IEA countries agree to release 60 mln barrels of oil

The 31 Member Countries of the Governing Board of the International Energy Agency agreed to release 60 million barrels of oil from their emergency reserves to send a unified and strong message to global oil markets that there will be no shortfall in supplies as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said the organization.

Today’s Extraordinary Governing Board meeting, held at the Ministerial level, was chaired by US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm in her capacity as Chair of this year’s IEA Ministerial Meeting.

Ministers expressed solidarity with the people of Ukraine and their democratically elected government in the face of Russia’s appalling and unprovoked violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The IEA Ministers noted with concern the energy security impacts of the egregious actions by Russia, and voiced support for sanctions imposed by the international community in response.

The Ministers noted that Russia’s invasion comes against a backdrop of already tight global oil markets, heightened price volatility, commercial inventories that are at their lowest level since 2014, and a limited ability of producers to provide additional supply in the short term.

IEA members hold emergency stockpiles of 1.5 billion barrels. The announcement of an initial release of 60 million barrels, or 4% of those stockpiles, is equivalent to 2 million barrels a day for 30 days. The coordinated drawdown is the fourth in the history of the IEA, which was created in 1974. Previous collective actions were taken in 2011, 2005 and 1991.

Russia plays an outsized role on global energy markets. It is the world’s third largest oil producer and the largest exporter. Its exports of about 5 million barrels a day of crude oil represent roughly 12% of global trade – and its approximately 2.85 million barrels a day of petroleum products represent around 15% of global refined product trade. Around 60% of Russia’s oil exports go to Europe and another 20% to China.

The Governing Board also encouraged each member country to do its utmost to support Ukraine in the supply of oil products, recommending that governments and consumers maintain and intensify conservation efforts.

Ministers also discussed Europe’s significant reliance on Russian natural gas and the need to reduce this by looking to other suppliers, including via LNG, and to continue to pursue a well-managed acceleration of clean energy transitions. On Thursday, the IEA Secretariat will release a 10-Point Plan for how European countries can reduce their reliance on Russian gas supplies by next winter.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 2,265,290 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2021, up by 14% year on year. Shipments of all grades of ethylene polymers increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market were 1,363,850 tonnes in January-November, 2021, up by 25% year on year. Supply of homopolymer PP and block-copolymers of propylene (PP block copolymers) increased, whereas supply of injection moulding PP random copolymers decreased significantly.

Shin-Etsu to increase silicone ccpacity in Japan and Thailand

Shin-Etsu to increase silicone ccpacity in Japan and Thailand

Shin-Etsu Chemical to make 80 billion yen in facility investments for its silicones business with the aim of further expanding and strengthening the business, according to SpecialChem.

Shin-Etsu Chemical increased its production capacity of silicone monomer, the intermediate material of silicones, at its two bases in Japan and Thailand by about 1.5 times. The company has implemented appropriate investments so far in this downstream area of our silicones business.

However, because there is strong demand from customers mainly for advanced functional products, the company is going to further increase its production capacity in this business field as a result of this new facility investment.

Shin-Etsu has already stated that it will strengthen the development of new silicone products and put the emphasis in specialty products. This new facility investment plan is aimed at strengthening this business strategy, and the investment amount is expected to exceed 80 billion yen. By these means, the company will meet the vigorously increasing demand for these products, and at the same time, we will be able to strengthen our stable supply system.

Shin-Etsu’s new facility investments will increase the production capacity of highly diversified types of silicone fluids, resins and rubber end products. In addition, the company will go forward with its endeavors toward contributing to the reduction of the environmental impact and to the development of advanced technologies such as by introducing equipment for molding silicone rubber that does not require post-cure and by introducing trial production equipment for Micro LED-related materials, which will improve productivity and save energy.

As MRC informed before, Shin-Etsu has declared force majeure (FM) on shipments of all polyvinyl chloride (PVC) grades from its plant in Pernis, the Netherlands. Thus, FM was declared on PVC supplies from this plant with the capacity of 450,000 mtyear on 6 May, 2021, following a critical and unforeseen leakage at the upstream vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) production plant in the Netherlands.

We remind that earlier, Shin Etsu declared force majeure on deliveries of all PVC grades from its plant in Pernis on October 13, 2020.

Arkema closes acquisition of Ashland Performance Adhesives business

France-based diversified chemical manufacturer Arkema has closed its previously announced acquisition of Ashland’s Performance Adhesives business for around USD1.65bn in an all-cash transaction.

The company signed an agreement to acquire Ashland’s business in August last year.

Ashland’s Performance Adhesives business supplies a wide range of adhesives for flexible packaging and pressure-sensitive adhesives for various markets, including decorative labels, protection and signage films for automotives and buildings.

The business operates a network of six production plants, most of which are located in North America, and has around 330 employees.

As MRC wrote before, in January 2022, Arkema announcedd that it will be increasing its fluoropolymer capacity at its site in Changshu, China by 50% instead of 35%. The decision to increase polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) capacity at the site is to cater to growing demand for lithium-ion batteries for semiconductors, water filtration and specialty coatings markets. This is not expected to change the expected start-up date, which is still scheduled for the end of 2022.

Arkema is one of the world's leading chemical manufacturers headquartered in Colombes (near Paris, France). Founded in 2004 as a result of the restructuring of the French oil company Total, Arkema, with a turnover of EUR6.5 billion, has operations in 40 countries, 10 research centers around the world, and 85 plants in Europe, North America and Asia.

