January prices of European PVC grew by EUR20/tonne for CIS markets

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Negotiations over prices of European polyvinyl chloride (PVC) for January shipments to the CIS markets began on Monday. As expected, European producers announced a further increase in export PVC prices - by EUR20/tonne and higher - because of higher feedstocks prices, according to ICIS-MRC Price report.

January contract price of ethylene was agreed up by EUR65/tonne from the previous month, which theoretically allows to talk about an increase of EUR32,5/tonne in the net cost of PVC production. But amid strong demand from both the domestic and export markets, European producers raised their export prices for the CIS markets in January by EUR20-40/tonne.

Demand for PVC subsided significantly from consumers in the CIS countries in January under the pressure of seasonal factors, partially because of long New Year's outages of production capacities. Supply of resin from European producers also increased, but there is still no surplus of material.

Overall, deals for January shipments of suspension polyvinyl chloride (SPVC) to the CIS markets were negotiated in the range of EUR875-965/tonne FCA, whereas the previous month's deals were discussed in the range of EUR855-925/tonne FCA.

COVID-19 - News digest as of 13.01.2021

1. OPEC crude output cuts should help US shale profits in 2021

MOSCOW (MRC) -- A decision by OPEC and allied countries to cut crude production through March delivered a late Christmas present for US shale firms that have slashed costs, but any rise in prices spurred by the unexpected move may be just a modest stocking stuffer, reported Reuters. US crude oil production has fallen 2 million barrels per day in the last year as low prices and demand forced shale producers to cut their losses. Investors had already been pressuring the industry to curb spending and boost returns before the pandemic hit. Shale output was quickly cut, but might return quickly if prices keep rising. Last Tuesday, Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, said it would voluntarily reduce its production by 1 million barrels per day (bpd) in February and March, after Russia pushed to increase output, worried about US shale capitalizing on the group’s cuts. Russia and Kazakhstan will increase their output, reluctant to cede market share to the United States. Overall, OPEC+ had been due to restore 500,000 bpd in each of the two months. Saudi officials were concerned new increases would outpace demand during new coronavirus lockdowns.


MOC completed maintenance work at its cracker in Map Ta Phut

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Map Ta Phut Olefins Co Ltd (MOC), a subsidiary of Thailand’s SCG Chemical, has completed the maintenance work at its cracker in Map Ta Phut, reported CommoPlast.

Thus, the cracker with the capacity of 900,000 mt/year of ethylene and 450,000 mt/year of propylene was shut for a scheduled turnaround on 2 November, 2020, and fully resumed operations in the fourth week of December, 2020.

Meanwhile, the company’s downstream plants including the 720,000 tons/year polypropylene (PP) unit and 980,000 tons/year high density polyethylene (HDPE) lines have also resumed operating.

MOC took these units offline in November 2020 for 45-days maintenance.

As MRC informed before, Siam Cement Group’s (SCG) proposed flexible-feed cracker project in Vietnam is being configured to take as much as 80% propane as feedstock for production. The USD5.4bn Long Son Petrochemical (LSP) Complex in Vietnam’s Ba Ria-Vung Tao province “is designed to use up to 20% - 80% propane”, SCG stated in a July 2020 presentation to investors, citing low cost of this feedstock during the summer and winter seasons.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated polyethylene (PE) consumption totalled 1,990,280 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2020, up by 1% year on year. Only high density polyethylene (HDPE) shipments increased. At the same time, polypropylene (PP) shipments to the Russian market reached 1 090,900 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2020 (calculated using the formula: production, minus exports, plus imports, excluding producers' inventories as of 1 January, 2020). Supply of exclusively PP random copolymer increased.

Solvay launches hydrogen platform

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Solvay says it has launched a hydrogen platform that will “bring together all the innovative material and chemical solutions the group has to offer to advance the emerging hydrogen economy, said Chemweek.

" At the heart of the platform is the company’s membrane technology, “which constitutes a necessary component in the process of hydrogen production," the company says. By creating the platform, Solvay says it is increasing its resources dedicated to the emerging hydrogen market, including efforts in research and innovation. Starting this year, Solvay is dedicating teams involving research, engineering, sales, and marketing working together to craft the company's added value to the future hydrogen market.

