Skip to content


Asia Pacific

  • Africa

  • Egypt
  • Africa
  • (Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa)


Acetylenes - Compounds in which carbon-to-carbon triple bonds occur are alkynes, nicknamed acetylenes. The smallest member of this family is acetylene.

Acid - A sour-tasting substance that has a pH smaller than 7.

Additive - A term used generally to indicate special chemicals that may be added to products to improve their characteristics. In many plastic products, the polymer is only one constituent. In order to arrive at a set of properties appropriate to the product, the polymer is almost always combined with other ingredients, or additives, which are mixed in during processing and fabrication. Among these additives are impact modifiers, colorants, reinforcements, plasticizers and stabilisers.

Adiabatic - Process without transfer of heat, compression results in warming, expansion results in cooling.

Alcohol - The family name of a group of organic chemical compounds composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. The series of molecules vary in chain length and are composed of a hydrocarbon plus a hydroxyl group; CH3-(CH2)n-OH (e.g., methanol, ethanol, and tertiary butyl alcohol).

Alkaline - Any solution with a pH between 7 and 14. Alkaline substances are often called bases.

Alkylate - Gasoline blend stock component manufactured by chemically joining several short chain molecules such as propylene and butylene. It usually refers to the high octane product from alkylation units.

Rule of Thumb - The importance of alkylate for the plastics industry is that if the value of propylene used as an alkylate is greater than its value as refinery grade propylene for use as a petrochemical feedstock then propylene may be drawn away from petrochemical use, which limits its supply and would have the effect of raising prices. The reverse is also true, if the alkylate value of propylene is lower, then more refinery grade propylene will be made available to the petrochemical industry which increases supply and puts downward pressure on prices.

Alkylation - A refining process for chemically combining isobutane with olefin hydrocarbons (e.g., propylene, butylene) through the control of temperature and pressure in the presence of an acid catalyst, usually sulfuric acid or hydrofluoric acid. The product, alkylate, an isoparaffin, has high octane value and is blended with motor and aviation gasoline to improve the antiknock value of the fuel.

Alkylation of benzene - The reaction in which an ethyl group is attached to the ring structure of a benzene molecule without changing the ring structure of benzene, or the combination of ethylene and benzene. After this reaction, ethylbenzene is formed.

Amorphous - Having no ordered arrangement. Polymers are amorphous when their chains are tangled. Polymers are not amorphous when their chains are lined up in ordered crystals.

Antioxidants - Antioxidants are additives for materials such as polymers that inhibit the oxidative degradation of the product. They are usually based on molecules that will react with, and remove radicals as they are formed.

ARA - Refers to Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp.

Arbitrage - The simultaneous purchase and sale of an instrument in two separate markets, when the price is out of line. An arbitrage opportunity is the opportunity to buy an asset at a low price then immediately selling it on a different market for a higher price.

Rule of Thumb - In the global plastics trade, the tendency is for balance. When the supply-demand balance in one region is such that prices have increased, supplies from other regions will try to profit from this by filling in the gap in supply, assuming that transportation costs allow a profitable trade. For this reason, global plastics prices are not usually out of line between regions for long as new supplies will tend to move in and make up for the gap.

ARG - German pipeline group, major ethylene inland distribution (Aethylen Rohrleitungs Gesellschaft).

Aromatics - So called because of their distinctive perfumed smell, they are a group of hydrocarbons including, mainly, benzene, toluene and the xylenes. These are basic chemicals used as starting materials for a wide range of consumer products. Almost all aromatics come from crude oil, although small quantities are made from coal.

Atmospheric Distillation Unit - See Distillation Unit (Atmospheric)

Atom - The smallest particle of an element that can enter into a chemical combination.

ATR - A certificate used in the exports or imports of the goods between Türkiye and EU, it is also called Movement Certificate ATR.

Autoclave - A heavy steel vessel in which polymers are polymerized by means of steam and/or hot air and under pressure.

B2B - The term refers to "business to business" and has become an acronym for electronic commerce between businesses. "B2B" e-commerce involves businesses selling things to each other over the internet.

Backbone (main chain) - A chain to which all other chains (long or short) are on it.

Base - A substance that has a pH greater than 7.

BCF (Bulk Continuous Filament) - Polypropylene for manufacturing yarns for the carpet industry, where they are used for their good processability, their ease to color and their stain resistance. They can also be used in many other applications such as upholstery and apparel.

Benzene - The simplest aromatic. This unsaturated six-carbon ring forms the basis of a whole class of compounds. Refinery and petrochemical plant reformers, toluene hydrodealkylators, and steam crackers now make most of the supply. The products of benzene range from egg cartons to pesticides to nylon stockings.

Bi-axially Oriented PP - See BOPP.

Biodegradable - Plastics that because of their chemical structure, are susceptible to being assimilated by microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria through enzyme action. The mechanism requires heat, oxygen and moisture.

Blending - Mixing two or more materials together.

Block copolymer - When two different types of monomers are joined in the same polymer chain, the polymer is called a copolymer. In a block copolymer, all of one type of monomer are grouped together, and all of the other are grouped together. A block copolymer can be thought of as two homopolymers joined together at the ends. For example, consider two monomers called A and B:
- A - A - A - A - A - A - A - A - B - B - B - B - B - B - B

Blowing agents - A substance incorporated in a mixture for the purpose of producing foam.

Blow Molding - A plastics-forming process that uses compressed air to shape the final product by expanding it to fit the mold. It is a widely used process for the production of hollow thermoplastic shapes. The process is divided into two general categories: extrusion blow molding and injection blow molding. These processes are typically used to manufacture plastic bottles and containers.

  • Extrusion Blow Molding: A parison or tube of plastic material is dropped or lowered from an extruder. Mold halves close around the parison, which is then expanded against the cavity wall by the injection of air.
  • Injection Blow Molding: A two-stage process where plastic is first injection molded into a preform. The preform is then transferred to a blow mold where it is expanded.

  • Blown film - The melted material is blown through the opening of a mould with compressed air and then rises like a tube of film. After cooling, the rollers flatten the film into a double layer, after which it is rolled up and is ready for further processing. This method is very suitable for making film for dustbin bags and carrier bags for example.

    BOPP (Bi-axially Oriented PP) - Polypropylene for manufacturing BOPP film which as a result of its orienting process has the intrinsic characteristics such as its barrier against water, vapour, grease and gases, stiffness, stability, and strength. After two orienting phases the surface treatment process to which BOPP film is subjected assures the receptivity of this surface to inks, adhesives and other substances. Typical applications include: packaging for food, wrapping for cigarettes, flowers, lamination for books and magazines, office stationary films, shrink wrap and shrink labels, industrial laminates, support for adhesive tapes, films for metallization - gift wrapping and opaque films.

