The Russian market of polypropylene is on the rise, and this makes his players to take out of account demand and feedstock supply risks.
On Thursday 24 March Creon`s Conference "Polypropylene 2011" was held in Hotel Baltchug Kempinski Moscow. The golden sponsor was Sibur, sponsorship support was provided by Europlastik and Centropolimer, Milliken and Polyplastic were conference partners, Kortes company supported the event. The polypropylene market inspires its players. The consumption had grown by 10%, prices stay lower, than European ones, operating capacities are fully utilized and the new projects are ready to launch. Production of polypropylene in Russia has been doubled over the past five years, the consumption had increased in 1,7 times and the share of domestic production in the market has reached three-quarters. All the production increase is contributed to new facilities` launch at NKNH and Stavrolen. The growing disparity between the grade range of production and consumption is still the main problem of the domestic market. The surplus of Russian homopolymer is exported (mainly to Belarus), while the core of imports is formed by copolymers. That is the reason why import of polypropylene in Russia is not decreasing, despite of domestic production growth. The polypropylene capacities in Russia could triple and exceed 2 million tons, if the investment projects in industry would be realized (capacities expansion in Moscow and Tomsk, new construction in Omsk, Tobolsk and Angarsk). As a result, by 2013 the polypropylene production will exceed the consumption in Russia, so the country will become a net exporter of this product. The chief editor of the prices and regional markets of Kortes company Mikhail Turukalov told about the trends of development of Russian polypropylene market.
Domestic producers are going to struggle for copolymers market too. There is the active growing demand on fibers, pipes, sheets and package made of polypropylene in Russia, while the demand on copolymer grades is increasing one and a half times faster than on traditional ones. Sergei Komyshan, a deputy head of plastic and organic synthesis management of Sibur said the grade range would be optimized on existing plants considering new projects. In particular, plant under construction in Tobolsk will be designed to produce mass grades of polypropylene and operating plant Tomskneftekhim is planned to meet needs of niche segments of demand. Alexander Bushkov, who is a head of development and technical support department of Tomskneftekhim told the audience about the developing of grades range. In addition to expansion of homopolymers diversity the mastering of random copolymers is also performed. Moreover, potential customers are already found and ready to process it. Also, the participants were informed that the holding considers the opportunity of creation of the new 200 thousands tpa plant of polypropylene`s copolymers in Nizhny Novgorod region.
The head of gas and energy activity coordination and sales of gas and petrochemical products department of "LUKoil" (whose capacities for production of polypropylene is 200 thousand tons) Alexander Rappoport spoke about the market development variants and the state`s role in demand stimulation for knowledge-based polymer products. He told that Russia is lagging behind in per capita consumption of plastics even from such countries like Turkey and Brazil. The market growth potential is large enough, but everyone interested in the quality of this growth, what grades will form it. "LUKoil" is changing the grades according to the potential customer`s needs (as "Sibur" does), but the company wants to have the guarantee of sales volumes. So, "LUKoil" is ready to consider joint ventures with larger customers.
Dariusz Lukashevsky who is regional manager of Milliken Chemical told the audience about the new technologies in PP industry. Milliken`s additives which are successfully sold in Russsia and consumed in particular by NKNKh and Sibur. These products allow obtaining of better transparency and colored PP. That is particularly important for food packaging. In addition, nucleators supplied by company increase the rigidity of the product without loss of impact resistance. Up to 70 % of the European PP falls on nucleate grades, at the contrary these grades are not produced in Russia. Company also offers fiber reinforcing materials which allow replacing many of traditional automotives with lighter ones even comparing to plastics like ABC and polycarbonates.
Unfortunately, the Russian car industry, which is able to consume up to 100 tons of polypropylene annually, is still has a low technological level. The stability in the polypropylene composites market confirms it. This growth hadn`t been interrupted even in the condition of the production fall in 2009. So, the role of car industry is not so great. The market volume amounted to 82 thousand tons last year, the demand could grow by 1,5 times by 2014. However, this demand is meet almost entirely with imports. There are two causes: firstly, Russia does not have high quality raw materials, which could be respected by foreign manufacturers like Volkswagen and Toyota. Secondly, more than a third of the composites in Russia are consumed by companies with foreign equity, which are guided by its own technological standards and have their own international suppliers. Director of research and development of Polyplastic (a company that sells more than 45 thousand tons of polypropylene composites annually) Mikhail Katsevman spoke about that. The audience agreed that it is difficult to do business in the polypropylene composites market without a stable raw material supply. The deputy director of supplies and FEA "Docke extrusion" Artem Cassin said, that without the assistance of Polyplastic the company would be unable to implement the project of construction of the new 3.6 thousand tpa of siding panels plant. Representatives of the Omsk investment company Dmitry Dmitriev and Olga Nikiforova reported that there are composites producers (who rely on a stable feedstock supply to the new enterprise) among the potential residents of an industrial park around the new polypropylene production in the Omsk region. Head of Nizhnekamskneftekhim marketing Valery Valk also told the participants about the interest of processors to ensure stable feedstock supply. According to him, the Tatarstan`s regional authorities tasked to bring the processing of polymers in the region to 30% of production. The guarantees of polymer grains supply encourage processors to create new businesses there.
Alexander Khvorost, who is a head of engineering and special plastics direction of BASF told about EPP Neopolen P for the automotive industry. This is the innovative material with combination of high strength, lightness and elasticity. It is lighter, more flexible, and resistant to gasoline and high temperatures in comparison with EPS. This condition is important for choose of interior details and various car parts. Outside automotive purposes EPP is widely used in packaging industry as EPE substitute. The main problem of the material is its price about 4000 euro per ton. This leads to the lack of its popularity among the packers.
Emil Eisenstein, the director of textile department of Koltech International presented the speech about current stance of domestic market of PP fiber materials and other promising direction of its use. There are about 8 % of all textile raw materials falls on PP all over the world, and the most rapidly growing demand is on nonwoven spunbond and meltblown. The share of PP in the feedstock structure for nonwovens has already reached 30%. The main problem of PP fibers is impermeability that makes the coloring process difficult. PP fibers make about one third of total output of chemical fibers in Russia. However, the capacities of producers are not fully utilized and focused on spunbond primary. Capacities of its manufacturers are estimated in 70 thousand tpa. Mr. Eisenstein noted with regret that the production of modern bottled grades of PP is practically absent in Russia and PET bottles are used instead that deprives of polyester fibers industry with raw materials. According to Mr Eisenstein believes this fact is significant obstacle for the development of Russian textile industry.
The Head of Creon company Fares Kilzie is optimistic about the development of the industry, but he points out, that the trend to vertical merging of production and polypropylene processing is dangerous. It undermines the market principles, creates great risks and escalates the interest conflict within the industry. Present rosy picture of the dynamic growth of the market won`t last for long, and producers have to struggle with feedstock shortage and to live in growing competition, both with importers and with each other.