MOL unit lays cornerstone of propylene plant in Tiszaujvaros

MOL unit lays cornerstone of propylene plant in Tiszaujvaros

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Mol Petrolkemiai, a unit of oil and gas company MOL, laid the cornerstone of a HUF 65bn propylene plant in Tiszaujvaros (about 158 km northeast of the capital) on Wednesday, according to BBJ.

By investing EUR 180 million, MOL Petrolkemia builds a new plant in Tiszaujvaros where its foundation stone laying ceremony took place this Wednesday. 7-8% of the investment costs are covered by Hungarian taxpayers through a government decision.

The production unit, which has an annual manufacturing capacity of 100,000 tons of propylene per year, covers a quarter of MOL’s chemical material needs and increases its self-sufficiency.

MOL Group is an integrated, international oil and gas company that is active in over 30 countries and has a track record of more than 80 years in research and production. Being present through its oil industry activities in 14 countries and running production in nine countries, it has a diverse portfolio: it operates three refineries and two petrochemical plants under integrated supply chain management in Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia.

The new plant of MOL Petrolkemia will be of key importance since the planned 100,000 tons of propylene is set to provide a quarter of the chemical material needs of the corporation. The investment integrates well into MOL Group’s updated strategy and is an important step towards chemical transformation and energy transition since the company can gradually increase the ratio of non-fuel products in its portfolio.

In the last 5-10 years MOL has turned Tiszaujvaros into a unique chemical center so by now the city is undoubtedly considered among the most modern petrochemical metropolises. We have a butadiene plant already built here, as well as a synthetic rubber plant that was built in cooperation with Japanese experts, and the town also hosts the largest industrial investment of the last 30 years, the polyol complex built for EUR 1.3 billion, Zsolt Hernadi, Chairman-CEO of MOL Group said.

As MRC reported earlier, The MOL transformation story began in 2016 when it was one of the first within the oil and gas sector to admit that there were gloomy days ahead and that it was essential to begin the transformation. To plot out the path to a low-carbon future, the company published MOL Group 2030+. Five years after the launch of that transformation plan, the Hungarian energy company has revised its goals with an updated strategy.

We remind that in March 2021, MOL became a biofuel producer through the realization of an investment in the Danube Refinery. Bio feedstock will be co-processed together with fossil materials increasing the renewable share of fuels and reducing up to 200,000 tons /year CO2 emission without negatively affecting fuel quality.

MOL is the largest Hungarian oil, gas and petrochemical group, engaged in exploration and production, transportation of hydrocarbons, as well as the operation of a network of trunk gas pipelines. TVK is a 100% subsidiary of MOL. TVK manufactures HDPE, LDPE, and PP.

Global plasticizers market size valued to reach USD32.5 bln by 2028

Global plasticizers market size valued to reach USD32.5 bln by 2028

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Plasticizers market size is valued at USD20.44 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD32.53 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 6.09% from 2021 to 2028, according to SpecialChem.

The growing demand for flexible PVC for different applications such as flooring & wall coverings, coated fabrics, film & sheet, wire & cable, & consumer goods, and expanding packaging industries are expected to drive the plasticizers market over the predicted years.

The growing demand for flexible polyvinyl chloride (PVC) for different applications such as flooring & wall coverings, coated fabrics, film & sheet, wire & cable, & consumer goods, and expanding packaging industries are expected to drive the plasticizers market over the predicted years.

Also, continuous innovation in plasticizers and increasing demand from the construction industry expect a boost to the market in the coming years. Additionally, rising adoption of non-phthalate & high molecular weight phthalate plasticizers is predicted and the upsurge in the demand for bio-based materials is predicted to fuel the market during the forecasted period.

There are certain restraints and challenges faced which can hinder the market growth. Stringent regulations banning the usage of phthalates plasticizers and the toxic effect of PVC is likely to act as a market restraint.

