Neville Prior

TTIP In Danger

Neville Prior  4 May 2016 09:50:51 PM
Image:TTIP In Danger
Talks between the US and EU over the wide-ranging TTIP trade deal are likely to grind to a halt, according to France's trade minister. Matthias Fekl said a freeze in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership talks was the "most likely option" without a change from the US. The French minister, who threatened to leave talks last year, said Europe was offering a lot with little in return. It comes a day after Greenpeace leaked documents from the talks. The environmental group released 248 pages of classified documents, which it said showed how EU standards on public health risked being undermined by the major free-trade agreement. Matthias Fekl, the French minister for foreign trade, warned in September that France could walk away from TTIP talks

Mr Fekl, the French minister for foreign trade, said a halt seemed to be the most likely option "in view of the United States' state of mind today". "It is an agreement which, as it would be today, would be a bad deal," he said in a French radio interview. TTIP could "unravel" the international climate change deal agreed in Paris last year, he warned. France is also concerned TTIP does not offer safeguards for French agriculture or better access for its small and medium-sized companies in the US, he said. "It cannot be agreed without France and even less so against France," he said. In September, Mr Fekl said France was considering all options including an outright termination of negotiations.

The latest TTIP negotiating round took place last week and the European Commission says it hopes to achieve a deal later this year. That could avoid any political risk posed by the US presidential election in November. TTIP, which must be approved by all 28 EU countries, would harmonise regulations across a huge range of business sectors, potentially providing a boost to exporters on both sides of the Atlantic. The potential gains for the EU could be up to €119bn (£94bn; $137bn) a year and €95bn for the US, according to European economic think tank, the Centre for Economic Policy Research. However, campaigners have warned that it favours big business and would lead to weaker regulation.

Price Rises Add to Pressures Facing EU Carbon Black Market

Neville Prior  29 April 2016 10:19:08 AM
European carbon black market is under increasing pressure as leading suppliers have announced price-hikes in the region in the aftermath of energy market developments. US carbon black producer Cabot Corp. announced earlier in April that it would increase prices on all its carbon black products in reinforcement materials segment sold in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region as of 1 May.

BASF Expands Construction Chemicals in Russia

Neville Prior  29 April 2016 10:10:07 AM
Image:BASF Expands Construction Chemicals in Russia
BASF’s Construction Chemicals division has started the production of waterproofing solutions from the MasterSeal® solutions range at its plant located in Bolshoe Tolbino, Podolsk District. BASF thus extends its portfolio of Master Builders Solutions® in Russia and enhances the supply network for regional markets and customers.

“We recognise the need for quicker service and delivery of construction chemical solutions in world-class quality,” said Ralf Spettmann, Head of BASF’s Global Construction Chemicals division. “Our solutions and our experts are where our customers are. We progressively expand our production and distribution network in Russia and other markets with excellent growth rates and prognoses,” Mr. Spettmann added.

At Podolsk, BASF is already producing a large range of concrete admixtures, flooring solutions, cementitious grouts and concrete repair mortars. The new production lines for MasterSeal 550 and 588 waterproofing solutions address special needs like tolerance to very harsh conditions (up to -50°C). They are for example used to protect potable water reservoirs.

Sergey Vetlov, Managing Director of BASF Construction Systems Russia and CIS, said: “Local production allows for more flexible pricing and delivery to local customers compared to importing products from production sites abroad.” Furthermore, BASF will offer shorter lead times as the plant is located in close proximity to end users.
Besides the Podolsk site, BASF is producing construction chemicals in Russia also in Kazan (Tatarstan) and is planning to construct a third plant in 2017.

Saudi’s Tasnee Sees More Positive Outlook

Neville Prior  26 April 2016 09:32:35 AM
Saudi Arabia's National Industrialization Co's chief executive expects to see the benefits of a restructuring soon and has a more positive outlook for the chemicals market. Like many Saudi petrochemical firms, Tasnee's earnings have suffered as its product prices are closely tied to oil prices, which have slumped since mid-2014. To combat poor market conditions, Tasnee said last year that it would undertake a major restructuring to cut costs and revise contracts. On Sunday, Tasnee posted a narrower first-quarter net loss, beating analysts' forecasts due to higher sales volumes, and did not suffer the same negative impact from financial contracts at a subsidiary. Although much depended on the direction of oil prices and the performance of the global economy, Mutlaq al-Morished said he saw potential for an improved outlook for the rest of 2016.

