PTTGC mulls over starting up new cracker in Thailand in December

MOSCOW (MRC) -- PTT Global Chemical (PTTGC) might start up the newly constructed cracker in Map Ta Phut, Thailand this December, reported CommoPlast with reference to market sources.

The company kickstarted the project in early 2018 as part of PTTGC’s USD4.5 billion projects to “retrofit” its Map Ta Phut site.

The new cracker operates on flexible feeds, primarily to utilize the surplus naphtha from its refinery. The unit has an annual capacity of 500,000 tons/year of ethylene and 261,000 tons/year of propylene.

As MRC wrote previously, PTTGC fully restarted its No. 2 cracker in Map Ta Phut by end-February, 2020, after a planned turnaround. The cracker was shut for maintenance on January 20, 2020. Located at Map Ta Phut, Thailand, the No. 2 cracker has an ethylene production capacity of 400,000 mt/year.

The company also operates No. 1 cracker at the same site with a capacity of 515,000 tonnes of ethylene and 310,000 tonnes of propylene per year, which was also shut on 23 January, 2020, for a 40-day turnaround.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing PE and polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,496,500 tonnes in the first eight months of 2020, up by 5% year on year. Shipments of all ethylene polymers increased, except for linear low desnity polyethylene (LLDPE). At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market reached 767,2900 tonnes in the eight months of 2020 (calculated using the formula - production minus exports plus imports - and not counting producers' inventories as of 1 January, 2020). Supply increased exclusively of PP random copolymer.

PTT Global Chemical is a leading player in the petrochemical industry and owns several petrochemical facilities with a combined capacity of 8.45 million tonnes a year.

Reliance to restart LDPE plant in India after maintenance shutdown

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Reliance Industries (RIL) is scheduled to restart the low density polyetylene (LDPE) plant in Gujarat on 28 October following brief maintenance, according to CommoPlast.

The unit was taken off-line on 25 October 2020.

The LDPE line has an annual capacity of 400,000 tons/year.

“Due to the short shutdown, there is virtually no impact on the supply,” a source close to the producer informed.

As MRC reported earlier, in September 2020, RIL released a detailed plan to carve out its oil-to-chemicals business into a separate entity for a potential stake sale. As per the scheme, RIL’s oil-to-chemicals (O2C) assets, including its refining, petrochemicals, fuel retail (majority interest only) and bulk wholesale marketing businesses, along with its assets and liabilities, will be transferred to a new unit. The new unit will include the refining and petrochemical plants and manufacturing assets at RIL’s Jamnagar, Dahej, Hazira, Nagothane, Vadodara, Patalganga, Silvassa, Barabanki and Hosiarpur locations.

It will also include all assets relating to RIL’s ongoing refinery and petrochemical projects that are being commissioned or near completion, the company said. RIL had officially announced its proposal to transfer its oil-to-chemicals (O2C) business to a separate entity in April.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, August estimated LDPE consumption in Russia rose to 48,460 tonnes from 43,380 tonnes a month earlier. Russian producers reduced their export LDPE shipments. Russia' estimated LDPE consumption rose to 383,500 tonnes in January-August 2020, up by 6% year on year. Despite the long outages, LDPE production increased, and imports also rose.

Reliance Industries is one of the world's largest producers of polymers. Thus, the company produces among others polypropylene, polyethylene and polyvinyl chloride.

About half of the US Gulf of Mexico's oil and gas volumes offline ahead of Zeta

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Roughly half of all the oil and gas production from the US Gulf of Mexico was shut in Oct. 27 ahead of Tropical Storm Zeta, which is expected to again strengthen into a hurricane before making a projected landfall in southeastern Louisiana, reported S&P Global.

An estimated 914,811 b/d of crude production and 1,500 MMcf/d of natural gas production was shut in, reflecting 49.45% and 55.35% of US Gulf output, respectively, according to the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. About 25% of the Gulf's platforms and rigs, or 157 facilities, have been evacuated thus far, BSEE said, with more underway.

Chevron, Shell, BP, BHP, Murphy Oil and Equinor all confirmed they've shut down platforms and production ahead of the storm. BP and Chevron count among those shutting-in all of their operated platforms.

