Unipar Q1 earnings plunge on lower margins

Unipar Q1 earnings plunge on lower margins

Unipar’s sales and earnings plunged in the first quarter because of lower margins as selling prices for most of its products fell, the Brazilian chemicals producer said.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) stood at Brazilian reais (R) 490m (USD98.6m), down nearly 41% year on year. Quarter on quarter, however, Unipar posted improved financial metrics.

Unipar produces chlorine, caustic soda, and derivatives such polyvinyl chloride (PVC), vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), ethylene dichloride (EDC) or hydrochloric acid, among others.

Unipar said the average utilisation rate at its three plants of Cubatao and Santo Andre, in Brazil, and Bahia Blanca, in Argentina, stood in the first quarter at 83.3%, down from 87.7% in the first quarter of 2022.

Quarter on quarter, however, the utilisation rate improved from the fourth quarter’s 80% in the fourth quarter. “The main highlight being the Santo Andre plant, which recorded an average capacity utilisation of 88% in the quarter, with a sharp increase compared to Q4 due to customer demand/inventory replenishment and the scheduled shutdown in October 2022,” said Unipar.

Despite the sequential improvement from the fourth quarter, Unipar adopted the same downbeat tone about the economic outlook it had already displayed in March, when it published its Q4 results.

The company cited a report by Abiclor, the Brazilian trade group for the chlor-alkali and derivatives sector, showing production of chlorine in January and February in the country had fallen by 4.3%, compared with the same two-month period of 2022.

We remind, Unipar’s earnings and net income fell sharply in 2022 despite an increase in sales on the back of higher costs for feedstocks. The company’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA), the best metric to measure a company’s financial soundness, fell by nearly 16% to Brazilian reais (R) 3.16bn (USD605m). In the fourth quarter of 2022 alone, EBITDA fell by more than 56%, year on year.

Unipar produces polyvinyl chloride (PVC), caustic soda, vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), ethylene dichloride (EDC) and other chlorine derivatives, among others; its three main production facilities are in Cubatao and Santo Andre, Brazil, and Bahia Blanca in Argentina.


Singapore April bunker sales hit three-month high on better prices

Singapore April bunker sales hit three-month high on better prices

Sales of fuel, also known as bunker fuel, hit three-month highs in the world's biggest refueling hub Singapore in April, the latest official data showed, as prices were more competitive than regional ports, said Reuters.

Singapore's bunker sales data are an indicator of sentiment at one of the world's most major ports and demand also affects fuel oil refining margins in Asia. Sales climbed for a second consecutive month to 4.25 million tons, up 2% month-on-month and 14% from a year earlier, Singapore's Maritime and Port Authority data showed.

The rise reflected higher vessel calls for bunkering, which totaled 3,495 calls in April, extending gains after hitting two-year highs in March. "Singapore VLSFO prices were more competitive versus Zhoushan in April, which led to more vessels bunkering in Singapore," said Ivan Mathews, FGE's head of Asia refining and global fuel oil.

"Prices continue to be cheaper than Zhoushan in May to-date, which should continue to support VLSFO sales in Singapore." Bunker prices for very low sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO) at Singapore were USD5 to USD20 lower than China's Zhoushan in April and May so far, according to bunker traders.

Sales of LSFO grades totaled 2.71 million tons in April, up 5% month-on-month, the port authority data showed. Meanwhile, sales of high sulfur fuel oil grades eased 4% from March to 1.19 million tons in April, though climbing 26% from the same month last year, while marine gasoil sales were slightly lower at 327,400 tons.

"Demand in April did pick up compared with February and March, it looks okay in May so far, but I am not sure if it will hold as fuel oil cargo premiums have eased," said a senior bunker fuel trader based in Singapore.

We remind, Germany plans to adjust its Energy Security Act to allow a quick sale of Russian energy group Rosneft's stake in the Schwedt refinery without the need for prior nationalization, a draft law showed. Under the planned adjustment to the law, the condition of prior nationalization of assets put under government trusteeship could be withdrawn if the sale of the assets is needed to ensure that Germany's energy sector remains functional, the draft law.


Indorama Ventures receives upgraded MSCI ESG rating

Indorama Ventures receives upgraded MSCI ESG rating

Indorama Ventures Public Company Limited, a global sustainable chemical producer, was upgraded to "A" from "BBB" in MSCI’s ESG rating, reaffirming the company’s effective management of sustainability related risks and opportunities, said the company.

MSCI (Morgan Stanley Capital International), an independent provider of research-based indices and analytics, ranked Indorama Ventures among the top 14% of 65 companies worldwide in the commodity chemicals industry. The rating has placed it in the top quartile for opportunities in clean tech, water stress, corporate governance, and corporate behavior.

