ExxonMobil to shut down its No. 1 cracker in Singapore for unknown reasons

ExxonMobil to shut down its No. 1 cracker in Singapore for unknown reasons

MOSCOW (MRC) -- ExxonMobil Singapore is planning to take its No. 1 cracker in Jurong Island offline on 25 April 2022 for unspecified reasons, according to CommoPlast with reference to market sources.

The cracker, which is part of the old petrochemical complex with an annual output of 900,000 tons/year of ethylene and 490,000 tons/year of propylene, might be shut for around one to two months.

Market sources said that the decision to take the No. 1 cracker offline could be due to the production halt at the downstream plants.

In the previous week, the producer formally announced the suspension of several downstream units due to unforeseen external market factors that significantly impact the company’s businesses. ExxonMobil did not specify which units were affected by the shutdown.

Meanwhile, the company reassured buyers of a stable supply of performance polyethylene (metallocene grade). As such, it is assumed that the 650,000 tons/year metallocene PE (mPE) plant would continue to operate throughout April. The other downstream units at the Jurong complex include two PP lines with a combined capacity to 980,000 tons/year, and two LLDPE lines with total outputs of 1.25 million tons/year, which are most likely affected by the outage.

At the same time, there has not been any information on the operating status at Exxon’s second cracker at the same location at the time of this report.

As MRC reported earlier, last month, ExxonMobil announced that construction of the new linear alpha olefins (LAO) manufacturing unit at its Baytown, Texas, integrated petrochemical complex is progressing and targeting commercial start up in mid-2023. When fully operational, the new facility will have the capacity to produce approximately 350,000 metric tons of LAO annually.

We remind that in February, 2022, 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.

ExxonMobil is the largest non-government owned company in the energy industry and produces about 3% of the world's oil and about 2% of the world's energy.

Hualu Hengsheng plans BDO, NMP, PBAT project in China

Hualu Hengsheng plans BDO, NMP, PBAT project in China

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Hualu Hengsheng is planning to invest yuan (CNY) 5bn (USD784m) to construct a new materials project that will produce butanediol (BDO), N-methyl-pyrrolidone (NMP), polybutylene adipate terephthalate (PBAT) and acetic anhydride at Jingzhou in Hubei province, the company said.

The capacities will be 200,000 tonnes/year for BDO, 100,000 tonnes/year for NMP, 30,000 tonnes/year for PBAT and 100,000 tonnes/year for acetic anhydride.

The facility will be located at Jiangling in Jingzhou. Hualu Hengsheng signed an investment agreement with Jiangling local government on the project last week. Timeline is not yet finalised.

We remind, Shandong Hualu Hengsheng Chemical is expected to release figures for the quarter ended March 31, 2022 on April 30, 2022 at the all-three-monthly financial conference. On average, 2 analysts expect earnings per share of 1.08 CNY. That would represent an increase of 44.77 percent compared to the previous year, when 0.746 CNY was generated.

Hualu Hengsheng is a China-based company principally engaged in the production and sales of chemical products. The Company's main businesses include the production and sales of chemicals and chemical fertilizers, as well as the electricity generation and heating supply businesses. The Company's primary products include fertilizers, organic amines, adipic acid and related intermediate products, acetic acid and derivatives, polyols, among others.

China refiners to reduce April crude output by 6% due to COVID-19 pandemic

China refiners to reduce April crude output by 6% due to COVID-19 pandemic

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Chinese refiners are set to cut crude throughput this month by about 6%, a scale last seen in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago, to ease bulging inventories as recent COVID lockdowns undercut fuel consumption, reported Reuters with reference to industry sources and analysts.

Refiners are expected to lower crude oil processing in April by 3.7 MMt, or 900,000 bpd, equivalent to 6.3% of average national throughput in the latest annual figures, according to estimates by six industry sources and analysts.

Slowing demand at the world's top crude importer would help to cool global oil prices, which remain above USD100 after touching 14-year peaks last month, buoyed in part by supply disruption fears following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The slump in demand has also forced state refiners to export more fuel from their swelling inventories, countering government-led efforts to scale back overseas shipments after the Russia-Ukraine conflict stirred worries about supplies.