    Branched polymer - A polymer having smaller chains attached to the polymer backbone.

    Brine - Solution of salt in water.

    British Thermal Unit (Btu) - The quantity of heat required to increase the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.

    Bulk Continuous Filament - See BCF.

    Bulk polymerization - The polymerization of a monomer in the absence of any medium other than a catalyst or accelerator. The monomers are usually liquids, but the term also applies to the polymerization of gases and solids in the absence of solvents.

    Butane - A gaseous organic compound containing carbon and hydrogen, C4H10. Each molecule contains a chain of four carbon atoms.

    Byproduct - A secondary or additional product resulting from the feedstock use of energy or the processing of non-energy materials. A substance obtained incidentally during the manufacture or production of some other substance.

    Carbon Black - A pigment added to plastics. When this black pigment is used in concentrations of about 2.5% it ensures excellent UV-resistance. In higher concentrations, 30-40%, Carbon Black is used to obtain semi-conductive properties used in cable applications. The type of Carbon Black and the particle size is very important for the end-product properties.

    Cast film - See also CPP. Here the melted material is pushed out through a very narrow slit. This creates a single layer of very thin film, which is immediately rolled up after cooling. This film, contrary to blown film, can only be stretched in one direction. Cast film is often used to stick onto layers of other material.

    Catalyst - Substance that aids or promotes a chemical reaction between other substances, but does not, itself, enter into the reaction.

    Catalytic Cracking - A process of breaking down the larger, heavier, and more complex hydrocarbon molecules into simpler and lighter molecules. Catalytic cracking is accomplished by the use of a catalytic agent and is an effective process for increasing the yield of gasoline from crude oil.

    Caustic soda - Often referred to as "caustic" or "lye," it is the principal co-product in chlorine manufacture. Sold as a household chemical for unblocking drains and used industrially in the manufacture of rayon, pulp and paper, aluminum, soaps and detergents, textiles and vegetable oils.

    Rule of Thumb - Caustic soda and PVC prices tend to move in opposite directions and demand for one affects the other. Caustic soda is the co-product of chlorine from brine. Chlorine is used to produce EDC which then makes VCM and finally PVC. For example, if demand for caustic soda is high, producers will want to produce more, which in turn produces more chlorine. The greater the supply of chlorine, the lower the price will be, which then pushes down the costs of making PVC and puts downward pressure on PVC prices.

    CF (Continuous Filament) - Polypropylene having good mechanical resistance and used in handling material such as belts. A single, flexible, small-diameter fiber of indefinite length. They are also used in covers for furniture and clothing.

    CFR - Cost and Freight ( ... named port of destination). i.e. CFR Istanbul. Exclusively by sea or by inland waterway - for multimodal transport, the CPT Incoterm is preferable. It is the seller who chooses the ship and pays for marine freight up to the agreed port and who does the loading and obtains the outwards customs clearance. The risks of loss or damage to the goods, as well as any further costs are transferred to the buyer when the merchandise passes the ship's rail at the port. The point where the risk transfer takes place is thus the same as with FOB.

    Chain polymerization (Addition polymerization) - A chemical reaction in which simple molecules (monomers) are added to each other to form long-chain molecules (polymers) without by-products. The molecules of the monomer join together to form a polymeric product in which the molecular formula of the repeating unit is identical with that of the monomer. The molecular weight of the polymer so formed is thus the total of the molecular weights of all of the combined monomer units.

    Chlor-alkali - Descriptive term used to refer to the combined products of electrolysis: chlorine and caustic soda.

    Chlor-alkali industry - The industry based on the process that makes the co-products chlorine and caustic soda.

    Chlorine - In its "normal" state, chlorine is a greenish yellow gas, but at -34-C it turns to a liquid. Chlorine is a key building block of modern chemistry and used in three principal ways: direct use (e.g. to disinfect water); as a raw material for chlorine-containing products (e.g. plastics, pharmaceuticals, pesticides) and as an intermediate to manufacture non-chlorinated products.

    Rule of thumb - Chlorine is used to produce EDC, EDC is used to produce VCM, VCM is used to produce PVC. The availability of chlorine is often tied to demand for both caustic soda and PVC. The demand for either one can affect the availability of chlorine and accordingly prices of caustic soda and PVC tend to move in opposite directions. (See also caustic soda for an explanation).

    CIF - Cost, Insurance and Freight ( ... named port of destination) ie. CIF Istanbul. Exclusively by sea or by inland waterway - for multimodal transport, the CIP Incoterm should be selected. The seller chooses the ship, pays for freight until the agreed port and provides marine insurance against loss or damage to the goods during transit. The insurance policy or any other proof of guarantee drawn up with an insurer will be transmitted to the party designated in the contract. It is the seller who pays the premium, but the goods travel at the buyer's risk. The place of risk transfer is the ship's rail at the port. Loading the ship and the outwards customs clearance are at the seller's expense.

    CIP - Carriage and Insurance Paid to ( ... named place of destination) ie. CIP Istanbul. All methods of transport, including multimodal transport. The seller selects a carrier and pays the freight for transport of the goods until an agreed destination. It is the buyer who will pay for the transport insurance. The risk of loss or damage to the merchandise is transferred to the buyer from the moment it is passed to the carrier. If successive carriers are used: the risk is transferred from receipt by the first carrier. The goods will be cleared through customs outwards by the seller. The seller must additionally produce transport insurance against the risk of spoilage or loss of the goods during transit. This policy must be underwritten so that the buyer or any other party interested in the goods, must be able to send their claim directly to the insurer. The insurance policy or any other proof of guarantee drawn up with an insurance company will be passed to the party named in the contract.

    Composite - A solid material made of two or more different substances, combined to produce a new substance whose properties are superior to those of the original components in a specific application. More specifically, the term refers to a structural material (such as plastic) within which a fibrous material is embedded. Fibreglass-reinforced plastic is the best-known composite and is used widely in household goods. Composites are of great use in the aerospace industry, where their stiffness, lightness, and heat resistance make them the materials of choice.

    Compounding - Compounding refers to the mixing of the polymers and other ingredients prior to moulding. It is the incorporation of additional ingredients needed for processing in order to have optimal properties. These ingredients may include additives to improve a polymer's physical properties, stability, or processability.

    Compressor - A machine for compressing air or gas from low pressure and low temperature to high pressure and high temperature.

