North American chemical railcar traffic rose by 5.4%

North American chemical railcar traffic rose by 5.4%

MOSCOW (MRC) -- North American chemical railcar traffic rose by 5.4% year on year to 42,766 railcar loadings for the week ended 10 September, marking a fifth consecutive increase, according to the latest freight rail data by the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Chemical railcar loadings rose in all three countries, the US, Canada and Mexico. The four-week average for North American chemical rail traffic was at 46,490 railcar loadings.

For the first 36 weeks of 2022 ended 10 September, North American chemical railcar traffic was up 2.3% year on year to 1,673,629 railcar loadings.

In the US, chemical railcar loadings represent about 20% of chemical transportation by tonnage, with trucks, barges and pipelines carrying the rest. In Canada, producers rely on rail to ship more than 70% of their products, with some exclusively using rail.

Shipments of chemicals, coal, motor vehicles and parts, and nonmetallic minerals rose for the first 36 weeks, while shipments in all other freight railcar categories fell.

As per MRC, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) today reported U.S. rail traffic for the week ending September 3, 2022, as well as volumes for August 2022. U.S. railroads originated 1,189,892 carloads in August 2022, up 2.3 percent, or 27,040 carloads, from August 2021. U.S. railroads also originated 1,335,618 containers and trailers in August 2022, down 1.2 percent, or 15,856 units, from the same month last year. Combined U.S. carload and intermodal originations in August 2022 were 2,525,510, up 0.4 percent, or 11,184 carloads and intermodal units from August 2021.

Unipar doubles chlorine production capacity at new factory in Bahia

Unipar doubles chlorine production capacity at new factory in Bahia

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Unipar's board of directors (UNIP6) approved an additional investment in the project to implement a chlorine/soda and derivatives production plant at the Camacari Petrochemical Complex, in Bahia, said the company.

The increase will be around R$94 million. In a statement sent to the CVM (Securities Commission), Unipar says that the project will increase by 10 thousand tons of chlorine per year to the production capacity originally planned.

With the completion of the project, the total capacity of the plant will be 20 thousand tons of chlorine and 22 thousand tons of caustic soda. In June this year, the company announced an investment of R$ 140 million in the construction of a new factory in Bahia.

It is expected to start operating in the first half of 2024, with the aim of meeting the growing demand for hydrochloric acid, sodium hypochlorite and caustic soda in the local market, especially in the Northeast, driven by the new legal framework for sanitation.

The project in Bahia is the first "greenfield" within the company's geographic expansion strategy, whose last big leap was taken at the end of 2016, with the purchase of the PVC factories of the Solvay group (Indupa) in Brazil and Argentina. In August, the company's board approved the distribution of dividends for the first half of this year. The total amount was R$ 500 million, divided according to the three categories of shares issued by the company.

Shareholders holding common shares received a portion of R$163,524,565.53, equivalent to R$4.53103818657 per share. Holders of class "A" preferred shares received BRL 4.98414200522 per share, equivalent to BRL 11,091,221.17, while holders of class "B" preferred shares received BRL 4.98414200522 per share, totaling BRL 325,384,213.30.

Unipar also went through a corporate reorganization involving its main shareholder and CEO of the company, Frank Geyer Abubakir, and his two daughters, Maria Cecilia Barretto De Araujo Abubakir and Maria Carolina Barretto De Araujo Abubakir, who make up the corporate structure, who started to concentrate all of its stakes in Vila Velha, the holding company that controls the company.

Repeats Group acquires Italian producer of recycled LDPE

Repeats Group acquires Italian producer of recycled LDPE

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Repeats Group B.V., a Netherlands-based plastics recycling platform focused on producing high-quality recycled low-density polyethylene (LDPE), has acquired Polimero Srl, a producer of recycled LDPE based in northern Italy, said Recyclingtoday.

The financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Polimero uses a mechanical process to convert plastic scrap into resin suitable for commercial and industrial applications. As part of Repeats Group, Polimero will continue to expand its production to meet demand for recycled LDPE in Europe.

Simonetta Tiberto leads operations at Polimero, and she has been with the company since 2010. Repeats Group says she will continue to lead the company’s Italian operations.

"Polimero has a great reputation in the industry as an important player in the LDPE recycling environment in northern Italy,” says Greg Rung, CEO of Repeats Group. “We see significant opportunity for Polimero to further penetrate the Italian market by providing its clients with higher quality recycled resin. We are delighted that Simonetta and her team are joining Repeats and look forward to building on their success to date."

Repeats Group says this acquisition will help it to expand its presence in Italy. The acquisition also expands the company’s presence as a plastics recycling platform in Europe. Prior to this announcement, Repeats Group acquired Anviplas S.L., a producer of recycled LDPE based in Spain, and Daly Plastics, a producer of recycled LDPE based in the Netherlands.

Repeats Group is a portfolio company of Ara Partners, which is a global private equity firm focused on industrial decarbonization.

