Kuraray raises prices for EVOH, PVOH resins

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Kuraray announces the decision to increase the prices of its EVOH products (ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer; Kuraray trademark: EVAL) for shipments commencing February 22, 2021, said the company.

Details of the price revisions are given below. Due to increasing the production costs including equipment maintenance and updates in EVAL production, the profitability has been deteriorating.

Under these circumstances, Kuraray has decided to implement the following price revisions for EVAL and related products. The price revisions are implemented in global basis. Increased production cost of its Eval EVOH product has affected profitability, leading to price revisions.

As per MRC, Kuraray’s Elastomers Business Unit will raise the transaction prices of following elastomer products in all regions effective 1 February 2021 or as existing supply agreements. All Septon, Hybrar and TU-Polymer prices will rise by USD 0.22 per kilogram (USD 0.10 per pound).

We remind that in October 2019, Kuraray took off-stream its vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) production in Okayama, Japan) for a scheduled maintenance. This production with a capacity of 160,000 mt/year was shut for about one month.

VAM is the main feedstock for the production of ethylene-vynil-acetate (EVA).

According to MRC's DataScope report, Novemberl EVA imports to Russia rose by 6,6% year on year to 3,650 tonnes from 3,420 tonnes a year earlier, whereas overall imports of this grade of ethylene copolymer into the Russian Federation dropped in January-November 2020 by 3,44% year on year to 34,680 tonnes (35,920 tonnes a year earlier).

WR Grace reaches standstill agreement with 40 North

MOSCOW (MRC) -- WR Grace entered into a letter agreement with 40 North on Monday, after it announced its decision to discuss a sale to 40 North’s upped bid of USD65 per share, said the company.

Under the confidentiality agreement, 40 North agreed to refrain from taking certain actions in respect to WR Grace and the common stock of the company until 31 March. WR Grace can still accept offers to acquire the company.

In addition, the catalyst producer agreed to provide 40 North with the opportunity to nominate director candidates to the Board of Directors. 40 North can nominate candidates for the company’s 2021 annual meeting, scheduled to be held on or before the 15th day following the expiration of the standstill agreement.

If 40 North nominates a candidate on or before the deadline, following the expiration of the standstill they will hold the meeting 60 days from the date of the nomination notice.

As MRC informed previously, in April 2018, W. R. Grace & Co. completed the USD416 million acquisition of the Polyolefin Catalysts business of Albemarle Corporation.

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.

WR Grace produces catalysts that are used to make fuel and polypropylene (PP).

40 North is a privately held investment firm that is part of Standard Industries and owns a 14.9% stake in WR Grace. Standard Industries describes itself as the world's largest roofing and waterproofing manufacturer, with other businesses that make building materials.

Private equity consortium to acquire DuPont Clean Technologies

MOSCOW (MRC) -- A consortium of private equity firms, including BroadPeak Global, Asia Green Fund, and Saudi Arabia’s Dussur, says it has agreed to acquire DuPont’s Clean Technologies business for USD510 million, reported Chemweek.

DuPont Clean Technologies is a maker of fuel and pollution control catalysts, with a focus on sulfur removal applications for transportation and industry. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of this year.

“DuPont Clean Technologies is a leader in the sulfuric acid, alkylation, and scrubbing sectors, with world-class products and aftermarket services,” says Nadim Qureshi, co-founder and managing partner at BroadPeak Global. “We intend to build on this strong foundation and further expand the business with the support of management and our strategic partners.”

DuPont Clean Technologies’ products can “play an instrumental role in helping countries across the world and particularly Asia Pacific tackle environmental issues, push toward carbon neutrality, reduce pollution from mining, oil refining, and chemical industries and upgrade fuel quality,” says Bo Bai, chairman and CEO of Asia Green Fund.

Eli Ben-Shoshan, global business director of DuPont Clean Technologies, will become the independent company’s CEO when the deal closes.

Tensile Capital Management (San Francisco, California) is providing equity financing for the deal, while Credit Suisse is providing debt financing. Clearview Partners acted as financial advisor to DuPont on the deal, while Ballard Spahr acted as legal advisor.

As MRC wrote previously, in January, 2021, Chilean oil refiner ENAP Refinerias S.A. selected BELCO scrubbing technology, licensed by DuPont Clean Technologies (DuPont), to improve emissions control from its 31,449 BPSD fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit at the Aconcagua refinery.

We remind that DuPont is investing USD400 million in the production capacity of Tyvek nonwoven fabric made from high density polyethylene (HDPE) at its site in Luxembourg. A new building and a third work line at the production site will be constructed. The launch of new facilities is scheduled for 2021.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, November estimated HDPE consumption in Russia rose to 125,950 tonnes from 58,330 tonnes a month earlier. ZapSibNeftekhim reduced its export polyethylene (PE) sales. Overall HDPE shipments to the Russian market totalled 1,096,510 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2020, up by 5% year on year. Production and exports grew significantly, whereas imports fell by 31%.

The DuPont Corporation, founded in the USA in 1802, operates in more than 70 countries. The company produces specialty chemicals, offers goods and services for agriculture, food production, electronics, communications, security and protection, construction, transport and light industry. In Russia, DuPont has 100% control over the DuPont Khimprom plant since 2005, and in 2006 established a joint venture between DuPont - Russian Paints and Russian Paints.

