Welex new five-layer sheet-extrusion system

(Plastics Today) -- With nine extruders that can be configured to provide numerous stripe and layer combinations, Welex (Blue Bell, PA) says its new five-layer sheet-extrusion system for multicolored food packaging sets a new mark for the number of extruders on one die. Built for a European custom-sheet manufacturer for use in thermoformed yogurt cups, the system has already been shipped and is expected to begin production in April.

The five-layer sheet construction includes a crystal PS gloss layer, a five-color custom-configurable stripe layer, a white layer, a scrap foam layer, and a white bottom layer. The scrap foam layer is produced via a proprietary gas-blown foam process. Welex notes that the system can also run polypropylene with no equipment changes.

Each mobile-mounted extruder includes a slide-plate screen changer and gear pump for high-precision output. The machines feed into a valve-distribution block before the multi-manifold and feed-block-equipped die for easy control of the individual component's destinations.

The sheet extrusion line's Welex Evolution individual roll drive sheet take-off system also has automatic roll-gap controls and a set of water-flow-driven secondary cooling rolls to promote uniform sheet temperature at the end of the line prior to winding onto jumbo rolls.


Chevron Phillips advancing a feasibility study

(Plastemart) -- In a bid to capitalize on the advantaged feedstock position that shale gas resources could bring to the US chemical industry, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP is advancing a feasibility study. The feasibility study is for a project to construct a world-scale ethane cracker and ethylene derivatives unit at one of its existing facilities in the U.S. Gulf Coast region using advantaged feed sources expected from development of shale gas reserves. "We are finalizing our evaluation of potential sites and advancing discussions with EPC contractors," said Tim Taylor, COO for Chevron Phillips Chemical. ⌠Our company is already a leading light cracker operator in the U.S. Gulf Coast region and an established supplier of olefins, polyolefins, and alpha olefins globally. Our technology portfolio, organizational capability, integration with our parent companies, and petrochemical infrastructure make us uniquely suited to execute this potential investment.


Freight rates for chemical shipping to Asia are expected to hover higher

(ICIS) -- Freight rates for chemical shipping from the Middle East to Asia are expected to hover higher around USD 60/tonne (EUR 43/tonne) in April and May, mainly driven by the tight tonnage situation, industry sources said on Tuesday.

This reflects an increase of USD 5-10/tonne from January and early February, when freight rates for 10.000-15.000 tonnes of chemicals from the Middle East to northeast Asia were quoted at around USD 50-55/tonne, said two shipowners based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Vessels were available at that time in the Middle East and Indian regions for prompt shipments, and were bolstered by a large number of palm oil ships arriving at the west coast of India with early-to-mid January shipments from southeast Asia.

However, stronger crude palm oil prices (CPO) in February and March led to fewer shipments of CPO from southeast Asia to the Middle East and Indian regions. This resulted in a reduction of available vessels for prompt shipments from the Middle East to Asia.


US ethylene contracts for March could rise by at least 4 cents/lb

(ICIS) -- US ethylene contracts for March could rise by at least 4 cents/lb (USD 88/tonne, EUR 62/tonne), market sources said on Monday, citing higher production costs and a jump in spot prices. The 8% hike would be the second in as many months, as February ethylene settled at 49.00 cents/lb, up by 3.75 cents/lb from January. Market sources said ethane and spot ethylene were both lending support to the contract side.

Spot ethylene for March traded last week in a range of 58.500-60.625 cents/lb, rising from deals done at 50.750-52.000 cents/lb four weeks earlier.

Meanwhile, production costs rose as ethane, which accounts for more than half of US cracker feedstocks, posted a 7.6% gain in the period.

Mont Belvieu ethane ended Friday at 71 cents/gal, rising from 66 cents/gal in the week ended 4 March.

Major US ethylene producers include Chevron Phillips Chemical, ExxonMobil, INEOS, LyondellBasell and Shell Chemicals.


Investment activity in Russia in 2010 grew slightly

MOSCOW (MRC) -- In 2010 capacities of PVC conversion in Russia grew by 283 KTa which was 3% more than capacities growth in 2009 and by 2.5 less than record parameters in 2008, according to MRC Annual Report ⌠PVC in Russia 2011.

Investments made in 2010 reflect perspective directions of conversion. The sector of profiles production showed the biggest gain in capacities: 162 KTa in 2010 that is comparable to gain in capacities in 2005. The gain in PVC granulation capacities was by third less compared to 2008(27 KTa). The gain in pipe production made about 12 KTa, cable extrusion - 10 KTa, films and sheets - about 20 KTa.

Among the companies that made the biggest investments in 2010 the following should be mentioned: Narodniy Plastik, Plafen, Veka Rus, Docke Extrusion, Polymerplast, Uralchemplast.

As we forecasted, there wasn't a quick recovery of investment activity concerning PVC conversion as well as other volume polymers. The reason for that was a ⌠stock of installed capacities in 2007-2008 when total gain in capacities of PVC conversion made 1 325 KTa whose potential remained unlocked in 2009. Taking into account that each second investment in equipment of PVC conversion was made at that period at the expense of borrowed funds (with average payback time for equipment equal to 4 years), we are forecasting mobilization of investment activity by 2012.

Detailed analysis of PVC market as well as short-term and long-term forecasts of its development are available in MRC Annual report ⌠PVC in Russia 2011.