We remind, Arkema finalized the acquisition of Polimeros Especiales, strengthening the Group’s offering in solvent-free solutions and its position in this fast growing region. Polimeros Especiales is a well-established Mexican company producing high-performance waterborne resins for a broad range of applications in markets such as architectural and decorative paints, textiles, pressure sensitive adhesives and construction. It is a key manufacturer of emulsions in the region, achieving sales of around USD40 million in 2021 and employing 230 people.

BASF and X-ELIO sign power purchase agreement to supply Freeport site with renewable energy

BASF and X-ELIO sign power purchase agreement to supply Freeport site with renewable energy

MOSCOW (MRC) -- BASF and X-ELIO have signed a 12-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) to supply 48 megawatts (MW) of solar power to BASF’s Verbund site in Freeport, Texas, said the company.

With this agreement in place, 100% of the site’s expected purchased power will be supplied from renewable energy. The project will further reduce carbon emissions at the BASF Freeport site and offset more than 82,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually, based on EPA estimates. Freeport is one of BASF’s six global Verbund sites, which takes an integrated approach to manufacturing, research and the overall management philosophy. Together with the maximum integration of infrastructure, processes, talent, energy and waste management, this philosophy creates a highly efficient manufacturing site.

"With this agreement, we take a big step forward, reaching 100% of the site’s purchased power to be supplied from renewable energy,” said Brad Morrison, Senior Vice President and Site Manager for the BASF site in Freeport. “Securing renewable energy at our Freeport site is a necessary step to improving our energy footprint and we appreciate the partnership with X-ELIO, which helps us realize the company’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050."

X-ELIO’s 72 MW Liberty Solar Photovoltaic project located in Houston, expected to be operational by 2024, will generate 137 gigawatt hours (GWh) of clean energy per year while delivering more than USD130 million in capital investment in the state and creating up to 125 construction jobs. The project will also include a 60 MW Energy Storage System.

Bill Morrow, Country Manager of X-ELIO in the U.S. highlighted: “This agreement is a major milestone in the development of renewable and sustainable energy for the industrial supply, one of the major objectives to achieve the necessary energy transition goals. X-ELIO is a great partner committed to the sustainability needs of its customers and it is an honor for us to be able to collaborate with exceptional partners like BASF."

This agreement is fully aligned with X-ELIO’s strategy to support all sectors on their path to a net-zero way of doing business as well as BASF’s climate protection goals. BASF aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by the year 2030 compared with 2018 and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

BASF Corporation, headquartered in Florham Park, New Jersey, is the North American affiliate of BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany. BASF has more than 16,700 employees in North America and had sales of USD25.9 billion in 2021.

We remind, BASF, SABIC and Linde have started construction of the world’s first demonstration plant for large-scale electrically heated steam cracker furnaces. By using electricity from renewable sources instead of natural gas, the new technology has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions of one of the most energy-intensive production processes in the chemical industry by at least 90% compared to technologies commonly used today.

Refiners say fuel prices could increase and production plummet if rail strike proceeds

Refiners say fuel prices could increase and production plummet if rail strike proceeds

MOSCOW (MRC) -- American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) President and CEO Chet Thompson today sent a letter to Congressional leadership—Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy—urging their intervention to avoid a rail worker strike that could begin as soon as this Friday, September 16, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

Upon sending the letter, Chet Thomson issued the following statement stressing the importance of rail transit to the refining and petrochemical industries and the need for broader rail reform. A copy of AFPM’s letter is available here.

"Congress needs to intervene to avoid a labor lockout or strike. Uncompetitive rail shipping fees and poor service are already costing refiners, petrochemical manufacturers and U.S. consumers. A stoppage of service would make things worse, freezing critical deliveries and pickups from our sites and potentially forcing some facilities to cut production. AFPM will help in whatever ways we can to bring about reconciliation so we can all get back to the work of pursuing bipartisan STB reauthorization and long overdue rail service reforms."

The refining and petrochemical industries will be heavily exposed in the event of a rail labor strike, and railroads are already embargoing shipments of critical materials ahead of a potential strike. While refiners and petrochemical manufacturers have contingency plans, a shutdown in rail service would result in widespread production curtailments and some potential facility shutdowns as early as this weekend, possibly leaving some sensitive regional markets with insufficient fuel.

We remind, crude oil refining capacity has shrunk by a record 3.8 MM barrels per day from March 2020 to mid-2022 as demand expanded, setting the stage for fuel markets to remain very tight until at least mid-decade. The fall in capacity comes as oil demand rose by 5.6 MMbpd over the same period, the report released on Tuesday said. At the same time, about 2 MMbpd of net capacity is expected to come online by the end of 2023, with delays to these timeline likely to arise, the report said. "This puts pressure on all available refining capacity to run at high utilization levels to keep up with demand." Oil product markets experienced sharp upheaval since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020.