Celanese to build liquid-crystal polymerization plant in China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Celanese intends to build a world-scale, multi-phase liquid crystal polymer (LCP) polymerisation plant in China, said Chemweek.

A first phase of the 20,000 tonne/year plant is expected to come online in 2024. Site selection is underway, with Celanese considering both existing and greenfield locations. The plant would support Celanese’s family of halogen-free, high-performance polymers, it said.

"5G, ‘Internet of Things’ and vehicle electrification are just a few of the macrotrends driving demand for materials that support device miniaturisation, improved signal integrity and circuit densification,” said Stefan Kutta, Celanese vice president, engineered materials.

"LCP is uniquely qualified to solve these challenging requirements, and this investment will support a reliable supply of LCP to a growing customer base and enable Celanese to capture additional growth in these exciting end-uses,” Kutta said.

The addition of LCP polymerisation capacity in China would make Celanese the only LCP producer with assets in both Asia and the western hemisphere, giving it the ability to work closely with customers in multiple regions, the company stated.

Celanese currently has LCP polymerisation capability at Shelby, North Carolina, and LCP compounding in North America, Europe and China. Details about the new LCP project’s expected costs were not disclosed.

As MRC informed earlier, Mitsubishi Chemical has acquired a greenfield property at a large integrated site in Geismar, Louisiana, and plans to advance its feasibility study for the design and construction of a 350,000-metric tons/year methyl methacrylate (MMA) plant. The plant will be the third and largest to employ the Alpha production technology developed by subsidiary Lucite. The company earlier in March this year announced its intent to build the plant.

The main application, consuming approximately 75% MMA, is in the production of polymethyl methacrylate acrylic plastics (PMMA). Methyl methacrylate is also used to produce methyl methacrylate-butadiene-styrene copolymer (MBS), used as a modifier for polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, October total production of unmixed PVC grew to 86,600 tonnes from 86,000 tonnes a month earlier, SayanskKhimPlast and Bashkir Soda Company increased their capacity utilisation. Overall output of polymer was 805,100 tonnes in the first ten months of 2020, which virtually corresponds to the last year"s figure. Two producers increased their production, whereas two other manufacturers reduced their output.

Oil hits 11-month high just below USD57 as Saudi cut supports

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Oil hit an 11-month high just below USD57 a barrel on Tuesday as tighter supply and expectations of a drop in U.S. inventories offset concerns over rising coronavirus cases globally, said Reuters.

Saudi Arabia plans to cut output by an extra 1 million barrels per day (bpd) in February and March to stop inventories from building up. The latest U.S. supply reports are expected to show crude stocks fell for a fifth straight week.

Brent crude was 79 cents, or 1.4%, higher at USD56.45 a barrel by 1304 GMT and earlier hit USD56.75, the highest since last February. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) gained 89 cents, or 1.7%, to USD53.14. "Saudi Arabia in particular is ensuring through its additional voluntary production cuts that the market is undersupplied if anything," said Eugen Weinberg of Commerzbank.

The Saudi cut is part of an OPEC-led deal in which most producers will hold output steady in February. Record cuts by OPEC and its allies in 2020 helped oil recover from historic lows in April. Some analysts see further gains as likely. "We advise investors with a high risk tolerance to be long Brent or to sell its downside price risks," said Giovanni Staunovo of UBS in a report on Tuesday.

Oil also gained on the expectation of a drop in U.S. crude stockpiles. Analysts expect crude inventories to fall by 2.7 million barrels for a fifth straight week of declines. The first of this week’s two supply reports, from the American Petroleum Institute, is due at 2130 GMT.

The prospect of increased economic stimulus in the United States lent further support. President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office on Jan. 20, has promised “trillions” in extra pandemic-relief spending. Concerns about demand due to rising coronavirus cases worldwide limited gains.

Chinese authorities introduced new curbs in areas surrounding Beijing on Tuesday and Japan is to widen a state of emergency beyond Tokyo.

As MRC wrote previously, in January 2020, Zhejiang Petroleum & Chemical Co Ltd, one of two new major refineries built in China in 2019, started up the remaining units in the first phase of its refinery and petrochemical complex. The complex is situated in east China’s Zhoushan city. The company, 51% owned by private chemical group Zhejiang Rongsheng Holdings, said it ha started test production at ethylene, aromatics and other downstream facilities, without giving further details.