On the basis of geography, the global plasticizers market is classified into phthalate plasticizers (DOP, DINP/DIDP/DPHP, others), non-phthalates plasticizers (DOTP, adipates, trimellitates, epoxies, benzoates, others).

The non-phthalates plasticizers segment is expected to hold the largest market share. The factors can be attributed to the Registration, Evaluation, and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) regulations for restrictions on the use of phthalates.

On the basis of application, the global plasticizers market is classified into flooring & wall covering, wire & cable, coated fabric, consumer goods, film & sheet, others. It is predicted to hold the most significant CAGR in the forecasted period due to the rising demand from the packaging application in the food & beverage industry.

On the basis of geography, the global plasticizers market is classified into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Rest of the world. The largest share in the market will be dominated by the Asia Pacific owing to the growing construction and automotive industries in this region.

As MRC wrote previously, in January, 2022, Evonik launched another latest generation plasticizer, the ELATUR DINCD. The new product, a cyclohexanoate, is characterized by a combination of much sought-after properties, such as excellent low-temperature flexibility, and high UV resistance; thus contributing significantly to the weather resistance and durability of the products made from it. ELATUR DINCD is easy to process due to its low viscosity and is particularly suitable for demanding exterior and interior applications, such as textile fabrics, roofing membranes, floor coverings, adhesives and sealants, as well as paints and coatings. This portfolio expansion is part of Evonik's long-term strategy to expand its portfolio of plasticizers, based on specific customer needs.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's overall production of unmixed PVC did not exceed 169,700 tonnes in the first two months of 2022, which virtually corresponds to the last year's figure. At the same time, three producers reduced slightly their output.

Yokogawa and JSR use AI to autonomously run chemical facility

Yokogawa and JSR use AI to autonomously run chemical facility

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Yokogawa Electric Corp. and JSR Corp. announce the successful conclusion of a field test in which AI was used to autonomously run a chemical plant for 35 days, a world first, according to Hydrocarbonprocessing.

This test confirmed that reinforcement learning AI can be safely applied in an actual plant. The demonstration shows that this technology can control operations that have been beyond the capabilities of existing control methods and have up to now necessitated the manual operation of control valves based on the judgements of plant personnel. The initiative described here was selected for the 2020 Projects for the Promotion of Advanced Industrial Safety subsidy program of the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Control in the process industries spans a broad range of fields, from oil refining and petrochemicals to high-performance chemicals, fiber, steel, pharmaceuticals, foodstuffs and water. All of these entail chemical reactions and other elements that require an extremely high level of reliability.

In this field test, the AI solution successfully dealt with the complex conditions needed to ensure product quality and maintain liquids in the distillation column at an appropriate level while making maximum possible use of waste heat as a heat source. In so doing it stabilized quality, achieved high yield and saved energy. While rain, snow and other weather conditions were significant factors that could disrupt the control state by causing sudden changes in the atmospheric temperature, the products that were produced met rigorous standards and have since been shipped.

The AI used in this control experiment, the Factorial Kernel Dynamic Policy Programming (FKDPP) protocol, was jointly developed by Yokogawa and the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST) in 2018, and was recognized at an IEEE International Conference on Automation Science and Engineering as being the first reinforcement learning-based AI in the world that can be utilized in plant management. Through initiatives including the successful conduct of a control training system experiment in 2019, and an experiment in April 2020 that used a simulator to recreate an entire plant, Yokogawa has confirmed the potential of this autonomous control AI.

Given the numerous complex physical and chemical phenomena that impact operations in actual plants, there are still many situations where veteran operators must step in and exercise control. Even when operations are automated using PID control and APC, highly-experienced operators have to halt automated control and change configuration and output values when, for example, a sudden change occurs in atmospheric temperature due to rainfall or some other weather event. This is a common issue at many companies’ plants. The results of this test suggests that this collaboration between Yokogawa and JSR may have opened a path forward in resolving this longstanding issue.