    Condensation - A chemical reaction in which two or more molecules combine with the separation of water or some other simple substance. If a polymer is formed, the condensation process is called polycondensation.

    Continuous Filament - See CF.

    Conversion - In the plastics industry, conversion is the processing of raw materials into usable forms, e.g. the conversion of plastic pellets into films or the conversion of films into food containers. The steps involved include compounding (the mixing together of various raw materials, e.g. polymers and additives), melting and extruding, shaping and solidifying.

    Conversion (in a process) / yield - The quantity of a product of a chemical reaction.

    Copolymer - Two different monomers polymerized together to form a polymer. It is sometimes used for polymers containing more than two monomeric units. Three common types of copolymers are block copolymers, graft polymers and random copolymers.

    CPP (Cast PP film) - Unoriented film produced from homopolymer PP. They are especially flexible for stationary packaging applications.

    CPT - Carriage Paid to ( ... named place of destination) CPT Istanbul. All methods of transport including multimodal transport. The seller chooses the carrier and pays for freight up to the agreed destination. The buyer will pay for transport insurance. The loss or damages risk is transferred to the buyer from the passing of the goods to the carrier. If successive carriers are used : the risk is transferred on passing to the first carrier. The merchandise will be cleared outwards by the seller.

    Cracking - A process which separates the bonds between carbon atoms, generally occurs under high pressure or high temperature, a familiar example is cracking ethane to form ethylene.

    Coextrusion - Involves a process where parts are blow-molded with walls containing two or more layers of different material. Coextrusion offers wide latitude for material selection and also allows the use of recycled materials. A material with good barrier properties, for example, can be used for the inside and outside surfaces of a blow molded bottle, while recycled material can be used for the internal layer.

    Condensate - A mixture consisting primarily of pentanes and heavier hydrocarbons which is recovered as a liquid from natural gas in separation facilities. This category excludes natural gas liquids, such as butane and propane, which are recovered at downstream natural gas processing plants or facilities.

    Co-products - Substances made in one processing unit at the same time. A lot of refining hardware, especially crackers, cannot help making an assortment of hydrocarbons. The industry uses "co-product" when it does not want to designate one material a plant's product and demean the rest by calling them by-products. Petrochemical companies call the other olefins and the aromatics it makes its co-products.

    Cracker - (See Steam Cracker)

    Creep - Cold flow of a polymer, the ability of a material to change dimensions in a reversible or nonreversible (creep) manner at ambient temperature.

    Crosslink - A constitutional unit connecting two parts of a polymer that were earlier separate molecules. Note: a network may be thought to consist of many "primary chains" that are interconnected by a number of crosslinks. In the vast majority of cases, the crosslink is a covalent bond but the term is also used to describe sites of weaker chemical interactions, portions of crystallites, and even physical entanglements.

    Crude oil - A mixture of comparatively volatile liquid hydrocarbons that occurs in the Earth's crust and is extracted for use as fuel and various petroleum products. Typically, crude oil contains, in various percentages, a mixture of naphtha, kerosene, middle distillates and fuel oils.

    Crystalline polymer - Polymer with a regular order or pattern of molecular arrangement.

    Curing - The process of polymerizing a monomer or oligomer or crosslinking an existing polymer.

    DDP - Delivered Duty Paid ( ... named place of destination). All methods of transport. The seller is in charge of all the operations linked to carriage (insurance, transport, customs formalities and forwarding to destination) until delivery to the buyer. The transfer of risk and costs commences from delivery to the buyer. Unless expressed otherwise, unloading at the destination is at the buyer's cost. If the parties wish to diminish the sellers obligations, such as the payment of certain expenses due to importation, they will have to specify it. e.g. : DDP, VAT unpaid. This term represents the seller's maximal obligation.

    Debottlenecking - Increasing production capacity of existing facilities through the modification of existing equipment to remove throughput restrictions. Debottlenecking generally increases capacity for a fraction of the cost of building new facilities.

    Decommission - To remove from service.

    Degradable - Plastics which will environmentally decompose to a powder or liquid form through biodegradation, volubility and photodegradation mechanisms.

    Degree of polymerization - An expression for the number of monomer units in a polymer chain.

    Delta - An increment of a variable. In plastics, it usually refers to the difference between two grades of the same polymer. For example, the price of PP fibre tends to be around $50/ton higher than raffia, depending on market conditions. The $50/ton is the delta, which changes, but tends to exist when market conditions are balanced.

    Demand - The amount of product being requested by potential customers. Total demand in a country is the combination of domestic demand and exports. High demand with a combination of low supply will equate to very high prices, while low demand with ample supply will help to push prices down as suppliers try to move inventory.

    Density - The mass of a substance per unit volume. It is an important parameter for polyethylene, affecting most end product physical properties. The density is normally given in g/cm3, although the correct SI unit would be kg/m3.

    Derivative - Chemical compound derived or made from other chemicals. Polyethylene is an ethylene derivative.

    Destocking - A process whereby converters work off their stocks in the expectation that they can replace the stock later at a cheaper price.

    Rule of Thumb - In the plastics industry, destocking activities can greatly affect prices. If prices appear to be falling and converters choose to use their stocks rather than purchase new raw materials then demand for the raw material falls and this helps to push down the price of the raw material even further.

    Distillation Unit (Atmospheric) - The primary distillation unit that processes crude oil (including mixtures of other hydrocarbons) at approximately atmospheric conditions. It includes a pipe still for vaporizing the crude oil and a fractionation tower for separating the vaporized hydrocarbon components in the crude oil into fractions with different boiling ranges. This is done by continuously vaporizing and condensing the components to separate higher boiling point material. The selected boiling ranges are set by the processing scheme, the properties of the crude oil, and the product specifications.

    Downstream - A relative term, which indicates greater removal from origins than some point of reference. For example, a petrochemical plant which cracks naphtha lies downstream from a refinery. A PE plant lies downstream from a cracker. The opposite of upstream.

    Dry Gas - Natural gas composed mainly of methane with only minor amounts of ethane, propane and butane and little or no heavier hydrocarbons in the gasoline range.

    Elastomer - A polymer that forms a disorganized molecular pile capable of uncoiling and recoiling in response to physical force and its removal. This ability to yield and recover makes a substance rubbery. Industry turns molecules into flexible, strectchable, compressible, resilient goods. Elastomers are the base material for all rubber products and for many adhesives. Most elastomers, e.g. styrene-butadiene rubber, are hydrocarbons.

