EPC to restart its PVC plant in Egypt after unscheduled shutdown

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Egyptian Petrochemicals Company (EPC), Egypt’s local polyvinyl chloride (PVC) producer, plans to restart its PVC plant by the beginning of next week after an unscheduled shutdown, reproted NCT with reference to a source from the company.

The plant with a nameplate capacity of 80,000 tons/year of PVC was taken off-stream after a fire that broke out on March 19, Friday.

A shortage of ethylene was cited as another reason behind the shutdown.

"We have limited stocks and we are only delivering to the local market," the source reported.

We remind that in late March, 2020, another major petrochemical producer in Egypt - The Egyptian Propylene and Polypropylene Company (EPPC), one of two producers of propylene and polypropylene (PP) in Egypt - resumed production at its polypropylene (PP) plant at Port Said, Egypt after a planned turnaround. The maintenance works at this plant with a capacity of 350,000 tons/year of PP began in early February, 2020.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's overall PVC production reached 169,200 tonnes in the first two months of 2021, down 4% year on year. All producers decreased production volumes over the reported period.

Egyptian Petrochemicals Company is one of the Egyptian petroleum sector companies and a subsidiary of the Egyptian Holding Company for Petrochemicals Company. Egyptian Petrochemicals is the first petrochemical company produces of PVC originating in the Arab Republic of Egypt.

BASF extends its commercial supplier contract with Mercedes-Benz in Asia Pacific region

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BASF, the world’s largest chemical company, has recently secured a multi-year agreement with Mercedes-Benz in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, as per the company's press release.

Thus, the contract extends its longstanding, commercially approved supplier status with the car company to Australia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

The agreement, which builds upon its success with Mercedes-Benz in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, includes its Glasurit and R-M premium automotive refinishing brands and RODIM paint-related products. Efficient digital color solutions, world-class training solutions and technical support, as well as a suite of exclusively branded Vision360 advanced business management solutions designed to increase body shop performance and efficiency are also part of the agreement.

As part of the complete offer to Mercedes-Benz, BASF will deliver a complete offering of digital and data solutions including its highly efficient digital color management tools, which help body shops to speed up workflows. Its digital portable spectrophotometers precisely measure the color on the car, and quickly and easily takes the painter to the desired mixing formula.

As MRC reported earlier, the collaboration between BASF and OMV, the international, integrated oil, gas and chemical company headquartered in Vienna, has reached a new milestone with the commissioning of OMV's new isobutene (ISO C4) plant at the Burghausen site. The ISO C4 plant is based on technology developed jointly by the two companies. The plant’s production capacity is 60,000 t/a.

We also remind that earlier this month, BASF started up its new acrylic dispersions production line in Pasir Gudang, Malaysia, doubling its capacity. The state-of-the-art facility will produce acrylic dispersions serving the coatings, construction, adhesives, and packaging industries in Asia Pacific. The new production line complements the existing set-up and allows the production of new dispersions technologies under Acronal Edge, Acronal Plus, Joncryl and next generation Acronal Eco product ranges.

BASF is the leading chemical company. It produces a wide range of chemicals, for example solvents, amines, resins, glues, electronic-grade chemicals, industrial gases, basic petrochemicals and inorganic chemicals. The most important customers for this segment are the pharmaceutical, construction, textile and automotive industries.

Oil prices fell over 3% on concerns that new coronavirus curbs and slow vaccine rollouts in Europe willl put downward pressure on demand

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Oil prices decreased more than 3%, hit by concerns that new pandemic curbs and slow vaccine rollouts in Europe will hold back a recovery in demand, while a stronger dollar also weighed, according to Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Brent crude futures dropped by USD2.20, or 3.4%, to USD62.42 a barrel by 0948 GMT. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell by USD2.10, or %3.4, to USD59.46 a barrel.

The market structure was also pointing to weakness, with the front-month Brent spread flipping into a small contango for the first time since January.

Contango is where the front-month contracts are cheaper than future months, and could encourage traders to put oil into storage.

“Continental Europe is tightening the coronavirus measures and thereby further restricting mobility,” Commerzbank said.

“This is likely to have a correspondingly negative impact on oil demand,” they added.

Extended lockdowns are being driven by the threat of a third wave of infections, with a new variant of the coronavirus on the continent.

A stronger US dollar also weighed on prices. As oil in priced in US dollars, a stronger greenback makes oil more expensive for holders of other currencies.

Physical crude markets are indicating that demand is lower, much more so than the futures market.

As MRC informed previously, oil producers face an unprecedented challenge to balance supply and demand as factors including the pace and response to COVID-19 vaccines cloud the outlook, according to an official with International Energy Agency's (IEA) statement.

