AmSty Halts Styrene Production in Louisiana Facility

AmSty Halts Styrene Production in Louisiana Facility

Americas Styrenics (AmSty), the preeminent producer of polystyrene (PS) in the United States, is gearing up to temporarily cease styrene production at its facility in St. James, Louisiana, for scheduled maintenance starting January 21, said Chemanalyst.

This production unit, boasting an annual capacity of 503 thousand tons of styrene, is expected to remain inactive until approximately February 23.

This strategic decision aligns with AmSty's commitment to maintaining operational efficiency and product quality through routine maintenance measures. The temporary shutdown is a proactive step aimed at ensuring the facility's long-term reliability and adherence to industry standards.

Earlier reports indicated that AmSty, the largest PS manufacturer in the United States, had successfully resumed polystyrene production in St. James on May 30 following scheduled repairs. The facility, with an impressive annual capacity of 1.05 million tons of polystyrene, had undergone a temporary closure from April 29 to May 30, 2022.

In the broader landscape of PS production in the United States, major players include INEOS Styrolution, Americas Styrenics, Total, and SABIC Innovative Plastics. Americas Styrenics holds a significant position as the leading PS manufacturer in the country, boasting five production plants with a combined capacity of 758 thousand tons per year. Following closely is INEOS Styrolution, the second-largest producer of polystyrene in the United States, with a total capacity of 740 thousand tons per year. Total Petrochemicals secures the third position among leading PS producers in the United States, operating the world's largest production complex for substations in Carville, with an annual capacity of 658 thousand tons.

This temporary shutdown in styrene production at the St. James facility is a testament to the dynamic nature of industrial operations, where routine maintenance plays a pivotal role in sustaining optimal performance. The scheduled hiatus allows AmSty to conduct essential maintenance activities, ensuring the facility's adherence to safety regulations, environmental standards, and overall operational excellence.

As the largest PS manufacturer in the United States, AmSty remains a key player in the global polymer market. The company's commitment to periodic maintenance not only reflects a dedication to product quality but also emphasizes its role in ensuring the stability of the supply chain.

Looking ahead, once the maintenance activities are successfully concluded, the facility is expected to resume styrene production, contributing to the overall capacity of AmSty's PS production network. The strategic timing of the shutdown minimizes potential disruptions and aligns with industry best practices for ensuring sustained operational efficiency.

We remind, Americas Styrenics (AmSty), Houston, as signed a memorandum of understanding with The Woodlands, Texas-based Encina Development Group that enables AmSty to purchase up to 250,000 tons per year of circular feedstocks from Encina’s facilities. Encina produces circular materials using advanced recycling technology that works at the molecular level. AmSty also has signed a formal long-term offtake agreement for the purchase of circular feedstocks from Encina’s first U.S. commercial plant in Point Township, Pennsylvania, which is expected to begin production in early 2025.

Expansion of Facilities in China’s Petrochemical Giants Raises Concerns in Korean Chemical Sector

Expansion of Facilities in China’s Petrochemical Giants Raises Concerns in Korean Chemical Sector

China's leading petrochemical giant, Rongsheng Petrochemical, is set to embark on a substantial expansion of petrochemical products at the onset of the new year, said Chemanalyst.

This ambitious venture, encompassing intermediate raw materials and synthetic resins, poses a significant challenge to Korean petrochemical companies, given the overlap with their primary product lines.

Sources within the petrochemical industry revealed on January 10 that Rongsheng Petrochemical plans to invest a staggering $12.2 billion in a refinery and petrochemical project located in China's Zhoushan Islands. The key components of this expansive project include the construction of a three-million-tons-per-year catalytic cracking unit, a one-million-tons-per-year separation unit, and a 600,000-ton-per-year aromatics extraction plant.

Emphasizing its commitment to a diversified petrochemical complex, Rongsheng Petrochemical detailed its plans to achieve an annual production capacity of 300,000 tons of refined ethylene oxide (EO), one million tons of ethylene vinyl acetate, and 200,000 tons of polyolefin elastomer (POE). Additionally, the complex aims to produce 400,000 tons of phenol, 250,000 tons of acetone, 400,000 tons of propylene oxide (PO), 800,000 tons of styrene monomer, 500,000 tons of 1,4-butanediol, and 120,000 tons of isobutylene annually. The project also includes the installation of a carbon dioxide capture unit with a capacity of 150,000 tons per year.