"In preparation for the tropical weather, we have begun evacuating all personnel from our Chevron-operated Gulf of Mexico platforms and are shutting-in the facilities," Chevron said in a statement.

BP said it was shutting-in its four operated platforms - Atlantis, Mad Dog, Na Kika and Thunder Horse - and evacuating personnel.

Shell, on the other hand, is only closing down its Stones FPSO thus far, which happens to be its Gulf project that's farthest offshore.

"As a precautionary measure at our Stones asset, we have begun evacuating non-essential personnel and shut in production," said Shell spokeswoman Cindy Babski in a statement on Oct. 27. "We have safely paused some of our drilling operations and currently have no other impacts to our production across the Gulf of Mexico."

BHP spokeswoman Judy Dane said the Australian firm shut-in and evacuated its Shenzi and Neptune, while Equinor said it shut-in production at its Titan platform.

Murphy oil spokeswoman Megan Larson said the offshore production is "evacuating and shutting in certain facilities," but would not name specific assets.

Occidental Petroleum was more vague, saying in a statement, "All of our facilities have plans to prepare for weather-related events, and those in the storm's potential path are implementing those procedures."

Oil and gas volumes in the US Gulf will yet again be disrupted from a record-setting 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. Zeta is the 27th named storm of the year, tying the 2005 record with more than a month remaining in the season.

Earlier in October, Hurricane Delta forced more than 90% of the US Gulf's nearly 1.9 million b/d of crude production to be shut in, but Zeta isn't expected to take that much production offline.

Zeta strengthen into a Category 1 hurricane Oct. 26 before making an initial landfall near Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and weakening back to tropical storm status. Zeta is expected to strengthen back into a hurricane later on Oct. 27 and make a second landfall late Oct. 28 near southeastern Louisiana, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Named storms Delta, Beta, Sally, Marco, Laura, Hanna and Cristobal have all disrupted activities in the Gulf from June through October.

The current path of the hurricane targets roughly 2.7 million b/d of refining capacity, mostly in Louisiana.

Refiners continue to monitor the storm, based on their hurricane readiness and response plans.

"We are closely monitoring Tropical Storm Zeta. Operations are currently normal," said ExxonMobil spokesman Jeremy Eikenberry about the status of its 517,000 b/d Baton Rouge, Louisiana plant.

Shell said it plans to keep operating its refineries and petrochemical plants in Louisiana and Alabama during the storm.

Decisions to slow or shut down plant depending on the intensity, location and timing of landfall of the storm are likely to be made within the next 24 hours, sources familiar with operations at several refineries said.

Citgo Petroleum's Lake Charles Refinery in Louisiana has been offline since it sustained damages from Hurricane Laura in August, although the refinery is expected to come back online in about a week or so. Phillips 66's Alliance Refinery in Belle Chasse, Louisiana also remains offline for maintenance work.

As MRC informed earlier, Royal Dutch Shell plc. said earlier this month that its petrochemical complex of several billion dollars in Western Pennsylvania is about 70% complete and in the process to enter service in the early 2020s. The plant’s costs are estimated to be USD6-USD10 billion, where ethane will be transformed into plastic feedstock. The facility is equipped to produce 1.5 million metric tons per year (mmty) of ethylene and 1.6 mmty of polyethylene (PE), two important constituents of plastics.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing PE and polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,496,500 tonnes in the first eight months of 2020, up by 5% year on year. Shipments of all ethylene polymers increased, except for linear low desnity polyethylene (LLDPE). At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market reached 767,2900 tonnes in the eight months of 2020 (calculated using the formula - production minus exports plus imports - and not counting producers' inventories as of 1 January, 2020). Supply increased exclusively of PP random copolymer.

Element earnings improve on income tax benefit

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Element Solutions reported third-quarter net income of USD36 million, compared to a net loss of USD6 million in the year-ago quarter due largely to favorable income tax benefit, said Chemweek.

Reported adjusted EBITDA of USD101.8 million was down 12% year-on-year (YOY). Net sales were USD478 million, an increase of 3% YOY. Reported adjusted earnings of 22 cts/share were down 15% YOY.

"Element Solutions had a strong third quarter," said Element CEO Benjamin Gliklich. “Our automotive and industrially oriented businesses recovered robustly from the second quarter lows, and our high-end electronics business continued its momentum from the first half."

