China Wanhua starts up new coal-based methanol plant

China Wanhua starts up new coal-based methanol plant

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Chinese private-sector firm Wanhua Chemical has recetnly started up a new coal-based methanol plant at Yantai in Shandong province, according to Petrotahlil.

The new plant has a nameplate capacity of 600,000 t/yr and can produce up to 670,000 t/yr of methanol.

Wanhua has mothballed its old, coal-based methanol plant with 200,000 t/yr capacity at the same site.

The new plant may not have much impact on the methanol market as Wanhua plans to maintain low operations at the plant in the initial stage, mainly for its captive consumption by its methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI), methyl methacrylate and methyl tert-butyl ether units totalling 200,000 t/yr of methanol demand.

Weak margins are another concern for Wanhua to produce more methanol.

Wanhua is looking to sell vessel cargoes to east China in the longer term. The company owns China's single-largest capacity propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant at Yantai in Shandong province. The PDH unit has 750,000 t/yr of propylene capacity and fully integrated derivatives units. Wanhua is also the world's largest MDI manufacturer.

The company is also set to start up its 1mn t/yr propane-feed cracker in early November.

As MRC wrote previously, China’s Wanhua Chemical posted a 49.56% decrease in net profits in the first half of the year, as sales and prices both took a hit from the coronavirus pandemic. Slump in oil prices also dampened demand and prices of its products.

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

ccording to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,594,510 tonnes in the first nine months of 2020, up by 1% year on year. Only high denstiy polyethylene (HDPE) shipments increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market reached 880,130 tonnes in the nine months of 2020 (calculated using the formula: production minus exports plus imports, exluding producers' inventories as of 1 January, 2020). Supply increased exclusively of PP random copolymer.

Refiner Valero Energy Q3 profit rises

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Valero Energy Corp reported a 37.2% jump in quarterly profit, supported by strong margins and a rise in refining activity after a crippling hurricane season that hurt refiners on the US Gulf coast, according to Reuters.

Net income attributable to Valero rose to USD841 million, or USD1.91 per share, in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, from USD613 million, or USD1.33 cents per share, a year earlier.

Operating revenue for the world’s largest independent petroleum refiner rose to USD23.56 billion from USD19.65 billion a year earlier.

As MRC reported before, Valero Energy Corp restarted the large crude distillation unit (CDU) at its 335,000-bpd Port Arthur, Texas, refinery the first week of September, 2020. The 268,000-bpd CDU was shut with all other units at the refinery on Aug. 25 because of the threat from Hurricane Laura.

We remind that in June 2020, Valero Energy Corp’s Memphis, Tennessee, crude oil refinery was operating at two-thirds of its 180,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) capacity because of low demand in the COVID-19 pandemic. The Memphis refinery cut production by as much as 50% in early April and has been raising production gradually since then.

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

ccording to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 1,594,510 tonnes in the first nine months of 2020, up by 1% year on year. Only high denstiy polyethylene (HDPE) shipments increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market reached 880,130 tonnes in the nine months of 2020 (calculated using the formula: production minus exports plus imports, exluding producers' inventories as of 1 January, 2020). Supply increased exclusively of PP random copolymer.

Sika starts producing shotcrete admixtures in France

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Sika says it has started production of shotcrete admixtures at its main plant at Gournay-en-Bray, northwest of Paris, said Chemweek.

Shotcrete admixtures in the form of a set accelerator are used primarily in tunnel construction, and the company notes that the market potential is considerable. Europe alone is currently planning infrastructure-investment programs worth 750 billion Swiss francs ($834 billion) in total, with tunnel construction included in these programs, it says. Tenders have been issued for tunnel-construction projects with a combined length of 900 kilometers, with these projects set to come onstream over the next few years, according to Sika.

"The infrastructure construction market is generally characterized by a high level of resilience in crises. Even in 2020 capital spending remains strong. With the commissioning of the new facilities at the Gournay-en-Bray plant, our aim is to tap into business potential in France and in north and western Europe, and facilitate challenging shotcrete work in mining and tunneling projects with our specialty products. At the same time, we are strengthening our supply chain and competitiveness thanks to a sizeable reduction in logistics costs," says Ivo Schaedler, regional manager/EMEA at Sika.