    Electrochemical Process - The direct process end use in which electricity is used to cause a chemical transformation. Major uses of electrochemical process occur in the aluminum industry in which alumina is reduced to molten aluminum metal and oxygen, and in the alkalies and chlorine industry, in which brine is separated into caustic soda, chlorine, and hydrogen.

    Curing - The process of polymerizing a monomer or oligomer or crosslinking an existing polymer.

    Electrochemical Unit (ECU) - The chlor-alkali process produces chlorine and caustic soda in set ratios of one unit of chlorine and 1.1 units of caustic soda. The combination of one unit of chlorine and 1.1 units of caustic soda is an ECU.

    Electrolysis - The process of decomposing a substance, usually in solution or as a melt by the passage of an electric current.

    Element - A substance that is composed of a single type of atom; a substance that cannot be decomposed by a chemical change.

    Emulsifier - A compound added to a mixture of two immiscible liquids in order to make it an emulsion and not just two layers of liquid lying on top of each other. The emulsifier is usually something like a soap whose molecules have a water-soluble end and an organic-soluble end. The soap molecules form little balls called micelles, in which the water-soluble ends point out into the water, and the organic-soluble ends point into the inside of the ball. The oil is stabilized in the water by hiding in the center of the micelle. Thus the water and oil stay mixed.

    Emulsion - A dispersion where a liquid is dispersed in another liquid - for example, milk is an emulsion of oil in water.

    Emulsion polymerization - Batch, semi-continuous or continuous. VCM monomer is emulsified in water by means of surface-active agents. The monomer is thus present as droplets and a small fraction is dissolved in micelles. Water-soluble initiator is added and polymerization starts in the micelles. Monomer is added to the latex particles (micelles) by diffusion from the emulsion droplets through the aqueous phase. Batch: all components in reactor; polymerization is stopped when the yield is reached. Semi-continuous: emulgator is continuously added during the polymerization. Continuous: water, initiator, monomer and emulgator are added at the top of the reactor. The PVC latex is removed at the bottom of the reactor. The latex is degasified and dried; the resulting solid PVC is stored.

    End groups - Structural units that terminate polymer chains.

    Engineering plastic - A polymer with an appropriate combination of stiffness, toughness, and dimensional stability that is formed into parts such as gears, bearings and casings.

    Ethane - A normally gaseous straight-chain hydrocarbon, (C2H6). It is a colorless, paraffinic gas that boils at a temperature of -127.48 degrees Fahrenheit. It is the second most important constituent of natural gas, it also occurs dissolved in petroleum oils and as a by-product of oil refinery operations and of the carbonisation of coal. Ethane is a major raw material for the huge ethylene petrochemical industry, which produces such products as polyethylene plastic, ethylene glycol, and ethyl alcohol.

    Ethylene - An olefinic hydrocarbon recovered from refinery processes or petrochemical processes. Ethylene is used as a petrochemical feedstock for numerous chemical applications and the production of consumer goods.

    Expanded polystyrene (EPS) - Expanded polystyrene, manufactured from styrene, is a thermal plastic material supplied to moulders in the form of a polystyrene bead. The beads, which contain a blowing agent, are processed and moulded into low-density foam articles, such as protective packaging, and foam insulation for building and construction.

    Exploration - The phase of operations which covers the search for oil or gas by carrying out detailed geological and geophysical surveys followed up where appropriate by exploratory drilling.

    Extruded polystyrene (XPS) - Extruded polystyrene, manufactured from polystyrene, is a thermal plastic material manufactured by a variety of extrusion processes. Polystyrene foam board and extruded foam sheet have properties that make it a frequent choice for thermal insulation, sheathing, roofing and building and construction application.

    Extruder - A machine for producing more or less continuous lengths of plastic sections.

    Extrusion - A thermoplastic process whereby pellets, granules, or powder are melted and forced through a die under pressure to form a given, continuous shape. Typical shapes extruded are flat films and sheets, filaments and fibers, strands for pelletizing, and webs for coating and laminating.

    EXW - EX Works ( ... named place), i.e. ex-works Aliaga. The seller's only responsibility is to put the merchandise at the buyer's disposal, on its premises. The seller is not responsible for loading the goods on the vehicle produced by the buyer, except by a different agreement. The risk transfer takes place at the moment the goods are made available to the buyer. The buyer bears all risks and costs inherent to the transport of the goods, from that point to the destination. This term represents the seller's minimum obligation.

    FAS - Free Alongside Ship ( ... named port of shipment) ie FAS USG. Exclusively by sea or by inland waterway. According to this term, the seller's obligations are fulfilled when the goods are placed alongside the ship, on the quay or on barges. The seller produces the merchandise along with the invoice and the documents specified in the contract, and cleared for export. (This is contrary to the 1990 Incoterms.) The costs and risks are transferred from seller to buyer upon delivery. This means that the buyer must cover the costs and risks of loss or damage to the goods. It is the buyer who designates the ship and pays for maritime freight.


    FCA - Free Carrier ( ... named place) i.e. FCA Aliaga. It is the buyer who chooses the method of transport and the carrier, and who pays for them. The seller fulfils his obligations when he hands the goods over to the carrier designated by the buyer, at the location agreed on in the Incoterm. The transfer of costs and risks becomes effective from the moment the carrier takes over the merchandise.
  • If the agreed place is the seller's premises , the delivery is done when the goods are loaded on the vehicle of the carrier named by the buyer.
  • If the agreed place isn't the seller's premises , the delivery is done when the goods are made available to the carrier named by the buyer on the loaded vehicle.

  • The seller is responsible, at his own cost and risk, of providing the buyer with all the necessary documentation for exportation (licences, customs formalities, ...).

    Feedstock - The physical components that are combined in production to produce a product. A product of oil or gas processing suitable for charging to (introduction into) an upgrading unit for further refining or transformation. In general, each stage of hydrocarbon processing regards the material, it receives for alteration as its feedstock and what it makes of that material as it product. A cracker, for instance, takes naphtha as its feedstock and yields ethylene, its product. The feedstock business deals in those partially refined petroleum streams (intermediates) and gas plant products processed by refinery units and basic petrochemical plants.

    Fiber - A single homogeneous strand of material having a length of at least 5 mm, which can be spun into a yarn or roving, or made into a fabric by interlacing in a variety of methods. Also a thread-like structure having a length at least 100 times its diameter. Fibers can be made by chopping filaments (converting). Staple fibers may be one-half to a few inches in length and usually 1 to 5 denier.

    Filament - A variety of fiber characterized by extreme length, which permits its use in yarn with little or no twist and usually without the spinning operation required for fibers.

