Mitsubishi Chemical to consolidate global MMA operations

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Mitsubishi Chemical Corp (MCC) will consolidate its headquarter functions for its global methyl methacrylate (MMA) business in Singapore, and rename its major MMA subsidiaries to Mitsubishi Chemical Methacrylates, effective 1 April, said Chemweek.

The move is aimed at optimising the company's global product supply network by utilising digital technologies that connect regional production, costs and supply and demand.

It will lead to “a stronger MMA operations management base that enables centralised and speedy decision-making, and the appointment and advancement of a diverse workforce,” MCC said.

At the same time, Mitsubishi Chemical Methacrylates Japan Co., Ltd. will be established to strengthen MMA operations in the Japanese domestic market.

Name changes, effective 1 April: Singapore Lucite International Singapore Pte. Ltd. Mitsubishi Chemical Methacrylates Singapore Co., Ltd China Huizhou MMA Co., Ltd Mitsubishi Chemical Methacrylates (Huizhou) Co., Ltd. China Lucite International (China) Chemical Industry Co., Ltd. Mitsubishi Chemical Methacrylates (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. UK Mitsubishi Chemical Lucite Group Ltd. Mitsubishi Chemical Methacrylates Ltd. UK Lucite International UK Ltd. Mitsubishi Chemical UK Ltd. US Lucite International Inc Mitsubishi Chemical America Inc.

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).

We remind that Russia's output of chemical products rose in October 2020 by 7.2% year on year. At the same time, production of basic chemicals grew in the first ten months of 2020 by 6.3% 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-October output. October production of polymers in primary form grew to 857,000 tonnes from 852,000 tonnes in September. Overall output of polymers in primary form totalled 8,340,000 tonnes over the stated period, up by 17% year on year.

Oil major to sell some assets for over USD1 B

MOSCOW (MRC) -- ExxonMobil Corp said it would sell its non-operating interest in its UK and North Sea exploration and production assets to private-equity fund HitecVision for more than USD1 billion, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Exxon has been looking to sell its oil and gas assets since late 2019, seeking to free up cash to focus on a handful of mega-projects. The deal includes ownership interests in 14 producing fields operated primarily by Shell as well as interests in the associated infrastructure. Exxon could also receive about USD300 million in contingent payments based on a potential for increase in commodity prices.

Exxon's share of production from these fields was about 38,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2019, the company said. Exxon said it would retain its non-operated share in upstream assets in the southern part of the North Sea as well as its interest in the Shell Esso gas and liquids (SEGAL) infrastructure, which supplies ethane to the company's Fife ethylene plant.

HitecVision, in partnership with Eni, had bought Exxon's Norwegian North Sea assets for USD4.5 billion in 2019.

Initially, Exxon hoped to raise more than USD2 billion from the sale, which was planned for late 2019. In June 2020 sources told Reuters that the portfolio was more likely to fetch USD1 to USD1.5 billion given the oil price weakness last year.

As MRC informed before, earlier this week, ExxonMobil Corp said it will close its 72-year-old Altona refinery in Australia, the country’s smallest, and convert it to a fuel import terminal as refiners struggle with low demand.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 2,220,640 tonnes in 2020, up by 2% year on year. Only shipments of low density polyethylene (LDPE) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) increased.

ExxonMobil is the largest non-government owned company in the energy industry and produces about 3% of the world"s oil and about 2% of the world's energy.

Univar reports net loss on taxes, divestiture; sales increase

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Distributor Univar has reported a fourth-quarter net loss of USD33.7 million, compared with a net loss of USD55.1 million in the year-ago quarter, due mainly to income taxes and a loss on the divestiture of Univar’s Canadian agriculture services business, said Chemweek.

Net sales fell 5.5% year-on-year (YOY), to USD2.04 billion, on lower demand in industrial end markets and some selling-price deflation. Adjusted earnings totaled $45.2 million, or 27 cents/share, down 10.5% YOY but ahead of analysts’ consensus estimate of 25 cents/share, as reported by Refinitiv (New York, New York).

Univar expects improving demand in 2021. "Looking to 2021, although the exact timing of the economic recovery is uncertain, our expected full-year Adjusted EBITDA guidance range of USD630 million to USD650 million reflects underlying performance in our on-going businesses above expected general industrial growth levels in each of our regions to offset the expected softer essential end markets performance," says Univar president and CEO David Jukes.

USA segment sales declined 9.5% YOY, to USD1.22 billion, while segment adjusted EBITDA was down 8.5%, to USD302.1 million. The divestiture of Univar’s environmental services business, as well as lower industrial demand and weakness in the energy market, drove the declines.

EMEA segment sales rose 2.1% YOY, to USD427.8 million, while segment adjusted EBITDA fell 5.5%, to USD29.4 million, chiefly due to lower demand in industrial end markets.

