US chemical production increased in January

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The U.S. Chemical Production Regional Index (U.S. CPRI) rose 0.8% in January following a 1.4% gain in December and a 1.1% gain in November, said the American Chemistry Council (ACC).

During January, chemical output expanded in nearly all regions. The Gulf Coast region showed the largest gain, with smaller gains seen in the Midwest, Southeast, Ohio Valley, and Northeast regions. Output was flat in the Mid-Atlantic region and edged lower in the West Coast. The U.S. CPRI is measured on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis.

Chemical production continued to expand in chlor-alkali, fertilizers, organic chemicals, synthetic rubber, plastic resins, manufactured fibers, industrial gases, and synthetic dyes and pigments, measured on a 3MMA basis. Production eased for coatings, adhesives, crop protection, consumer products, and other specialty chemicals.

As nearly all manufactured goods are produced using chemistry in some form, manufacturing activity is an important indicator for chemical demand. The manufacturing recovery continued for a sixth consecutive month in January, with overall factory activity up by 1.0% (3MMA). The trend in production increased in many key chemistry end-use industries, with the strongest gains seen in food and beverages, appliances, motor vehicles, aerospace, construction supplies, fabricated metal products, iron and steel products, petroleum refining, oil and gas extraction, plastic products, structural panels, textile products, and furniture.

Compared with January 2020, U.S. chemical production remained off by 0.6% on a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, the twentieth straight month of Y/Y declines, but showed continued improvement compared with earlier in the year. Chemical production remained lower than a year ago in all regions except in the Gulf Coast region, which was up 2.5% Y/Y.

As MRC informed earlier, sales of high density polyethylene (LDPE) in the United States and Canada rose 3.8% in January 2021 compared to the same month a year earlier. While the production of LDPE grew by 5.2% over the same period of time. Total sales increased by 2.3%, despite a 0.7% decline in export sales.

At the same time, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) sales in the United States and Canada were up 5% in January 2021 from the same month in the prior year. HDPE production increased by 1% over the same period. Domestic demand for HDPE has strengthened in recent months as demand for consumer durables has been strong since the second half of 2020 amid continued growth in manufacturing activity in the United States.

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.

Unilever NA plans to invest in plastic recycling initiative

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Unilever North America is investing USD15 million in Closed Loop Partners’ Leadership Fund to help recycle an estimated 60,000 metric tons of U.S. plastic packaging waste annually by 2025, said Canplastics.

The investment, announced on March 16, is part of the Englewood Cliffs, N.J.-based company’s plan to collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells by 2025. Closed Loop Partners’ Leadership Fund is a private equity fund that acquires and grows companies across the value chain working to increase recycling.

"We believe plastics’ place is inside the circular economy where it is reused, and not in the environment," said Fabian Garcia, president of Unilever North America. Unilever’s goal to collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells is a part of its ambitious set of “Waste-Free World” commitments. Those global commitments include halving use of virgin plastic; ensuring all of its plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable; and using at least 25 per cent recycled plastic in its packaging.

Half of the 118,000 metric tons of plastic packaging used by Unilever North America is post-consumer resin (PCR) plastic. Many of its brands, including Dove, Hellmann’s, and Seventh Generation, already use 100 per cent PCR bottles. The investment in Closed Loop Partners’ Leadership Fund will help secure additional PCR plastic supply for Unilever brands and increase access to recycled plastic feedstock processed by the companies the Fund invests in.

As per MRC, SABIC, a global leader in the chemicals industry, announced that the company has been collaborating with Unilever and Greiner Packaging in the development of an innovative new container using SABIC PP FLOWPACT FPC45 certified circular impact polypropylene (PP) from its TRUCIRCLE portfolio.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's 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.

Unilever’s Canadian operation, Unilever Canada, is headquartered in Toronto.

USITC to investigate imports of PTFE from India, Russia

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The US International Trade Commission (USITC) is investigating a statement by American manufacturers that imports of granular polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) from India and Russia are being sold in the United States at below fair prices, said USITC.

Daikin America (Orangeburg, New York) asked the USITC and the US Department of Commerce for the investigation in a petition filed on 27 January. The USITC announced that it had found enough support to begin the final phase investigation on 15 March.

Daikin has PTFE production at Decatur, Alabama. Other US producers are Chemours, at Parkersburg, West Virginia, and Solvay Specialty Polymers, at Orange, Texas. Indian producers include Gujarat Fluorochemicals and Hindustan Fluorocarbons. Russian producers include HaloPolymer.

As it was written earlier, the US International Trade Commission (USITC) voted unanimously on 10 February that imports of difluoromethane (R-32) from China are being sold in the US at less than fair value, allowing the Department of Commerce to issue an antidumping order. The USITC will issue its final report by 23 March. Commerce began the investigation following a petition by Arkema, the sole US producer of R-32, in January 2020. R-32, also called HFC-32, is primarily used as a component of refrigerant blends owing to its relatively low global warming potential.