"We think it is positive if the prices continue the way they are, titanium dioxide and chemical prices which have shown movement up in March," the CEO told Reuters in an interview.

The diversified industrial firm has interests in petrochemicals, metals and chemicals and its Cristal subsidiary is one of the world's largest producers of titanium dioxide . Morished said previously the benefits of the restructuring -- which includes job cuts -- are unlikely to be reflected in profitability until at least the end of 2016.

"The restructuring we have been doing for the last six-to-nine months, the fruit now is coming of that," he said.

"Of course it cost us a lot of money, which hurt us in the third and fourth quarters of last year. When you let a lot of people go, you have to pay packages, end of year services ... that is normal." Morished said the majority of the lay-offs have been done.

"We are fine-tuning now, after the big numbers we have done in the second half of last year globally," he said, noting it had shrunk by around 2,000 to approximately 7,000 employees.

After benefiting for years from cheap energy and feedstock costs, Saudi's industrial firms are grappling with the kingdom's decision late last year to reform its subsidies structure. Tasnee had already disclosed that higher gas feedstock prices would hurt its 2016 results by around 190 million riyals, while Morished has previously expressed that bringing in such changes now was not the best time for the chemicals industry. The reforms added 47 million riyals to Tasnee's costs in the first quarter, Morished said.

Cornelius Polska Celebrates Earth Day...

Neville Prior  22 April 2016 03:03:09 PM
Image:Cornelius Polska Celebrates Earth Day...
...and reminds us of things we can all do.

Cornelius Polska Celebrates Earth Day 2016

What does it mean to be eco-friendly in our office?!
-        have separate bins to collect waste food and packaging
-        use natural light
-        turn our computers, photocopiers and other electrical equipment off at the end of the day when possible
-        collect and recycle used light bulbs
-        collect and recycle electronic waste
-        collect and recycle empty cartridges
-        print on both sides of a page
-        recycle used paper
-        use green cleaning products
-        control air-conditioning
-        buy in bulk office supplies
-        telecommute when possible
-        and many more coming soon…

UK Chemical Industry Says "Stay In"

Neville Prior  22 April 2016 09:57:59 AM
Image:UK Chemical Industry Says "Stay In"
The bosses of three chemical giants with a major Merseyside presence have said that staying in the European Union is in the best interests of their businesses. A survey by the Chemical Industries Association (CIA) showed that 62% of companies voted to remain, with the remaining 38% declaring their company had decided not to take a position. No business in the survey of CIA’s 93 member companies – representing around 70% of total UK chemical and pharmaceutical sales – said that leaving the EU would be in the best interests of their business.

Richard John Carter, managing director of BASF UK & Ireland, which has sites in Widnes and Deeside, said: “There is a high degree of uncertainty attached to Brexit. We don’t, and cannot know the terms that will be agreed, but the political uncertainty will cause volatility in markets and add costs to trade and investment. “It will create insecurity for our EU workers in the UK and UK workers in the EU. It will mean a huge amount of time and energy is taken up that could be better used such as completing the single market or improving international trade deals that create jobs and growth in Britain”.

Dr Tony W Bastock, chairman of Prescot-based Contract Chemicals, said: “The business success of many smaller chemicals companies in the UK is dependent on maintaining and growing their export penetration of EU markets. “My own company, as with many others, has over 80% of its business in the EU, facilitated by free access into the single market and by competitive raw materials from that market. “Even the threat of Brexit has caused our customers to question placing future business with us – a full exit would certainly destabilise and damage our future growth and the jobs and innovation we support.”

And Melvin Dawes, managing director Solvay UK which operates a sizeable plant in Runcorn, said: “The European market is fundamental to our UK operations, we buy and sell products across Europe on a daily basis. We believe that the best way to secure future employment, investment and growth in our industry is for the UK to remain a member of the European Union.”

