Arkema to increase production capacities in China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Arkema is further increasing its fluoropolymer production capacities in Changshu, China, by 35% in 2022, said the company.

The increase in capacity is scheduled to come on stream before the end of 2022, the company said in a statement. Financial and overall capacity details of the expansion project were not disclosed.

"This new investment is fuelled by further strong demand in the lithium ion battery business as well as significant opportunities in the water filtration, construction coatings, and semiconductor industries," the company said. The Changshu plant was last expanded in December 2020.

As per MRC, Arkema has brought on stream new Kynar PVDF capacities in its Calvert-City plant in the United States. With this 20% increase in its US production capacities, Arkema will further support its customers’ strong demand in the region. Through this investment and following the successful start-up of a similar expansion at its Changshu, China plant in 2017, Arkema, which operates fluoropolymer production facilities on the three major continents - Europe, North America, and Asia, further consolidates its world-leading position in PVDF.

We remind, that Russia's output of chemical products rose in February 2021 by 5.3% year on year. Thus, production of basic chemicals increased year on year by 7.5% in the first two months of 2021. According to the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, mineral fertilizers accounted for the greatest increase in the January-February output. Production of benzene dropped to 113,000 tonnes in February 2021, compared to 120,000 tonnes a month earlier. Overall output of this product reached 241,000 tonnes over the stated period, down by 7.5% year on year.


OQ Chemicals raises oxo intermediates prices in Americas

MOSCOW (MRC) -- OQ Chemicals (Monheim am Rhein, Germany) has increased its prices for several oxo intermediate products in the Americas on strong demand and tight feedstocks availability, as per the company's press release.

The announced price rise is effective as of 1 April 2021 or as contracts allow.

Thus, prices for n-butyl acetate and isobutyl acetate will be both increased by 25 cents per pound (cts/lb) in North America and Mexico, and by USD550/metric ton in South America, whereas prices for n-butanol and isobutanol will go up by 20 cts/lb in North America and Mexico, and by USD440/metric ton in South America.

As MRC wrote before, OQ Chemicals has already announced several price increases for its oxo intermediate products so far this year due largely to strong demand and higher feedstocks costs. The most recent announcement was earlier this month, with a nominated increase on several other oxo intermediate products that is also due to come into effect on 1 April.

As MRC reported previously, in September 2020, OQ Chemicals entered into an agreement to license its advanced proprietary technology for the production of ethylene and propylene derivatives to Duqm Refinery and Petrochemicals Industries Company (DRPIC) in Oman. DRPIC, a joint venture between Oman Oil Company and Kuwait International Oil Company, is a planned grassroots petrochemical complex at Duqm, Oman. In all, DRPIC awarded twelve license packages to international licensors.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 241,030 tonnes in January 2021 versus 217,890 tonnes a year earlier. Only shipments of low density polyethylene (LDPE) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market reached 141,870 tonnes in January 2021 versus 123,520 tonnes a year earlier. Supply of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased.

OQ Chemicals, formerly Oxea, is a global manufacturer of oxo intermediates and oxo derivatives, such as alcohols, polyols, carboxylic acids, specialty esters, and amines. These products are used for the production of high-quality coatings, lubricants, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products, flavours and fragrances, printing inks and plastics. OQ Chemicals is part of OQ, an integrated energy company that delivers sustainability and business excellence. OQ operates in 16 countries and covers the entire value chain from exploration and production to the marketing and distribution of its products.

"Samara plant of medical devices" launched the production of nitrile gloves

MOSCOW (MRC) - The Samara Medical Device Plant (SZMI) in the Togliatti special economic zone launched the production of disposable nitrile gloves on March 26, becoming the only full-cycle manufacturer in Russia, TASS reported.

The products are planned to be supplied to public and private medical institutions, as well as to enterprises in the field of household services. The volume of investments allocated for the construction of the plant amounted to more than 729 million rubles, and the plant plans to reach its design capacity of 108 million pairs per year in the second quarter of 2021. The enterprise has 2 lines.

"The raw material - nitrile material, will be supplied by the Russian company SIBUR. By the end of the year, we must increase the annual capacity for the production of gloves by 3.5 times," said the head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation Denis Manturov at the ceremony.

Earlier it was reported that before the coronavirus pandemic, the need for nitrile gloves in Russia was up to 1.2 billion pairs, then in two months it increased to 4 billion, according to Alexei Turenko. In monetary terms, this is about 40 billion rubles. The demand for latex surgical gloves during the pandemic almost did not increase, it amounts to 500-600 million pairs (Rb2-3 bn).