    Filler - A relatively inert material used as the discontinuous phase of a polymer composite.

    Film - An optional term for sheet having a nominal thickness not greater than 0.01 inch.

    Flexibility - The degree to which a processing unit can make a desired product from various feed stocks. The term applies particularly to steam crackers. Some such plants can produce ethylene from a range of hydrocarbon streams spanning ethane to vacuum gasoil. Other units have less flexibility.

    Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC) - The refinery process in which crude oil fractions are converted to gasoline. The process requires high temperatures and the presence of a specialized catalyst. Propylene is a petrochemical by-product of FCC units.

    FOB - Free On Board ( ... named port of shipment) ie FOB NWE. Exclusively by sea or by inland waterway. The merchandise must be placed aboard the ship by the seller at the designated port of shipment. It is the buyer who chooses the ship and pays for the freight. The risk and expenses transfer between the seller and buyer is done when the merchandise passes the ship's rail. Export formalities are the seller's responsibility.

    Force Majeure - Legal terminology for excusing either party for failure to comply with the contract for reasons that are out of their immediate control. Examples include unexpected production outages, acts of God (like weather), war, or inability to procure feedstocks.Plastics producers may declare force majeure after an unexpected plant outage if it cannot supply its obligations to its customers.

    Rule of Thumb - A force majeure generally has an affect on plastics prices, assuming the market is not severely oversupplied. A force majeure, unlike planned maintenance, is not factored into current prices, meaning players have assumed those supplies would be available and current prices reflect that assumption. A force majeure may also force both the producer and its customers into the spot market to cover their requirements which can make a temporary bounce up in demand and this can help push up prices.

    Formula versus Market Pricing - Market pricing, as the name implies, is a freely negotiated price between buyer and seller with each having other options. Formula pricing is more commonly agreed upon for products with a very limited number of either buyers or sellers, or simply in cases where both parties are willing to agree to fix a component such as costs or margin.

    Free radical - A chemical component that contains a free electron which covalently bonds with a free electron on another molecule.

    Fractionation - The process by which saturated hydrocarbons are removed from natural gas and separated into distinct products, or "fractions," such as propane, butane, and ethane.

    Fractions - Part of a hydrocarbon mixture isolated according to the temperature where it evaporates. Distillation units ordinarily divide a combination of liquid hydrocarbons, such as crude oil or the output stream of a cracker, by sorting its molecules into portions with different boiling ranges. These parts, or fractions, also go by the name, cuts. The bottom and top temperatures of a fraction sometimes serve as its designation, as in 180-330 fraction.

    Gas Oil - A liquid petroleum distillate having a viscosity intermediate between that of kerosene and lubricating oil. It derives its name from having originally been used in the manufacture of illuminating gas. It is now an intermediate distillate product used for diesel fuel, heating fuel and sometimes as feedstock for petrochemicals.

    Gasoline - A complex mixture of relatively volatile hydrocarbons with or without small quantities of additives, blended to form a fuel suitable for use in spark-ignition engines. "Motor Gasoline" includes conventional gasoline; all types of oxygenated gasoline, including gasohol; and reformulated gasoline, but excludes aviation gasoline.

    Gasoline Blending Components - Naphthas (e.g., straight-run gasoline, alkylate, reformate, benzene, toluene, xylene) used for blending or compounding into finished motor gasoline.

    Glass transition temperature, Tg - The temperature where the molecules of a polymer can begin to move relative to one another, giving a substance that behaves like a rubber, rather than a brittle glass.

    Grade - The designation given a material by a manufacturer such that it is always reproduced to the same specifications established by the manufacturer.

    Graft copolymer - A polymer with polymer chains which are a different kind of polymer than the backbone chain growing out of it.

    Granule - Molding compound in the form of spheres or small cylindrical pellets.

    Hardness - Resistance of a polymer surface to deformation.

    HDA - Hydrodealkylation, a process used for making benzene from toluene.

    High-density polyethylene (HDPE) - A plastic used in the manufacture of plastic items, such as plastic pipe, grocery bags, water coolers and milk bottles.

    Homopolymer - A polymer which consists only of one type of monomer unit.

    Hydrocarbon - An organic chemical compound of hydrogen and carbon in either gaseous, liquid, or solid phase. The molecular structure of hydrocarbon compounds varies from the simplest (e.g., methane, a constituent of natural gas) to the very heavy and very complex.

    Hydrocracker - Refinery units which use a catalyst and extraordinary high pressure, in the presence of surplus hydrogen, to shorten molecules. This process can crack a variety of hydrocarbons. It might change atmospheric gasoil to naphtha or reduce naphtha to LPG. In most cases, though, refiners use it to convert vacuum gasoil to high quality middle distillate. In periods of strong motor gasoline demand, high severity operations can emphasize production of naphtha, called hydrocrackate, instead of diesel and kerosene.

    Hydrogenation - Chemical process whereby hydrogen is introduced into a compound.

    Hydrolysis - Chemical decomposition of a substance involving the addition of water.

    Hydrophobic - From the Greek words for water (hydro) and fear (phobos). A compound is hydrophobic if it "hates" water and will not dissolve in it. The reverse situation is called hydrophilic.

    Impact (strength) - A material's ability to withstand shock loading.

    Incoterms (International Commercial Terms) - These are aimed at regulating the commercial terms most commonly used in international trade by defining each one with a single term, which will be understood equally throughout the world, a certain relationship between client and seller. Their use reduces misunderstandings and disputes between buyers and sellers. They were set up by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in 1936 and are regularly revised. They are aimed at regulating the sharing of the costs and the risk transfer. Incoterms are defined by initials and put in three categories :
    the Incoterms concerning sale at departure (E, C and F families) in which the main transport risks are born by the buyer, these include EXW, FCA, FAS, FOB, CFR, CIF, CPT, CIP
    the Incoterms concerning sale on arrival (D Family) with which the costs and risks of the main transport are born by the seller, these include DDP
    Incoterm, in which the seller bears the risk until a given border, beyond which the buyer takes over.

    Inhibitor - A chemical that is added to another substance to slow, restrain, or prevent an unwanted chemical change or growth from occurring.

    Initiator - An agent which causes a chemical reaction to commence and which enters into the reaction to become part of the resultant compound. Initiators differ from catalysts in that catalysts do not combine chemically with the reactants.

    Injection Molding - A plastics forming process in which molten plastic is forced into a mold under pressure and allowed to solidify.