We remind that the COVID-19 outbreak has led to an unprecedented decline in demand affecting all sections of the Russian economy, which has impacted the demand for petrochemicals in the short-term. However, the pandemic triggered an increase in the demand for polymers in food packaging, and cleaning and hygiene products, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company. With Russian petrochemical companies having the advantage of access to low-cost feedstock, and proximity to demand-rich Asian (primarily China) and European markets for the supply of petrochemical products, these companies appear to be well-positioned to derive full benefits from an improving market environment and global economy post-COVID-19, says GlobalData.

We also remind that in December 2020, Sibur, Gazprom Neft, and Uzbekneftegaz agreed to cooperate on potential investments in Uzbekistan including a major expansion of Uzbekneftegaz’s existing Shurtan Gas Chemical Complex (SGCC) and the proposed construction of a new gas chemicals facility. The signed cooperation agreement for the projects includes “the creation of a gas chemical complex using methanol-to-olefins (MTO) technology, and the expansion of the production capacity of the Shurtan Gas Chemical Complex”.

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.

Ukraine GDP in the year of the pandemic decreased by 4%

MOSCOW (MRC) - Ukraine's real GDP decreased by 4% in 2020, nominal GDP, that is, in actual prices, amounted to UAH 4.194 trillion, Economic Pravda reports, citing data from the State Statistics Service.

GDP per capita is 100.5 thousand hryvnia. Most of all, according to the calculations of the State Statistics Committee, the sphere of temporary accommodation and catering has suffered, which in terms of volume in 2020 decreased by 28.5%. Behind it is the sphere of transport, warehousing, postal and courier activities, which lost 16.4% of the volume.

Some sectors did have the opportunity to increase production. This applies to construction (+ 5.2%), wholesale and retail trade (+ 4.9%) and information and communication (+ 2.3%).

Ukraine's GDP in the fourth quarter of last year amounted to UAH 1,301.5 billion, 0.5% less than in the same period in 2019. Compared to the third quarter of 2020, it increased by 0.8% (seasonally adjusted data).

The Ministry of Economy maintains the forecast for the growth of the Ukrainian economy in 2021 by 4.6% of GDP. According to the calculations of the Ministry of Economy, in January Ukraine's GDP fell by 2.6-2.8%, including due to the January lockdown. The Ministry of Economy predicts that by the end of the first quarter of 2021, the drop in GDP may reach 3%. In 2021, according to the government forecast, GDP will grow by 4.6%. The World Bank expects Ukraine's GDP growth in 2021 at the level of 3%, the October forecasts were half as much - 1.5%.

Earlier it was reported that the international rating agency Fitch Ratings predicts the growth of real gross domestic product (GDP) of Ukraine in 2021 at the level of 4.1%. The economy will almost recover from a 4.2% downturn in 2020. Fitch points out that the second wave of Covid-19 was much more severe than the first, but the death rate is declining and the agency expects economic constraints to remain limited.

HELM to distribute Viridis Chemical bio-based ethyl acetate and USP ethanol

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Viridis Chemical, LLC (Houston, Texas) has signed an agreement with HELM US Corporation (Houston, Texas) to market and distribute USP-grade, biobased ethanol and biobased ethyl acetate produced at Viridis Chemical’s manufacturing plant in Columbus, Nebraska, according to BiofuelsDigest.

HELM will immediately assume the exclusive responsibility for global sales, marketing and logistics management for both of Viridis Chemical’s products.

Viridis Chemical’s Columbus plant is currently undergoing capital improvements that will increase production capacity.

The plant is expected to begin production of high-quality USP-grade bioethanol in mid-2021 and production of biobased Ethyl Acetate at a global scale in the fourth quarter of 2022.

As MRC informed before, in October, 2019, Helm announced that it will increase the volume of propylene it markets from the PCK refinery at Schwedt in Germany by more than 100,000 tonnes from 1 January, 2020. An additional shareholder of PCK Schwedt had awarded Helm with the “exclusive marketing and logistic services from one of the most modern refineries in Europe”.

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.

Helm AG is a Hamburg, Germany based family company established in 1900. HELM is one of the world’s largest chemicals marketing companies. The Company secures access to the world’s key markets through its specific regional knowledge and over 100 branches, sales offices and participations in over 30 countries. As a multifunctional marketing organization HELM is active in the chemicals industry (Feedstocks and Derivatives), in the crop protection industry, in active pharmaceutical ingredients, pharmaceuticals and in the fertilizer industry. Helm AG has a total of 1,521 employees.