Canada segment sales grew 0.9% YOY, to USD258.5 million, while segment adjusted EBITDA declined 8.4%, to USD20.6 million. The declines were due to lower energy demand, price deflation, and the sale of the agricultural services business.

Latin America segment sales decreased 1.4% YOY, to USD124.2 million, while segment adjusted EBITDA fell 1.9%, to USD10.6 million. The declines were due to negative currency impacts, as demand generally increased.

Univar expects first-quarter 2021 adjusted EBITDA to total USD150-160 million, compared with adjusted EBITDA of USD161.6 million in the first-quarter of 2020.

As MRC wrote previously, in late October, 2020, Univar Solutions Inc. and PVS Chloralkali Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of PVS Chemicals Inc. (PVS), announced a new agreement where PVS will transfer railcars located in Ohio, Illinois and Virginia and sourcing agreements for Hydrochloric Acid (HCL) to Univar Solutions.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated consumption of PS and styrene plastics totalled 454,990 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2020, which corresponds to the last year's figure. November estimated consumption of PS and styrene plastics grew by 4% year on year to 45,830 tonnes.

Univar Solutions is a leading global chemical and ingredient distributor and provider of value added services to customers across a wide range of industries. With the industry's largest private transportation fleet and North American sales force, a vast supplier network, deep market and regulatory knowledge, world-class formulation and recipe development, unparalleled logistics know-how, and industry-leading digital tools, Univar Solutions is a committed ally to customers and suppliers, helping them anticipate, navigate, and leverage meaningful growth opportunities.

AmSty announces polystyrene price rise

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Americas Styrenics (AmSty; Woodlands, Texas) has announced a price increase for all its grades of polystyrene (PS), effective as of 1 March 2021, said Chemweek.

The rise of 11 cents/pound (cts/lb) supersedes all other previously announced price changes, it says. AmSty increased its PS prices by 3 cts/lb on 1 February this year. No comment on the reason for the increase was given by the company, a 50/50 joint venture of CPChem and Trinseo.

As per MRC, with an end goal of keeping polystyrene products out of landfills through an innovative circular recycling process, AmSty is announcing its commitment that all products designed for foodservice and food packaging applications will contain 25 percent recycled content by 2030. The leading integrated producer of polystyrene and styrene monomer continues to reach milestones toward this goal with its circular recycling process operating commercially at Regenyx LLC, its joint venture with Agilyx Corporation.

Styrene is the main feestock for the production of polystyrene (PS).

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated consumption of PS and styrene plastics totalled 454,990 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2020, which corresponds to the last year's figure. November estimated consumption of PS and styrene plastics grew by 4% year on year to 45,830 tonnes.

AmSty is a JV between Trinseo and Chevron Phillips Chemical (CPChem).

The Alberta petrochemical complex at the heart of Brookfield Inter Pipeline bid

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Inter Pipeline Ltd's ambitious petrochemical plant was meant to unlock new markets, instead it has left the Canadian company battling cost overruns and vulnerable to a hostile USD5.64 billion takeover from Brookfield Infrastructure Partners, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Some investors have ruled out a rival bid to Monday's offer for the oil and gas transportation company, and expect Brookfield to snap up Inter just before its newest asset, the Heartland Petrochemical Complex, comes into service.

The CD4 billion Heartland plant near Edmonton, Alberta, is Inter's first petrochemical project and its largest ever capital investment. It is due for completion early next year, several months behind schedule and CD500 million over budget as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Heartland will boost Inter's adjusted annual EBITDA, which are earnings before certain items are taken into account, by CD500 million or roughly 50% from 2020 levels. But the project's cost is weighing on the company's balance sheet and a lack of information on sales contracts has spooked many investors.

The pandemic also stalled Inter's search for a joint venture partner for Heartland, leaving the company exposed to cost and construction risks. That has hurt its shares, some investors say, making it an easy takeover target.

"If Inter could have brought a partner in, that could have protected them from this scenario," said Ryan Bushell, president of Newhaven Asset Management, which owns shares in both companies. "Inter is stuck between a rock and a hard place. They're not going to be able to drum up a better offer and Brookfield knows that. They're buying Heartland basically for free, with a fully running company."

Bushell said he would prefer Heartland to remain an Inter asset so the company can realize the full value of the project.

As per MRC, Inter Pipeline Ltd. announced that its board of directors has authorized the construction of a world-scale integrated propane dehydrogenation (PDH) and polypropylene (PP) plant. The facilities, collectively referred to as the Heartland Petrochemical Complex, are estimated to cost USD3.5 B in aggregate and will be located in Strathcona County, Alberta near Inter Pipeline’s Redwater Olefinic Fractionator.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 2,220,640 tonnes in 2020, up by 2% year on year. Only shipments of low density polyethylene (LDPE) and high density polyethylene (HDPE) increased. At the same time, polypropylene (PP) shipments to the Russian market reached 1 240,000 tonnes in 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.