The company notes that state investment is expected to drive the recovery of France’s construction sector in 2021, following a 4% contraction this year due to COVID-19. The French government’s stimulus program of SFr105 billion will include investment in the country's rail infrastructure and in extensive building renovations, the company says. More than SFr37 billion in investment will be channeled into the Grand Paris Express metro project by 2030, it adds.

As MRC reported earlier, in August 2015, Swiss specialty chemicals company Sika opened its forth production site in Russia. A new mortar factory and a plant to produce concrete admixtures were opened in Volgograd, in southern Russia. Thus, at the existing site in Lobnya, 30 km north of Moscow, a new production facility, which manufactures polymers for concrete admixtures, came on stream.

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.

Sika is a specialty chemicals company with a leading position in the development and production of systems and products for bonding, sealing, damping, reinforcing, and protecting in the building sector and motor vehicle industry. Sika has subsidiaries in 101 countries around the world and manufactures in over 200 factories. Its more than 20,000 employees generated annual sales of CHF 7.09 billion in 2018.

Wacker to expand production of silane-terminated polymers

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Wacker is to begin construction on a new production line for silane-terminated polymers at its site in Nunchritz, Germany, this year, said the company.

Such hybrid polymers are used as binders for formulating high-quality adhesives and sealants, liquid waterproofing systems and environmentally friendly wood-flooring adhesives, among other applications. The investment budgeted for the construction project is in the mid double-digit million range. The production line will go onstream in 2022. Wacker intends to significantly expand its production capacities for hybrid polymers and to further strengthen its focus on specialty chemical products with this investment.

For over fifteen years, Wacker has manufactured silane-terminated polymers at its production site in Burghausen, Germany. Since then, the hybrid-polymer business has experienced robust growth, the company now ranking the second largest manufacturer of silane-terminated binders for adhesives and sealants. “Given the obvious rise in demand for such products, expanding our production capacity for hybrid polymers was a logical decision,” says Executive Board member Auguste Willems.

The location for the capacity expansion was selected on the basis of market access, availability of critical raw materials and, most importantly, production technology aspects. “We have the space for a fully integrated production line in Nunchritz, which we could even expand, should the need arise,” noted Willems.

Hybrid polymers rank among the most important growth fields for WACKER SILICONES at present. “Our innovative alpha-technology based silanes are used in the manufacturing process,” says Robert Gnann who heads the company’s silicones business division. “Hybrid polymers have a unique property profile. That’s why they are used for formulating particularly high-quality and high-performance adhesives and sealants. WACKER has established a unique selling point worldwide with its alpha-silane technology."

Silane-modified polymers enable the manufacture of environmentally friendly adhesives. “The sustainability aspect is steadily gaining traction with the formulation of adhesives and sealants as well. This is what attracts manufacturers and customers alike,” says Gnann. “The alpha-silane technology allows us to develop customized binders for an exceptionally wide variety of adhesives and applications. Demand for these kinds of adhesives will continue to increase in the coming years."

Wacker has produced silane-modified polymers since 2005. Appli-cations for hybrid polymers, which the company has marketed globally under the GENIOSIL brand, include adhesives and sealants as well as construction, assembly and wood-flooring adhesives. Product properties like hardness, elasticity and tensile strength can be varied in a targeted manner with hybrid binders and adapted to special requirements for adhesive or sealant applications. In addition, further hybrid polymers developed in a patented process open up numerous new application areas. These include water-repellent sealing membranes for flat roofs and balconies on the one hand, and extremely strong adhesives, grout mortars, crack-filling compounds, paints and wear-resistant coatings for concrete floors, on the other.

As MRC reported earlier, Wacker Chemie operates a 90 ktpa EVA compounding plant at the Ulsan site, consisting of two lines. The second line with a capacity of 40 thousand tons of products per year was launched in 2013.

According to MRC's DataScope, September EVA imports to Russia fell by 30,32% year on year to 2,38 tonnes from 3,420 tonnes a year earlier, and overall imports of this grade of ethylene copolymer into the Russian Federation dropped in January-September 2020 by 9,85% year on year to 26,340 tonnes (29,220 tonnes a year earlier).

Wacker Chemie manufactures and markets EVA dispersions under the VINNAPAS brand name. VINNAPAS polymer dispersions are used in a wide range of industries: for the production of complex thermal insulation systems, building and tile adhesives, plaster, building mixtures and mortars, cement sealing slurries and nonwovens.

Trinseo 3Q 2020 earnings surge on higher margins

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Trinseo reports third-quarter net income of USD106 million, up from USD22 million in the year-ago quarter on higher margins in most segments and cost-reduction initiatives, says the company, according to Chemweek.

