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Losses narrow at Versalis on rising sales volumes, recovery in margins

October 29/2020

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Versalis, the chemicals subsidiary of Eni (Rome, Italy), says adjusted operating losses have narrowed to EUR53 million (USD62 million) in the third quarter from a larger EUR70-million adjusted operating loss incurred in the prior-year period, said Chemweek.

The third-quarter result is also an improvement sequentially over an operating loss of ˆ66 million in the second quarter of 2020. The year-on-year (YOY) quarterly improvement was driven by increased petrochemical sales volumes from a “moderate recovery” in demand, improved plant performance, and better margins “particularly in the polyethylene (PE) business,” it says.

Sales of petchem products totaled 1.1 million metric tons in the third quarter, up slightly YOY, driven by higher volumes of intermediates due to higher product availability, elastomers, and particularly by styrenics, especially in the appliance and packaging sector, according to the company. The average plant utilization rate declined 2% YOY to 66% but improved sequentially by 6% compared to the second quarter.

Petchem product margins performed well mainly in the PE segment, it says. This was despite the ongoing weakness in end-user demand, driven by lower competitive pressures, a widening spread versus ethylene, and to a lesser extent styrenics/elastomers, due to lower feedstock prices, it says. Cracker margins saw a significant decrease in the third quarter due to a decline in the main monomers prices, but were stable on an annual basis due to the lower cost of feedstock, it adds.

For the nine months to end September, Versalis reports a widening adjusted operating loss of EUR184 million, EUR40 million more than the corresponding period in 2019, driven by sharply lower sales volumes due to weak commodity demand trends in European economies triggered by COVID-19. Lower sales volumes were negatively affected by reduced product availability due to longer maintenance standstills at its production hubs in response to the pandemic, particularly at the company’s Italian steam cracking facilities in Priolo and Brindisi, it says. These trends were partially offset by a recovery in PE margins, driven by higher demand and lower European imports, it notes.

Petchem sales volumes declined 7% YOY for the nine-month period to 3.01 million metric tons, with the average plant utilization rate falling 7% to 61% for the year to date. The lower sales volumes reflect weaker demand in the main end-markets, particularly the automotive sector, due to the global economic downturn and “uncertainties about the strength of the recovery,” Versalis says.

Capital expenditure (capex) by Versalis rose in the third quarter to ˆ38 million from EUR23 million a year earlier, also improving sequentially from EUR37 million in the second quarter. For the year to date, capex by Versalis more than doubled YOY to EUR141 million.

Eni’s CEO Claudio Descalzi says the group continues to “successfully mitigate” the negative impact of the pandemic and the global economic downturn, including offsetting the impact of “an extremely negative scenario in traditional refining and chemicals.” Eni expects the fourth quarter to be in line with business trends recorded in the previous quarter, it says.

As MRC informed earlier, Versalis plans to increase production capacity for acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) at its Mantua, Italy, facility, according to GV with reference to several industry reports. The project will boost ABS capacity at its existing unit by 30,000 t/y.

According to MRC's ScanPlast, Russia's estimated consumption of ABS increased by 13% in July compared to July last year and amounted to 4,300 tonnes (3,790 tonnes in 2019).

Eni is an Italian multinational oil and gas company headquartered in Rome. It has operations in in 79 countries, and is currently Italy's largest industrial company with a market capitalization of 68 billion euros (USD 90 billion), as of August 14, 2013. The Italian government owns a 30.3% golden share in the company, 3.93% held through the state Treasury and 26.37% held through the Cassa depositi e prestiti. Another 39.40% of the shares are held by BNP Paribas.
Author:Anna Larionova
Tags:ABS, PE, ABS, packaging, packaging, packaging, Eni, Versalis.
Category:General News
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