CIA chief executive, Steve Elliott, said feedback from the survey underlines “the criticality of the EU marketplace for UK chemical and pharmaceutical jobs, investment and growth.”

Chemical firms ’ill-equipped to maximise profits’, study claims

Neville Prior  22 April 2016 09:56:39 AM
In the study 88% of respondents said there was not a consistent definition and understanding of margin control across their business. Chemical companies are among the most ill-equipped to make the most of the profits they generate, according to research from the Cranfield School of Management and software company Vendavo.

The study questioned 200 ‘C-level’ executives – including chief executive officers, chief finance officers and chief marketing officers – from firms across Europe reporting revenues in excess of $1bn (£696m). The research found that chief financial officers in chemical companies were ill-equipped to maximise profits, with 46% admitting they would not know what to do if they were tasked with raising margins tomorrow. Their sales teams were predominately making pricing decisions based on their gut feel (46%) and relationship with the customer (61%), rather than on hard-facts and quantifiable business data (27%), the survey found.

In addition, 88% said there was not a consistent definition and understanding of margin control across their business. “Our study clearly highlights a strong link between an organisation’s ability to maximise margin on every deal through price effectiveness and overall financial performance,” said Vendavo Europe Business Consulting vice-president Robert Irwin. “Many organisations are flying blind, lacking the insight to quickly improve their profit margins and alleviate price pressure. This is having a detrimental impact on business operations and shareholder value. “We see increased reliance on short-term cost out programs and emphasis on cost leadership, whereas margin leadership at deal level can be more effective and significantly boost financial performance.”

Cranfield School of Management professor of strategic management, Patrick Reinmoeller, said: “While eking out margin gains is incredibly tough in most industries, the report suggests that many executives feel their organisation is under-equipped to affect it. “Yet it’s quite simple – if you don’t have the insight into margin, then there’s only a limited amount you can do to influence it strategically. “And when it’s impacting financial performance, executives need to instil an even greater focus on margin across the organisation, and better insight to inform those crucial decisions driving profitability.”

Turkmenistan keen to become major exporter of chemicals

Neville Prior  22 April 2016 09:48:55 AM
Turkmenistan can become a powerful industrial power and a major exporter of chemical products, the Neutral Turkmenistan newspaper reported. The construction of a gas chemical complex on the Caspian Sea shore, exactly in the village Kiyanly in Balkan province of Turkmenistan, will facilitate this goal, the newspaper wrote. This complex will process hydrocarbon gases, ensure the production of various advanced chemical products and increase export potential of the country. The gas-chemical complex is designed to process 5 billion cubic meters of natural gas for the production of 386,000 tons of polyethylene and 81,000 tons of polypropylene per year. The project is implemented jointly with Japanese consortium TOYO, LG and the Hyundai (South Korea). The total cost of construction is $3.4 billion.

This project involves the world's leading technology companies in chemical industry and gas processing, such as TOYO (Japan), INEOS (UK), LUMMUS (USA), GRACE (US). The largest enterprise of gas chemical industry in the country will be launched in late 2018. The contractors plan to implement main part of the construction works (up to 80 percent) during this year. The newspaper writes that all stages of processing such as cleaning, fractional separation, thermal cracking and polymerization of olefins from natural gas. The completion of the industrial complex will create around 1,000 new jobs. Products manufactured at this complex such as polyethylene with high density and polypropylene are the raw materials for the production of plastic goods that are used in food, medical and many other industries.

Overall, Turkmenistan plans to construct 10 new industrial facilities, engaged in the production of 17 processed products. Almost all gas chemical and gas processing plants which are under construction or planned to be constructed in Turkmenistan are export-oriented. With more complex processing of natural gas, Turkmenistan will significantly strengthen its position in the market of gas and chemical products increase share of its products in export. Natural gas, which still remains one of the most environmentally friendly energy resources in the 21st century, has become a valuable source of chemical raw material during the past decade. Given this fact, Turkmenistan pays special attention to the development of gas and gas-chemical industry.

