Southeast Asian olefins spot prices could hit fresh highs this week

(ICIS) -- Southeast Asian olefins spot prices could hit fresh highs this week if major supplier Shell keeps buying spot ethylene cargoes due to an ongoing outage at its 800 KTa cracker in Singapore, market sources said on Monday. Shell failed to restart the mixed-feed cracker in Bukom Island over the weekend and the facility is not likely to resume operations until May due to ongoing technical issues, they said.

Ethylene touched a 14-month high of USD 1.320-1.400/tonne (EUR 911-966/tonne) CFR (cost and freight) SE (southeast) Asia last week, while propylene rose to USD 1.500-1.560/tonne CFR (cost and freight) southeast (SE) Asia - the highest since 5 September 2008 - amid tightened supply in the region, according to ICIS data.

Shell's cracker in Singapore has been down since 18 March and was initially expected to restart on 10 April, but operational problems at the unit persisted, market sources said.


BASF no longer plans to sell its leather and textile chemicals business

(ICIS) -- BASF no longer plans to sell its leather and textile chemicals business and will instead focus on expanding it in the Asia-Pacific region, the company said on Thursday. ⌠BASF is not shutting down or downsizing [the leather and textile chemicals business]. The leather and textile market has been very difficult over the past 10 years, BASF spokeswoman Birgit Wesche said. BASF had considered selling the business after restructuring and efficiency programmes failed.

⌠There is a need to move with the market and optimise the business, which, for example, will mean that we will have a focus on Asia-Pacific now even more than in the past, Wesche added.

⌠This is a signal that we will continue to do business in Asia-Pacific, operating the business from Singapore.

BASF said the leather and textiles chemicals business will be oriented more toward the Asia-Pacific region, as many of the company's customers have moved there and opened facilities.


A new petrochemical import terminal to be built in Tianjin, China

(Plastemart) -- US-based Merletti Partners International has formed an alliance with Hong Kong firm Rose Rock Infrastructure. The latter, through its joint venture with Hongfa Investment, will build and manage a new petrochemical import terminal in Tianjin, China - the fifth busiest port in the world at an investment of USD 256 mln. Merletti will be in charge of all project-related security and will manage ongoing security needs upon commencement of operations. This is the first time a western company has purchased a stake in a Chinese petrochemical port. Development on the site is scheduled to take two years to complete, in which time two 10 KTn chemical berths will be built.


BASF's Basotect for effective thermal insulation

(BASF) -- BASF's specialty foam Basotect is now for the first time used to insulate pipes in a liquefied natural gas (LNG) tank terminal in Gwangyang, Korea. The pipe cover with Basotect provides energy-efficient thermal insulation, easy handling and flame retardancy. LNG is natural gas which is temporarily liquefied at very low temperatures, in order to transport or store it more easily. As the temperature of LNG must be kept below -162╟C, efficient insulation for the pipes is necessary.

According to SKI Insulation, the system supplier of the removable insulation cover, the pipe cover made from Basotect is more energy-efficient as it is 20 percent thinner and provides up to 50 percent better thermal insulation than conventional foam insulation.

Basotect can be installed and handled in an easy and cost-effective way. SKI Insulation discovered that the system material with the lightweight and flexible BASF foam can be easily removed for regular inspection of pipe integrity and later reused, unlike rigid conventional foams that are hard to replace. This translates into reduced maintenance costs. Additionally, Basotect is a highly flame-retardant material, another key consideration for SKI Insulation as natural gas burns easily.


Korean additives supplier Songwon tied up with a new distribution partner Biesterfeld Spezialchemie

(Plastics Today) -- Korean additives supplier Songwon (Ulsan) has tied up with its new distribution partner Biesterfeld Spezialchemie GmbH (Vienna, Austria) to extend local customer support to processors, compounders, and resin suppliers in Spain, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Slovenia, Macedonia and Croatia.

Matthias Trapmann, Business Manager Biesterfeld Spezialchemie, stated: "We believe that powerful partnerships are the key to adding value to the customers we deliver to in the plastics market. Together with Songwon we will focus on excellence through flexibility and reliability and will continue to invest in our technically skilled sales force to ensure that we can provide support with the highest level of competence."

Dieter Morath, Songwon's Executive Vice President Sales, and Member of the Group Executive Committee, added: "Biesterfeld Spezialchemie has focused on the development of customer specific solutions and is capable of immediate delivery on demand from its regional warehouses. This new partnership will allow Songwon to extend its reach in these countries and add value to an extensive product range through our combined knowledge".