BASF builds new plant for alkylethanolamines in Belgium

BASF builds new plant for alkylethanolamines in Belgium

BASF, the world's petrochemical major, builds a new production plant for alkylethanolamines at the Verbund site in Antwerp, Belgium, according to Hydrocarbonprocessing.

After the planned start-up in 2024, the company will increase the global annual production capacity of its alkylethanolamines portfolio containing, amongst others, dimethylethanolamines and methyldiethanolamines by nearly 30% to more than 140,000 metric tpy.

“We see a continuing, growing demand for alkylethanolamines in a broad range of industries such as water treatment, detergents and gas treatment over the next years. The investment in Antwerp will have a positive effect on the available capacity for alkylalkanolamines in BASF’s amines Verbund, therefore supporting our continued ambition to provide products for our customers’ growth,” said Dr. Frank Stein, Regional Business Unit Europe of BASF’s Intermediates division.

Alkylethanolamines are mainly used as precursors for flocculants applied in water treatment and in the coatings industry where they act as binders between pigments and resins. Other applications include gas treatment, fabric softeners, in additives for metalworking fluids and polyurethanes.

As MRC wrote before, Air Liquide, BASF and Shell are joining Calpine, Chevron, Dow, ExxonMobil, INEOS, Linde, LyondellBasell, Marathon Petroleum, NRG Energy, Phillips 66 and Valero to collectively evaluate and advance emissions reduction efforts in and around the Houston industrial area. Three additional companies have announced their support for exploring the implementation of large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology in and around the Houston industrial area. The 14 companies are evaluating how to use safe, proven CCS technology at Houston-area facilities that provide energy and products for modern life, including advanced manufacturing for plastics, packaging, motor fuels and power generation.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 2,487,450 tonnes in 2021, up by 13% year on year. Shipments of all grades of ethylene polymers increased. At the same time, PP shipments to the Russian market totalled 1,494.280 tonnes, up by 21% year on year. Deliveries of homopolymer PP and PP block copolymers increased, whreas.shipments of PP random copolymers decreased significantly.

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.

INEOS Aromatics increased capacity with modernisation of PTA facility in Indonesia

INEOS Aromatics increased capacity with modernisation of PTA facility in Indonesia

INEOS Aromatics has completed a USD70 million modernisation of its purified terephthalic acid (PTA) plant in Merak, Indonesia, that significantly reduces emissions and increases capacity, supporting the competitiveness and growth of the Indonesian polyester industry, said the company.

The installation of a larger oxidation reactor, reconfiguration of the reactor’s heat recovery system and revamp of the process air compressor train will both reduce CO2 emissions per ton by 15% and increase the site capacity by 15%, from 500,000 tonnes to 575,000 tonnes per annum.

PTA is used by the polyester industry to produce items for homes and businesses such as clothes, furniture, food & drink packaging and other industrial uses. The investment will also improve the reliability and competitiveness of the plant, increasing the availability of PTA for the Indonesian market and the use of local content in fabric produced in the country.

"The INEOS Aromatics facility in Merak has played an important role in the Indonesia polyester industry for some time. This new, multi-million dollar investment shows our commitment to its future growth," says Frank Yang, President Director, INEOS Aromatics Indonesia.

The plant modernisation was completed safely amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that affected the movement of people and materials during the process.

The Merak plant has been operating for nearly 25 years and is a major PTA supplier in Indonesia. It became part of INEOS, as part of its USD5 billion acquisition of the bp petrochemicals business in January 2021, extending both its portfolio and geographical reach.

As per MRC, INEOS Styrolution (Frankfurt, Germany) announced the start of ABS ((acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) production in Wingles, France, having completed the conversion of an existing polystyrene line to the production of ABS. This move makes Wingles the company’s third ABS production site in Europe together with Antwerp, Belgium and Cologne, Germany. The ABS production capacity in Wingles will be 50,000 metric tons per year (m.t./yr), to help meet the increased demand for ABS in Europe in industries such as Construction, Compounding, Household and Automotive.

As MRC reported earlier, in August 2021, INEOS Styrolution joined the US Plastics Pact in their support for collaborative, solution-driven initiatives intended to drive significant system change in the design, use, and reuse of plastics. The US Plastic Pact unites cross-sector approaches, setting a national strategy, and creating scalable solutions to create a path forward toward a circular economy for plastics in the United States by 2025.

We remind that in April 2021, INEOS Styrolution, Recycling Technologies and Trinseo announced that they had reached a significant milestone in their plans to build commercial polystyrene (PS) recycling plants in Europe. Recycling Technologies has been selected as the technology partner.

INEOS Styrolution is the leading global styrenics supplier, with a focus on styrene monomer, polystyrene, ABS Standard and styrenic specialties. With world-class production facilities and more than 90 years of experience, INEOS Styrolution helps its customers succeed by offering solutions, designed to give them a competitive edge in their markets. At the same time, these innovative and sustainable best-in-class solutions help make the circular economy for styrenics a reality. The company provides styrenic applications for many everyday products across a broad range of industries, including automotive, electronics, household, construction, healthcare, packaging and toys/sports/leisure. In 2020, sales were at 4 billion euros. INEOS Styrolution employs approximately 3,600 people and operates 20 production sites in ten countries.