The Chinese giant plans to establish production facilities capable of manufacturing 1.2 million tons of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), a durable and versatile material widely used in the exteriors of electronic products. This move directly competes with Korean companies, including LG Chem, Lotte Advanced Materials, and Kumho Petrochemical, who have been major players in the ABS business. Rongsheng Petrochemical's strategic initiative also involves the construction of two facilities dedicated to polycarbonate production, aiming for a combined output of 520,000 tons. The competition in the ABS business intensifies with analysts speculating that LG Chem might lose its global leadership position to Taiwanese and Chinese counterparts.

The Korean petroleum industry has been grappling with a heightened sense of crisis since the beginning of the year, exacerbated by strategic shifts in major players. In a significant move, Lotte Chemical divested all its general-purpose petrochemical production plants in China during 2023. The decision was driven by China's aggressive expansion of general-purpose petrochemical plants, which eroded the price competitiveness of these facilities. Lotte Chemical's response involves a strategic reorganization to focus on increasing the production of high-value-added products, reflecting the industry's adaptation to changing market dynamics.

The trajectory of Rongsheng Petrochemical's ambitious expansion and its impact on the Korean petrochemical sector underscores the dynamic nature of the global petrochemical industry. The colossal investments and strategic moves by major players such as Rongsheng Petrochemical are reshaping the competitive landscape, leading to intensified competition and a re-evaluation of business strategies within the industry. As these developments unfold, industry stakeholders will closely monitor the evolving dynamics and position themselves strategically to navigate the challenges and capitalize on emerging opportunities in the dynamic petrochemical market.

We remind, Jiangsu Sopo Chemical in China is strategically planning to establish a comprehensive vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) and ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) monomer project in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province. The ambitious project will unfold in two stages, beginning with the construction of a VAM production plant with a substantial capacity of 330 thousand tons per year.

Russian automotive production in 2023 increases 16% to 720,000 units

Russian automotive production in 2023 increases 16% to 720,000 units

Production of all types of motor vehicles increased 16% in Russia in 2023 to 720,000 units, Russian Deputy Prime Minister and Head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov said, as per Interfax.

"Last year production increased 16%; over 720,000 cars from different segments rolled off assembly lines in our country. In total, over 1.3 million cars of all types were sold on the domestic market," Manturov said at a meeting of the Prime Minister with deputy PMs on Monday.

Programs to stimulate demand for domestic cars have become an important aspect of the revival of the Russian automobile industry, he said. "Last year, the state allocated about 16 billion rubles for preferential leasing and car lending mechanisms. This made it possible to ensure the sale of 62,000 cars. The government has allocated funds to continue the programs this year," Manturov said.

As reported, there are 17.3 billion rubles in the federal budget for preferential car loan financing, with 9 billion rubles allocated for preferential leasing.

Manturov noted at the meeting on Monday that the all-encompassing task for all types of automotive equipment in Russia remains scaling the production of automotive components. "A special program of the Industrial Development Fund (IDF) has been aimed at this since 2022. Under it, we have already supported 31 projects worth 53 billion rubles. At the end of last year, the IDF received about 55 billion additional rubles. A significant part of these funds will also be directed to the localization of components," the Deputy Prime Minister said.

The priority for Russia here is bring the production of the passenger car and light commercial vehicle segments completely on-shore, he said. "Solving this strategic task will make it possible to form new production chains protected from sanctions. This would create hundreds of small and medium-sized cooperation companies which would replace global suppliers," Manturov said.

A similar approach, he said, would also be applied in other segments of the automotive industry where there is a higher share of government procurement. "First of all, this applies to updating the vehicle fleets of the healthcare and education systems. Last year, the government supplied the country's regions with more than 3,000 school buses, 1,200 ambulances and 200 mobile medical complexes," Manturov said.

We remind, Lukoil's NORSI oil refinery in Nizhny Novgorod may halve high-octane gasoline output after an emergency stoppage at one of two plant's catalytic cracking unit, industry sources said on Monday. The NORSI oil refinery, one of the largest in Russia, halted a unit after an incident, oil company Lukoil said on Friday without providing further details.

AkzoNobel joins major innovation program to solve societal challenges

AkzoNobel joins major innovation program to solve societal challenges

More than 82 companies, businesses and social organizations – including AkzoNobel – are involved in a major Dutch research program focused on developing new technologies that will help solve some of today’s societal challenges, said the company.

Seven broad consortia have been established as part of the government-funded “Perspectief” program, with AkzoNobel set to play a leading role in the SusInkCoat project, which will explore how to make inks and coatings more sustainable.

