Covestro expands production capacity for polycarbonate films in Thailand

Covestro expands production capacity for polycarbonate films in Thailand

Groundbreaking ceremony for the new polycarbonate film plant in Map Ta Phut, Thailand, with Aleta Richards, Global Head of the Specialty Films segment, Timo Slawinski (3rd from left), Head of Covestro's Map Ta Phut site, and Michael Boediger (2nd from right), Head of Operations in the Specialty Films segment, said the company.

Covestro plans to further increase its global production capacity for polycarbonate specialty films to meet the rising demand in the Asia-Pacific region and worldwide. The company has started building new extrusion lines at the Map Ta Phut Industrial Park in Thailand. The films are used primarily in identity documents, automotive displays, and electrical and electronic applications. The investment is in the higher double-digit million euro range, the completion is scheduled for 2025. A total of around 50 new jobs will be created.

"With this investment, we are strengthening our Solutions & Specialties segment and are committed to further expanding our growth businesses," says Sucheta Govil, Chief Commercial Officer of Covestro. "At the same time, we are responding to an increasing demand and supporting the expansion of future technologies and industries."

"We want to drive growth in the polycarbonate films business with innovation and a strong customer focus," says Aleta Richards, Global Head of the Specialty Films segment. “In doing so, we aim to intensify our collaboration with customers in the Asia-Pacific region and expand our product portfolio for the circular economy."

Covestro already offers a whole range of more sustainable PC films, for example mass-balanced grades certified to the internationally recognized ISCC PLUS standard. Raw materials for these films are produced using biowaste and residual materials, which are taken into account in the value chain and in production and attributed to the products.

Since 2022, the Map Ta Phut site has also been ISCC PLUS certified, enabling it to manufacture and supply mass-balanced products. Customers can use these products in their established processes and apply them to meet their sustainability goals. In addition, Covestro already offers a range of films made partly with plant-based raw materials or recycled plastics.

We remind, Covestro has successfully started up a new world-scale facility for the production of chlorine in Tarragona, Spain. It is the first world-scale production plant for chlorine based upon the highly innovative and energy efficient ODC (oxygen depolarized cathode) technology invented by Covestro and its partners.

LyondellBasell exploring options for EO and derivatives unit

LyondellBasell exploring options for EO and derivatives unit

LyondellBasell NV said on Tuesday it was exploring strategic options for its U.S. Gulf Coast-based ethylene oxide & derivatives (EO&D) business, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

"While the EO&D business provides positive cash generation, it is not a business where the company seeks a leading long-term position," the company said in a statement.

LyondellBasell added that it was also evaluating future investments for its Houston refinery site where it plans to cease refining operations.

The company said it was analyzing the potential to retrofit the Houston refinery to build up its Circular and Low Carbon Solutions (CLCS) business.

It expects CLCS to grow to at least USD1 billion in incremental EBITDA by 2030 by leveraging the company's existing strengths.

We remind, LyondellBasell announced that PetroChina Jilin Petrochemical Company will again license LyondellBasell’s polyethylene technology at their facility located in Jilin City, Jilin Province, P.R. of China. The newly licensed technology will comprise of LyondellBasell’s leading high-pressure Lupotech process technology which will be used for both a 100 kiloton per year (KTA) Autoclave and a 300 KTA Tubular line. Both production trains will produce mainly low-density polyethylene (LDPE) with ethylene vinyl acetate copolymers (EVA). Furthermore, an additional 400 KTA Hostalen “Advanced Cascade Process” (ACP) line for the production of high density polyethylene (HDPE) will be built at the same time.

Ineos workers in Ohio on strike

Ineos workers in Ohio on strike

On 12 March, workers at INEOS Pigments’ production facility in Ashtabula, Ohio, went on strike over disputes in labour practices, as well as prolonged attempts by unionised employees to negotiate their first contract after forming a union, said Plasticsnews.

INEOS Pigments is a subsidiary of INEOS, British multinational chemical company with its headquarters in London.

In September 2021, INEOS Pigments employees at Plant 2 in Ashtabula voted to form a union. In a news release, Ralph "Sam" Cook, Secretary-Treasurer of the Teamsters Local 377 union, said the company has stalled in negotiating the first contract with employees since the union was formed, and is preventing workers from collective bargaining.

INEOS workers are represented by Teamsters Local 377, as well as Local 1033C of the International Chemical Workers Union Council.

According to the news release, the INEOS facility employs more than 400 workers, although the number of unionised workers is not known.

