Versalis declares FM at its LDPE unit in Italy

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Versalis, the chemicals subsidiary of Italian energy major Eni (Rome, Italy), has declared a force majeure (FM) on its low density polyethylene (LDPE) deliveries from its plant in Ragusa, Italy, according to NCT with reference to sources familiar with the matter.

Thus, the FM was declared at the company's plant with the capacity of 110,000 tons/year of LDPE on March 5. 2021.

The force majeure was caused by technical issues, sources said.

It has been unclear so far when the FM will be lifted, while the company could not be reached for confirmation.

As MRC reported before, in early February 2021, Versalis S.p.A. licensed to Enter Engineering Pte. Ltd. an LDPE/ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) swing unit to be built as part of a new Gas-to-Chemical Complex based on MTO-Methanol to Olefins technology to be located in the Karakul area in the Bukhara region of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The plant is part of a global complex that will have a major importance in Central Asia due to its size and the technologies involved.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, January estimated LDPE consumption in Russia grew to 61,210 tonnes from 43,090 tonnes a year earlier. Russian producers increased their capacity utilisation, and export LDPE shipments decreased. Russia's estimated LDPE consumption was about 563,730 tonnes in 2020, up by 1% year on year.

Eni is an Italian multinational oil and gas company headquartered in Rome. It has operations in in 79 countries, and is currently Italy's largest industrial company. The Italian government owns a 30.3% golden share in the company, 3.93% held through the state Treasury and 26.37% held through the Cassa depositi e prestiti. Another 39.40% of the shares are held by BNP Paribas.

Alleged drone attack on Saudi Aramco in Riyadh

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Yemen’s Houthi group said on Friday it hit a facility belonging to the state-controlled oil giant Saudi Aramco in Riyadh, in an attack comprising six drones., said Reuters.

Yahya Sarea, a spokesman for the Iran-aligned group’s military did not give further details about the targets he said were hit. The refinery is operated by state-controlled oil giant Saudi Aramco. The attack, which happened at 6:05 a.m. Saudi time (0305 GMT), did not result in injuries or deaths, and did not disrupt the supply of oil or oil derivatives, the energy ministry said.

Sarea said operations against Saudi Arabia will continue and escalate as long as Saudi “aggression” against Yemen continues. Saudi Arabia leads a military coalition which intervened in Yemen in March 2015 against Houthi forces, which ousted the internationally recognised Yemeni government from power in Sanaa in late 2014.

The Houthis have stepped up attacks into Saudi Arabia, the world’s No. 1 oil exporter, in recent weeks. On March 7, the coalition said a barrage of drones and missiles had been intercepted en route to targets including an oil storage yard at Ras Tanura, the site of a refinery and the world’s biggest offshore oil-loading facility. A residential compound in Dhahran used by Saudi Aramco was also targeted.

As MRC informed earlier, brent crude futures surged above USD70 a barrel for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, while U.S. crude touched its highest in more than two years, following reports of attacks on Saudi Arabian facilities. Brent crude futures for May hit USD71.38 a barrel in early Asian trade, the highest since Jan. 8, 2020, and were at USD70.96 a barrel by 0611 GMT, up USD1.60, or 2.3%. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for April rose USD1.47, or 2.2%, to USD67.56. The front-month WTI price touched USD67.98 a barrel earlier, the highest since October 2018.

As MRC reported before, a number of Saudi Arabia's companies, such as Tasnee, Sadara, Advanced Petrochemical and Saudi Kayan, announced a curtailment of feedstock to their petrochemical plants, including polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) facilities, by an average of 30-50% due to the attacks on key Saudi Aramco facilities in September 2019.

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.


COVID-19 - News digest as of 19.03.2021

1. Global chemicals output rose 1.4% in January

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Global chemicals production rose 1.4% in January, a slightly slower pace than December and continuing the global recovery that began in June, according to data collected and tabulated by the American Chemistry Council (ACC). During January, chemical production grew across all regions. Headline global production was up 9.5% year-over-year (Y/Y) on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis. Global output stood at 129.0% of its average 2012 levels. Output was down a year ago due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.


SK Advanced to launch new PP plant in South Korea on 23 March

MOSCOW (MRC) -- SK Advanced is planning to start up the new polypropylene (PP) plant in Ulsan, South Korea on 23 March 2021, reported CommoPlast with reference to market sources.

The construction works were nearly completed in late January 2021. The initial start-up date was 20 March. Thus, the company will delay tha launch of the new plant by 3 days.

The PP unit is a joint venture between PolyMirae and SK Advanced, using the “Spheripol” process of LyondellBasell, and have an annual output of 400,000 tons/year.

The unit will be utilizing the propylene output from SK’s 600,000 tons/year propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit at the same complex. It is expected that SK Advanced would have a smaller propylene allocation for export once the new PP line comes online.

As MRC wrote previously, in October, 2020, Advanced Petrochemical signed an amendment to the partnership agreement between its subsidiary, Advanced Global Investment Co. (AGIC), and SK Gas Petrochemical Pte. Ltd. (SKGP), a unit of SK Gas Co. Ltd.. Under the amendment, an isopropanol (IPA) plant with a capacity of 70,000 tons per annum will be added, along with the Propane Dehydrogenation (PDH) and Polypropylene (PP) plants that were already announced earlier. The company said in a bourse statement that by adding the IPA plant with an estimated cost of SAR 300 million (USD80 million), the total cost of the project for the three factories is currently estimated to be approximately SAR 7.05 billion (USD1.88 billion).

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.

Advanced Petrochemical Company (before Advanced Polypropylene) is a Saudi Joint Stock Company, established in October 2005. The company was initially launched by National Polypropylene Limited, jointly owned by Mr. Khalifa Al Mulhim, the chief executive officer of Advanced, and Mr. Monther Laheeq, who negotiated all the main deals related to the project, either before or after the establishment of Advanced Petrochemical. Currently, National Polypropylene Limited controls 7.9% of Advanced Petrochemical. Advanced Petrochemical started the construction of its plants in May 2005. The company produces 455,000 tons per year of propylene and 450,000 tons per year of polypropylene from its production facility located in Jubail Industrial City, in the Eastern coast of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Mondi Gronau launches new production lines of medical face masks in Germany

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Mondi, global leader in packaging and paper, has started up new production lines for melt-blown nonwoven fabric and medical face masks at its site in Gronau, Germany to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, as per the company's press release.

Mondi Gronau has over 50 years of experience in the production and processing of films, nonwovens and elastic components for hygiene products. Last year Mondi announced it would start up production lines to produce both the important base material, melt-blown nonwoven fabric, as well as the medical face mask themselves. With the new lines, Mondi is building up a local value chain in Germany to address the needs of the pandemic.

The fully integrated production with two highly automated high-speed machines allows the output of 700 high-quality medical face masks per minute. This is approximately seven times higher than the standard face mask production line and will produce at least one million medical grade masks a day.

As MRC reported before, in May 2020, Borealis started production of meltblown fabrics for face mask applications on its unique pilot line in Linz, Austria. Borealis managed quickly to convert the way of working from pure development to smaller scale pilot production to regularly produce rolls of fine fibre fabrics for face masks. Recently developed by Borealis, a new proprietary polypropylene (PP) meltblown resin has boosted filtration properties due to its capability for finer fibres. By exploiting a robust network of co-operation partners in the country, Borealis is helping bolster the supply of filtration media to increase face masks production.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, 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.