COVID-19 - News digest as of 21.12.2021

1. Crude oil prices slump as Omicron rapid spread in Europe and the US dims fuel demand outlook

Oil prices slumped on Monday as surging cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant in Europe and the United States stoked investor worries that new restrictions to combat its spread could dent fuel demand, reported Reuters. Brent crude futures fell USD2, or 2.7%, to settle at USD71.52 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell USD2.63, or 3.7%, to settle at USD68.23 a barrel. Brent fell to a session low of USD69.28 per barrel, while WTI sank to USD66.04 per barrel, both their lowest levels since early December. "This is a knee-jerk reaction to the proliferation of the virus and the fear that lockdowns can rapidly spread," said Andrew Lipow of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.


Hyundai Chemical to start up new HDPE plant by end 2021

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Hyundai Oilbank has announced that the company’s joint venture with Lotte Chemical Petrochemical is set to start up its high density polyethylene (HDPE) plant in Daesan, South Korea by the end of 2021, according to CommoPlast.

Thus, the plant, which will be able to produce 850,000 tons/year of HDPE at its two lines, will be operated by Hyundai Chemical.

The companies' joint petrochemical project in Daesan that costs 2.7 trillion Korean Won (USD2.5 billion) also consists of a cracker with the capacity of 900,000 tons/year of ethylene and a polypropylene (PP) plant with the capacity of 500,000 tons/year.

As MRC reported earlier, Hyundai Chemical started to market cargoes from the new PP plant in Daesan in mid-November, 2021.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, October estimated HDPE consumption in Russia dropped to 107,120 tonnes from 124,600 tonnes a month earlier. Domestic producers reduced their output due to scheduled turnarounds, whereas exports increased. Overall HDPE shipments to the Russian market totalled 1,166,460 tonnes in the first ten months of 2021, up by 22% year on year. Production increased by 7%, whereas exports fell by 19%.

Hyundai Chemical is a joint venture between South Korea’s Lotte Chemical and Hyundai Oilbank

ProAmpac acquires packaging supplier Prairie State Group

ProAmpac acquires packaging supplier Prairie State Group

MOSCOW (MRC) -- In a deal that expands its position in the food and pet food markets and beefs up its labeling capabilities, flexible packaging supplier ProAmpac has acquired Prairie State Group (PSG), an SQF-certified provider of flexible packaging and labeling services based in Franklin Park, Ill, said Canplastics.

The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. PSG produces a range of SQF-certified and environmentally-friendly flexible packaging and label solutions, including wrappers, pouches, compostable film, roll stock, and pressure-sensitive labels.

"PSG brings state-of-the art, vertically integrated manufacturing capabilities and a diverse base of long-tenured customers to ProAmpac,” ProAmpac officials said in a Dec. 20 news release. “With the addition of PSG, ProAmpac extends its reach in the food and pet food markets, expands its pouching capabilities and strengthens its leading market position in sustainable, flexible packaging solutions."

PSG’s founders and management team will remain with the business post-transaction, the news release said. The deal caps a busy year for Cincinnati, Ohio-based ProAmpac. Within the past 10 months, the company has acquired Ireland-based Fispak Ltd. and Irish Flexible Packaging; and Euroflex, Ultimate Packaging, IG Industries, and Brayford Plastics, all of which are based in Europe.

As it was written before, flexible packaging supplier ProAmpac has acquired El Dorado Packaging, a producer of consumer and industrial multi-wall packaging solutions, for an undisclosed amount.

In May 2018, ProAmpac purchased Gateway Packaging Co., a pet food packaging supplier headquartered in White House, Tenn. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

SABIC action with Alliance to end plastic waste

SABIC action with Alliance to end plastic waste

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The 2021 annual progress report highlights how the organization’s projects are beginning to deliver impact, after two years of foundation-laying work, according to Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Since 2019, the Alliance has developed a portfolio of more than 35 projects, currently in various stages of implementation, across 80 cities. The third edition of the report ‘Alliance in action’ showcased a year of actions and outlined its strategy to deliver ambition of greater impact, inspired by the collective action of partners around the world.

SABIC is a founding member of the Alliance since its inception in 2018 and in his members message Yousef Al-Benyan, SABIC Vice Chairman and CEO, reflected: “At SABIC, we believe plastic can be part of a sustainable future and we are taking action, working towards the collective aim of a circular plastics economy. We are collaborating with partners to find innovative solutions and new ways to design, produce, use, and recycle plastic and close the loop on plastic waste.

He added: “This year has also seen SABIC working with customers and partners to find new ways to recover and recycle ocean and ocean-bound plastic waste, which have found their way into our environment and waterways to create new valuable plastic materials. In doing so, we are not only helping to address the issue of end-of-life plastics, but these programs also contribute to the social and economic growth in those local communities.”

During the year, the Alliance grew its portfolio of projects by about 80% and now covers Europe and the Americas as well. It now also includes investments and partnerships to develop and test-bed technologies that will help improve waste sorting - through the HolyGrail 2.0 Digital Watermarks Initiative - or improve the value of difficult-to-recycle plastics.