As MRC reported earlier, in December 2020, Arkema announced the proposed divestment of its PMMA business to Trinseo for an enterprise value of EUR1,137 million. This project is a new step in the group’s transformation, and is fully in line with Arkema’s ambition to become a pure Specialty Materials player by 2024.

We remind that Arkema said in June, 2020, that it had finalized the divestment of its functional polyolefins business to SK Global Chemical. The divestment was announced last year. Arkema says the sale forms part of its strategy to refocus the group’s activities on specialty materials.

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.

DSM to sell its business to Worthen Industries

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Dutch material supplier Royal DSM is selling its advanced solar business in backsheet products to Worthen Industries Inc., a Nashua, N.H.-based company specializing in polymer technologies for multiple end-markets, said Canplastics.

The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed. In September 2020, DSM announced it had reached an agreement to sell the coatings business of DSM advanced solar to Covestro AG as part of a broader agreement to sell the resins and functional materials business, including DSM Niaga and DSM additive manufacturing.

“For the remaining solar business, an agreement has now been reached with Worthen Industries that will create a global business which benefits from complementary innovation and enhanced production capability,” DSM officials said in a March 12 statement.

"The acquisition of DSM’s business in backsheets and conductive backsheets, along with its excellent team, is a strong next step in Worthen’s strategy to serve the global PV [photovoltaic] industry with sustainable, high-performance solutions that are VOC-free, zero-waste, and 100 per cent recyclable – enabling a greener, better-performing industry worldwide," David Worthen, CEO at Worthen Industries, said.

Completion of the transaction is expected mid-2021.

As MRC informed earlier, DSM formed a 50/50 joint venture (JV) with VDL Groep (Eindhoven, Netherlands), called Dutch PPE Solutions, to produce medical facemasks and establish the first permanent production of critical facemask components in the Netherlands. The companies are investing several million euros to purchase manufacturing equipment and build manufacturing facilities to produce meltblown polypropylene (PP), the critical material layer in medical facemasks that filters viruses, and make medical masks.

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.

Royal DSM, commonly known as DSM, is a Dutch multinational corporation active in the fields of health, nutrition and materials. The Materials cluster is made up of DSM Engineering Materials, DSM Protective Materials and DSM Resins & Functional Materials. DSM Engineering Materials’ specialty plastics are used in components for the electrical and electronics, automotive, flexible food packaging and consumer goods industries.

MOL Group starts up biofuel production at Danube Refinery

MOSCOW (MRC) -- MOL has become a biofuel producer through the realization of an investment in the Danube Refinery, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Bio feedstock will be co-processed together with fossil materials increasing the renewable share of fuels and reducing up to 200,000 tons /year CO2 emission without negatively affecting fuel quality.

One of the main goals of the European Union, and MOL Group, is to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050. The renewable share obligations of transportation fuel are continuously increasing, accordingly the biocomponent content expectations have also increased across MOL Group's fuel markets, which have so far been met mainly by blending bioethanol and biodiesel.

The bio-component produced using this process has significantly higher CO2 saving potential than other type of biofuels produced from the same feedstock. This project means that up to 200,000 tons of annual CO2 emission will be cut, equivalent to a city of 200.000 inhabitants entirely switching to solar energy for heating. The target is to further expand the type of waste that can be used as feedstocks in the processing to achieve even better CO2 savings from the product.

One of the cornerstones of the MOL Group 2030+ Strategy is to play a key role in shaping the low-carbon circular economy with investments in new businesses such as waste integration and utilization, recycling, carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), advanced biofuels and potentially hydrogen-related opportunities.

In the next five years, MOL will spend USD 1bn on new, low-carbon and sustainable projects to become a key player in CEE in the circular economy and to get closer to its net-zero CO2 emitter goal by 2050. MOL aims to transform its Downstream segment into a highly efficient, sustainable, chemicals-focused leading industry player.

As MRC informed earlier, MOL Petrochemicals Company (formerly TVK, part of the MOL Group), the only Hungarian producer of olefins and polyolefins, plans to close the maleic anhydride plant in Szazhalombatta (Hungary) in October in order to carry out repair work to eliminate technical problems. prevented the company from increasing the capacity utilization at this production in September. It is expected that repair work at this 22,000 tonnes of maleic anhydride per year facility will continue for several days, but the exact timing of maintenance has not been told.

Plasticizers are substances introduced into a polymer material to make it elastic and plastic during processing and operation. In particular, plasticizers are used for the production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The share of plasticizers used for the production of PVC products is about 80%.

According to MRC ScanPlast, February production of unmixed PVC in Russia was 79,400 tonnes from 89,400 tonnes a month earlier, RusVinyl and Kaustik Volgograd decreased capacity utilisation. Total PVC production in Russia reached 169,200 tonnes in January - February 2021 against 176,400 tonnes a year earlier, a decrease in production volumes was seen from all producers.

MOL is the largest Hungarian oil, gas and petrochemical group, engaged in exploration and production, transportation of hydrocarbons, as well as the operation of a network of trunk gas pipelines. TVK is a 100% subsidiary of MOL. TVK manufactures HDPE, LDPE, and PP.