COVID-19 - News digest as of 21.04.2021

1. March oil storage increased in China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- China boosted the flow of crude oil into storage tanks in March as strong imports and domestic output exceeded an increase in the volume of fuel being processed by refiner, said Hydrocarbonprocessing. ,About 1.63 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude was directed into commercial and strategic inventories last month, up from about 920,000 bpd in the first two months of 2021, according to calculations based on official data. The increase in storage was mainly a reflection of rising crude imports in March, which reached 11.69 million bpd, above the 11.08 million bpd reported by customs for the first two months of the year. Domestic crude output was also higher in March at 4.02 million bpd, up 3.3% from the same month last year, and also above the 3.89 million bpd in the first two months of 2021. China doesn't disclose the volumes of crude flowing into strategic and commercial stockpiles. But an estimate can be made by deducting the amount of crude processed from the total amount of crude available from imports and domestic output.


Thai Polyethylene to restart its LDPE plant in Thailand in early May

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Thai Polyethylene, part of Siam Cement Group (SCG), plans to resume operations at its low density polyethylene (LDPE) plant in Thailand in early May, 2021, after a scheduled turnaround, reported S&P Global with reference to a company source.

The company has halted operations at this unit on 9 March, 2021. The unit was initially expected to restart on 22 March, 2021.

Located at Map Tha Phut in Thailand, the plant has a production capacity of 160,000 mt/year of LDPE.

As MRC wrote previously, SCG Chemicals ,took its high density polyethylene (HDPE) plant off-stream for a maintenance turnaround on November 26, 2019. It remained under maintenance until December 14, 2019. Located in Map Ta Phut, Thailand, the plant has a production capacity of 200,000 mt/year.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, February estimated LDPE consumption in Russia decreased to 36,580 tonnes from 61,210 tonnes a year earlier. Russian producers raised their export LDPE shipments because of more attractive prices in comparison with the domestic market. Russia's estimated LDPE consumption totalled about 97,790 tonnes in the first two months of 2021, up by 19% year on year.

SCG Chemicals is a subsidiary of SCG and is one of SCG’s 3 core businesses consisting of Chemicals, Paper and Cement-Building Materials. SCG embarked upon the chemicals business in 1989. At present, SCG Chemicals manufactures and supplies a full range of petrochemical products ranging from upstream petrochemicals such as Olefins, intermediate petrochemicals such as Styrene Monomer, PTA, and MMA, to downstream petrochemicals such as Polyethylene, Polypropylene, Polyvinyl Chloride, and Polystyrene resins. SCG Chemicals is now one of the largest integrated petrochemical companies in Thailand and a key industry leader in the Asia-Pacific region.

Formosa to shut its No.1 cracker in Mailiao for maintenance on 8 June

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Formosa Plastics Company (FPC), part of Formosa Petrochemical, is in plans to take off-stream its No. 1 cracker in Mailiao, Taiwan for a scheduled turnaround on 8 June, 2021, reported Reuters with reference to the company's spokesman.

This cracker with an annual capacity of 700,000 tons of ethylene and 350,000 tons of propylene is expected to remain shut unitl mid-July, 2021.

As MRC wrote before, the company unexpectedly shut its No.1 cracker in Mailiao on 12 April 2021 due to an unspecified technical issue and resumed operations on 19 April 2021. FPC expects to restore 100% capacity utilisation at this facility in a couple of days after the restart.

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

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated polyethylene (PE) consumption totalled 356,370 tonnes in the first two month of 2021, down by 9% year on year. Shipments of exclusively low density polyethylene (LDPE) increased. At the same time, polypropylene (PP) shipments to the Russian market was 246,870 tonnes in January-February 2021, up by 30% year on year. Supply of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased.

Formosa Petrochemical is involved primarily in the business of refining crude oil, selling refined petroleum products and producing and selling olefins (including ethylene, propylene, butadiene and BTX) from its naphtha cracking operations. Formosa Petrochemical is also the largest olefins producer in Taiwan and its olefins products are mostly sold to companies within the Formosa Group. Among the company's chemical products are paraxylene (PX), phenyl ethylene, acetone and pure terephthalic acid (PTA). The company"s plastic products include acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) resins, polystyrene (PS), polypropylene (PP) and panlite (PC).