“Despite the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we set in motion efforts to scale for impact and we are beginning to see early results,” said Jacob Duer, President and CEO of the Alliance. “The Alliance remains fully committed to our ambition of diverting millions of tons of plastic waste from the environment.”

He added: Our confidence is grounded on a clear strategy guiding our work—to develop, deploy and de-risk solutions at the seed stage and to close gaps in the plastics circular economy. This year, we have begun demonstrating that with our investment of time, financial and technical resources, the approach works.”

As MRC informed before, earlier this month, Omani state energy company OQ signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with petrochemicals giant Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) on developing Oman's Duqm petrochemical complex project.

Ethylene and propylene are the main feedstocks for the production of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), respectively.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 2,047,100 tonnes in the first ten months of 2021, up by 17% year on year. Shipments of all grades of ethylene polymers increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market were 1,226,530 tonnes in January-October 2021, up by 26% year on year. Supply of propylene homopolymers (homopolymer PP) and block-copolymers of propylene (PP block copolymers) increased, whereas supply of injection moulding stat-copolymers of propylene (PP random copolymers) decreased significantly.

Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) ranks among the world's top petrochemical companies. The company is among the world's market leaders in the production of polyethylene, polypropylene and other advanced thermoplastics, glycols, methanol and fertilizers.

Trinseo to acquire Dutch collector and recycler of post-consumer plastic wastes

Trinseo to acquire Dutch collector and recycler of post-consumer plastic wastes

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Trinseo, a global materials solutions provider and manufacturer of plastics and latex binders, has announced its entry into a definitive agreement to acquire Heathland B.V., a leading collector and recycler of post-consumer (PCR, EoL) and post-industrial (PIR) plastic wastes in Europe, as per the company's press release.

As a plastic waste collector and recycler based in Utrecht, the Netherlands, Heathland is focused on converting PCR and PIR polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), polycarbonate (PC), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polystyrene (PS) and other thermoplastic waste. The company collects, pre-treats and processes plastic waste materials using mechanical and chemical recycling processes, and captures the materials’ maximum value by transforming them into high quality recycled raw materials for a wide range of high-end applications. Heathland is well established in Europe with several notable projects, including MMATwo and REVOLUTION, which are funded by the Horizon 2020 program of the European Commission.

The acquisition serves as an important milestone of Trinseo’s transformation journey into a specialty materials and sustainable solutions provider. As the Company’s extensive sustainable product portfolio continues to grow, this agreement will help meet market demand by securing a reliable source of recycled feedstock through the addition of a plastic waste collection business and enhancing the ongoing development of plastic recycling technologies.

The investment is aligned with Trinseo’s 2030 Sustainability Goals, which outline the Company’s focus on tackling climate change, embedding sustainability in its product portfolio, promoting supplier and operational stewardship, and embodying responsibility as an employer.

As MRC reported earlier, Trinseo and its affiliate companies in Europe, have announced a price increase for all polystyrene (PS), acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and acrylonitrile-styrene copolymer (SAN) in Europe. Effective December 1, 2021, or as existing contract terms allow, the contract and spot prices for the products listed below rose, as follows:

- STYRON general purpose polystyrene grades (GPPS) -- by EUR50 per metric ton;
- STYRON and STYRON A-Tech and STYRON X- Tech and STYRON C- Tech high impact polystyrene grades (HIPS) - by EUR50 per metric ton;
- MAGNUM ABS resins - by EUR50 per metric ton;
- TYRIL SAN resins - by EUR50 per metric ton.

According to ICIS-MRC Price report, in Russia, for large- and middle-sized buyers, December prices of Nizhnekamskneftekhim's GPPS were in the range of roubles (Rb) 172,750-183,700/tonne CPT Moscow, including VAT, whereas HIPS prices were at Rb178,750-189,000/tonne CPT Moscow, including VAT. Penoplex's limited December GPPS quantities were contracted at Rb195,000-197,000/tonne CPT Moscow, including VAT, in early December. The producer reported the absence of available quantities until the end of the month. Prices of Gazprom neftekhim Salavat's GPPS were at Rb172,500-181,000/tonne CPT Moscow, including VAT, this week.

Trinseo is a global materials company and manufacturer of plastics, latex and rubber. Trinseo's technology is used by customers in industries such as home appliances, automotive, building & construction, carpet, consumer electronics, consumer goods, electrical & lighting, medical, packaging, paper & paperboard, rubber goods and tires. Formerly known as Styron, Trinseo completed its renaming process in 1Q 2015. Trinseo had approximately USD3.0 billion in net sales in 2020, with 17 manufacturing sites around the world, and approximately 2,600 employees.

Heathland is a collector and recycler of post-consumer (PCR, EoL) and post-industrial (PIR) plastic waste, situated in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Its recycling service is focused on a wide array of plastic wastes with particular focus on PMMA, PC, ABS and PS. Collected plastic wastes are pre-treated and processed by means of mechanical and chemical recycling processes.