Net income also included a USD50 million tax benefit. Revenue totaled USD752 million, down 18% year-over-year (YOY) from USD922 million on the pass-through of lower raw material costs. Sales volume was comparable YOY, says Trinseo, which cites strong demand recovery in automotive, tires, construction, and appliances. Adjusted earnings per share came to USD2.87, up from 67 cents in the year-ago quarter and well ahead of the average analyst estimate of USD1.86 as compiled by Refinitiv (New York).

“During the third quarter we observed significant demand recovery in many of our end markets. In addition, tighter market conditions led to higher year-over-year margins for styrene, polystyrene, polycarbonate and ABS,” says Frank Bozich, president and CEO. “We have seen demand momentum continue in October and we are cautiously optimistic that this will continue through the end of the year.”

The latex binders segment had sales of USD183 million, down 20% YOY almost entirely on the pass-through of lower raw material costs, says Trinseo. Volumes were slightly lower YOY as continued headwinds in graphical paper were not quiet offset by positive volume trends in board packaging, CASE applications, and textile, as well as the contribution of the Rheinmuenster acquisition. Adjusted EBITDA was USD20 million, down USD1 million YOY on a negative net timing variance partially offset by cost reduction initiatives.

Synthetic rubber sales totaled USD79 million, down 24% YOY, mainly on the pass-through of lower raw material costs. Demand in the tire market improved from the low levels of the second quarter. Adjusted EBITDA of negative $2 million was USD10 million below the year-ago quarter from both lower margins, including the impact of higher spot sales in ESBR, and lower fixed cost absorption from inventory reduction initiatives.

Performance plastics sales dropped 11% YOY to USD290 million, mainly on the pass-through of lower raw material costs. Adjusted EBITDA increased USD15 million to USD51 million owing to cost-reduction initiatives and expanded margins in polycarbonate and ABS resulting from tighter market conditions and improved customer mix. Sales volume into engineered materials applications decreased 3% YOY.

Polystyrene sales dropped 15% YOY to USD167 million. Lower pricing from the pass through of lower raw material costs reduced sales by 25%, but this was partially offset by higher sales volume owing to higher demand into essential applications such as packaging and appliances. Adjusted EBITDA increased USD4 million YOY to USD21 million on higher volume, particularly into appliance applications, as well as expanded margins in Asia and Europe resulting from high demand and industry utilization.

Feedstocks sales dropped 51% YOY to USD32 million owing to lower styrene pricing as well as lower styrene-related sales volume. Higher styrene margin and production propelled adjusted EBITDA to USD11 million, up YOY from breakeven.

Americas Styrenics, the joint venture between Trinseo and CPChem, turned in adjusted EBITDA of USD18 million, down USD7 million YOY, mainly on lower styrene margins in North America as well as volume-related impacts from COVID-19.

As MRC reported earlier, Trinseo, a global materials company and manufacturer of plastics, latex binders, and synthetic rubber, and its affiliate companies in Europe, have announced a price increase for all polystyrene (PS), acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and acrylonitrile-styrene copolymer (SAN) in Europe, according to the company's press release as of 3 November. Effective Noveber 1, 2020, or as existing contract terms allow, the contract and spot prices for the products listed below rose as follows:

- STYRON general purpose polystyrene grades (GPPS) -- by EUR110 per metric ton;
- STYRON and STYRON A-Tech and STYRON X- Tech and STYRON C- Tech high impact polystyrene grades (HIPS) - by EUR110 per metric ton;
- MAGNUM ABS resins - by EUR110 per metric ton;
- TYRIL SAN resins - by EUR80 per metric ton.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated consumption of PS and styrene plastics totalled 362,820 tonnes in the first nine months of 2020, down by 1% year on year. September total estimated PE consumption in Russia was 48,690 tonnes, up by 13% year on year.

Trinseo is a global materials company and manufacturer of plastics, latex and rubber. Trinseo's technology is used by customers in industries such as home appliances, automotive, building & construction, carpet, consumer electronics, consumer goods, electrical & lighting, medical, packaging, paper & paperboard, rubber goods and tires. Formerly known as Styron, Trinseo completed its renaming process in 1Q 2015. Trinseo had approximately USD3.8 billion in net sales in 2019, with 17 manufacturing sites around the world, and approximately 2,700 employees.