Korea exports snap year-long slide as chips regain momentum

MRC -- South Korean exports rose in October for the first time in 13 months as semiconductors, the country’s top export item, are on course to regain momentum, raising hopes for a faster recovery in Asia’s fourth-largest economy, said Kedglobal.

Overseas sales grew 5.1% to $55.1 billion last month from a year earlier, marking the first year-on-year growth since September 2022, showed data from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Wednesday. Imports lost 9.7% on-year to $53.5 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $1.6 billion.

“Exports are expected to lead the economic growth from now on,” Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Bang Moon Kyu said in a statement.

The country reported an export drop in September for the 12th straight month, adding to concerns that the economy may miss the central bank’s growth target of 1.4% for this year. The economy expanded 0.6% in the third quarter from the previous three months on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Bank of Korea’s advance estimates last month.

Concerns have eased as October exports rebounded amid signs that overseas sales of semiconductors are poised to recover in the near term.

We remind, South Korea may snap its 12-month-long losing streak in exports this month after it reported an on-year gain in exports in the first 20 days of October despite fewer working days thanks to brisk sales of its cars and ships abroad.


Sumitomo Chemical to exit cyclohexanone business

Sumitomo Chemical to exit cyclohexanone business

MRC -- Sumitomo Chemical has decided to close down its production facilities for cyclohexanone (also known as anone) at its Ehime Works located in Niihama City, Ehime, Japan and exit the business, said the company.

The closure of the production facilities is scheduled for the end of March 2024. Cyclohexanone is mainly used as an intermediate for nylon. Demand for cyclohexanone was expected to remain solid both in Japan and overseas, but there have recently been significant changes in the business environment, such as soaring raw material prices and a depressed market resulting from the slow recovery of the global economy.

In view of these developments, Sumitomo Chemical has determined that it would be difficult to realize stable sales volume or margins for cyclohexanone over the medium- to long-term.

Sumitomo Chemical is implementing short-term intensive performance improvement measures and, as part of these efforts, is accelerating the restructuring of its businesses from the perspective of profitability and the best-owner principle. The Company will steadily advance these measures to ensure a V-shaped recovery in fiscal 2024, while also strengthening its financial position to carry out fundamental structural reforms going forward.

Earlier it was reported, 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.


Toyo awarded contract for acetylene black project in Thailand

Toyo awarded contract for acetylene black project in Thailand

MRC -- Toyo Engineering Corp. (Tokyo) has been awarded engineering and procurement contract for an acetylene black project by Denka SCGC Advanced Materials Co., Ltd., a joint venture company of Denka Company Ltd. and SCG Chemicals plc (SCGC; Bangkok, Thailand), said Chemonline.

Acetylene Black is a type of carbon black used for applications such as EV lithium-ion batteries and high-voltage transmission cables for offshore wind power generation and contribute to carbon neutrality. TOYO’s proposal for an optimal design and procurement plan that would enable early completion of the project and extensive project experience in Thailand was highly evaluated and led to the contract award.

Taking advantage of the expertise we have gained in the plant engineering business, TOYO will contribute to the development of both companies in the petrochemical product field, as well as to the realization of a carbon-neutral society and the rapid growth in the Southeast Asian market.

We remind, Braskem, the leading global biopolymer producer, announced the opening of its Representative Office in Tokyo, Japan one of the key markets for Braskem's I'm greenT bio-based Polyethylene (PE), said the company.
This expansion reinforces our continuous commitment to the Japanese market and the continued development the biopolymer solutions based on renewable feedstock.


Certification of the recyclability of multilayer films containing polyamide expanded

Certification of the recyclability of multilayer films containing polyamide expanded

MRC -- Following the studies already conducted in 2021 on the recyclability of coextruded polyethylene/polyamide multilayer films, the independent institute cyclos-HTP GmbH has completed further extensive investigations into the recyclability of multilayer films containing polyamide 6 and ethyl vinyl alcohol copolymer, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The subjects of the studies commissioned by BASF SE are coextruded PE/PA6/EVOH high-barrier films as well as and laminated PA6/PE films in household packaging waste. It has now been demonstrated that these two film types are also compatible for recycling in the polyethylene film stream.

“The results show that PE film waste streams containing PA can be processed without significant adjustments to the recycling process. The certification confirms the standard market practice of PA-containing film waste already being recycled by film manufacturers today,” says Dr. Matthias Zorn, Senior Manager Market Development Polyamides for extrusion applications at BASF.”

