BP Gelsenkirchen-Scholven refinery set for October maintenance

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BP will undertake maintenance work at its Gelsenkirchen-Scholven refinery complex in Germany starting in mid-October, said Chemweek.

The maintenance will take place at the northern site at Scholven and is expected to last about eight weeks, focusing on meeting unit inspection requirements, according to BP. The company did not specify the number of units affected or say whether output would be impacted.

BP was planning to carry out maintenance at Scholven in April but had to postpone it, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the delay. Flaring might occur during the maintenance period, when parts of the system are taken out of service or put back into service and the excess gas that arises needs burning in a controlled manner, according to BP.

"The aromatics units had already been suspected to be offline over the summer, but it is unclear as to whether this was a commercial decision or due to technical issues at the plant," said Eleanor Dann, principal analyst at IHS Markit. BP has relied on para-xylene (p-xylene) production from its associated unit at Geel, Belgium, instead, she added.

The northern site at Scholven has a capacity to produce 150,000 metric tons/year of p-xylene and 75,000 metric tons/year of ortho-xylene (o-xylene) from mixed xylenes extracted at the refinery. Western European p-xylene demand has declined by 143,000 metric tons and o-xylene demand has fallen by 36,000 metric tons this year to date compared with 2019 levels, Dann estimated. She adds that the lost capacity has failed to make any significant impact on the market.

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. Russian plants reduced their PET output in January-June 2020 by 25% year on year. Overall PET chips production at four Russian plants reached 281,100 tonnes in January-June 2020.

BP operates two plants in the Horst and Scholven districts as an integrated refinery location at Gelsenkirchen. The BP complex produces a variety of refined oil and petrochemical products. Its main output by volume includes 1.05 million metric tons/year (MMt/y) of ethylene, 1.90 MMt/y of gasoline, and 4.20 MMt/y of diesel, according to BP data.

Venator JV site in Louisiana resumes production

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Venator Materials PLC announced that Louisiana Pigment Company, L.P. ("LPC"), its joint venture titanium dioxide production facility located in Lake Charles, Louisiana, has resumed production in increasing phases following the end of supplier outages caused by Hurricane Laura, which had led the facility to temporarily cease production, said Chemweek.

Physical damage to the site was minor, and the site is expected to be fully operational on or about October 1. Venator expects the EBITDA impact of the outage to be up to USD10 million in the third quarter. Simon Turner, President and CEO of Venator, stated, "I am pleased with the rapid response by the management team and associates at the LPC facility to safely resume production as soon as energy and raw material supply were restored."

In a further update, he also commented, "We are continuing to cooperate in the preparation of regulatory filings required for SK Capital to acquire Huntsman's equity stake in Venator. The transaction by which SK Capital will acquire Huntsman's stake in Venator received prior approval by the nonconflicted independent members of our board, and we look forward to the expected closing of that transaction near year end."

As MRC informed earlier, Russia's output of products from polymers grew in August 2020 by 4.1% year on year. However, this figure increased by 1.9% year on year in the first eight months of 2020. According to the Russian Federal State Statistics Service, August production of unreinforced and non-combined films rose to 126,300 tonnes from 118,200 tonnes a month earlier. Output of films products grew in January-August 2020 by 8.3% year on year to 863,200 tonnes.

Venator is a global manufacturer and marketer of chemical products that comprise a broad range of pigments and additives that bring color and vibrancy to buildings, protect and extend product life, and reduce energy consumption. We market our products globally to a diversified group of industrial customers through two segments: Titanium Dioxide, which consists of our TiO2 business, and Performance Additives, which consists of our functional additives, color pigments, timber treatment and water treatment businesses. We operate 24 facilities, employ approximately 4,000 associates worldwide and sell our products in more than 110 countries.

Nexam wins order to supply PET additives to foam manufacturer in US

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Nexam Chemical has received an order from an existing customer in the area of PET additives for deliveries to the USA, said Chemweek.

The customer is a market-leading manufacturer of PET foam. It is the single largest order in the United States and also one of the largest ever for Nexam Chemical globally. Nexam Chemical has previously delivered products to this customer and this order confirms good growth in the business. The value of the order is SEK 9 million and applies to deliveries up to and including the spring of 2021.

"It is very satisfying to be able to tell about this order. Mostly because we really see that we get the confidence to continue to grow with existing customers. Working with growing customers is a key component in a long-term growth strategy. ” says Johan Arvidsson, CEO of Nexam Chemical. "This is a cooperation we have had for just over 2 years, which is developing better than we originally could predict." continues Johan Arvidsson.

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. Russian plants reduced their PET output in January-June 2020 by 25% year on year. Overall PET chips production at four Russian plants reached 281,100 tonnes in January-June 2020.

Nexam Chemical develops technology and products that make it possible to significantly improve the production process and properties of most types of plastics in a cost-effective manner and with retained production technology. The improved properties include strength, toughness, temperature and chemical resistance as well as service life. The improvements in properties that can be achieved by using Nexam Chemical's technology make it possible to replace metals and other heavier or more expensive materials with plastics in a number of applications. In applications where plastic is already used, Nexam Chemicals products can improve the manufacturing process, reducing material use and enable more environmental friendly alternatives.

BASF completes divestment of construction chemicals business to private equity firm

MOSCOW (MRC) -- On September 30, 2020, effective at midnight, BASF closed the divestiture of its Construction Chemicals business to an affiliate of Lone Star, a global private equity firm, said the company.

The purchase price on a cash and debt-free basis is EUR3.17 billion. The Construction Chemicals business now forms the newly founded MBCC Group, headquartered in Mannheim, Germany. “Lone Star has been a professional partner in this transaction and is committed to the future success of the business,” said Saori Dubourg, member of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE. “We highly appreciate the tremendous efforts to realize the carve-out and close the deal in such a fast and decisive manner. We wish the Construction Chemicals team much success for the future."

The divestment of the assets and liabilities of the Construction Chemicals business and the related disposal gain will be reflected in BASF’s financial reporting in the fourth quarter of 2020. Payments received in the context of the transaction until September 30 will be included in cash flows from investing activities in the Q3 2020 Statement of Cash Flows.

On December 21, 2019, BASF and an affiliate of Lone Star had signed a purchase agreement for the acquisition of BASF’s Construction Chemicals business. With around 7,500 employees, the Construction Chemicals business operates production sites and sales offices in more than 60 countries and generated sales of about EUR2.6 billion in 2019.

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.

COVID-19 - News digest as of 01.10.2020

1. Dow to record restructuring charge of up to USD600 million, close manufacturing assets

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Dow says it will record a charge of between USD500-600 million in the third quarter for costs associated with the company’s ongoing restructuring program, and has outlined more details of its previously announced plan to close manufacturing facilities in the US and Europe to enhance its long-term competitiveness as the worldwide economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, said Chemweek. Dow will rationalize its manufacturing asset footprint in its industrial intermediates and infrastructure business by “shutting down certain amines and solvents facilities in the United States and Europe as well as select small-scale downstream polyurethanes manufacturing facilities,” it says.