Indorama Ventures is committed to reducing water intensity by 10% by 2025 and 20% by 2030. It developed a Water Risk Assessment Report on its contributions to achieving sustainable management of water targets and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). For improved corporate governance, the company provides whistleblowers with protection from retaliation, and has policies on business ethics and anti-corruption. Relating to opportunities in clean tech, Indorama Ventures’ is investing in recycling technology and biomass feedstock under its Vision 2030, and is also investing in operational efficiencies, carbon capture technology, renewable energy, and phasing out coal to reduce Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions.

Yash Lohia, Chairman of the ESG Council at Indorama Ventures, said, “We are proud to achieve the rating of 'A', which underscores our efforts to build resilience around ESG risks, aligned with our purpose of reimagining chemistry together to create a better world."

We remind, Indorama Ventures Public Company Limited (IVL) are collaborating to use flake from recycled PET trays to produce PET film suitable for food packaging trays, said the company. The partnership is an important step in diverting PET trays from landfill or incineration to support the EU’s recycling targets and create a circular economy for PET trays.


Wacker purchases ADL BioPharma in Spain

Wacker purchases ADL BioPharma in Spain

The Wacker chemical group headquartered in Munich, Germany, has acquired 100% of the shares of contract manufacturing company (CMO) ADL BioPharma, said the company.

The shares were purchased from Kartesia, a financial investor with whom Wacker signed a corresponding agreement finalizing the transaction last week. Following Wacker's purchase of fermentation assets in the northern Spanish city of Leon in 2016, the chemical group now owns the entire site.

The acquisition of the company, employing a staff of roughly 300, expands Wacker's fermentation capacities by approximately 2000 cu m (gross volume) and adds additional capacities for recovery and purification processes. Wacker will continue and grow existing customer relationships maintained by ADL BioPharma in its capacity as CMO for fermentation-based products for the food, pharmaceutical and consumer goods industries.

The purchase price for the acquisition exceeds EUR 100 M. Wacker Biosolutions, the life science business of the Wacker Group, has operated fermentation plants at the Leon site for the past seven years. The acquisition of ADL BioPharma now makes Wacker owner of the entire plant, with total fermentation capacities of just under 3000 u m (gross volume).

We remind, Wacker Group is concentrating its biotechnology research activities in Munich. The company is investing a double-digit million-euro sum in the construction of a Biotechnology Center, which is scheduled to be operational in 2024.

Wacker SILICONES is one of the largest silicone manufacturers worldwide with over 2,800 highly specialized and innovative products. The division’s portfolio ranges from silicone fluids, emulsions, resins, elastomers and sealants to silanes, silane-terminated polymers and pyrogenic silica.


Turkey doubles Urals oil imports in early May vs early April

Turkey doubles Urals oil imports in early May vs early April

Turkey doubled Russian Urals oil imports in the first half of May versus the same period of April, according to Refinitiv Eikon data and Reuters calculations, as the country profits from cheap crude that is sanctioned by the West.

Some 193,000 barrels per day (bpd) of the Russian grade were loaded for supplies to Turkey's ports during May 1-15 compared with 96,000 bpd during the same period of April, the data shows.

India remains the main importer of Urals oil loading from Russian ports this month, buying more than 50% of the volumes so far, while China remains in the second place. Chinese refiners have been increasing their buying of Urals and are expected to ramp up purchases this month.

Russia's oil exports from its Western ports are expected to reach a four-year high this month, while lower global oil prices are keeping Urals below the price cap imposed by some Western countries and attracting buyers worldwide.

Turkey, which remains the only major importer of seaborne Urals in the European region after an EU embargo, has bought 153,000 bpd of the grade loading so far this year, according to Refinitiv Eikon and Reuters calculations. That is unchanged from the same period of 2022.

Turkey's ability to import Russian oil is limited by its refining capacity and competition with refiners in India - the main importer of seaborne Urals cargoes since last year, two traders said.

One of the traders added that Turkey's refiners experienced several issues with payments for Russian oil. Though Istanbul didn't join Western sanctions on Moscow it's companies are integrated in the international financial system and work with major Western banks.

We remind, Germany's Schwedt oil refinery will run at 70% of capacity from June, German state secretary Michael Kellner said on Friday as he greeted a tanker arriving at the Gdansk terminal in Poland with non-Russian oil en route to the refinery. Schwedt was operating at 50-60% capacity earlier this year after Germany stopped oil supplies from Russia because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.