Output of chemical products in Russia grew by 5.3% in January-August

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Russia's output of chemical products rose in August 2020 by 5% year on year. At the same time, production of basic chemicals increased year on year by 5.3% in the first eight months of 2020, according to Rosstat's data.

According to the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, polymers in primary form accounted for the greatest increase in the January-July output. August production of benzene fell to 102,000 tonnes from 95,300 tonnes a month earlier due to scheduled shutdowns for maintenance at several producers. Overall output of this product reached 918,300 tonnes over the stated period, down by 0.9% year on year.

August production of sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) were 99,200 tonnes (100% of the basic substance) versus 89,400 tonnes a month earlier. Overall output of caustic soda totalled 837,600 tonnes in the first eight months of 2020, down by only 2% year on year.

1,939,000 tonnes of mineral fertilizers (in terms of 100% nutrients) were produced in August versus 2,113 mln tonnes a month earlier. Overall, Russian plants produced slightly less than 16,500,000 tonnes of fertilizers in January-August 2020, up by 3.2% year on year.

Last month, the production of primary polymers rose to 888,000 tonnes against 838,000 tonnes in July due to increased capacity utilisation at ZapSibNeftekhim, Stavrolen and Gazprom neftekhim Salavat. Overall output of polymers in primary form totalled 6,630,000 tonnes over the stated period, up by 15.2% year on year.

Air Liquide to invest around USD70 million to build ASU in China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Air Liquide (Paris:AI) China will invest around 60 million euros to build an Air Separation Unit (ASU) in the Lingang Economic District, Tianjin Port Free Trade Zone. Air Liquide has been supplying industrial gases to this major Chinese industrial basin for more than 25 years, and already operates 7 production facilities there, said Chemweek.

With an oxygen production capacity of more than 2,000 tons per day, this ASU will notably allow Air Liquide to support the growth of the chemical and steel industries in the Tianjin basin, secured by a new long term supply agreement with a major customer.

Air Liquide will build, own and operate this new ASU, which has been designed leveraging the Group’s latest state-of-the-art technology, for a low carbon and energy efficient production of oxygen, nitrogen and argon. This facility will also incorporate a dedicated capacity to support small-and-medium sized customers of liquid and packaged gases, including local hospitals requiring high-purity medical gases. It is planned to be operational in 2022.

Air Liquide China operates seven ASUs in Tianjin, as well as a network of multi-sourced pipelines that deliver oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen to adjacent customers.

Francois Abrial, member of the Air Liquide Group’s Executive Committee supervising Asia Pacific, said: “One of the most important industrial cities in the country and the largest port in Northern China, Tianjin is a key basin for Air Liquide in China. This new investment in the 8th ASU built and operated by Air Liquide in Tianjin since 1995 clearly demonstrates our commitment to the long-term partnership we have built with our customers there. It also shows our confidence in the sustained growth of the Chinese industry towards cleaner, more efficient ways of producing."

As per MRC, Air Liquide has finalised an agreement with Sasol to acquire the biggest oxygen production site in the world with a plan to reduce its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 30%. We remind that Sasol's world-scale US ethane cracker with the capacity of 1.5 mln tonnes per year reached beneficial operation on 27 August 2019. SasolпїЅs new cracker, the heart of LCCP, is the third and most significant of the seven LCCP facilities to come online and will provide feedstock to our six new derivative units at the company"s Lake Charles multi-asset site.

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.

Air Liquide in China operates nearly 100 plants and employs close to 5,000 employees today. With a strong presence in the key coastal industrial areas, Air Liquide is now expanding into the center, south and west. Its main business activities include industrial and medical gas operations, home health service, Engineering & Construction (designing, manufacturing and installing air separation units/hydrogen facilities), as well as Innovation activities.

COVID-19 - News digest as of 23.09.2020

1. BASF to cut up to 2,000 jobs by 2022 from business services unit

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BASF says it will reduce the number of employees in its global business services unit, which it established at the start of this year, by up to 2,000, almost 24% of the unit's total, by the end of 2022, said Chemweek. The decision follows the bundling of services and resources and the implementation of a wide-ranging digitalization strategy, BASF says. From 2023, the unit expects to achieve annualized cost savings of more than EUR200 million (USD235 million) from the move, the company says. Details of the planned worldwide workforce reduction will be worked out in the coming months with employee representatives involved, according to local rules and regulations, it says.