Neither INEOS nor the Teamsters Local 377 immediately responded to questions about the strike, including how many workers were involved and whether operations at the facility had been impacted by the walkout.

According to media reports, management employees, as well as non-union represented workers, have continued to work at the site.

The Ashtabula facility has two plants that produce titanium dioxide (TiO2). The second plant - where workers went on strike on 12 March - has a nameplate capacity of 120,000 tonnes per year. Chlorine is also produced there, with a nameplate capacity of 60,000 tonnes annually.

We remind, INEOS has secured EUR3.5bn in financing for its Antwerp, Belgium, cracker project, set to have the lowest CO2 output of any unit in the continent. The plant, expected onstream in 2026, has the capacity to operate entirely on low-carbon hydrogen, with scope for the addition of a carbon capture facility and electric furnaces in future, according to INEOS. The estimated budget for the project, which INEOS made a final investment decision (FID) on last year, currently stands at EUR4.0bn.

China diesel exports could fall as refiners focus on domestic demand/filling reserves

China diesel exports could fall as refiners focus on domestic demand/filling reserves

China's diesel exports could fall to an eight-month low in March as refiners focus on meeting local demand and increasing domestic stockpiles ahead of planned overhauls at refineries, a Reuters survey showed.

Lower Chinese exports also point to a recovery in domestic fuel demand and prices after the world's second-largest oil consumer lifted COVID-19 measures. The decline in exports could tighten Asia's supplies and provide support for refiners' diesel margins, especially as the region enters peak demand season from the agriculture and construction sectors between April and July.

Exports of the industrial and transportation fuel are estimated at 400,000 to 770,000 tons compared with estimates of about 2 MMt in February, a survey of consultancies JLC, Longzhong and Refinitiv, and two China-based trade sources showed. Diesel exports were last at similar levels in July last year, China customs data showed.

This could bring the combined March exports for all three products - diesel, gasoline and jet fuel - to between 1.5 MMt and 1.94 MMt, at least 50% lower than February's estimate of 3.9 MMt to 4.15 MMt, the survey showed. The need to secure sufficient domestic supply during the peak maintenance season for Chinese refineries is a major reason for lower diesel exports, Vortexa analyst Emma Li said.

Between 600,000 bpd and 800,000 bpd of crude processing capacity will be shut between April and June, curbing refined products output, Reuters calculations and consultancies' data showed.

Another factor is that Chinese exporters' profits have fallen, sapped by a more than 30% drop in Asian diesel cracks since mid-January. Domestic netbacks are more favorable as local retail prices have fallen less than international prices, a Singapore-based trader said.

Chinese refiners are also less inclined to use up their export quotas quickly as Beijing is expected to curb exports in 2023 versus 2022, Vortexa's Li added.

We remind, BASF has broken ground on a new production complex at its Verbund site in Zhanjiang, China, that includes plants for glacial acrylic acid (GAA), butyl acrylate (BA) and 2-ethylhexyl acrylate (2-EHA). Planned to come on stream by 2025, the complex will have an annual production capacity of approximately 400,000 metric tons of BA and 100,000 metric tons of 2-EHA.

Fire at Pemex Deer Park, Texas facility extinguished

A fire broke out before noon on 14 March in one of the operating units at the Pemex Deer Park refinery, causing dark smoke that was visible in the community, said Reuters.

The fire was extinguished about an hour later by the site’s emergency response team, a spokesperson for Pemex Deer Park said, and members of the team are currently assessing damages at the facility and the cause of the fire.

“All workers onsite have been safely accounted for and we have made all proper notifications,” the company said. “Air quality monitoring activities indicated no recorded impacts."

This is the second fire at the plant in the past three weeks, with the previous fire reported on 24 February.

The refinery has 340,000 bbl/day crude capacity, processing crudes from Mexico, Canada, the US, Africa and South America.

We remind, three separate fires at Petroleos Mexicanos facilities on Thursday left at least eight people injured and several missing, putting the Mexican state oil company’s safety record under scrutiny ahead of its earnings call on Monday. Pemex said at least five people were missing and three were hospitalized after a fire broke out at a storage facility in Ixhuatlan, Veracruz, on Thursday. A few hours later, it reported that another blaze at the combined Maya unit of its 285,000-barrel-a-day Minatitlan refinery in Veracruz injured five workers. The same day, Pemex issued a community alert noting that there was a fire at one of its units in the Deer Park refinery in Texas.