SI Group turning its Bethune site into a regional hub for best-in-class tackifier

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Material supplier SI Group (Schenectady, New York) intends to turn its Bethune, France manufacturing site into a regional hub for best-in-class tackifier and reinforcing resin production and technology by doubling the tackifier resin capacity there, according to the company's press release.

The expansion addresses growing demand for tackifiers in one of the company’s core regions and is expected to be completed later this year.

Tackifiers are low-molecular weight compounds (oligomers) that are added to adhesive formulations to improve tack and peel adhesion.

“We have taken the decision to further grow capacity as another step forward in reinventing our business model,” says Robert Kaiser, vice president/rubber and adhesives solutions at SI Group.

The expansion in Bethune, France follows the company’s announcement in September 2020 to also expand resin capacity in Nanjing, China.

As MRC reported earlier, SI Group shut its phenol and acetone plant in Navi Mumbai (Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India) in late January, 2019, for an unknown reason. This plant with a capacity of 36,000 tonnes of phenol and 20,000 tonnes of acetone per year remained closed for 10 days.

Phenol is derived from benzene and largely used to produce bisphenol A (BPA), used in the manufacture of plastics such as polycarbonate (PC) and epoxy resins. It is also used in the production of phenolic resins for the construction industry.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's overall consumption of PC granules (excluding exports from Belarus) totalled 8,100 tonnes in January 2021, up by 20% year on year (6,800 tonnes a year earlier).

SI Group, headquartered in the United States, was founded in 1906. The company is part of the Addivant USA, LLC structure. The production facilities of the company are located on five continents, in 10 countries. SI Group manufactures petrochemical products and specialty resins, supplying its products to consumers in 90 countries.

BASF, SABIC and Linde to develop steam cracker furnaces

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BASF, SABIC and Linde have signed an agreement to jointly develop eco-friendly, electrically heated steam cracker furnaces, said companies.

The partners have already jointly worked on concepts to use renewable electricity instead of the fossil fuel gas typically used for the heating process. With this innovative approach focusing on one of the petrochemical industries’ core processes, the parties strive to offer a promising solution to significantly contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions within the chemical industry.

Steam crackers play a central role in the production of basic chemicals and require a significant amount of energy to break down hydrocarbons into olefins and aromatics. Typically, the reaction is conducted at temperatures of about 850°C in their furnaces. Today these temperatures are reached by burning fossil fuels. The project aims to reduce the CO2 emissions by powering the process with electricity. By using electricity from renewable sources, the fundamentally new technology has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 90%.

BASF and SABIC have combined their extensive know-how and intellectual property in developing chemical processes together with their longstanding experiences and knowledge in operating steam crackers, while Linde contributed with its intellectual property, expertise in developing and building steam cracking furnace technologies and driving future industry commercialization.

BASF initially announced in January 2019 that it was exploring the use of electric furnaces in steam cracking. In August of that year BASF was among six petrochemical producers to join the Cracker of the Future consortium, a joint initiative to develop the technology.

As MRC informed earlier, BASF has restarted its No. 1 steam cracker following a maintenance turnaround. Thus, the company resumed operations at the plant on September 30, 2019. The plant was shut for maintenance in mid-August, 2019. Located at Ludwigshafen in Germany, the No. 1 cracker has an ethylene production capacity of 235,000 mt/year and a propylene production capacity of 125,000 mt/year.

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

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).

COVID-19 - News digest as of 24.03.2021

1. Saudi oil giant to reduce spending after 2020 profit fall

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Saudi Arabian state oil giant Aramco is betting on an Asian-led rebound in energy demand in 2021 after it reported a steep fall in last year's net profit and scaled back its spending plans, reported Hydrocarbonprocessing. The COVID-19 pandemic took a heavy toll on the company and its global peers in 2020, but oil prices have rallied this year as economies recover from last year’s downturn and after oil producers extended output cuts. “We are pleased that there are signs of a recovery,” Aramco CEO Amin Nasser told an earnings call. “China is also very close to pre-pandemic levels. So in Asia, East Asia in particular, there is strong pickup in demand.”


Sinopec Maoming to shut is LDPE plant in China for maintenance on 24 March

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Sinopec Maoming Petrochemical Company, part of Sinopec, has delayed the turnaround at its No. 2 low density polyethylene (LDPE) unit in Guangdong, China until 24 March, reported CommoPlast with reference to market sources.

Initially the company intended to take off-stream its 250,000 tons/year No. 2 LDPE unit on 15 March, 2021.

However, Sinopec Maoming Petrochemical decided to delay the shutdown slighlty. The outage is expected to last for 63 days.

As MRC informed previously, Sinopec Maoming Petrochemical Company plans to shut down its high density polyethylene (HDPE) plant in Guangdong for a scheduled turnaround on 25 March, 2021. The company's HDPE plant can produce 350,000 tons/year. The maintenance works are expected to last until 2 May, 2021.

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.

Sinopec corp. is one of the world's largest integrated energy and chemical companies. Business Sinopec Corp. includes oil and gas exploration, production and transportation of oil and gas, oil refining, petrochemical production, production of mineral fertilizers and other chemical products. In terms of refining capacity, Sinopec Corp. ranks second in the world, in terms of ethylene capacity - fourth.

HDPE production in Russia up 13% in Jan-Feb 2020

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Russia's production of high density polyethylene (HDPE) totalled 329,800 tonnes in the first two months of 2021, up by 13% year on year. At the same time, only one Russian producer increased HDPE output, according to MRC ScanPlast report.

February HDPE production in Russia decreased to 152,500 tonnes, whereas this figure was about 172,500 tonnes a month earlier, three out of four manufacturers have reduced capacity utilisation. Thus, overall HDPE output reached 329,800 tonnes in January-February 2021, compared to 291,400 tonnes a year earlier. Only ZapSibNeftekhim's production increased, while Kazanorgsintez and Gazprom neftekhim Salavat reduced their production.

The structure of PE output by grades looked the following way over the stated period.
February production of HDPE at ZapSibNeftekhim reached 93,700 tonnes against 99,200 tonnes a month earlier. In general, total output of HDPE at the Tobolsk enterprise approached the level of 192,900 tonnes in January-February, up 57%year on year.

Last month's HDPE production at Kazanorgsintez decreased to 28,300 tonnes from 38,100 tonnes in January, the decrease in production was in favor of linear polyethylene. Thus, overall production of this PE grade totalled 66,300 tonnes over the stated period, down by 29% year on year.

Stavrolen's February HDPE production decreased to 24,800 tonnes from 28,800 tonnes a month earlier. Overall HDPE output exceeded 53,500 tonnes over the stated period, which virtually corresponded to the 2020 figure.

Gazprom neftekhim Salavat decreased HDPE production to 5,800 tonnes in February from 11,300 tonnes in January. Thus, overall production of this PE grade totalled 17,100 tonnes at the plant over the stated period, down by 20% year on year.