It was also noted that in March 2020, the Moscow authorities acquired the largest manufacturer of medical masks in Russia - KIT LLC. KIT produces one third of medical masks in Russia. The production of medical masks is the main profile of the Innovative Technologies Company LLC (KIT), compared to the beginning of the year, the company has more than doubled its production - up to 1 mln medical masks per day.

As MRC reported earlier, in February of this year, the index of production of chemicals in the Russian Federation increased by 5.3% in comparison with the same indicator a year earlier. But on a cumulative basis for the first two months of 2021, the production of basic chemicals showed an increase of 7.5%.

Celanese to expand its VAM capacities in China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Celanese Corporation, a global chemical and specialty materials company, has initiated a capital-efficient expansion of its vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) production unit at the company’s world-class chemical industrial park in Nanjing, China in a move to solidify its global VAM capabilities, as per the company's press release.

This expansion will support the continued growth of its global acetyls business and serve the needs of customers in the Asia region and globally, the company said in its statement.

Celanese is expected to initially increase the annual VAM production capacity at its Nanjing facility by 50,000KT to 60,000KT, with a phased approach of up to 90,000KT total of additional annual production capacity expected.

The expanded VAM production capacity at the Nanjing facility is made possible via a novel, next-generation proprietary Celanese catalyst and advanced technology package that, when complete, is expected to increase the annual VAM nameplate capacity at the Nanjing facility from approximately 300,000KT to nearly 400,000KT.

In addition, Celanese is also planning for a capital efficient 10KT per year expansion of acetic anhydride production at its Nanjing facility, bringing the anhydride nameplate capacity at the site to approximately 130KT by 2022, allowing Celanese to support demand growth.

As MRC reported earlier, in H2 February, 2021, Celanese declared force majeure on its products in the Americas and EMEA region due to the severe winter weather that has heavily curtailed US petrochemicals and refinery production and operations on the US Gulf Coast.

According to MRC's DataScope report, January EVA imports to Russia rose only by 0,07% year on year to 3,084 tonnes from 3,087 tonnes a year earlier, and overall imports of this grade of ethylene copolymer into the Russian Federation dropped in January-December 2020 by 3,41% year on year to 38,170 tonnes (39,520 tonnes in 2019).

Celanese Corporation is a global technology leader in the production of differentiated chemistry solutions and specialty materials used in most major industries and consumer applications. Based in Dallas, Celanese employs approximately 7,700 employees worldwide and had 2020 net sales of USD5.7 billion.

US EPA revokes permit for refinery expansion in Virgin Islands citing pollution

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it has revoked an expansion permit for the Limetree Bay oil refinery in the US Virgin Islands, citing concerns that the area around the facility is overburdened with pollution, reported Reuters.

The decision allows the plant to keep operating but will block ongoing expansion work pending an EPA review to assess measures the facility needs to take to protect nearby residents.

“Withdrawing this permit will allow EPA to reassess what measures are required at the Limetree facility to safeguard the health of local communities in the Virgin Islands, while providing regulatory certainty to the company,” said EPA acting Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan.

The 200,000 barrel per day facility on St. Croix had restarted this year after a decade idle after securing a Clean Air Act “plantwide applicability limit” permit from the Trump administration on Dec. 2, 2020. The permit had allowed it to build additional units without being deemed a new source of pollution, which triggers more stringent pollution controls.

The owner of the refinery, Limetree Bay Ventures, backed by private equity firms EIG and Arclight Capital, challenged requests by the EPA to increase air quality monitoring. The company argued the monitors are not necessary and that it should not have to pay the costs to operate them.

As MRC informed before, earlier this month, CITGO Petroleum Corporation announced its Corpus Christi Refinery had received the prestigious 2020 ENERGY STAR certification, awarded by the US EPA, for the second year in a row.

We remind that in September 2020, Citgo Petroleum Corp said it did not plan to idle its 418,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Lake Charles, Louisiana, refinery damaged by Hurricane Laura. Rumors have circulated since Laura’s passage over the Lake Charles area on Aug. 27 that Citgo was considering shutting the refinery for an indefinite period because of the extent of the damage and continuing low demand for motor fuels in the COVID-19 pandemic.

We also remind that in the first week of July, 2020, Citgo restarted the large gasoline-producing fluid catalytic cracker at its 167,500-barrel-per-day (bpd) Corpus Christi, Texas, refinery.

Propylene is the main feedstock for the production of polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, PP shipments to the Russian market reached 141,870 tonnes in January 2021 versus 123,520 tonnes a year earlier. Supply of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased.