LANXESS enters battery chemicals business

MOSCOW (MRC) -- LANXESS will enter the battery chemistry business with electrolyte production for lithium-ion batteries at its site in Leverkusen, Germany, beginning next year, said the company.

The German chemicals company will produce electrolyte formulations for lithium-ion batteries "under the authorisation" of Guangzhou Tinci Materials Technology, a Chinese producer of battery materials that aims to become a regional supplier for battery cell manufacturers in Europe.

The upswing in e-mobility offers “great opportunities” for LANXESS, said Anno Borkowsky, a member of the company’s management board. “We already produce many raw materials for battery manufacturing. The cooperation with Tinci is another step in establishing ourselves in this market," he said.

LANXESS produces hydrofluoric acid and phosphorous chemicals, which are both raw materials for the production of the high-purity conductive salt lithium hexafluorophosphate (LiPF6). In the US, the company is working on the commercial extraction of battery-grade lithium from brine.

As per MRC, LANXESS announced a global price increase for iron oxide and chrome oxide pigments with immediate effect. The company’s inorganic pigments business unit is the world’s largest manufacturer of synthetic iron oxides and a leading producer of inorganic chrome oxides. Prices for iron oxide pigments have been hiked by EUR110/metric ton (USD132), with chrome oxide pigment prices rising by EUR220/metric ton. Customers will be contacted individually regarding the specifics of the measure as it applies to their products or regions, it says.

As per MRC, Russia's output of chemical products rose in February 2021 by 5.3% year on year. Thus, production of basic chemicals increased year on year by 7.5% in the first two months of 2021. According to the Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, mineral fertilizers accounted for the greatest increase in the January-February output. Production of benzene dropped to 113,000 tonnes in February 2021, compared to 120,000 tonnes a month earlier. Overall output of this product reached 241,000 tonnes over the stated period, down by 7.5% year on year.

LANXESS is a leading specialty chemicals company with about 19,200 employees in 25 countries. The company is currently represented at 74 production sites worldwide. The core business of Lanxess is the development, manufacturing and marketing of chemical intermediates, additives, specialty chemicals and plastics. Through Arlanxeo, the joint venture with Saudi Aramco, Lanxess is also a leading supplier of synthetic rubber.

Eneos signs MOU with Saudi Aramco on blue hydrogen and blue ammonia supply chains

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Japan’s largest refiner Eneos Corporation (formerly known as JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) to investigate potential opportunities for establishing a blue hydrogen and blue ammonia supply chains, according to F+L Daily.

Japan imports more than a third of its crude oil from Saudi Arabia and the MoU is based on Aramco’s potential as a stable, long-term supplier of blue hydrogen and blue ammonia. Upon completion of the feasibility studies, Eneos will review the possibility of establishing hydrogen networks, which includes importing the product to Japan and supplying it to power stations and other industries from refineries.

Thus, Eneos and Aramco intend to engage in collaborative feasibility studies to evaluate the production of blue hydrogen and blue ammonia in Saudi Arabia from hydrocarbons, such as natural gas (NG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as well as the capture of associated carbon dioxide emissions.

Additionally, Eneos and Aramco intend to assess various hydrogen chemical carriers for the purpose of transporting hydrogen from Saudi Arabia to Japan and other markets.

Carriers are a unique way to deliver hydrogen by hydriding a chemical compound at the site of production and then dehydriding it either at the point of delivery or once it is onboard the fuel cell vehicle. This method of hydrogen delivery is still in the early stages of research and development, and as of yet it has not been shown to be energy or cost efficient, according to the US Department of Energy. Using such novel carriers would constitute a significant departure from the way transportation fuels are delivered today.

As MRC reported earlier, ENEOS has announced plans to restart its 145,000 b/d Sendai refinery in northeast Japan in the first half of April, 2021. This refinery has been taken off-stream since the strong earthquake offshore Fukushima late Feb. 13.

We remind that ENEOS Corporation restarted its naphtha cracker in Kawasaki on 1 February 2021. The company shut this cracker with an annual capacity of 515,000 tons/year of ethylene, 300,000 tons/year of propylene, and 105,000 tons/year of butadiene on 4 December, 2020, for repairment after a technical issue reported at the butadiene separation unit and initially planned to resume operations on 28 December, 2020.

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.

Japan's largest refiner JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy was renamed ENEOS Corporation on 25 June, 2020, as part of a wider re-organization of the parent company JXTG Holdings. The move, which also involved renaming the parent company to ENEOS Holdings upon approval at its annual shareholders meeting in June 2020, comes as it strives to be a more comprehensive energy and materials company under its 2040 vision announced in May, 2019. JXTG Holdings was formed as a result of a merger between JX Holdings and TonenGeneral in April 2017. This followed the establishment of JX Holdings as a result of the merger between Nippon Oil and Nippon Mining Holdings in April 2010.