Companies are forecast to export approximately 2 MMt of gasoline, jet fuel and diesel combined this month, sources said, which could also allow Chinese refiners to reap the benefits of record Asian refining margins.

Customs data released on Wednesday showed that China's crude oil imports fell 14% in March from a year earlier. Imports had been pressured by deteriorating margins at small, independent refiners and by seasonal maintenance, and with the added impact of sliding demand, further declines are expected in April.

Chinese fuel demand took a sharp downturn in March when worsening coronavirus outbreaks were met by widespread lockdowns, including three weeks of mobility restrictions in Shanghai, China's largest city, to contain the highly contagious Omicron variant.

State refining giant Sinopec Corp, Asia's largest refiner, is leading this month's production cuts, lowering throughput by nearly half a MMbpd, followed by an estimated cut of 170,000 bpd by China's second-largest refiner, PetroChina, four sources familiar with the matter said.

As MRC wrote before, China plans to "steadily control" exports of some high carbon petrochemical products and will draw up a list of such goods, its industry ministry said, as the country strives to deal with climate change. China, the world's biggest GHG emitter, has cut export quotas of refined oil products such as gasoline and diesel to discourage plants from over-processing, as it has vowed to bring its carbon emissions to a peak by 2030.

We remind that China's state refiners are honoring existing Russian oil contracts but avoiding new ones despite steep discounts, heeding Beijing's call for caution as western sanctions mount against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. State-run Sinopec, Asia's largest refiner, CNOOC, PetroChina and Sinochem have stayed on the sidelines in trading fresh Russian cargoes for May loadings, according to sources. Chinese state-owned firms do not wish to be seen as openly supporting Moscow by buying extra volumes of oil, after Washington banned Russian oil last month and the European Union slapped sanctions on top Russian exporter Rosneft and Gazprom Neft.

We also remind that amidst the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine in Eastern Europe, key industry players are releasing announcements regarding their stand on this topic. From taking firm actions such as retracting services to provide humanitarian resources, there is a lot happening around the globe. In this curated piece, get a clear understanding on plastic additives industry’s take and the measures they are adopting that will alter the market trends and developments moving forward.

Sumitomo exits caprolactam business

Sumitomo exits caprolactam business

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Sumitomo Chemical announced its decision to close down its production facilities for caprolactam, a raw material for nylon, at its Ehime Works (Niihama city, Ehime, Japan) in October 2022, and exit the business, said the company.

Sumitomo Chemical started production of caprolactam at its Ehime Works in 1965, employing a liquid-phase process, and has since been engaged in the business for more than 50 years. In 2015, as global production capacity swelled, primarily driven by a large buildup in China, the Company shut down its liquid-phase process production line to focus on its gas-phase process production line, which produces no ammonium sulfate as a by-product.

During these years, while it continued to pursue technology improvements and cost reductions, the Company has come to the conclusion that, going forward, it would be difficult to secure sustainable competitiveness, and has therefore decided to exit the caprolactam business. Sumitomo Chemical will, however, continue to manufacture and sell cyclohexanone, an intermediate raw material for caprolactam, as the business environment for that product is expected to remain solid.

While the production of caprolactam will be discontinued, Sumitomo Chemical is actively transforming the operations of Ehime Works in response to changes in the market. After a production capacity expansion for the feed additive methionine in 2018, the Company has started construction of plants for high purity chemicals for semiconductors and its liquid crystal polymer (LCP) SUMIKASUPERTM, which is a super engineering plastic, at Ehime Works. In addition, to prepare for the new era of carbon neutrality, the Company is constructing a chemical recycling pilot facility for acrylic resin at the Works and reconfiguring its infrastructure by inviting an affiliated company to build an LNG terminal within the site.

Under its Corporate Business Plan for FY2022 to FY2024 launched in April, Sumitomo Chemical will enhance the earnings power of its technology-driven businesses while also accelerating the transformation of its business portfolio to direct management resources to high-growth business areas. The exit from the caprolactam business is in line with this policy, and Sumitomo Chemical will continue to further strengthen its business portfolio.

