Friday, 11 December 2009

Egyptian Petrochemical exports could decline by 40% in 2009

Pyramids at sunset, Giza.
Egypt's chemical industry could suffer a 40% decline in exports in 2009, according to a new forecast by Business Monitor International. The surprise for me in this story is that Egypt even has an established petrochemical industry. It is not an area which we at ICIS cover very strongly at present. According to the report there are several chemical project in this region which I was not aware of.

Here is an excerpt:
"BMI expects PP capacity to rise to 820,000 by 2013. We do not believe Egypt Hydrocarbon Corporation's (EHC) proposed complex near Suez - which would have two plants capacity of 450,000 tpa each, producing HDPE and LLDPE alongside a cracker and ammonia, ammonium nitrate, and methanol plants - will come online by 2013, even if it does manage to secure financing by 2010. Similarly, it is doubtful that GAFI's bid for foreign investment in a US$200mn PVC plant with a capacity of 120,000 tpa and a US$150mn PS plant with a capacity of 200,000 tpa will materialise in time for them to come onstream by the end of the forecast period."

Download a list of Egypt chemical plants from ICIS plants and Projects here.
Download a list of Egypt chemical projects from ICIS plants and projects here.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Competition concerns mean Arkema Solvay tie up unlikely

Belgian group Solvay is unlikely to purchase France's Arkema due to competition concerns in their European operations, a communications officer told me at yesterday's final Arkema Christmas Curry event in London.

I sighted synergies in fluorochemicals and the chlor-alkali chain as a good reason for a tie up in a previous post. But those same overlaps, especially in Europe, could mean problems with competition authorities and a lot of post-merger divestments, according to the communications officer I sat next to at the delicious curry at the Bombay Brasserie near GloucesterRoad, west London.

The irrepressible Paul Jukes, chairman of Arkema UK, has been hosting this wonderful event for the last 16 years. It has paid huge dividends for Arkema in the UK in terms of press relations as the event is attended by the entire chemicals and plastics trade press.

Unfortunately Paul is retiring at the end of the year, yet he had something up his sleeve to surprise us. From January he becomes Total's UK public affairs adviser: perhaps we can hope for the first Total Christmas curry in 2010.

Image below: Chemical Industries Association's Simon Marsh has a festive drink with Paul Jukes in the pub post-curry

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Wilton rescue a step closer, Dow plant probably still to close

At last it seems like the folks in charge at Wilton and those in high places at a national level may have generated a rescue plan with some teeth. But is it too little, too late, for the Dow ethylene oxide (EO), ethylene glycol (EG) plant up there?

Individual segments of a ten point plane have been assigned to industry champions (see below). The Dow plant is scheduled for closure in January and this plan is still light on specifics about alternative uses for this plant.

The problem is that there must be a private sector solution for this Dow plant. As a government advisor told me at the recent Chemical Industries Association (CIA) annual dinner in London, the state cannot keep this plant alive. No private sector company has offered a viable solution to date, he added.

Stan Higgins at NEPIC was very pessimistic about the future of this plant a few weeks ago and I have seen no statement from him to contradict that.

The 10 point plan seems more like long term goals than short term solutions. Let's hope the plan comes to fruition prtetty quickly.

Here are the 10 points:

• Innovation - Developing new technologies and innovative capacity in areas vital to the future of the process industries, particularly low carbon as well as energy and feedstock from waste, industrial symbiosis, resource efficiency and recyclable materials. (Industry champion: Steve Bagshaw, Avecia)

• Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) - Vital to the future sustainability and competitiveness of the process industries. A commitment sought with Government to develop, design, engineer and build a world first CCS system encompassing power generation and industrial emissions for Tees Valley, to help sustain existing businesses and attract new investment. (Industry champion: Phil Bailey, Lucite)

• Future of Ethylene Oxide/ Ethylene Glycol Plant - Build on current work to develop a viable, market-based solution for the future sustainability of this facility. Such a solution is possible but may take several months to complete and Government is asked to assist in ensuring these facilities remain available to a potential investor. (Industry champion: Stan Higgins, NEPIC)

• Energy Efficiency - Develop innovative solutions to reduce the current energy use of industry in Tees Valley, including schemes to share energy generation and use. (Industry champion: John Shipman, Huntsman)

• Training - Securing high grade skills through the current downturn is vital for the long-term success of the process industries. Work with Government to widen a fund to ensure that engineering apprentices can be supported until the end of 2011 to meet industry needs. (Industry champions: George Ritchie, Sembcorp and Robin Davison, Wolviston Management)

• Supply Chain Development - Work with the supply chain to assist them to develop new capabilities for diversified applications. Request that Government encourage business support organisations to recognise the strengths and opportunities facing the supply chain, and help in its development. (Industry champion: James Robson, Exwold)

• Feedstocks - New, lower carbon feedstock is vital for the long term success of the process industries. Take forward projects which examine new feedstocks, and, where appropriate, bring them to industrial application. (Industry champions: Mike Buchan and Andrew Teague, Sabic)

• Teesside Infrastructure for New Investment - In support of the findings of the North and South Tees Study, industry will review in detail the key infrastructure requirements and work with the public sector to deliver these actions. (Industry champion: Paul Gavens, Sembcorp)

• Marketing Tees Valley for Future Investment. Industry will champion and continue to market Tees Valley as a global chemical and process industry hub. (Industry champion: Paul Booth, Sabic)

• Improved Partnership Working - Improve links between Government and industry. Jointly establish a task group, to examine new opportunities for the industry. (Industry champion: Mike Huggan, BOC-Linde)
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