The company will work together with private partners and other societal stakeholders to develop new materials, processes and applications to improve the durability, functionality and recyclability of coatings, thin films and inks. The program, which will run for the next five years, is backed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and the Dutch Research Council (NWO).

“Our discussions about collaborating with our SusInkCoat partners have been very positive,” says AkzoNobel’s R&D Director of Scientific Academic Programs, Andre van Linden, who is also the co-lead of SusInkCoat. “We’re all facing the same societal challenges – how to become more circular – and we’re looking for the same solutions in different application areas. But we’ve never done that together for this specific research topic, so we need an ecosystem to help us solve these challenges.

Van Linden adds that the program – one of many R&D projects the company is involved with – will also support AkzoNobel’s ambition to achieve 50% less carbon emissions in its own operations – and across the value chain – by 2030.

“We want to make the recyclability of materials - such as furniture, building materials and steel constructions - easier by introducing functionalities like self-healing, higher durability and triggered release,” he continues. “The more you can leave the materials in their original state, the more sustainably you can operate.”

AkzoNobel will be collaborating with Canon, Evonik, GFB, PTG and RUG Ventures, who together possess extensive knowledge of market demands, supply chains and production processes. All the SusInkCoat partners will also work with academic researchers at several Dutch universities in an effort to identify promising developments that can be commercialized, used for education purposes or for outreach to the public.

Research being conducted by the other six consortia includes investigating methods to make tastier plant-based food; flat optics for more sustainable hi-tech equipment; and cheaper and more accessible medical imaging technology.

We remind, Revolutionary software co-developed by AkzoNobel’s Powder Coatings business and coatingAI is using artificial intelligence to help customers improve the application process and reduce their carbon footprint. The industry-first technology, called Flightpath, optimizes equipment settings to reduce defects and overspray and improve powder consumption – helping to reduce costs, avoid rework and save time and energy.

BASF Resumes Operations at Naphtha-Fed Cracker Post Maintenance

BASF Resumes Operations at Naphtha-Fed Cracker Post Maintenance

BASF, a leading chemical producer based in Germany, is set to reboot one of its naphtha-fed steam crackers at the Ludwigshafen complex, said Chemanalyst.

This move comes after the completion of essential maintenance work. It is predicted that flaring activities will be sustained until January 13 as part of the restart process.

Despite numerous inquiries, BASF has opted to keep details concerning the duration of the revamp or the specific products affected by these operational changes under wraps. The Ludwigshafen facility is home to two naphtha-fed steam crackers, with respective ethylene capacities of 420,000 metric tons per year and 240,000 metric tons per year.

The restart of the steam cracker is a significant move for BASF, marking the conclusion of a critical maintenance phase. The company's decision to reignite operations at this point could signal a positive shift in the market conditions or an anticipated increase in demand for their products. However, without additional information from BASF, the specific reasons behind this decision remain speculative.

In tandem with the steam cracker's restart, BASF has issued a warning about ongoing flaring activities at its Friesenheim Island premises, located near the Ludwigshafen complex. Due to technical factors, these flaring activities are expected to continue until the end of the week. Flaring is a common practice in the chemical industry, used to burn off excess gases during various production processes. While it can contribute to air pollution, it is often considered a necessary safety measure to prevent the build-up of potentially hazardous gases.

The Ludwigshafen complex is a cornerstone of BASF's operations. With the restart of the naphtha-fed steam cracker, the site will resume its role as a vital cog in the company's production network. However, the decision to withhold details about the impact of these operational adjustments on specific products suggests that there may be other factors at play – possibly including shifts in market demand or strategic considerations.

The ongoing flaring activities at Friesenheim Island, coupled with the restart of the steam cracker at Ludwigshafen, underscore the complexities involved in managing large-scale chemical production facilities. These operations must balance the need for safety and environmental considerations with the demands of production and market supply.

BASF's decision to restart its naphtha-fed steam cracker at the Ludwigshafen complex signals a return to normal operations after a period of necessary maintenance. While the company has been tight-lipped about the specifics of this operational shift, it is clear that they are making strategic adjustments in response to the evolving market conditions and production needs. As flaring activities continue at Friesenheim Island, the company remains vigilant about safety and technical considerations, highlighting the intricate balance required in the chemical manufacturing industry.

We remind, BASF, a global battery materials producer and battery recycler, and Stena Recycling, one of Europe's leading recycling companies, offering comprehensive solutions in recycling and circular services, have entered into a black mass purchase agreement. This agreement is part of a broader collaboration envisaged by BASF and Stena Recycling with the goal of setting up a battery recycling value chain for the European electric vehicle battery market.