Zhejiang Petrochemical started a first 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) crude processing unit in late May, 2019, following on from the start of a 400,000-bpd refinery owned by another private chemical major Hengli Petrochemical. The newly started units at Zhejiang Petrochemical should include a second 200,000-bpd crude unit, a 1.2 million tonnes per year (tpy) ethylene unit and a 2 million tpy paraxylene unit, according to several industry sources with knowledge of the plant’s operations.

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

According to MRC's DataScope report, PE imports to Russia decreased in January-November 2020 by 17% year on year and reached 569,900 tonnes. High density polyethylene (HDPE) accounted for the greatest reduction in imports. At the same time, PP imports into Russia increased by 21% year on year to about 202,000 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2020. Propylene homopolymer (homopolymer PP) accounted for the main increase in imports.

Restart of Borealis Stenungsund cracker underway, force majeure remains

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Start-up of the 625,000-metric tons/year steam cracker operated by Borealis at Stenungsund, Sweden, is now "in process," but the declaration of force majeure remains in place, reported Chemweek with reference to a company spokesperson's statement to OPIS Tuesday.

"The force majeure on our cracker is still in place. Start-up of the cracker is in process, however this is a complex procedure that needs time," Borealis said in an emailed statement to OPIS.

Restarting the cracker could take several weeks, according to Matthew Thoelke, research and analysis director/global olefins at IHS Markit. "The restart of steam crackers after an outage can often take some time, and with prolonged outages, the challenges are often significant," Thoelke said.

Force majeure at Stenungsund was declared after a fire started at the cracker on 10 May last year. A restart of the cracker was initially planned for the fourth quarter of 2020, a Borealis spokesperson told OPIS in September.

Some crackers in Europe have undergone highly problematic restarts, and have taken several months to achieve full operational capacity, according to Thoelke. "The start-up process, if everything goes smoothly, could take a few days before on-spec production is achieved. However, start-ups can often highlight or introduce additional issues and the process can take several weeks," said Thoelke.

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

According to MRC's DataScope report, PE imports to Russia decreased in January-November 2020 by 17% year on year and reached 569,900 tonnes. High density polyethylene (HDPE) accounted for the greatest reduction in imports. At the same time, PP imports into Russia increased by 21% year on year to about 202,000 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2020. Propylene homopolymer (homopolymer PP) accounted for the main increase in imports.

Borealis is a leading provider of innovative solutions in the fields of polyolefins, base chemicals and fertilizers. With headquarters in Vienna, Austria, Borealis currently employs around 6,500 and operates in over 120 countries.

MEGlobal raises ACP for February 2021 by USD70 per tonne

MOSCOW (MRC) -- MEGlobal has announced its Asian Contract Price (ACP) for monoethylene glycol (MEG) to be shipped in February 2021, according to the company's press release.

Thus, on 11 January, the company said ACP for MEG would be at USD740/MT CFR Asian main ports for arrival in February 2021, up by USD70/MT from December.

The February 2021 ACP reflects the short term supply/demand situation in the Asian market.

As MRC reported earlier, MEGlobal announced its January ACP for MEG at USD670/MT CFR Asian main ports, up by USD10/tonne from December 2020.

MEG is one of the main feedstocks for the production of polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

According to ICIS-MRC Price report, in Russia, market participants expected a traditional slowdown in the buying activity in the first half of January, 2021. Market players expect prices of material to rise significantly after the holiday season. Producers said they planned to increase spot prices in January. According to preliminary expectations, January PET prices might exceed Rb92,000/tonne, including VAT.

MEGlobal is a fully integrated supplier of monoethylene glycol (MEG) and diethylene glycol (DEG), collectively known as ethylene glycol (EG).

Trinseo raises January PC prices in Europe

MOSCOW (MRC) -- 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 polycarbonate (PC) grades in Europe, as per the company's press release as of 5 January.

Effective January 1, 2020, or as existing contract terms allow, the contract and spot prices for the products listed below increased as follows:

- CALIBRE PC resins - by EUR300 per metric ton.

As MRC informed earlier, Trinseo last raised its prices for all PC grades in Europe on 1 December 2020 by EUR250 per metric ton.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated consumption of PC granules (excluding imports and exports to\\from Belarus) rose in January-November 2020 by 18% year on year to 83,600 tonnes (70,600 tonnes a year earlier). Consumption decreased by 21% in the injection moulding PC segment to 8,700 tonnes from 10,900 tonnes a year earlier.

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.