Indorama Q3 earnings slide as industry margins

Indorama Q3 earnings slide as industry margins

MRC -- Industry operating rates and margins fell to a record low in Q3, according to Indorama Ventures, as the Thailand-based producer announced a fall in as earnings amid the weak economy, said the company.

Despite a year-on-year drop, EBITDA compared to the previous quarter rose 1% on the back of inventory gains in its integrated oxides and derivatives segment and volume growth for its fibres business.
Indorama’s polyethylene terephthalate (PET) activities were hit by low integrated PET margins in China, high feedstock costs in Western markets and lower margins in Europe and Brazil due to import pressure.

Production and sales volumes fell 11% and 5% respectively in line with destocking from buyers and industry operating rates falling to around 70%, which Indorama said are likely at a record low for the industry. This also weighed on margins, which are also at the bottom.

Operating cash flow rose on a year prior, resulting in free cash flow (FCF) of $52m so far this year. This was negative previously on the back of steeper feedstock costs, higher inventory volumes and Indorama's acquisition of Oxiteno.

Although inflationary pressures are expected to cool and there has been a pick-up in China’s economy in Q3, macroeconomic volatility is expected to assuage any meaningful recovery for the rest of 2023.
Volumes are expected to improve in 2024 across all segments as destocking activity comes to an end. Indorama anticipates improved margins on a modest market recovery.

We remind, Indorama Ventures Public Company Limited, a global sustainable chemical company, today announces that it has recycled 100 billion post-consumer PET bottles since February 2011. This has diverted 2.1 million tons of waste from the environment and saved 2.9 million tons of carbon footprint from the product lifecycles. Demonstrating its commitment to support the establishment of a circular economy for PET, in the last ten years Indorama Ventures has spent more than $1 billion towards waste collection of used PET bottles.

SunGas Renewables, Johnson Matthey to supply green methanol for hydrogen and e-methanol facility in Australia

SunGas Renewables, Johnson Matthey to supply green methanol for hydrogen and e-methanol facility in Australia

MRC -- SunGas Renewables announced it has been selected by Australian green hydrogen and methanol project developer, ABEL Energy, to supply green methanol for a new $1.4-billion facility in Northern Tasmania, Australia, said Chemanalyst.

Johnson Matthey, a leading methanol synthesis technology and catalyst supplier, was also selected to supply key technologies for the project.

The ABEL Energy Bell Bay Powerfuels Project is expected to produce 300,000 tonnes of green methanol per year. This amount is three times Australia’s current methanol consumption and is the shipping fuel equivalent of removing 540,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually.

The project requires 240 MW of electrolysis to produce green hydrogen, and robust methanol synthesis and biomass gasification technologies. SunGas Renewables’ renewable syngas generation unit, the SunGas System 1000, is specifically designed to convert sustainably sourced wood fiber into renewable syngas. It is this renewable syngas that is used to make renewable biofuels for facilities such as Bell Bay.

We remind, Exxon Mobil moved up the start date for a CDU overhaul at its 619,024-bpd Beaumont, Texas, refinery from August 2024 to June 2024, said people familiar with the company’s plans. Exxon continues to plan to shut the 65,000-bpd diesel-producing hydrocracker in January for an overhaul, during which the 80,000-bpd reformer will also be shut for work, according to the sources. The 180,000-bpd Crude B CDU is scheduled to shut down for the overhaul in June, two months earlier than previously planned, the five sources said.

Europe chlorine production increased in September

Europe chlorine production increased in September

MRC -- European chlorine production and capacity utilisation rose slightly year on year in September, while caustic soda stocks were higher, according to the most recent data from statistics agency Eurochlor.

With 19,689 tonnes, the September 2023 average daily production was 2.4% lower than in the previous month, but 2.0% higher than in September 2022.

Capacity utilisation remained low in historical terms; 2023 has seen the lowest chlor-alkali production rates since ICIS data began in 2006, on the back of the very weak market for chlorine derivatives.

Caustic soda stocks rose to historically above-average levels, pointing to weak demand for caustic soda as well, compared to supply.

We remind, European capacity utilisation and chlorine production fell year on year in July, while caustic soda stocks were higher, according to the most recent figures released by Eurochlor. In July, European chlorine production reached 658,845 tonnes. With 21,253 tonnes, the July 2023 average daily production was 6.9% higher than in the previous month, but 4.2% lower than in July 2022.

