COVID-19 - News digest as of 16.09.2020

1. Saudi King Salman, Putin express 'satisfaction' with OPEC+

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and Russian President Vladimir Putin both expressed "satisfaction" with the implementation of the OPEC+ crude oil output deal and discussed ways to address the global economic slump in a telephone call Sept. 7, according to a statement posted on the Kremlin website, said S&P Global. The call was initiated by King Salman and comes ahead of a key OPEC+ joint ministerial monitoring committee meeting on Sept. 17, which is expected again to focus on compliance. The JMMC is co-chaired by Saudi Arabia and Russia. "Both sides expressed satisfaction with the progress of the implementation of the OPEC+ agreement, which made it possible to stabilize the situation on the world energy markets in general," the statement said. Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed to further closely coordinate their work on production cuts, trade and investments. Saudi and Russian leaders have also discussed joint ways to overcome negative consequences of the coronavirus pandemic on the world economy and finances, the statement said.


SABIC to expand capacity in Asia for NORYL SA9000 resin used worldwide in copper-clad laminates

MOSCOW (MRC) -- SABIC intends to boost production capacity for its specialty NORYL SA9000 resin to support rapid growth of high-performance printed circuit boards (PCBs) used in 5G base stations and high-speed servers, as per the company's press release.

It is anticipated that this latest expansion, which builds on 2019 increases, will nearly double regional production in Asia and increase overall NORYL SA9000 resin production in Asia tenfold vs. 2018 levels.

The incremental gain in capacity will help to reduce global lead times for manufacturers of high-performance copper-clad laminates (CCLs), which can provide them greater flexibility to meet customer requests for quick turnarounds. Additionally, it provides capability for future product development. The expansion project is currently underway in India, with completion expected by the end of 2020.

NORYL SA9000 resin is an important component in CCLs used worldwide in PCBs for the 5G infrastructure market, which is forecast to register a 53 percent CAGR between 2020 and 2025, as reported by Mordor Intelligence.

“SABIC continues to invest in specialized materials that help advance global adoption of 5G networking,” said Scott Fisher, business director, Specialties, SABIC. “As the wireless networking industry faces rising demand for infrastructure with high expectations for speed, bandwidth and low latency, SABIC is committed to delivering the unique material solutions our customers need to help drive this technology forward.”

Specialized PCBs used in 5G network infrastructure require copper clad laminates that address the need for high speed and low insertion loss at higher frequencies. High-performance NORYL SA9000 resin is a modified, low-molecular-weight, bi-functional oligomer based on polyphenylene ether (PPE). It offers formulators the opportunity to achieve very low loss CCL products while balancing heat resistance, dimensional stability, coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) and higher layer count capability.

NORYL SA9000 resin provides formulating flexibility in existing CCL production operations. It is soluble in conventional solvents such as toluene and methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) and can be incorporated into various thermoset resin systems such as styrenics, allylic, acrylic, maleimide, methacrylic and unsaturated polyester monomers and resins.

In addition to NORYL SA9000 resin, SABIC offers other resins that may help thermoset formulators develop solutions for 5G infrastructure. NORYL SA90 resin provides formulating flexibility in solvent-based epoxy systems to achieve improved dielectric performance while balancing heat resistance, improved toughness and improved dimensional stability. SABIC’s BISDA specialty dianhydride resin can improve dielectric performance and lower water absorption in certain polyimide formulations.

Building out 5G mobile networks to deliver up to 10 times faster speeds than 4G networks requires specialized infrastructure, including huge numbers of small cell base stations. Components for traditional and multiple input-multiple output (MIMO) style base stations and antennas, such as radomes, dipole resonators, antennae components, fasteners, screws, stand-offs, fittings, phase shifters and radio frequency filter housings, demand high-performance materials to provide the right balance of mechanical, physical, and dielectric properties. SABIC’s broad portfolio of injection molding solutions including ULTEM resin, NORYL resin, LNP THERMOCOMP compounds and LEXAN EXL copolymer resin can offer tailored dielectric performance, weatherability, weight-out and increased design freedom to help customers optimize performance in 5G infrastructure applications.

As MRC reported earlier, major petrochemicals producer SABIC expects the lifestyle changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic to shape the different usage of plastics going forward.