As it was written earlier, Sumitomo Corporation, Shikoku Electric Power Company and Sunseap Group, which is an integrated clean energy business company operating in the Asia-Pacific region, have jointly established Sun Trinity LLC to develop and operate in the solar power business in Japan.

Sumitomo Corporation has taken part in the business of development, sales and operation of industrial parks in Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar and India. As of February 2022, the 7 industrial parks have invited 563 tenant companies with 220,000 direct employment. This year marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and Japan. Sumitomo Corporation will utilize its know-how obtained through industrial park business operations in other countries to support tenant companies and contribute to the diversification of the industrial sector and encouraging job creation in Bangladesh.


Bridgestone partners with LanzaTech to pursue end-of-life tire recycling technologies

Bridgestone partners with LanzaTech to pursue end-of-life tire recycling technologies

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Bridgestone Americas (Bridgestone), a global leader in tires and sustainable mobility solutions, today announced an exclusive partnership with Carbon Capture and Transformation (CCT) company, LanzaTech NZ, Inc. (LanzaTech) to address end-of-life tire waste, said the company.

The two companies will co-develop the first dedicated end-of-life tire recycling process leveraging LanzaTech's proprietary CCT technology, creating a pathway toward tire material circularity and the decarbonization of new tire production.

According to the Tire Industry Project operating under the umbrella of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), more than one billion tires globally reach the end of their useful service life each year. Bridgestone and LanzaTech will work to address this issue by converting end-of-life tires into new materials, including exploring processes to create sustainable synthetic rubber that does not rely on petrochemicals.

Bridgestone and LanzaTech seek to develop a new business model that will create a post-consumer waste management strategy for end-of-life tires, while also driving increased adoption of sustainably sourced chemicals for commercial applications. Applying LanzaTech's carbon capture and gas fermentation process to end-of-life tires yields sustainably produced chemicals such as ethanol that can be converted to materials such as PET for packaging, polyester yarn and surfactants used in consumer home goods like laundry detergent. In addition, Bridgestone and LanzaTech will jointly explore opportunities to co-develop proprietary microbe technology to produce more efficient pathways to produce butadiene, a key ingredient in new tire production, realizing true circularity for end-of-life tires.

Headquartered in Skokie, Ill., LanzaTech transforms waste carbon into materials such as sustainable fuels, fabrics, packaging, and other products. Using a variety of waste feedstocks, LanzaTech's technology platform highlights a future where consumers are not dependent on virgin fossil feedstocks for everything in their daily lives. LanzaTech's goal is to challenge and change the way the world uses carbon, enabling a new circular carbon economy where carbon is reused rather than wasted, skies and oceans are kept clean, and pollution becomes a thing of the past.

Bridgestone Americas, Inc. is the U.S.-based subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation, a global leader in tires and rubber, building on its expertise to provide solutions for safe and sustainable mobility. Headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., Bridgestone Americas employs more than 50,000 people across its worldwide operations.

As per MRC, Bridgestone plans to sell its China-based synthetic rubber business, Bridgestone (Huizhou) Synthetic Rubber Co., Ltd. (BSRC), to LCY Chemical Corp. Bridgestone Corp. is selling its synthetic rubber production business in China to Taipei-based materials and chemicals supplier LCY Corp., in line with the group's mid-term (2021-2023) business plan to ‘rebuild earning power’.

As per MRC, American Bridgestone Firestone, a subsidiary of Japan's Bridgestone Corporation, halted production at its Styrene Butadiene Rubber (SBR) plant in Lake Charles, Louisiana, USA on February 15 due to cold weather in the region. The company confirmed that the 134,000 tonnes BSK per year plant is out of service due to problems associated with extreme weather conditions in the US Gulf of Mexico. Although electricity was restored to the plant, cold weather and power outages in the area resulted in the cutoff of water and other circulation needed to keep the plant running.