Yokogawa Electric vice president and head of Yokogawa Products Headquarters, Kenji Hasegawa said, “The success of this field test came from bringing together the deep knowledge of the production process and operational aspects that only the customer can provide, and Yokogawa’s strength of leveraging measurement, control, and information to produce value. It suggests that an autonomous control AI (FKDPP) can significantly contribute to the autonomization of production, maximization of ROI, and environmental sustainability around the world. Yokogawa led the world in the development of distributed control systems that control and monitor the operation of plant production facilities, and has supported the growth of a range of industries. With our gaze fixed firmly on a world of autonomous operation that forms the model for the future of industries, we are now promoting the concept of IA2IA – Industrial Automation to Industrial Autonomy. To achieve strong and flexible production that takes into consideration the impact of differences in humans, machines, materials, and methods, the 4Ms, in the energy, materials, pharmaceuticals, and many other industries, we will accelerate the joint development of autonomous control AI with our customers around the world.”

As MRC reported before, in January, 2022, Yokogawa was selected by ExxonMobil as the system integrator for the first field trial of an open process automation (OPA) system designed to operate an entire production facility. The field trial will take place at an ExxonMobil manufacturing facility located on the US Gulf Coast, replacing the existing distributed control system (DCS) and programmable logic controllers (PLC) with a single, integrated system that meets the open process automation standard (O-PAS). The project will incorporate enhanced control capabilities enabled through the implementation of OPA technologies and interfaces.

We remind that, earlier this month, ExxonMobil and SABIC successful started up Gulf Coast Growth Ventures world-scale manufacturing facility in San Patricio County, Texas. The new facility will produce materials used in packaging, agricultural film, construction materials, clothing, and automotive coolants. The operation includes a 1.8 MM metric tpy ethane steam cracker, two polyethylene (PE) units capable of producing up to 1.3 MM metric tpy, and a monoethylene glycol (MEG) unit with a capacity of 1.1 MM metric tpy.

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 2,487,450 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.

TotalEnergies to stop purchasing oil and petroleum products from Russia

TotalEnergies to stop purchasing oil and petroleum products from Russia

MOSCOW (MRC) -- TotalEnergies reaffirms its firmest condemnation of Russia's military aggression against Ukraine, which has tragic consequences for the Ukrainian population and threatens peace in Europe, said the company.

To act responsibly, as a European company and in accordance with its values, TotalEnergies has defined clear principles of conduct for managing its Russian related business: eEnsure strict compliance with current and future European sanctions, no matter what the consequences on the management of its assets in Russia, and gradually suspend its activities in Russia, while assuring its workforce's safety.

TotalEnergies recalls that, contrary to remarks made by several commentators, it does not operate any oil and gas fields or any liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants in Russia.

TotalEnergies is a minority shareholder in a number of non-state-owned Russian companies: Novatek (19.4%), Yamal LNG (20%), Arctic LNG 2 (10%) and TerNefteGaz (49%). These companies are managed by their own staff with a limited number of secondees from TotalEnergies. TotalEnergies is also a 20% partner in the Kharyaga joint venture operated by Zarubezhneft. The Company did indeed contribute to the construction phase of these companies' projects but has no activity or operational responsibility on those sites.

TotalEnergies had only 11 seconds in these companies as of February 24, 2022, and only 3 seconded expatriates are in Russia as of today. TotalEnergies has thus initiated the gradual suspension of its activities in Russia, while assuring its teams’ safety. Similarly, TotalEnergies has decided to put on hold its business developments for batteries and lubricants in Russia.

Provide no further capital for the development of projects in Russia. Concerning the Arctic LNG 2 project in particular, given the uncertainty created by technological and financial sanctions on the ability to carry out the Arctic LNG 2 project currently under construction and their probable tightening with the worsening conflict, TotalEnergies SE has decided to no longer record proved reserves for Arctic LNG 2 in its accounts and will not provide any more capital for this project.

TotalEnergies already announced that it halted all spot market trading since February 25, 2022, on Russian oil and petroleum products. This is also the case for spot trading transactions concerning Russian natural gas or liquefied natural gas.