The compatibilizer, which is incorporated additionally into laminated structures to enable distribution of the PA component in the PE matrix, plays an important role. In coextruded structures, the already present tie layer used to bond PA and PE in the film becomes an effective compatibilizer during the recycling process. “If additional functionalized polyethylene (PE-g-MAH) is also added as a compatibilizer during primary film production, the polyamide is even recognized as a valuable material in the polyethylene recyclate by cyclos-HTP,” says Zorn.

The study on adhesive-laminated PE/PA films, which was set up in cooperation with SUDPACK, a leading manufacturer of high-performance films, clearly shows how these films, which were previously considered non-recyclable, can also be made recycling compatible. In this project, a laminating adhesive from Henkel was used. Based on the new studies, a broad portfolio of PA-containing packaging can now be certified as recycling compatible.

Due to their unique property profile, polyamides reduce the amount of material used in packaging applications and therefore help to reduce packaging waste. They also improve the mechanical, thermal and processing properties of the packaging. While PE/PA/EVOH films are used in many cheese and sausage packagings requiring a high oxygen barrier, laminated structures are mainly found in printed film packaging in this segment.

Last year, the German minimum standard for determining the recyclability of packaging subject to system participation pursuant to Section 21 (3) VerpackG already recognized the recyclability of coextruded PE/PA films. The certification is another important fundament for a fact-based classification of polyamides in packaging. The results are made available both to the CEN standardization group, which is developing a “Design for Recycling” guideline at European level, and to the Central Agency Packaging Register, which sets the German minimum standard for assessing recyclability every year.

We remind, BASF SE, the German chemical giant, has achieved a major breakthrough with the formal approval of $136.2 million state grant dedicated to the establishment of a green hydrogen plant at its Ludwigshafen headquarters. This financial endorsement signals a critical advancement for the Hy4Chem-EI project, a collaborative endeavor between BASF and Siemens Energy, propelling it into the eagerly anticipated construction phase.


India resumes imports of Venezuelan oil, Reliance seeks direct deal

India resumes imports of Venezuelan oil, Reliance seeks direct deal

MRC -- Indian refiners have resumed Venezuelan oil purchases through intermediaries, with Reliance set to meet executives from state firm PDVSA next week to discuss direct sales following the easing of U.S. sanctions on the South American country, said Reuters.

The resumption in trade between the OPEC producer and what was the second largest destination for its oil comes after Washington in October temporarily lifted sanctions banning Venezuelan oil exports, prompting a flurry of spot sales of crude and fuel through middlemen and traders, mostly to China.

But Venezuela's oil output has been volatile, limiting what it can offer for export. India last imported Venezuelan crude in 2020. Access to Venezuela's heavy oil could cap import costs for India, which has become a major Russian oil buyer, and further reduce its reliance on the Middle East.

Three Indian refiners have bought some 4 million barrels of Venezuelan crude for February delivery at between $7.50 and $8 per barrel below dated Brent on a delivered ex-ship basis, five trade sources said.

Of those, trading house Vitol sold 1.5 million barrels to Indian Oil Corp and 500,000 barrels to HPCL-Mittal Energy (HMEL), a joint venture between state-run Hindustan Petroleum Corp and Mittal Energy Investment, they added.

Reliance had previously received an offer for a prompt cargo at $16 a barrel below dated Brent on a free-on-board basis, another source said, but it was unclear if the deal had gone through as limited tankers were available.

The South American country is producing some 850,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude with a target of soon reaching 1 million bpd, Venezuela's deputy oil minister said last month, a goal it has repeatedly missed. Reliance once was PDVSA's second-largest crude customer and in turn an important supplier of fuel to Venezuela.

"The Reliance team has already scheduled meetings with PDVSA executives in Caracas," one of the people said, adding that the discussions are expected to include crude sales to India and fuel imports for Venezuela. PDVSA, Reliance, IOC, HPCL-Mittal Energy and Vitol did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

The Venezuelan firm is also separately negotiating with PetroChina, which is seeking up to 8 million barrels per month crude, but no deal has been signed.

We remind, seaborne diesel and gasoil exports from Russian ports rose 8.5% in November from a month earlier to about 2.8 Mmt after an export ban was lifted and production grew, data from traders and LSEG showed. Russia temporarily banned exports of diesel from Sept. 21 to cope with a domestic shortage. The embargo was partially lifted on Oct. 9, with Russia resuming ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD) exports via Transneft pipelines. On Nov. 22 Russia lifted a ban on exports of summer diesel.