Saudi Aramco, officially the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, is a Saudi Arabian national oil and natural gas company based in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Aramco's value has been estimated at up to USD10 trillion in the Financial Times, making it the world"s most valuable company. Saudi Aramco has both the largest proven crude oil reserves, at more than 260 billion barrels, and largest daily oil production.

Celanese to expand its VAE capacities in China and Germany

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Celanese Corporation, a global chemical and specialty materials company, has announced that it plans to continue its vinyl-acetate-ethylene (VAE) growth at the company’s Nanjing and Frankfurt facilities through the construction of two new EVA reactors, as per the company's press release.

Thus, the increase of the company's VAE capacities is said to be of approximately 65KT of annual capacity at the Nanjing site by 2023, and of approximately 45KT of annual capacity at the Frankfurt site, also by 2023.

This announcement builds upon the company’s global vinyls expansion program, initiated in January 2020 to expand the emulsion polymers business in the Europe and Asia regions, which will extend the value of its global Acetyls business.

Celanese is pleased to report that it is progressing well with these previously announced investment projects (in Frankfurt, Germany and Nanjing, China), which will further strengthen the company’s emulsion polymers and VAE leadership positions.

As MRC reported earlier, Celanese Corporation has also initiated a capital-efficient expansion of its vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) production unit at the company’s world-class chemical industrial park in Nanjing, China in a move to solidify its global VAM capabilities.

VAM is the main feedstock for the production of ethylene-vinyl-acetate (EVA).

According to MRC's DataScope report, January EVA imports to Russia rose only by 0,07% year on year to 3,084 tonnes from 3,087 tonnes a year earlier, and overall imports of this grade of ethylene copolymer into the Russian Federation dropped in January-December 2020 by 3,41% year on year to 38,170 tonnes (39,520 tonnes in 2019).

Celanese Corporation is a global technology leader in the production of differentiated chemistry solutions and specialty materials used in most major industries and consumer applications. Based in Dallas, Celanese employs approximately 7,700 employees worldwide and had 2020 net sales of USD5.7 billion.

SK Innovation to build plants in Poland

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The Korean energy and chemical firm SK Innovation, a subsidiary of SK Group, has announced its intention to build a plant in Wojewodztwo Slaskie, Poland that will manufacture Lithium-Ion Battery Separators (LiBS) and Ceramic Coated Separators (CCS), said Manufacturingglobal.

Separators are the core material of electric vehicle (EV) batteries, with SK Innovation seeking to further bolster its offering to battery manufacturers.

SK Innovation recently announced plans to build another LiBS plant in China. The firm currently produces 360mn square metres of LiBS each year in Jeungpyeong, Chungcheongbuk-do, Korea, and its new plants will bring its production capacity up to 1.2bn square metres annually.

According to its press release, the company aims to invest EUR335mn in four LiBS production units and three CCS production units in Poland, with the aim of breaking ground on the project in Q3 2019 and beginning mass production in Q3 2021.

The first production line in Poland will be completed in the third quarter of 2021, and the second one in the first quarter of 2023. SKI said the new investment is aimed at increasing market share through preemptive investment, citing a significant increase in purchase demands and a possible shortage of supplies from 2023.

As MRC wrote before, SK Advanced is planning to start up the new polypropylene (PP) plant in Ulsan, South Korea this March 2021 as construction works are nearly completed. 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.

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.

SABIC to start marketing Sadara products from July

MOSCOW (MRC) -- SABIC, a global leader in diversified chemicals, has announced that it will begin marketing Aramco’s allocation of Sadara Chemical Company (Sadara) products, more consistent with Aramco’s equity ownership of the joint venture, beginning July 1, 2021, said the company.

The change is the result of an agreement between SABIC, Aramco, Sadara and The Dow Chemical Company (Dow), and aligns with the strategic positioning of SABIC as the chemicals arm of Aramco, which acquired a 70% stake in SABIC last year.

Sadara represents a unique alliance between Aramco and Dow. The realignment of marketing responsibilities relates to a number of products in several phases, which include a range of chemicals, polyethylene and functional chemicals.

By marketing Aramco’s allocation of Sadara products, SABIC expects to drive further supply chain efficiencies, strengthen its brand and combined product and services offering, and help to maintain competitive preference in the global chemicals industry. Customers can expect to benefit from improved product range and availability, ordering and points of sale, supply chain, shipping reliability, and after-market services and solutions.

As per MRC, BASF, SABIC and Linde have signed an agreement to jointly develop eco-friendly, electrically heated steam cracker furnaces. 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.

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).