Formosa Plastics Aims to Restart EVA Production in Taiwan After Renovation

Formosa Plastics Aims to Restart EVA Production in Taiwan After Renovation

MRC -- Formosa Plastics Corp. (FPC), a prominent global petrochemical producer based in Taiwan, is poised to recommence ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) production on Line 1 at its Mailiao facility, said Chemanalyst.

This strategic move follows a temporary shutdown for maintenance work, with Line 1, boasting an annual production capacity of 190 thousand tons of EVA, scheduled to resume operations on November 15. The maintenance period, initiated on November 8, represents a proactive approach by FPC to ensure optimal performance and reliability.

This planned shutdown aligns with FPC's commitment to regular maintenance cycles to uphold operational efficiency and product quality. The temporary pause in production is a standard industry practice aimed at addressing operational requirements and enhancing the overall reliability of manufacturing processes. With Line 1 set to resume production, FPC is well-positioned to meet the demand for EVA, a versatile ethylene copolymer widely used in various applications.

Earlier this year, on March 27, FPC had successfully resumed operations on Line 2 for EVA production in Mailiao after a brief hiatus for minor maintenance work. Line 2, with a capacity of 80 thousand tons of EVA per year, was temporarily closed from March 22 to facilitate necessary upkeep and ensure the seamless functioning of the production process.

The resumption of EVA production by FPC holds significance not only for the company but also within the broader context of the Asian EVA market. FPC stands as a key player alongside other major EVA producers in Asia, including Taiwan's USI Corp, South Korea's Hanwha Chemical, Honam Petrochemical, and Samsung Total Petrochemicals, as well as Japan's Sumitomo Chemical, Tosoh Corp, DuPont, Mitsui Polychemicals, and China's BASF-YPC, among others.

Analyzing import trends, data for January to August of the current year indicates a notable increase in imports of EVA to the Russian Federation. Import figures for this ethylene copolymer surged by 13.57%, reaching 31.06 thousand tons compared to 27.35 thousand tons in the same period in 2022. This underscores the growing demand for EVA on a global scale, with the material finding applications in diverse industries.

Formosa Plastics Corporation (FPC) stands as a major global chemical manufacturer, headquartered in Taiwan. The company's product portfolio includes polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), and various other petrochemical products. FPC's strategic presence and commitment to quality have solidified its position as a leading contributor to the global petrochemical industry.

We remind, Formosa Petrochemical Corp has shut its 36,000 barrel-per-day hydrocracker at its Mailiao refinery following a fire last week, reported Reuters with reference to the company spokesman's statement on Tuesday.
The refiner has cancelled gasoil exports and offered a rare cargo of 180-centistoke (cst) fuel oil for February following the accident. The company is currently carrying out investigations into the accident. The unit is expected to come back online by mid-March.

ExxonMobil drilling first lithium well in Arkansas

ExxonMobil drilling first lithium well in Arkansas

MRC -- ExxonMobil Corp. (Houston) said today it has started work on the first phase of a lithium production complex in southwest Arkansas and intends to become a leading global producer of lithium, said the company.

The company is targeting lithium production by 2027 and is “evaluating growth opportunities globally.” By 2030, ExxonMobil aims to be producing enough lithium to supply “well over 1 million electric vehicles [EVs] per year.” Demand for lithium is expected to quadruple by 2030, according to ExxonMobil. Demand is surging on rapid growth in EV and energy storage battery markets.

“Lithium is essential to the energy transition, and ExxonMobil has a leading role to play in paving the way for electrification,” said Dan Ammann, president of ExxonMobil Low Carbon Solutions. “This landmark project applies decades of ExxonMobil expertise to unlock vast supplies of North American lithium with far fewer environmental impacts than traditional mining operations.”

ExxonMobil said it is drilling the first well at the site in Arkansas and will use direct lithium extraction (DLE) to extract lithium. ExxonMobil notes the process uses conventional oil and gas drilling methods to access lithium-rich saltwater from reservoirs about 10,000 feet underground. Lithium will be converted on-site to battery-grade material, the company said.

In early 2023, ExxonMobil acquired the rights to 120,000 gross acres of the Smackover formation in southern Arkansas, which it said is one of the most prolific lithium brine resources in North America.

Nearly all lithium today is produced outside of North America, in Western Australia, South America and China. South America uses lithium-rich brine deposits and Western Australia and China use hard rock deposits.

We remind, Exxon Mobil Corp posted a sharply lower USD9.1 billion third-quarter profit, missing analysts’ estimates for the second quarter in a row, and off 54% from a year ago. Earnings by the largest U.S. oil producer have benefited from higher crude oil prices compared to the previous quarter and greater demand for gasoline and diesel, but prices are well off record year-ago levels.