COVID-19 - News digest as of 18.09.2020

1.European Parliament urges EU to prioritize production of APIs and medicines

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The European Parliament says that the EU should become more self-sufficient in medicines and medical equipment so that affordable treatments are available at any time, said Chemweek. It calls for priority to be given to boosting domestic production of essential and strategic medicines because currently 40% of medicines marketed in the EU originate in non-EU countries and 60-80% of its active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) supplies are produced in China and India. The COVID-19 health crisis has emphasized the need to return API production to Europe and the EU Parliament has welcomed the EU health program EU4Health, which it says has the potential to ensure safe medicines in Europe can be made available, accessible, and affordable. Meanwhile, members of the European Parliament have asked the European Commission to examine ways to restore pharmaceutical manufacturing in Europe, as part of the EU4Health strategy.


Sinochem to start up new HDPE, PP plants in China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Sinochem Quanzhou Petrochemical is planning to bring its newly constructed high density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP) plants online by 20 September and 30 September respectively, reported CommoPlast with reference to market sources.

The company has also scheduled to bring the 1 million tons/year ethylene cracker on stream on 15 September 2020.

Sinochem has been performing trial operations at the downstream units since August.

Besides the cracker, the petrochemical complex houses a 350,000 tons/year PP line and 450,000 tons/year HDPE line. Meanwhile, the 200,000 tons/year low density polyethylene (LDPE) line would only come online by the first quarter of 2021.

As MRC informed before, in January 2020, Sinochem Energy, a unit of China’s Sinochem Group, agreed to sell a 20% stake to five state-owned firms for 11.56 billion yuan (USD1.65 billion).

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.

Sinochem Group engages in energy, agriculture, chemicals, real estate, and finance service businesses in China and internationally. It is involved in the exploration and production, refining and trading, warehousing and logistics, and distribution and retailing of oil and gas. The company also produces and distributes fertilizers, such as nitrogen, phosphate, potash, and other fertilizers.

Sri Lanka seeks at least USD1.9 MM damage from owner of fire-hit tanker

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Sri Lanka is seeking at least 340 million rupees (USD1.9 million) from the owner of the stricken oil supertanker New Diamond for assistance given to the vessel since it caught fire on Sept. 3, the coordinating officer to the country's attorney general said, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Nishara Jayaratne said the cost was for services provided by various departments including the Sri Lankan navy, air force, ports authority and Marine Environment Protection Authority, among others, up until Sept. 15. The fully-loaded vessel is still in Sri Lankan waters, although the fire was completely doused last week.

Greece-based Porto Emporios Shipping Inc is the registered owner of the 20-year old Panama-flagged large crude carrier, according to Refinitiv data. New Shipping Ltd is the manager of the vessel. The vessel is chartered by Indian Oil Corp to import 2 MM barrels of oil from Kuwait to Paradip in eastern India.

The supertanker was about 90 nautical miles (167 kilometers) from Batticaloa, the eastern province of Sri Lanka, Navy spokesman Indika de Silva said. "We decided to let the salvage master do his job with no restrictions from us on maintaining distance. There is strong current in the area that pulls ship further away. Its hard to pull it back closer to land due to the heavy current," de Silva said.

The ship has left long trails of marine oil slicks. De Silva said all Indian vessels engaged in dousing the fire and subsequent activities had left Sri Lanka.

He also said the USD1.9 million claim was a preliminary sum, as the Sri Lankan Navy was still engaged in the operation. New Shipping Ltd has appointed SMIT Singapore Pte Ltd to lead salvage operations. Salvagers have already vacated the ruptured tank in the engine room and transferred the dirty water into the ballast section.

As MRC informed previously, Indian Oil Corp, the country’s top refiner, is close to winning its first contract to export up to 720,000 tons of clean products to Mauritius under an annual deal from November.

We remind that Indian Oil says it will build an integrated paraxylene (PX) and purified terephthalic acid (PTA) facility at Paradip in Odisha State, India, at an estimated investment of 138 billion Indian rupees (USD1.84 billion). The project will be completed by early 2024, with the complex planned to produce 800,000 metric tons/year of PX and 1.2 million metric tons/year of PTA, it says.

PTA is used to produce polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is used in the manufacturing of plastic bottles, films, packaging containers, in the textile and food industries.

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 material in June.

Datang International Duo Lun Coal Chemical resumes production at PP units in China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Datang International Duo Lun Coal Chemical has restarted its two polypropylene (PP) units following a turnaround, according to Apic-online.

A Polymerupdate source in China informed that, the company resumed operations at the units on September 10, 2020. The units were shut for maintenance on July 28, 2020.

Located at Duolun in Inner Mongolia, the two PP units have a production capacity of 230,000 mt/year each.

As MRC reported earlier, in October 2019, Datang International Power Generation, the listed subsidiary of the nation's second largest power producer, China Datang Group, said it expected its profits to be helped by lower coal prices again last year.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, 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.

Datang International Power Generation Co., Ltd. is a power generation company. The principal activities of the Company are power generation and power plant development in the People's Republic of China (PRC). It is also engaged in activities, including the sale of electricity and thermal power, repair and testing of power equipment, power related technical services, coal trading, chemical products manufacturing and selling, coal chemistry, transportation and recycling.

Celanese raises September VAM prices in Americas

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Celanese Corporation, a global chemical and specialty materials company, has increased September list and off-list selling prices for Vinyl Acetate Monomer (VAM) sold in the Americas, said the producer on its site.

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

Thus, VAM prices rose, as follows:

- by USD0.10/lb - for the USA and Canada;
- by USD250/mt - for Mexico & South America.

As MRC reported earlier, Celanese last raised its VAM prices in the Americas on 14 August, 2020, as stated below:

- by USD0.03/lb - for the USA and Canada;
- by USD125/mt - for Mexico & South America.

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.