    Integrated - All components of conversion are owned by the same entity. This is significant in economic models as individual components are often modeled at cash cost plus cost of capital to cover reinvestment. Integrated producers may not be exposed to the market swings in their integrated raw materials. The industry calls its largest integrated companies the "majors."

    Rule of Thumb - In the global plastics business, integrated producers are often referred to as such since they are influenced by different forces than non-integrated producers. For example, contract prices for propylene and ethylene won't necessarily apply to an integrated producer when calculating their theoretical costs for making PP and PE. An integrated PVC producer won't be subject to spot prices of VCM since they will be producing their own VCM. This explains why there are often times offers that would appear impossible based on either spot or contract costs, but for an integrated producer may be possible.

    Ion - An atom or molecule which has a positive or a negative electrical charge.

    Isothermal - A process is said to be isothermal if temperature is held constant during the process.

    K-value - A characteristic of the PVC resin which describes the length of the polymer molecules.

    Laminated plastics - A plastic material consisting of superimposed layers of a synthetic resin impregnated or coated filler which have been bonded together usually by means of heat and pressure, to form a single piece.

    Lamination - Process by which a sandwich of film layers are bound together by adhesives, coatings, or other polymers to form substrates with improved physical and chemical properties.

    Linear polymer - A polymer made up of one long continuous chain without any excess attachments.

    Linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) - A plastic that is used predominantly in film applications, but can also be used in cable covering, toys, lids, buckets and containers, and pipes. It has higher tensile strength and exhibits higher impact and puncture resistance than LDPE. Lower thickness (gauge) films can be blown compared to LDPE, with better environmental stress cracking resistance, but it has lower gloss than LDPE and a narrower temperature range for heat sealing and is not as easy to process as LDPE.

    Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) - Oilfield or naturally occurring gas, chiefly methane, liquefied for transportation.

    Liquefied Petroleum Gases (LPG) - Ethane, ethylene, propane, propylene, normal butane, butylene, ethane-propane mixtures, propane-butane mixtures, and isobutane produced at refineries or natural gas processing plants, including plants that fractionate raw natural gas plant liquids.

    List prices - These prices are released by manufacturers as suggested selling prices. In many cases, these prices are reduced after negotiations with buyers.

    Long market - Used to describe a market which has more than sufficient plastic raw materials when compared to the demand for those materials.

    Rule of thumb - A long market indicates that prices would have a tendency to come down since there are ample supplies to meet demand.

    Long position - A trader buys something, in the hope that its value will go up.

    Rule of thumb - When market analysis takes note of traders or distributors taking long positions, meaning they have bought plastics raw materials for resale later, this usually indicates that these sellers are confident that prices will rise.

    Loose/loosening market - Refers to when the plastics market has more than sufficient supplies of raw materials to meet demand. A loosening market is when supplies are increasing over time.

    Rule of Thumb - A loose or loosening market will usually indicate that prices will be under downward pressure as supplies begin to outweigh demand.

    Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) - A plastic that is used predominantly in film applications due to its toughness, flexibility and relative transparency. Typically, LDPE is used to manufacture flexible films such as those used for plastic retail bags and garment dry cleaning and grocery bags. LDPE is also used to manufacture some flexible lids and bottles, and it is widely used in wire and cable applications for its stable electrical properties and processing characteristics.

    Maintenance - Usually a scheduled shutdown period to perform repairs on a plant.

    Market player - Includes all the buyers and sellers in the plastics market.

    Mass - The quantity of material contained by an object. Mass is measured in terms of the force required to change the speed or direction of its movement.

    Mass Polymerization - The monomers are polymerized in the absence of solvent or diluents. Since the reaction is strongly exothermic, the process is conducted in small vessels and the ambient temperature is lowered as the reaction proceeds.

    Melt flow index (MFI) - MFI is defined as a mass flown through the die in 10 min. Melt mass flow rate or MFI gives an indication of melt processing properties of a polymer.

    Metalizing - Applying a thin coating of a metal to a nonmetallic surface. This may be done by chemical deposition or by exposing the surface to vaporized metal in a vacuum chamber.

    Metallocene Catalyst - Precision catalysts that provide extended manufacturing control over the molecular structure and properties of a polymer. The main difference with this new catalyst is that it consists of identical molecules or templates so each polymer chain produced is uniform therefore, resulting in polymer consistency. It has a single catalytic site and the structure of the catalyst molecule can be manipulated to build different polymeric structures with specific properties such as increased toughness or better clarity.

    Methane - A hydrocarbon gas that is the main ingredient in natural gas. Methane molecules each contain one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms.

    Micelle - Organized blob of surfactant molecules with all the hydrophobic tails pointing inwards to create a tiny hydrophobic phase whereas hydrophilic ends point outside. See following shape:

    Modulus - A ratio of the tension (stress) to the elongation (strain) of a test specimen.

    Molecular weight (number average) - This is an average molecular weight used to characterise natural and synthetic polymers. The number average molecular weight is the sum over all molecular species of the expression:
    (Number of moles of material with molecular weight i) X (Value of i)
    (Number of moles of material with molecular weight i)

    Molecular weight (weight average) - The weight average molecular weight is the sum over all molecular species of the expression:
    (Concentration of material with molecular weight i) X (Value of i)
    (Total concentration of material in solution)

    Molecular Weight Distribution, MWD - The relation between the number of molecules in a polymer and their individual chain length. It is often also called molar mass distribution.

    Molecule - A bonded collection of two or more atoms of the same or different elements.

    Monomer - One molecular unit which links with others of its own or a similar kind to form a polymer. Styrene monomers, for instance, connect to form the familiar plastic, polystyrene.

    Morphology - Morphology is the internal or external structure of a solid substance.

    Mothballed - A term used to describe when a producer shuts a plant for an undefined period of time. It generally arises when market conditions are poor and a producer chooses to shut a plant for some period of time until conditions improve.

    Naphtha - A low boiling temperature liquid derived from petroleum after refining in a distillation column. It is normally composed of C5 to C11s. Used as a feedstock for reforming and as a petrochemical feedstock.

    Natural Gas - A mixture of hydrocarbon compounds and small quantities of various nonhydrocarbons existing in the gaseous phase or in solution with crude oil in natural underground reservoirs at reservoir conditions. Natural gas may be subclassified as:
    1. Associated Gas: Free natural gas, commonly known as gas-cap gas, that overlies and is in contact with crude oil in the reservoir.
    2. Dissolved Gas: Natural gas that is in solution with crude oil in the reservoir at reservoir conditions.
    3. Nonassociated Gas: Free natural gas that is not in contact with crude oil in the reservoir.