BASF raises plastic additives prices worldwide

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BASF has hiked its prices globally by up to 10%, effective immediately or as existing contracts allow, for products in its additives portfolio for plastic applications, said Chemweek.

The price rise is in response to higher costs for raw materials and logistics, it says. BASF’s plastic additives business is part of its performance chemicals division.

As MRC reported before, BASF says it has shut down an unspecified unit at its 420,000-metric ton/year steam cracker site in Ludwigshafen, Germany, due to a technical defect. Unscheduled flaring started on 13 January at the northern part of the Ludwigshafen site and is expected to last until 17 January, it says. “At around 4pm (local time) there was an outage at a unit at the northern part due to a technical defect. The unit will be partially shut down to repair the defect,” it says.

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.

BASF is the leading chemical company. It produces a wide range of chemicals, for example solvents, amines, resins, glues, electronic-grade chemicals, industrial gases, basic petrochemicals and inorganic chemicals. The most important customers for this segment are the pharmaceutical, construction, textile and automotive industries.

Clariant licenses sunliquid technology to Chinese firm

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Clariant, a focused, sustainable and innovative specialty chemical company, today announced that it has signed a license agreement with Harbin Hulan Sino-Dan Jianye Bio-Energy, a Chinese green energy company for its sunliquid cellulosic ethanol technology, said Chemweek.

Harbin Hulan Sino-Dan Jianye Bio-Energy, a subsidiary of the Sino-Dan Jianye Group was formed in the early 2010s and has been involved in the second generation (2G) biofuels business and research for almost a decade making them one of the frontrunners in this field in China.

The project development and plant operation will be performed by Harbin Hulan Sino-Dan Jianye Bio-Energy at a corn-rich greenfield site near Harbin City in the Heilongjiang Province, in Northeast China, utilizing available land and existing infrastructure owned by the Sino-Dan Jianye Group. The annual production capacity is planned to be 25,000 tons of cellulosic ethanol, processing more than 125,000 tons of locally sourced corn stover, making it one of the first 2G biofuel plants to be built in the Heilongjiang Province so far.

The project is comprised of a license for a basic sunliquid® engineering package, the provision of technical services, as well as the supply of starter cultures from Clariant’s proprietary enzyme and yeast platform to process Harbin Hulan Sino-Dan Jianye Bio-Energy’s feedstock into cellulosic ethanol. Detailed project evaluations and preparations for the engineering phase are well underway.

"The announcement of the second license deal for our sunliquid® technology in the region emphasizes that China continues to be a growth market for Clariant. Especially at this point in time as China is investing more and more in innovative and sustainable technology solutions. Clariant is well positioned to capture these promising business opportunities", said Hans Bohnen, Clariant’s Chief Operating Officer.

"China intends to establish a nationwide mandate to achieve a 10% renewable ethanol content in transportation fuels with several provinces such as Heilongjiang having a binding mandate already in place. The project with Harbin Hulan Sino-Dan Jianye Bio-Energy will strengthen our position in the national 2G biofuels market while helping China to achieve its decarbonization targets in the transport sector", comments Christian Librera, Vice President and Head of Business Line Biofuels and Derivatives at Clariant.

"Cellulosic ethanol technology is a new-generation fuel ethanol technology that is strongly encouraged and supported by the Chinese government. Moreover, it is one of the important technical means by which to realize the goals raised by President Xi Jinping to peak its carbon output by 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2060. Sino-Dan is delighted to cooperate with our esteemed partner Clariant on the cellulosic ethanol project. I’m certain that our collaboration will not only make an impactful contribution to the advanced biofuel industry in China, but also deepen the long-standing friendship between China and Europe”, emphasized Wang Jianye, Founder and President of the Board of Sino-Dan Jianye Group.

For the Heilongjiang Province, the project represents a significant investment in sustainable technologies, which is strongly supported by the provincial government. The region is characterized by the agriculture sector resulting in abundant feedstock resources, and is also known as the largest province for first generation (1G) bioethanol production in China. By using locally sourced feedstock, in this case corn stover, greenhouse gas savings can be maximized and additional business opportunities along the entire value chain will arise.

The produced cellulosic ethanol will be utilized in the Chinese regional fuels market as a gasoline additive, or as E85 (85% ethanol content) gasoline substitute to fulfill the provincial blending mandate. Cellulosic ethanol is an advanced, truly sustainable, and carbon-neutral biofuel that can be readily blended into conventional fuel and can be used in today’s car infrastructure.

As MRC reported earlier, in October 2020, Clariant (Muttenz, Switzerland) announced the construction of a new state-of-the-art catalyst production site in China. This project represents a significant investment which further strengthens Clariant’s position in China and enhances its ability to support its customers in the country’s thriving petrochemicals industry.

The new facility will be primarily responsible for producing the Catofin catalyst for propane dehydrogenation, which is used in the production of olefins such as propylene. Thanks to its excellent reliability and productivity, Catofin delivers superior annual production output compared to alternative technologies, resulting in increased overall profitability for propylene producers, says the company. Construction at the Dushan Port Economic Development Zone in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province was scheduled to commence in Q3 2020, and Clariant expects to be at full production capacity by 2022.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing 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.

Clariant AG is a Swiss chemical company and a world leader in the production of specialty chemicals for the textile, printing, mining and metallurgical industries. It is engaged in processing crude oil products in pigments, plastics and paints.