TotalEnergies has term contracts to purchase Russian oil and petroleum products that end, at the very latest, on December 31, 2022. These term contracts primarily cover supplies for the Leuna refinery in eastern Germany, which is served by the Druzhba pipeline from Russia. They also concern Europe's gasoil supply, which is short of this product (around 12% of Russian gasoil imports in Europe in 2021).

In close cooperation with the German government, TotalEnergies will terminate its Russian oil supply contracts for the Leuna refinery as soon as possible and by the end of 2022 at the latest, and will put in place alternative solutions by importing oil via Poland. Already, a first contract will not be renewed at the end of March 2022.

Concerning the gasoil shortfall in Europe, absent any instructions to the contrary from European governments, TotalEnergies will also terminate its Russian gasoil purchase contracts as soon as possible and by the end of 2022 at the latest. TotalEnergies will import petroleum products from other continents, notably its share of gasoil produced by the Satorp refinery in Saudi Arabia.

TotalEnergies is a global multi-energy company that produces and markets energies: oil and biofuels, natural gas and green gases, renewables and electricity.

As MRC informed previously, Total Petrochemicals and Refining USA, the US petrochemical major and part of TotalEnergies, restarted all of its three polypropylene (PP) units in La Porte as of 17 June 2021. At the same time, the force majeure (FM) at this plant with an annual capacity of 1.15 million tons/year remains in place as the company attempts to stabilize operating rates and build inventories ahead of the hurricane season. Previously, Total Petrochemical declared FM on its PP output after an abrupt loss of electricity supply during a severe weather condition on 18 May, 2021.

According to MRC's ScanPlast report, 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.

Total is a major energy player, which produces and markets fuels, natural gas and low-carbon electricity. Our 100,000 employees are committed to better energy that is safer, more affordable, cleaner and accessible to as many people as possible. Active in more than 130 countries, our ambition is to become the responsible energy major.

Ascend to acquire Formulated Polymers Ltd

Ascend to acquire Formulated Polymers Ltd

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Ascend Performance Materials (Houston) has reached an agreement to acquire Formulated Polymers Ltd., a leading engineered materials manufacturer in Chennai, India, said the company.

Expected to close on May 1, this acquisition will establish Ascend’s first manufacturing base in the subcontinent and strengthen Ascend’s global reach in the electrical and e-mobility application space. The deal includes a world-scale manufacturing facility in Chennai, as well as several warehouses throughout India. Formulated Polymers is currently a licensee of Ascend’s Starflam flame-retardant polyamides.

“Demand for our materials in India is strong and growing,” said Phil McDivitt, Ascend’s president and CEO. “The team at Formulated Polymers has built an excellent, diversified business with a proven track record of technology development in polyamides. We are excited to build on their expertise to drive additional value-added growth in India and beyond."

Ascend, a fully integrated producer of durable engineered materials, has grown its global production footprint with five acquisitions over the last four years, each focused on specific synergies with the company’s core business. This acquisition provides a significant growth opportunity for Ascend in India, one of the highest growth economies in the world.

“Being customer-focused is one of our values,” said John Saunders, Ascend’s vice president for Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and India. “We look forward to supporting our customers in a fast-growing market by continuing to invest in capacity, technical resources and product development to meet their needs."

Ascend is set to close on its previously announced acquisition in San Jose Iturbide, Mexico on April 1. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

As MRC reported earlier, in January 2021, Ascend Performance Materials acquired Eurostar Engineering Plastics (Fosse, France), a compounder with a broad portfolio of flame-retardant (FR) engineered plastics and expertise in halogen-free formulations.

And in June 2020, Ascend acquired the assets of NCM (Changshu) Co. and Tehe Engineering Plastic (Suzhou) Co. located in Changshu Yushan High-tech Industrial Park near Shanghai. Ascend intends to expand the compounding assets at the site and to establish a global research and development center.