Apex to purchase new site in Thailand for PCB capacity expansion

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Taiwan-based PCB maker Apex International is stepping up construction of new production facilities in Thailand seeking to meet ever-expanding demand resulting from supply relocation to Southeast Asia, according to DigiTimes.

Apex's board of directors has just approved a plan to purchase a plot of land in Sinsakhon Industrial Estate for THB290 million (USD9.21 million) to house new production lines in Thailand, according to a company statement.

Apex has invested big in expanding capacities of its two existing wholly-owned plants in Thailand, with one of them dedicated to production of TV PCBs for major brand vendors and the other for manufacturing PCBs for other applications. A third plant, now under construction, will be for rolling out automotive PCBs and some high-end boards, according to company sources.

Southeast Asia is gaining momentum as a new production base for notebook, networking and DRAM module boards amid the intensifying US-China trade tensions and Korean memory makers strengthening production deployments in the region, industry sources said.

Now among the top-10 PCB makers in Thailand, Apex has landed stable orders from many ODMs and terminal clients as a result of its long-term deployments there, the sources said. The company is poised to see more growth momentum in the wake of global supply chain diversification through building new production facilities in Southeast Asia, the sources indicated.

As MRC reported earlier, Covestro has launched a new production line for polycarbonate (PC) films in the Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate in Thailand. With the new capacity, the company aims to meet the rapidly growing demand in the Asia-Pacific region and to strengthen its own position as a market leader in this field. The films are mainly used in the automotive, telecommunications, medical technology and ID document sectors. The project is the first step in a global expansion of Covestro's plastic film production. The total investment of more than 100 million euros also includes an expansion of the associated infrastructure and logistics to shorten delivery times. More than 100 new jobs will be created worldwide.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, overall estimated consumption of PC granules in the Russian market reached 58,000 tonnes in January-July 2020, up by 22% year on year (47,500 tonnes).

Asia Distillates-Jet cracks ease from multi-week high as aviation demand struggles

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Asian refining margins for jet fuel dipped on Wednesday after hitting a more than two-month high in the previous session as aviation demand continued to struggle amid surging COVID-19 cases in several countries, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Refining profit margins or cracks for jet fuel in Singapore slipped 3 cents to USD2.05 per barrel over Dubai crude during Asian trading hours.

The cracks hit their strongest since July 28 on Tuesday, thanks to tightening supplies. The jet fuel cracks, which have gained about 58% since the end of last week, however, are at their weakest seasonal levels on record, Refinitiv Eikon data showed. Industry analysts said the profit margins were likely to remain a fraction of long-term averages for now as a substantial recovery in aviation demand was not expected until the second half of next year due to reimposed coronavirus restrictions in many markets.

"Strict mitigation measures are being eased in certain markets... although those over the aviation sector will probably be the last ones to go, with imported cases posing real threats to undo individual government efforts to contain local outbreaks," said Peter Lee, a senior oil & gas analyst at Fitch Solutions. "Essential travels and select category of business travels are being permitted in more markets, but the same for leisure flights is perhaps not on the cards, until a vaccine is made available." Cash discounts for jet fuel widened to 52 cents a barrel to Singapore quotes on Wednesday, compared with a 50-cent discount per barrel a day earlier.

As MRC informed earlier, European petrochemical industry faces short-term and longer-term challenges caused by or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Speakers on Monday at the European Petrochemical Association’s (EPCA) 54th annual meeting, being held in a virtual format, said the crisis had been a learning experience for the industry.

According to MRC's DataScope report, Russian companies significantly raised their purchasing of PP in foreign markets in August partially because of a major increase in demand, imports were 21,200 tonnes versus 17,200 tonnes a month earlier. Thus, overall PP imports into Russia reached 143,200 tonnes in January-August 2020, compared to 120,100 tonnes a year earlier.

