Anwil restarts caustic soda and PVC manufacturing operations in Poland

Anwil restarts caustic soda and PVC manufacturing operations in Poland

MRC -- Anwil S.A, the prominent Polish petrochemical producer, has successfully recommenced the production of caustic soda and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in Wloclawek, Poland, following a planned maintenance period, said Chemanalyst.

The resumption of operations comes after the company temporarily halted this particular production, which boasts an annual capacity of 340 thousand tons of PVC, in May of the preceding year. The hiatus lasted until mid-January of the current year, aligning with the company's strategic maintenance schedule.

Notably, Anwil had previously announced a reduction in the loading of its production facilities, impacting PVC with a capacity of 340 thousand tons, caustic soda with a capacity of 218 thousand tons, and chlorine with a capacity of 195 thousand tons per year. This adjustment in production was implemented towards the end of May or the beginning of June the previous year. Anwil, a key player in the Polish petrochemical landscape, operates as part of the PKN Orlen petrochemical concern. The company holds significant standing as a major producer not only of PVC but also of nitrogen fertilizers within Poland.

The recent resumption of caustic soda and PVC production at the Wloclawek facility signals a strategic and well-executed maintenance initiative by Anwil. The planned pause in operations allowed the company to conduct necessary repairs, upgrades, and inspections to ensure the optimal functioning of its production units. This commitment to regular maintenance aligns with industry best practices, ensuring the reliability, efficiency, and longevity of the manufacturing infrastructure.

Anwil's PVC production facility, with an annual capacity of 340 thousand tons, plays a pivotal role in meeting the market demand for this versatile polymer. PVC, known for its diverse applications across industries, requires meticulous production processes to guarantee quality and consistency. The temporary interruption in production, coupled with maintenance efforts, underscores Anwil's dedication to delivering products that meet stringent industry standards.

Beyond its role in PVC production, Anwil's operations encompass the manufacturing of caustic soda and chlorine, both integral components in various industrial processes. The strategic reduction and subsequent resumption in the loading of these production units reflect Anwil's agility in responding to market dynamics while maintaining a steadfast commitment to operational excellence.

Anwil's affiliation with the PKN Orlen petrochemical concern places it within a broader ecosystem of expertise and resources. This collaborative synergy allows Anwil to leverage the collective strength of the petrochemical conglomerate, contributing to its resilience and adaptability in the face of industry challenges.

The petrochemical sector, characterized by its complexity and interconnectedness, demands a proactive approach to maintenance and operational management. Anwil's strategic decision to temporarily reduce production and subsequently resume operations underscores its proactive stance in navigating the intricacies of the industry.

As a major contributor to Poland's petrochemical landscape, Anwil's actions reverberate beyond its immediate operations. The resumption of caustic soda and PVC production signifies not only the company's commitment to meeting market demands but also its role in supporting the broader industrial and economic landscape of the region.

We remind, LG Chem, a leading petrochemical company in South Korea, has announced plans to halt operations at its caustic soda production line in Yeosu, South Korea. Scheduled for the 20th of February, this shutdown is part of a routine maintenance strategy. The affected production line has an annual capacity of 320,000 tons of caustic soda, contributing significantly to LG Chem's total annual capacity of 728,000 tons.

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Collaboration among Japanese resin producers to promote biomass-based polycarbonate

Collaboration among Japanese resin producers to promote biomass-based polycarbonate

MRC -- Mitsui Chemicals Inc. and Teijin Ltd. are set to make history as the first Japanese companies to pioneer the development and commercialization of biomass-derived bisphenol A (BPA) and polycarbonate (PC) resins, said Chemanalyst.

This groundbreaking collaboration aims to contribute to the imperative goal of achieving carbon neutrality by mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions throughout the entire life cycle of products.

The joint venture takes root in Mitsui Chemicals' recent attainment of ISCC PLUS certification from the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC). Riding on this certification, Mitsui Chemicals is poised to supply biomass BPA using the mass-balance approach. Teijin, in turn, will capitalize on this development by commencing the development and production of biomass PC resin utilizing the same BPA.

Having secured ISCC PLUS certification for BPA raw materials associated with PC resins in May 2022, Mitsui Chemicals is on the cusp of becoming the inaugural Japanese company to commercially produce biomass-derived BPA, offering identical physical characteristics as its conventional petroleum-derived counterpart.

