News from Notch Consulting, Inc.

March 27, 2013

Omsk Carbon Group announces new carbon black plant in Belarus

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 5:49 pm

Omsk Carbon Group, Russia’s largest producer of carbon black, has announced plans to build a new carbon black plant in Mogilev, Belarus. The new company, IOOO Omsk Carbon Mogilev, will be a subsidiary of Omsk Carbon Group. The plant will cost an estimated $130 million and will come on-stream in 2015 with a capacity of 80,000 tonnes, expanding ot 150,000 tonnes by 2019. Employment will total 450 at full capacity. More than half of output will be consumed by OAO Belshina, a tire producer with a major plant in Bobruisk, Belarus, while another 3-5% will go to smaller consumers in the domestic market. The remainder will be exported.

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March 26, 2013

Yokohama receives awards for Chinese tire plant

Filed under: Tires — Notch @ 11:11 pm

RubberWorld reports that the Yokohama Rubber Co. has announced that Hangzhou Yokohama Tire Co., Ltd., its tire production base in China, received grants-in-aid totaling 13.47 million yuan (¥205 million or US$2.2 million) for the period from December 2012 to March 2013 from Hangzhou City and the Hangzhou Economic and Technological Development Zone (HEDA). The grants are in recognition of the company’s economic and environmental activities, and represent the largest amount awarded to a single company (not a group of companies) among about 340 located in the HEDA. The grants reflect several distint achievements, including the fact that Hangzhou Yokohama’s capacity expansion plans have been completed faster than planned, while the plant’s small-scale production method will enable flexible capital investment according to specific demand. On the environmental side, the company installed a system to purify exhaust from the mixing/vulcanization process, built a sewage treatment facility, implemented energy conservation efforts to reduce energy consumption in FY2012 was reduced by more than 15% from the previous year, and planted some 24,000 trees from 2007 through the end of 2012.

Europe looking to phase out rubber accelerator

Filed under: Rubber Chemicals — Notch @ 10:57 pm

Rubber & Plastics News reports that the European Commission’s SafeRubber research project plans to phase out a rubber accelerator — ethylene thiourea, or ETU — used primarily in the processing of polycholorprene rubber. The product has been used for more than 80 years but is likely to be restricted in the future under REACH regulations as it is classed toxic to reproduction. The Saferubber research project has been working on the development of a safer alternative to ETU since June 2010.

According to R&P News, the EC recently contracted a consultant to collect relevant information on the presence in articles of a list of CMR 1A and CMR 1B substances, which include ETU, and on the availability of alternatives.

Michelin considering European plant closures

Filed under: Tires — Notch @ 10:38 pm

Tyrepress (free subscription required) reports that Michelin is possibly considering some restructuring amongst its European capacity due to the weak conditions there.

Quoted in the Monday 25 March 2013 edition of French daily Les Echos, Florent Menegaux, director of the passenger car and light truck products division reportedly said: “We do not exclude anything, we must consider the evolution of the market, whether the situation is sustainable or not,” adding: “We are in a situation of overcapacity. All segments are impacted.”

Various news sources point out that Michelin, which employs 63,000 across Europe and is the world’s second largest tyre maker, met with union representatives on 7 March to discuss the future of some of its French plants. Any move in this direction would appear to counter earlier strategies to reduce headcount in the mature European markets through the natural cycle of attrition.

Earlier this month, Bridgestone announced that it would shut its passenger car tire plant in Bari, Italy, while Goodyear announced in January that it would shut down production at its Amiens, France plant.

Cabot sees outage at Japan carbon black plant

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 3:04 pm

Last week, JPMorgan Chase issued a note to investors that reiterated its neutral rating on Cabot Corporation. In the note, JP Morgan Chase mentioned an unexpected outage that affected results in the carbon black business:

The analysts wrote, Cabot indicated during its annual meeting that global carbon black volume decreased in January and February. In addition, the company was contending with the effect of a meaningful carbon black manufacturing outage.