Solvay’s membrane technology, under the brand Aquivion, will be a key contributor to the electrolyzer and fuel-cells markets, the company says. Solvay intends to bring other hydrogen applications and components to the market, such as hydrogen tanks.

"The hydrogen economy has taken off, and with our new hydrogen platform, we are partnering with our customers in the electrolyzer and fuel-cells space to make it happen,” says Solvay CEO Ilham Kadri. “Green hydrogen will be one of the most competitive low-carbon solutions for transportation applications in the near future."

Solvay, meanwhile, has joined the Hydrogen Council, a worldwide CEO-led initiative that brings together leading companies with a united vision and long-term ambition for hydrogen to foster the clean-energy transition. Solvay also says that its hydrogen platform is integral to the group’s One Planet initiative, which includes 10 measurable commitments to achieve sustainable-development goals across three focus areas: climate, resources, and better life.

Solvay notes that the production of green hydrogen via water electrolysis is expected to reach more than 100 gigawatts of worldwide capacity by 2030, and that the global fleet of fuel-cell electric vehicles is forecast to reach “several million vehicles" by 2030.

Meanwhile, public support for hydrogen is increasing exponentially, with USD10 billion of post-COVID-19 stimulus being dedicated, mostly in Europe and APAC, to green hydrogen R&D and infrastructure deployment, Solvay says.

As MRC reported earlier, in August, 2020, through the acquisition of the Solvay polyamide (PA) business, BASF enhanced its R&D capabilities in Asia Pacific with new technologies, technical expertise, and upgraded material and part testing services. BASF is planning to integrate the R&D centers from Solvay into its R&D existing facilities in Shanghai, China, and Seoul, Korea. The enhanced capabilities will boost BASF’s position as a solution provider to develop advanced material solutions for key industries.

We remind that BASF-YPC, a 50-50 joint venture of BASF and Sinopec, undertook a planned shutdown at its naphtha cracker on 30 April 2020. The company initially planned to start turnaround at the cracker on April 5, 2020. The plant remained under maintenance unitl 18 June, 2020. Located in Jiangsu, China, the cracker has an ethylene capacity of 750,000 mt/year and propylene capacity of 400,000 mt/year.

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.

Croda signs marketing agreement for cleaning raw materials with UK biosciences firm

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Croda International says it has entered a global sales and marketing agreement with Genesis Biosciences (Cardiff, UK) to expand its portfolio of safe and sustainable cleaning raw materials, said Chemweek.

The first phase of the partnership will see the launch of two probiotic ingredients, one for use in hard-surface cleaning products and one for use in odor-neutralizing products. The two ingredients will be available from the end of January, the company says.

Genesis Biosciences specializes in the fermentation of bacteria strains to develop safe and natural microbial and antimicrobial products, Croda says. This technology is “the result of years of [R&D] to characterize natural beneficial bacteria and optimize high-performing consortia for specific applications,” says Peter Wallbank, business development manager at Genesis Biosciences.

As MRC informed earlier, Croda International (Goole, UK) says it has entered a partnership with Sentient Science (Buffalo, New York), an asset management and software services company, for the recommended use of Croda’s Rewitec additives for wind turbine gearboxes and main bearings.

We remind that Russia's output of chemical products rose in November 2020 by 9.5% year on year. At the same time, production of basic chemicals increased in the first eleven months of 2020 by 6.6% 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-November 2020 output. November production of polymers in primary form rose to 896,000 tonnes from 852,000 tonnes in October. Overall output of polymers in primary form totalled 9,240,000 tonnes over the stated period, up by 17.1% year on year.

Croda acquired Rewitec in 2019 and began to offer to energy technology customers nano- and micro-particle-based additives to increase the durability of machinery by lowering friction and reducing wear, the company says. Prior to the acquisition in 2017, Sentient Science validated Rewitec’s DuraGear gearbox oil additives for use in wind turbine gearboxes, it says.