In this innovative partnership, Teijin will procure biomass-derived BPA from Mitsui Chemicals to fabricate biomass-derived PC resins mirroring the physical attributes of the company's existing petroleum-derived PC resins. These novel biomass-derived iterations are earmarked for application in commercial sectors such as automotive headlamps and electronic components.

The strategic intent behind expanding the sale of products featuring plastics derived from biomass conversion is to facilitate the development and production of more ecologically sustainable products across the entire supply chain. Mitsui Chemicals, for instance, contemplates broadening its procurement network for bio-based hydrocarbons to ensure a steady supply of related products to the market. The company is in the process of securing ISCC PLUS certification for biomass naphtha derivatives and has already garnered certification for phenol, acetone, BPA, and alpha-methyl styrene. The overarching goal is to attain ISCC PLUS certification for all phenol-chain products, paving the way for sales commencement by March 2024.

Teijin, in parallel, anticipates securing ISCC PLUS certification in the first half of fiscal 2023, marking the initiation of commercial production of biomass-derived PC resins. The company is poised to emphasize to its customers the seamless substitution of conventional petroleum-derived PC resins with their environmentally friendly counterparts.

The escalating demand for GHG emissions reduction across supply chains in support of carbon neutrality underscores the pressing need for low-environmental-impact products. The potential applications of PC resins recycled from used final products, particularly in automotive and electronics sectors, heighten the anticipation for diverse low-environmental-impact PC resins.

Since December 2021, Mitsui Chemicals has been at the forefront of environmental consciousness, integrating naphtha crackers as core equipment in its petrochemical plants. This strategic move facilitates the replacement of petroleum-derived naphtha with bio-based hydrocarbons derived from waste vegetable oil and residual oil. The company envisions a continued introduction of derivatives using the ISCC PLUS-certified mass-balance approach to produce biomass-derived raw materials through chemical reactions.

Simultaneously, Teijin remains committed to the development of low-environmental-impact recycled PC resins and conventional PC resins employing petroleum-derived raw materials. This multifaceted approach aligns with the evolving landscape of sustainable practices and anticipates a future where environmentally conscious choices are seamlessly integrated into the production and application of PC resins.

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Polymetal maintains plan to sell Russian assets by end Q1, holding negotiations with potential buyer

Polymetal maintains plan to sell Russian assets by end Q1, holding negotiations with potential buyer

MRC -- Polymetal maintains the plan to sell its Russian assets by the end of the first quarter of 2024, the silver and gold miner's CEO Vitaly Nesis said during a conference call, as per Interfax.

Polymetal has reduced the circle of contenders for the assets to one potential buyer from Russia, and the company is currently negotiating with the potential buyer, otherwise it would be impossible to talk so confidently about the timing, Nesis said. The buyer is from Russia. "We had a lot of dialogue with the Chinese, but then they made it clear to us that Russian assets should belong to Russian entities," Nesis said. Polymetal ruled out candidates subject to Western sanctions and those who could represent their interests.

The potential buyer is talking to the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service regarding approval of the transaction, and Nesis said that in his opinion, there will be no problems with obtaining permission on time. Polymetal, for its part, is in dialogue with OFAC, which has imposed sanctions on the company's Russian business.

Polymetal is the biggest silver miner and one of the biggest gold miners in Russia. It has operations in Russia's Magadan and Sverdlovsk Regions, the Khabarovsk Territory, Yakutia, Chukotka, and in Kazakhstan. A consortium of investors from the Sultanate of Oman, led by the government-controlled Mercury Investments International fund, is Polymetal' biggest shareholder with around 24%.

We remind, imports of polymer feedstock to Russia may grow in 2024, Petr Bazunov, General Director of the Russian Plastics Processors Association (RPPA). A number of processors in our Association have decided to increase imports, as imported raw materials in Russia are sold at prices equal or close to those of SIBUR. The principle of import parity or so-called netbacks is in effect. Refiners choose the raw materials that are more profitable for them.

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Novak confident that discount on Russian oil to Brent will decrease; market will calm down

Novak confident that discount on Russian oil to Brent will decrease; market will calm down

MRC -- Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak is confident that the oil market will calm down and the discount on Russian oil to the Brent benchmark will decrease again, said Interfax.

"We have already had two such surges in discount growth, in 2022 and then at the beginning of 2023. This is of course currently associated with the sanctions package imposed at the end of last year. This is a natural market reaction to insure the risks. I am sure that as the chains improve and the market calms down, the discount will decrease," Novak told reporters.