Turkmenistan is one of the key players in the energy market of the resource-rich Caspian region. It produces about 70-80 billion cubic meters of gas a year. The country also extracts about 10 million tons of oil a year, a significant part of which is processed in local refineries. At present, domestic products are exported to more than 40 world countries including Turkey, China, Russia, UAE, Iran, Germany, U.S., UK, Ukraine, and Switzerland. The country plans to bring its oil refining industry capacity up to 20 million tons in 2020, 22 million tons in 2025, and 30 million tons in 2030.

BASF to rival Total in Iran petchem industries

Neville Prior  22 April 2016 09:47:47 AM
Negotiations to sign a six-billion-euro petrochemical contract with Germany’s BASF have entered the final stage following the MoU inked between Iran and France’s Total. Deputy Director of Iran’s Petrochemical Employers Association Parviz Sahafzadeh described the latest status of talks with BASF SE of Germany saying “a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) worth six billion euros has been inked between the German firms and one Iranian petrochemical company for construction of a huge petrochemical complex.”

“On the basis of the reach agreement, BASF will undertake the project for establishing a large petrochemical plant in the 2nd phase of Asaluyeh; “the complex will produce ethylene in its first phase and various grades of polyethylene in the second.”

He emphasized that a portion of the products will be purchase by BASF while the rest will be exported “final talks are being held with BASF on gas sale prices as well as creation of processing units and value chain and the final agreement will soon be sealed with the German company.”

Pointing to the readiness of France’s Total to build another petrochemical plant in southern Iran, Sahafzadeh emphasized “apparently, the first deals for development of petrochemical industries in the post sanction era will be inked with Total and BASF companies.”

“Given the advantages of Iran for the development of petrochemical industry including possession of huge natural gas reserves, existence of extensive coastal line with the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea as well as proximity to consumer markets like China, India, Turkey and East Asian countries, Total and BASF are able to make investments in Iran by offering new technologies,” he continued. Managing Director of the National Petrochemical Company (NPC) Marzieh Shah-Daei announced on Saturday that “a delegation of Total’s directors will soon visit Tehran in order to finalize petrochemical negotiations.”

Tronox opens new R3.3bn Fairbreeze mineral sands mine

Neville Prior  22 April 2016 09:45:25 AM
Image:Tronox opens new R3.3bn Fairbreeze mineral sands mine
Tronox on Tuesday officially opened its new R3.3-billion Fairbreeze mine in KwaZulu-Natal. This is the latest mine of the New York Stock Exchange-listed Tronox, headed by chairperson and CEO Tom Casey, who said the company was also considering a related beneficiation expansion, which would involve an additional investment of more than R1-billion. The main product of the mine situated near Mtunzini, 45 km south-west of Richards Bay, is titanium dioxide, most of which will be supplied to Tronox’s own US, Dutch and Australian plants producing pigment, an ingredient of paint and plastics. Two hundred and fifty direct jobs and another 1 000 indirect jobs have been created. At the peak of the mine-building project there were 1 200 workers on site. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed Exxaro, headed by CEO Mxolisi Mgojo, has a 45% shareholding in Tronox and is the company’s 26% South African empowerment partner. Tronox also operates South Africa’s Namakwa mineral sands operation and benefits from a vertically integrated suite of mines, smelters and pigment plants. The first R2.6-billion phase of the operation just opened will provide an initial mine life of six years and will be followed by a second six-year phase at a total cost of R3.3-billion. Hydraulic monitors are used to process the fines operation, run by Tronox South Africa GM Neels Oosterhuis. Large volumes of water are recovered at Fairbreeze, which replaces the now-rehabilitated Hillendale operation that was closed in 2013. Tronox VP Robbie Gleimuis reported that construction of Fairbreeze, which came in two months early and on budget, began in 2014 and produced its first product in December. Gleimuis outlined how the idea of building the mine was first conceived by the former State steel company Iscor, which was searching for vanadium and came across ilmenite instead. "So it has actually taken us 25 years to get to this point," he added.
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