Electronics segment adjusted EBITDA was USD72 million in the quarter, a decrease of 3% YOY. Electronics net sales increased 10% YOY, to USD307 million. Industrial & specialty segment adjusted EBITDA was USD30 million, a decrease of 28% YOY. Industrial & specialty segment net sales decreased 8% YOY, to USD171 million. Excluding the impact of acquisitions, currency, and metals pricing pass through overall organic sales were down 2% YOY.

Element raised its free cash flow forecast to approximately USD215 million for full-year 2020 from a previous forecast of more than USD185 million. The company expects to introduce a 5 ct/share dividend on a quarterly basis pending board approval. “This business generates far more free cash flow than it needs to invest internally to fund capex and more than we normally expect to deploy into acquisitions that fit our criteria,” Gliklich said. “We believe it appropriate to begin to return some of that capital to investors in the form of cash dividends.” A 5 ct/share quarterly dividend would equate to approximately 20% of Element’s expected annual free cash flow, Element said. “We believe that [a dividend] does not materially impact our ability to compound earnings, reduce debt or opportunistically invest in inorganic growth," Gliklich said.

As MRC informed earlier, Element Solutions says it has acquired DMP Corporation (Rock Hill, South Carolina), a provider of turnkey wastewater treatment and recycling products and services for the manufacturing sector.

We remind that Russia's output of chemical products rose in September 2020 by 6.7% year on year. At the same time, production of basic chemicals increased by 6.1% year on year in the first nine 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-September output. Last month's production of primary polymers decreased to 852,000 tonnes from 888,000 tonnes in August due to shutdowns in Tomsk, Ufa and Kazan. Overall output of polymers in primary form totalled 7,480,000 tonnes over the stated period, up by 16.4% year on year.

Teijin signs high-performance materials supply accord with Safran

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Teijin Limited announced that a long term master agreement has been signed by Teijin and Safran S.A., an international high-technology group and tier-1 supplier of systems and equipment in the Aerospace and Defense market, said Chemweek.

Teijin has been supplying high-performance materials to Safran for the last 25 years. The contract establishes the frame for the supply of Teijin's high-performance materials dedicated to the manufacturing of equipment parts for new generation aircrafts.

Teijin and Safran intend to reinforce their collaboration to meet the challenges of the aviation market, creating advanced technologies that lower production costs and environmental impact. Teijin may supply Safran with a variety of high-performance materials to manufacture various Safran products used for aircraft applications in commercial, defense industry or for space applications. Some of the first materials supplied to Safran should be manufactured by US-based Renegade Materials Corporation, a prepreg supplier specialized in high temperature resistant resin and safe, non-toxic polyimide prepreg materials, which Teijin acquired in 2019.

Safran Vice President, Materials Purchasing, Thierry Viguier, stated, "The signature of this master agreement materializes the growing relation between Safran and Teijin. Safran expects to reach new steps in aeronautical equipment performance and competitiveness, thanks to the innovation capacity of Teijin in high-performance materials." Shukei Inui, General Manager of Teijin's Carbon Fiber Business Unit commented that "This agreement with Safran is a milestone in our long and trustful relationship and will strengthen Teijin`s position as a reliable material supplier to the aircraft industry. Together with Safran, we will deliver innovative products and solutions, answering the industry`s needs for well-processable, cost efficient and sustainable light-weight materials."

Stated as the group's Strategic Focus in its Medium-term Management Plan for 2020–2022, Teijin is pushing forward its development of mid- to downstream applications for aircraft, targeting annual sales in this field of more than USD 900 million by around 2030.

As MRC informed earlier, Teijin Chemicals resumed production at its polycarbonate (PC) plant in Matsuyama, Japan in early August, after preventive maintenance. Repair work at this enterprise with a capacity of 130,000 tonnes/year began at the end of June.

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).

Teijin is a technology-driven global group offering advanced solutions in the areas of sustainable transportation, information and electronics, safety and protection, environment and energy, and healthcare. Its main fields of operation are high-performance fibers such as aramid, carbon fibers & composites, healthcare, films, resin & plastic processing, polyester fibers, products converting and IT. The group has some 150 companies and around 17,000 employees spread out over 20 countries worldwide.