We remind that Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the petrochemicals giant 70%-owned by Saudi Aramco, saw average petrochemical prices in the second quarter plunge by 27% year-on-year as it posted a third consecutive quarterly loss, according to CEO Yousef al-Benyan's statement Aug. 6.

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.

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (Sabic) ranks among the world"s top petrochemical companies. The company is among the world"s market leaders in the production of polyethylene, polypropylene and other advanced thermoplastics, glycols, methanol and fertilizers.

Celanese again raises September VAM prices in Asia

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Celanese Corporation, a global specialty materials company, once again increased this month's list and off-list selling prices for Vinyl Acetate Monomer (VAM) sold in Asia outside China (AOC), as per the company's press release.

The price increase is effective for orders shipped on or after 15 September, 2020, or as contracts otherwise allow, and is incremental to any previously announced increases.

Thus, September VAM prices rose by USD100/mt - for AOC.

As MRC reported earlier, Celanese already raised its VAM prices for this region on 2 September, 2020. The price increase was also USD100/mt.

According to MRC's DataScope report, June EVA imports to Russia fell by 22,5% year on year to 2,940 tonnes from 3,800 tonnes a year earlier, and overall imports of this grade of ethylene copolymer into the Russian Federation dropped in January-June 2020 by 8,16% year on year to 17,440 tonnes (18,980 tonnes a year earlier).

Celanese Corporation is a global technology leader in the production of differentiated chemistry solutions and specialty materials used in most major industries and consumer applications. Based in Dallas, Celanese employs approximately 7,700 employees worldwide and had 2019 net sales of USD6.3 billion.

Heide Refinery seeks to improve refinery margins by licensing AspenTech optimization software

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Heide Refinery, one of the most complex refineries in Europe, has licensed Aspen Generic Dynamic Optimization Technology (GDOT) software to achieve production levels more closely aligned to plan, according to Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The solution will be deployed to help improve refinery margins with real-time, closed-loop, dynamic optimization increasing the flexibility of operations. GDOT will maximize against operational constraints across the refinery and help to reduce finished product quality giveaway, improving business results.

Juergen Wollschlaeger, CEO at Heide Refinery said: “AspenTech’s GDOT will improve agility in our response to changes in market conditions, such as those we are experiencing right now. It will optimize our production by continuously adjusting targets in the individual controllers within the Advanced Process Control layer so that they align with the economic objectives from planning and scheduling. Ultimately GDOT will optimize profits by minimizing finished product quality giveaway and maximizing production of the most valuable products.”

Matt Holland, vice president of sales for EURA, Aspen Technology added: “The global energy industry is facing a number of unforeseen challenges today. Operational flexibility for refineries is more crucial than ever in this environment. Our GDOT technology will give Heide Refinery the increased agility and flexibility in its operations that this unpredictable landscape demands.”

As MRC wrote before, German refiner Klesch postponed scheduled turnaround work at its refinery near Hamburg until late summer because of the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The 90,000-b/d refinery, known as Raffinerie Heide, was due to undergo planned maintenance in June, 2020.

We remind that in late 2019, the TOTAL refinery in Leuna awarded Bilfinger two further major contracts worth roughly EUR30 million: the first involves exchanging the reactor systems; the second, performing the turnaround for the plant’s POX methanol facility.

We alos remind that Total is evaluating new gas cracker project in South Korea as part of petchems growth strategy.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing polyethylene (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.

MEGlobal announces ACP for October 2020

MOSCOW (MRC) -- MEGlobal announced that its Asian Contract Price (ACP) for monoethylene glycol (MEG) will be USD640/MT CFR Asian main ports for arrival October 2020, said the company.

The October 2020 ACP reflects the short term supply/demand situation in the Asian market.

MEG is one of the main feedstocks for the production of polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

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 in June.

Headquartered in Dubai (UAE), MEGlobal is the world leader in the production of monoethylene glycol (MEG) and diethylene glycol (DG). Established in July 2004, MEGlobal currently sells more than 2.5 million tons of DG per year worldwide. MEGlobal is a 100% subsidiary of Equate Petrochemical Company. In December 2015, Dow Chemical closed a deal to sell its stake in MEGlobal to Equate Petrochemical Company as part of a strategy to optimize its equity stake in Kuwaiti joint ventures.