    Natural Gas Liquids (NGL) - Those portions of reservoir gas that are liquefied at the surface in field facility or gas processing plants. Some examples are ethane, propane, butanes, pentanes, natural gasoline, and condensate.

    Netback - Calculating the FOB value or price of a raw material from prices or values at the delivery points. The derivation involves subtracting various costs such as freight, handling, interest, duties, transit losses, and commissions from reports or estimates of outlet-market levels.

    Octane number (octane) - A measure of the detonation quality of gasoline. The higher the octane number, the higher the resistance to engine knock.

    Offtake - Refers to a buyer taking delivery of their raw materials from the plant.

    Oil Well - A well completed for the production of crude oil from one or more oil zones or reservoirs. Wells producing both crude oil and natural gas are classified as oil wells.

    Olefins - A group of petrochemicals characterized by their straight or branched structure. Olefins are petrochemical derivatives produced by cracking feedstocks from raw materials such as natural gas and crude oil. The main olefin products are ethylene, propylene, butadiene and C4 derivatives. Chemically speaking, olefins, also knowns as alkenes, refer to hydrocarbons with a double bond. The double bond is significant in that it is stronger than a single bond, however, it is more reactive. This high level of reactivity makes olefins ideal feedstocks for the production of a long list of petrochemical intermediate and plastic products.

    Oligomer - A very low molecular weight polymer ranging from about 2 to 20 monomer units.

    Onstream - Refers to the "stream" of production, when a plant is running and producing, it is called onstream. The term is usually used in reference to when a plant restarts after having been shut to indicate when the plant is back producing material again.

    OPEC - The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which are Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

    Outage - This term generally refers to an unexpected shutdown at a petrochemical plant.

    Rule of Thumb - An unexpected outage generally has an affect on plastics prices, assuming the market is not severely oversupplied. An outage, unlike planned maintenance, is not factored into current prices, meaning players have assumed those supplies would be available and current prices reflect that assumption. An outage may also force both the producer and its customers into the spot market to cover their requirements which can make a temporary bounce up in demand and this can help push up prices.

    Paraffins (Alkanes) - The simplest organic compounds and a family of chain hydrocarbons having the general formula C2H2n+2. All of the bonds are single bonds (-C-H-, and -C-C-).

    Pelletizer - An equipment where the polymer powder is homogenized, addiviated and made to pellets in it. The polymer melt coming from the extruder is pressed through dies in a die plate and cut to pellets.

    Pentane - A hydrocarbon gas that is an ingredient of natural gas. Pentane molecules each contain five carbon atoms and twelve hydrogen atoms, C5H12.

    Permeability - The property of a formation which quantifies the flow of a fluid through the pore spaces and into the wellbore.

    Peroxide - A compound that contain the O2- ion. It is used to initiate the polymerization for high-pressure free radical polymerization processes.

    Petrochemical - An organic compound that has been derived from petroleum or natural gas. There are almost 200 chemicals that can be so described and they include many simple hydrocarbons (e.g. methane, ethane), aromatic hydrocarbons (e.g. benzene, toluene), naphthenes and several of their derivatives.

    Phenolic Resin - Phenolic resins are in the same family of polyester, vinyl ester and epoxy resins. Phenolics are composed of phenol and formaldehyde. They are the best organic material when it comes to safety in the event of fire.

    Photodegradation - The breaking down of a plastic molecular structure by absorption of ultraviolet energy. The plastic absorbs high photon energy which breaks the bond between carbon and hydrogen, forming oxygen-reactive free radicals which promote decomposition.

    Pipeline - A pipe through which natural gas, crude oil or petroleum products are pumped between two points, either onshore or offshore.

    Plasticiser - A plasticiser is a substance which when added to a material, usually a plastic, makes it flexible, resilient and easier to handle. Modern plasticisers are manmade organic chemicals; the majority of which are esters, such as adipates and phthalates. They are major components that determine the physical properties of polymer products. There are more than 300 different types of plasticisers; the most commonly used are phthalates.

    Plastisol - A plastisol is a dispersion of resin (or resins) in a liquid plasticiser. The plastisol will consist of the PVC homopolymer or copolymer and additives both liquid and dry.

    Polyethylene - A polymer of ethylene, especially any of various lightweight thermoplastics that are resistant to chemicals and moisture, have good insulating properties, and are used especially in packaging and insulation. It is also used in manufacturing trash bags, milk jugs, shampoo bottles, water coolers and cable coating, among other things.

    Polymer - A strand of monomers. When certain individual molecules (monomers) come together and link up in a chain-like fashion, they form a polymer. By definition, it takes five or more of these combining units to make a polymer. Most familiar synthetic polymers, plastics like polystyrene, polypropylene, and polyvinyl chloride for instance, contain a huge number of monomers. The chemical reaction that forms a polymer is called polymerisation.

    Polymerization - Process by which monomers are joined together in long chains to form polymers, generally requiring high heat or pressure or presence of a catalyst. A chemical reaction in which a large number of relatively simple molecules combine to form a large chainlike molecule.

    Polyolefins - Polyolefins is the generic term used to describe a family of polymers derived from a particular group of base chemicals known as olefins. The polyolefins family includes polypropylene and polyethylene. Polyolefins are made by joining together small molecules (monomers) to form long chains (polymers) with thousands of individual links. The base monomers - propylene and ethylene - are gases at room temperature, but when they are linked together they become long chains of molecules called polymers. As polymers, they form tough, flexible plastic materials.

    Polypropylene (PP) - A basic plastic formed by joining propylene molecules together. Polypropylene can be made into fibres, where it is a major constituent in fabrics for home furnishings such as upholstery and carpets. Numerous industrial end uses include rope and cordage, disposable non-woven fabrics for diapers and medical applications. As a plastic, polypropylene is moulded into bottles for foods and personal care products, appliance housings, dishwasher-proof food containers, toys, automobile battery casings, and outdoor furniture.

    Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) - A polymer of vinyl chloride used to make a diverse range of cost-effective products with various levels of technical performance suited to a wide range of applications. PVC products include everything from medical devices such as medical tubing and blood bags, to footwear, electrical cables; packaging, stationery, profiles and toys.

    Posted price - The published or list price of crude and petroleum products, sometimes shortened to "posting." Many companies use this term as a name for the price applied to their contract business. In some cases, it means the commodity's base price -- the starting figure subject to adjustments such as competitive allowances, volume discounts, equity compensation, and so forth. Most of the time sellers post prices. But in some cases, such as the US domestic crude market, buyers post what they will pay.

