 65 in downstate Indiana.

"Earlier this year, BP established a new ambition of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Doing so requires reinventing the company, including a global organization redesign," BP spokeswoman Sarah Howell said. "The Whiting refinery is reviewing our organizational structure and remains committed to our core value of maintaining safe operations."

Howell declined to answer questions about specifics, such as how many jobs would be affected and if the headcount reduction would be achieved by layoffs or buyouts.

BP CEO Bernard Looney announced the company would cut about 10,000 jobs worldwide, most by the end of the year.

"The majority of people affected will be in office-based jobs," Looney said. "We are protecting the frontline of the company and, as always, prioritizing safe and reliable operations."

The company said it would try to help displaced workers, such as by providing them with a laptop, giving them professional coaching on job-seeking and helping them launch new careers, such as by referring them to government agencies and offering webinars on how to start a business of their own. He promised "substantial severance packages."

"Everyone on the BP leadership team realizes these decisions will mean significant, life-changing consequences for thousands of colleagues and friends," Looney said. "And I am really sorry that this will hurt a lot of people who I know love this company as much as I do. And so we have spent a lot of time working on how we can do more than we normally do in these circumstances."

The jobs cuts are aimed at making BP "a leaner, faster-moving and lower carbon company," Howell said.

BP Whiting currently employs around 1,700 people, about half of which are represented by the United Steelworkers union.

USW Local 7-1 was notified that BP wanted to cut union jobs.

"The union will be meeting with the company to better understand and negotiate any proposed impacts to USW-represented employees," USW Local 7-1 said in an update to members. "We will be continually updating the membership throughout this process as additional information becomes available."

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.

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.