Argus data reviewed by Interfax shows that, for 30 days in January, the discount on Urals oil in the port of Primorsk (FOB) was USD18.38 per barrel to Brent compared to USD18.22 per barrel in December. The price of Urals in Primorsk in January increased to USD61.77 per barrel from USD59.6 per barrel in December 2023.

The highest discount last year was USD40.05 per barrel (FOB Primorsk) in January, when sanctions on the purchase of Russian oil came into full effect, while the lowest was in September, at USD13.71 per barrel, when Russia and Saudi Arabia announced an extension their cuts in production and exports, respectively, until the end of the year amid expectations of an oil deficit in Q4.

In the summer of 2023, the price of Russian oil exceeded the price cap established by the G7 countries, which did not allow their companies to transport Russian oil, and therefore discussions began about lowering the ceiling. However, the G7 countries decided to tighten control over compliance with sanctions and issued appropriate clarifications in the fall and the US Treasury imposed sanctions on several tankers and ship owners in November. In October, the discount was USD13.73 per barrel, and in November, it grew to almost USD16 per barrel.

Discounts for Urals oil in the port of Novorossiysk are traditionally slightly lower, at USD17.9 in January 2024 versus USD18 per barrel in December 2023, while the price in January was USD62.2/bbl in January versus USD59.6/bbl in December. Thus, the average price of Urals for 30 days in January was almost USD62 per barrel, which is 3.8% higher than in December, while Brent (North Sea Dated) increased by 3%.

Argus data show that the cost of Russian Urals in Indian ports (DAP West Coast India) in January 2024 increased to USD76.36 per barrel from almost USD74 per barrel in December, and the discount to Brent decreased slightly from USD3.87 per barrel in December to USD3.79 per barrel in January.

The price of another grade of Russian oil, ESPO, sold from the eastern port of Kozmino, increased in January to USD73.4 per barrel, compared with USD72.2 per barrel in December, and the discount decreased from USD5/bbl. to USD4.46 per barrel in January 2024.

The Urals price for calculating taxes as of January 2024 is selected from the highest of two - Brent with a certain discount (USD15 per barrel, set forecast) or the Urals quote in Russian ports + the cost of transport to European ports. The cost of transport is set according to the Federal Antimonopoly Service method (to use Argus data, but the method has not yet been approved), and if it is not available, then USD2 per barrel.

We remind, Imports of polymer feedstock to Russia may grow in 2024, Petr Bazunov, General Director of the Russian Plastics Processors Association (RPPA). A number of processors in our Association have decided to increase imports, as imported raw materials in Russia are sold at prices equal or close to those of SIBUR. The principle of import parity or so-called netbacks is in effect. Refiners choose the raw materials that are more profitable for them. No one is holding on to SIBUR because in quality of production - due to failures with American catalysts - and in the terms of purchase SIBUR is no better than imports, and often turns out to be worse.

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Russian plastic processors to boost imports of polymer feedstock in 2024

Russian plastic processors to boost imports of polymer feedstock in 2024

MRC -- Imports of polymer feedstock to Russia may grow in 2024, Petr Bazunov, General Director of the Russian Plastics Processors Association (RPPA), told Interfax.

"A number of processors in our Association have decided to increase imports, as imported raw materials in Russia are sold at prices equal or close to those of SIBUR. The principle of import parity or so-called netbacks is in effect. Refiners choose the raw materials that are more profitable for them. No one is holding on to SIBUR because in quality of production - due to failures with American catalysts - and in the terms of purchase SIBUR is no better than imports, and often turns out to be worse," he said.

Thus, he said, there are reasons to believe that imports will grow amid diversification of feedstock supplies by companies.

"In 2023, imports are up 11%. We think the trend will continue this year. Or SIBUR will begin lowering prices. We will understand the outcome at the beginning of 2025 based on the results of statistics. So far we are talking about processors' plans, which are reflected in the forecasts of consumption of Russian raw materials," Bazunov added. He did not disclose absolute figures on planned volumes of imports, but noted that this concerns tens of thousands of tonnes.

"A lot of feedstock came from Iran. This is becoming advantageous, and the quality is good," the RPPA chief said. Besides Iran, he noted China and Azerbaijan among the main suppliers.

Earlier, it was reported a 12% increase in imports of large-tonnage polymers to 1 million tonnes by the end of 2023. RPPA President Mikhail Katsevman then pointed out that the import growth figure was prompted by the low base of 2022: "This is mainly due to the fact that 2022 was a shock year, when we were denied many deliveries".

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