More details were not provided, but Notch Consulting has heard from company sources that the outage resulted from a one-time event during Cabot’s second quarter (i.e., Jan-Mar 2013). The issue has since been resolved and the plant in question is running normally again. Cabot expects the outage to result in a charge of $6 million to $8 million, including both lost volumes and repair costs. Showa Cabot, Cabot’s Japanese subsidiary, operates two carbon black plants in Japan (in Chiba and Yamaguchi), but the company did not say which of the two plants had the issue.

March 16, 2013

Cabot completes new plastics applications lab in Shanghai

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 10:06 am

This week, Cabot announced the completion of its new plastics applications development lab in Shanghai. The new facility complements existing labs in Europe and the United States, and will focus on plastics processing and testing for customers of specialty carbon black and black masterbatch in the region. Specific areas of focus include agricultural film and irrigation pipe, gas and water pressure pipe, wire and cable jacketing, extrusion, molding and compounding, and conductive products for electrostatic discharge protection.

Here is the press release.

March 7, 2013

TIA: Where is the fuel efficiency rule?

Filed under: Tires — Notch @ 2:00 am

From Rubber News comes word that the Tire Industry Association (TIA) has asked Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., to send a letter of inquiry to NHTSA (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) about the status of the pending consumer education program under the tire fuel efficiency labeling final rule. The final rule was published in March 2010 but failed include some crucial information, such as the label content and format, the tire fuel efficiency testing standard, and how the consumer eduction portion of the program would be developed and funded. TIA has presented itself as the logical third-party administrator of the consumer education part of the program, in light of TIA’s advocacy of a public-private partnership for implementing the program.

Analyst: West Europe tire capacity down by 38M units in last 5 years

Filed under: Tires — Notch @ 1:49 am

From Tyrepress (subscription required): DB Equity Research Automotive analyst Gaetan Toulemonde estimates that the tire industry in Western Europe has reduced its passenger car tire capacity by 38 million units over the last five years. This includes recent announcements from Goodyear and Bridgestone (in France and Italy, respectively), which total some 13 million units, as well as closures by Michelin, Continental and Pirelli in 2009, which removed 25 million units. According to Toulemonde, current tire demand in Western Europe totals 275 million units, including 65 million OEM and 200 million replacement. According to Toulemonde, this demand has remained stable over the last five years, but reduced local production has been offset by higher imports, primarily from China. According to the Deutsche Bank analyst, the average cost of producing a tyre in Western Europe is 8 euros – a high figure in comparison with other regions. (Note that Toulemonde is not including the central European countries of Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and Serbia in these totals).

March 4, 2013

Bridgestone shutting Italian tire plant

Filed under: General, Tires — Notch @ 4:10 pm

Bridgestone Europe NV/SA (Brussels, Belgium) today announced its decision to close down its passenger car tire production facility in Modugno (Bari), Italy. The plant is fully owned by Bridgestone Italia S.p.A., a 100% subsidiary of BSEU. The Bari Plant is one of 8 Bridgestone tire plants in Europe. The other tire production facilities are located in Spain, France, Poland and Hungary.

The Bari plant has 21,000 u/d of capacity for passenger tires and the shut down is expected to be completed in 1H 2014.

War of words over French tire plant

Filed under: General, Tires — Notch @ 3:43 pm

NPR has the latest on an escalating war of words between Maurice Taylor, CEO of Illinois-based Titan tire company, and Arnaud Montebourg, France’s industrial renewal minister after a letter from Taylor leaked to the media.

Taylor wrote that he was no longer thinking about buying an ailing Goodyear tire plant in northern France, saying it would be stupid to buy a facility where workers were paid for seven hours but toiled for only three, spending the rest of the time on lunch and coffee breaks. He also told the minister what he thought about French workers when he visited the plant.

Here’s the whole story: U.S. Boss Offers Blunt Critique; French Workers Give Fiery Response

Goodyear announced in January that it would shut down the plant.

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