North America weekly rail up YOY on Canada, Mexico surge

MOSCOW (MRC) -- During the week ended 3 October, chemical railcar traffic in North America increased 1.5% year-over-year (YOY) on gains in Canada and Mexico. Volume totaled 44,993 carloads, up 3.9% from the previous week, according to Chemweek with reference to data released on 7 October by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

On a four-week basis, volume was down 2.8% from 2019 and 5.9% from 2018, about the same as the previous week (chart). For the year to date, chemical railcar traffic in North America was down 4.4% from 2019 and 5.8% from 2018.

Chemical railcar traffic in the United States contributed 31,377 carloads to the total, down 3.8% YOY and up 4.3% from the previous week. For the year to date, US chemical railcar traffic is down 5.1%.

Canadian chemical rail traffic totaled 12,673 carloads, up 16.7% YOY and up 3.6% from the previous week. For the year to date, Canadian chemical railcar traffic is down 2.5%.

Chemical railcar traffic in Mexico totaled 943 carloads, a YOY increase of 11.5% and a sequential decrease of 3.9%. For the year to date, Mexican chemical railcar traffic is down 6.2%.

As MRC informed earlier, Russia's August output of chemical products rose by 5% year on year. At the same time, production of basic chemicals increased in the first eight months of 2020 by 5.3% year on year, 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-August output. Thus, August production of primary polymers rose to 888,000 tonnes from 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 in January-August 2020, up by 15.2% year on year.

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.

VCI questions EU Parliament's proposed 60% emission-reduction target by 2030

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Germany’s chemical industry association VCI (Frankfurt) says that it sees the upcoming vote of the European Parliament on a possible CO2 emission-reduction target of 60% by 2030 as an extremely ambitious project, about which most of the questions remain unanswered, reported Chemweek.

VCI’s announcement follows a call by the EU Parliament in September for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to be reduced by 60% in 2030 compared with 1990. It is also in line with an announcement by the VCI in September.

“It is completely unclear how the enormous reduction contributions from all areas of life and economic sectors will come about. We need more realism in politics as to how high we can raise the climate-protection target in the EU without the rest of the world pulling along,” says Wolfgang Gro?e Entrup, managing director at VCI.

He notes that a target as ambitious as 60% by 2030 requires the EU to reduce by five times the average amount of CO2 it has been reducing for the past 30 years. The European Commission recently announced an emission-reduction target of at least 55% by 2030.

The EU needs to show there is a way toward the 60% target, since it is not clear how it can be achieved, VCI says. Questions remain about how the EU-wide expansion of renewables and the necessary networks will be accelerated; energy-efficiency measures such as energetic building renovation can be massively ramped up; and the competitiveness of the European economy can be preserved to create jobs and invest in climate-friendly processes, Gro?e Entrup says.

The EU’s aim should be “to develop a concrete and realistic package of measures so that the necessary infrastructure can be built, climate-friendly technologies are further developed, and jobs are preserved,” Gro?e Entrup adds.

As MRC informed before, in September 2020, Shell announced that it will replace the ethylene steam cracker furnaces at its Moerdijk petrochemicals complex, The Netherlands, in a move that will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Shell will install eight new furnaces in place of 16 older units without reducing capacity at the facility. The investment significantly reduces both the site’s energy consumption and its operational greenhouse gas emissions. The CO2 emissions reduction is about 10 percent of Shell Moerdijk’s annual total.

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.

Prices of European PP fell for CIS markets in October

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The contract price of propylene in Europe was agreed by EUR12,5/tonne lower than in September. However, some European producers went for a greater reduction in the export price of polypropylene (PP) than the reduction in the price of monomer for supply to the markets of the CIS countries in October, according to the ICIS-MRC Price Report.

Negotiations over October prices of European PP began at the end of last week. All market participants said European producers decided to reduce the export prices of propylene polymers, and in some cases the price decrease is recorded more than the decrease in the price of propylene in the region.

Deals for October shipments of homopolymer propylene (homopolymer PP) were discussed in the range of EUR830-900/tonne FCA, whereas last month's deals were done in the range of EUR840-940/tonne FCA.

Deals for block copolymers of propylene for June delivery were discussed in the range EUR920-980/tonne FCA.
There were no restrictions on October shipments from European producers; moreover, for large volumes of purchases, some producers were ready to go for additional discounts.