Brenntag to split into two divisions

MOSCOW (MRC) -- ingredients, says that in January 2021 it will split into two global divisions: Brenntag Essentials and Brenntag Specialties. Each division will have a focus on customer- and supplier needs, said Chemweek.

The new operating model forms part of the company’s previously announced transformation program, Project Brenntag. Brenntag says that with the two new divisions it will better leverage on its strengths and sharpen its profile toward relevant industry segments. “We are in a leading position globally and have a resilient business model. However, the requirements of our business partners and industry change,” says Christian Kohlpaintner, CEO of Brenntag. The company is “setting up two global champions with a differentiated steering approach and addressing the diverse market needs and expectations," he says.

Brenntag Essentials will market a portfolio of process chemicals across a range of industries and applications. The division will leverage scale with flexible and cost-efficient delivery at competitive prices and an efficient business process back-end, Brenntag says.

Brenntag Specialties will focus on ingredients and value-added services that are directly used in the production of the customers' end-products. The division will focus on selected industries: nutrition; pharmaceuticals; personal care/home, industrial, and institutional; material science consisting of coatings and construction chemicals, polymers, and rubber; water treatment; and lubricants. These industries are characterized by high regulatory requirements, Brenntag says.

The two divisions’ “differentiated market approach is backed by a globally consistent and advanced customer segmentation and a customized sales organization,” Brenntag says. Brenntag has announced management board changes to reflect the reorganization, effective 1 January 2021. Besides Kohlpaintner and CFO Georg Muller, the company has announced a chief operating officer for each of the new divisions who will both be board members. Steven Terwindt will take over responsibility for Brenntag Essentials as COO and Henri Nejade will lead Brenntag Specialties as COO.

Brenntag says it also plans to appoint a chief transformation officer (CTO), who will join the management board and increase its membership to five. The CTO will, among other responsibilities, lead the company’s overall transformation process, drive functional excellence, and Brenntag’s digital transformation.

As MRC informed earlier, Brenntag says it has acquired the operating assets of Suffolk Solutions’ (Suffolk, Virginia) caustic soda distribution business. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

As MRC informed earlier, 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.

SK Innovation OKs SK IE Technology stake sale to PEF

MOSCOW (MRC) -- SK Innovation announced on Sept. 22 that it plans to hire more than 1,000 skilled American workers by the end of 2021 as it prepares for initial production at the first of two electric vehicle (EV) battery plants in Georgia, the United States, said Businesskorea.

SK Innovation's EV battery plant is one of the largest economic projects in Georgia’s history. The company affirmed its long-range investment plans for the facility that would make Georgia one of the largest hubs of EV battery manufacturing in the world.

SK Innovation, through SK Battery America, its battery business subsidiary in the U.S., recently reached a hiring milestone with the on-boarding of its first 60 employees at the plant site in the city of Commerce. These employees include production supervisors, production/process/electrical engineers and quality/logistics specialists who will set up, work and serve as the trainers for the EV battery production workforce at the two SK Battery America plants.

SK Battery America’s EV plants will directly create more than 2,600 permanent jobs in the Jackson County area by 2024. The company began initial hiring and training employees at the Georgia site with plans to have more than 150 employees by the end of this year. In addition, about 900 employees are expected to be recruited next year. The new jobs will include a range of technical roles from production operators to senior engineers focused on manufacturing highly sophisticated lithium-ion battery cells at scale. To help begin the process of hiring and training workers, SK Battery America has signed a partnership agreement with Quick Start and Lanier Technical College in Georgia.

As MRC reported earlier, SK Global Chemical, a subsidiary of SK Innovation, plans to shut down its production processes for ethylene and ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) within its naphtha cracking center in Ulsan, South Korea. The 200,000-t/y naphtha cracker, which started commercial operation in 1972, and the EPDM unit, which began commercial operation in 1992, will be mothballed from December 2020 to shift the company's focus to high-value added chemicals.

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.

SK Innovation also recently achieved key construction milestones at the Georgia site with the completion of the exterior of its first manufacturing plant and groundbreaking on the second plant at the same site. The two EV battery plants at Georgia are part of SK Innovation’s USD2.6 billion investment in its U.S. battery business. The first plant is scheduled to begin initial operations in 2021 with mass production in 2022, and the second one is expected to begin mass production in 2023. Together, the two SK Battery America plants will have total annual capacity of 21.5 GWh, which is enough to power more than 300,000 electric vehicles. As the market for EVs continues to grow, SK Innovation is committed to making Georgia a world leader in EV battery manufacturing.