Polytama to resume normal operations at its PP plant in Balongan by the end of the week

MOSCOW (MRC) -- PT Polytama Propindo is ramping up operating rates at its polypropylene (PP) plant in Balongan, Indonesia and might be able to achieve normal operations by the end of this week, reported CommoPlast with reference to market sources.

They said that the company is now in middle of this process at this facility that can produce 380,000 tons/year of PP.

As MRC informed earlier, on 29 March, 2021, PT Polytama Propindo took its PP plant in Balongan offline after a fire broke out at the Pertamina's refinery at the nearby location that disrupt the propylene supply to the company.

PT Polytama Propindo has reportedly restarted its PP plant in Balongan over the weekend after three weeks of shutdown. Pertamina has successfully resumed the propylene supply last Thursday, 15 April 2021, allowing Polytama to restart the operation at its PP plant.

We remind that in 2017, the company conducted maintenance at this plant from end-January to mid-February.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, PP shipments to the Russian market was 246,870 tonnes in January-February 2021, up by 30% year on year. Supply of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased.

PT Polytama Propindo was established in 1993 as a signifcant manufacturer of polypropylene resin (PP resin) in Indonesia. Polytama is taking a leading role in Indonesia's fast growing economy by utilizing the country wealth i.e. the secondary processing yield of oil and natural gas , through industrial manufacturing. The factory located in Balongan, Juntinyuat district, Indramayu-West Java, using one of the best technology in the world, the Spheripol technology of Montell (now LyondellBasell), with an installed capacity of 100,000 metric tons per year.

Two years later the construction of the factory was completed on July 27, 1995 and PT Polytama Propindo started the production (the product trade name: Masplene), the supply of raw material propylene with high purity from PERTAMINA refinery UP-VI (now RU-VI ) Balongan. In 1996, and the plant capacity grown to 180,000 tons per year. Response to the addition of propylene production capacity of PERTAMINA RU-VI in 2004, PT Polytama Propindo increased its capacity to 200,000 tons per year.

Sika strengthens its position in the USA by acquiring flooring adhesives business

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Sika,a producer of construction chemicals, has acquired the flooring adhesives business of DriTac, a US-based floor covering adhesives company with an especially strong position in wood floor bonding, reported Intrado GlobalNewswire.

The acquisition will contribute to Sika’s increased presence among floor covering installers and distributors, while accelerating Sika’s expansion in the Interior Finishing market in the USA. In 2020, the acquired business generated sales of CHF 20 million.

DriTac is a well-recognized brand in the US floor covering industry, with a strong reputation especially in the wood floor bonding segment. DriTac brings long-established customer and distributor relationships across the country that are highly complementary to Sika’s existing network, enhancing overall market access and market penetration.

The acquired business strengthens Sika’s growth platform for Interior Finishing in the USA with large potential for cross-selling of Sika’s other complementary products that include moisture-mitigation materials, surface preparation and self-leveling underlayment mortars, as well as tile setting materials. The DriTac product range, which includes polyurethane, modified silicone and water-based technologies, will further enhance Sika’s system solutions for floor covering applications and give customers access to a large, full-range portfolio.

As MRC informed earlier, in November 2020, Sika commissioned a manufacturing facility in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), which produces epoxy resins aimed at flooring solutions. Sika has decided to invest in the expansion of its manufacturing facilities at the Dubai site in order to increase flexibility in production, shorten delivery times, optimize cost structures, and reduce inventories.

We remind that 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 Rosstat's data. February production of polymers in primary form was 861,000 tonnes versus 196,000 tonnes in January. Overall output of polymers in primary form totalled 1,770,000 tonnes over the stated period, up by 8.4% year on year.

Sika is a specialty chemicals company with a leading position in the development and production of systems and products for bonding, sealing, damping, reinforcing, and protecting in the building sector and motor vehicle industry. Sika has subsidiaries in 101 countries around the world and manufactures in over 200 factories. Its more than 20,000 employees generated annual sales of CHF 7.09 billion in 2018.