    Processability - A concept to describe the behavior of the polymer in a converting process. A good processability means a stable behavior in the process and a high processing speed.

    Propane - A colourless, gaseous hydrocarbon. It is separated in large quantities from natural gas, light crude oil, and oil-refinery gases and is commercially available as liquefied propane or as a major constituent of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). As with ethane, propane is an important raw material for the ethylene petrochemical industry. The decomposition of propane in hot tubes to form ethylene also yields another important product, propylene.

    Propane dehydrogenation - On-purpose process to produce propylene. The feedstock is propane.

    Propylene - Three-carbon olefin (C3H6) produced in refineries by catalytic crackers and in petrochemical plants by steam crackers. Refiners process part of their supply into motor gasoline blendstock, particularly alkylate. Some refinery material and that from steam crackers becomes plastic, glue, and other synthetic products. Propylene is a colourless, flammable, gaseous hydrocarbon. Its main derivative is polypropylene (PP).

    Pygas - See Pyrolysis gasoline.

    Pyrolysis - The cracking of paraffinic hydrocarbon feedstocks including ethane, propane, butane, and the virgin crude oil fractions of naphtha and atmospheric gas oil.

    Pyrolysis gasoline (Pygas) - A naphtha-range product with a high aromatics content used either for feedstock for a benzene unit or for gasoline blending. Pygas is produced in an ethylene plant that processes butane, naphtha or oil.

    Random copolymer - When two different types of monomers are joined in the same polymer chain, it is called a copolymer. In a random copolymer, the two monomers may follow in any order. For example, consider two monomers called A and B:
    - A- A- B- A- B- B- A- B - A - A - B - B - B - A

    Reaction - A chemical transformation or change, the interaction of chemical entities.

    Reactor - A vessel where reaction takes place.

    Recycling - Re-processing of products at their end of life into component materials so that they can be reformed into brand new products.

    Refinery - A plant, device, or process that heats crude oil so that it separates into chemical components, which are then distilled off as more usable substances.

    Refining - Conversion of crude oil into useful products, such as naphtha, the most important feedstock for the petrochemical industry. Every refinery begins with the separation of crude oil into different fractions by distillation. The fractions are further treated to convert them into mixtures of more useful products by various methods such as cracking, reforming, alkylation, polymerisation and isomerisation. These mixtures of new compounds are then separated using methods such as fractionation and solvent extraction.

    Reformate - A high-aromatics, high octane product made in a reformer and used to blend motor gasoline or aviation gasoline.

    Reforming - A process of cracking gasoline to increase its octane number.

    Resin - A solid or semi-solid mixture of organic substances of complex composition having no definite melting point, as in plastic resins made from hydrocarbon feedstocks. Any natural or synthetic organic compound consisting of a non-crystalline or viscous liquid substance. Synthetic resins comprise a large class of synthetic products that have some of the physical properties of natural resins but are different chemically. Most synthetic resins are polymers. The term resin dates from the early years of the plastics industry; it originally referred to naturally occurring amorphous solids such as shellac and rosin.

    Reservoir - The underground formation where oil and gas has accumulated. It consists of a porous rock to hold the oil or gas, and a cap rock that prevents its escape.

    Rheology - Study of the flow properties of materials.

    Rigid - Stiff and inflexible.

    Rollover - Refers to when prices remain the same as their previous declaration. It is generally used to describe monthly contract prices, ie Petkim's monthly price declarations. If the contract price stays the same from one month to the next it is called a rollover or prices are rolled over.

    Rotational moulding - This is a suitable method for large hollow objects, like containers or toilet cabins. The polyethylene is brought into the mould in powder form. The mould rotates in a large heated oven until the powder has melted and coated the inside of the mould evenly. After cooling the product is ready.

    Severity - The degree of application of pressure, temperature, duration, or other critical processing conditions. The more exposure of a feedstock to factors which promote an intended reaction, the more severe the processing. Higher temperatures, greater pressures, longer residence times, and so forth, constitute greater severity in various processes.

    Sheet - Sheets are distinguished from films according to their thickness. One under 10 mils (0.01 inches) thick is usually called a film, whereas one 10 mils and over in thickness is usually called a sheet. They are most commonly made by extrusion, casting and calendering.

    Short market - Refers to a market where the supply of a plastic raw material is less than demand.

    Rule of Thumb - A short market indicates that prices would have a tendency to move up since supplies would not meet demand.

    Short position/sale - A trader sells something he doesn't have, with a view to buying it cheaper at a later date.

    Rule of Thumb - Generally when a short sale is indicated it means the trader or distributor is trying to sell material he does not yet have possession of in order to lock in current prices, but with the expectation that he can buy it later at a cheaper price to fulfill his delivery obligation. This type of position usually means the trader or distributor is confident prices will come down.

    Shutdown - A production hiatus during which a plant ceases to produce while essential maintenance work is undertaken.

    Slurry - A watery mixture of insoluble material.

    Slurry (suspension) polymerization - A polymerization process in which the monomer, or mixture of monomers, is dispersed by mechanical agitation in a liquid phase, usually water, in which the monomer droplets are polymerized while they are dispersed by continuous agitation. Used primarily for PVC polymerization.

    Solution polymerization - A polymerization process in which the monomers and the polymerization initiators are dissolved in a nonmonomeric liquid solvent at the beginning of the polymerization reaction. The liquid is usually also a solvent for the resulting polymer or copolymer.

    Specifications - The quality parameters to which the product must conform and which serve as a basis for quality evaluation.

    Spot Deal - An isolated sale. In transactions of this kind, a specific quantity, usually a convenient unit like a cargo, a bargeload, or a pipeline batch, changes from seller's hands to buyer's. In today's vernacular, "spot" chiefly distinguishes selfcontained transactions from period business, sometimes called contract deals. The transaction does not imply a continuing arrangement between the buyer and the seller.

    Stabiliser - A stabiliser is a substance added to another substance to prevent an alteration of its physical state. Stabilisers are added to plastics so as to allow them to have a long and useful life in any application, by keeping their properties stable.

    Steam cracker (Ethylene plant) - A petrochemical plant unit which produces olefins, particularly ethylene, and in some cases aromatics, by pyrolysis. The trade often calls these plants ethylene crackers, after their primary product. Some units, called light liquids crackers, crack ethane or LPG. Heavy liquids crackers can run on naphtha or gasoil feedstocks.

    Steam cracking - A further application of thermal cracking, is a petrochemical process used to produce olefinic raw materials (e.g. propylene, ethylene) from various feedstocks for petrochemicals manufacture. The feedstocks range from ethane to vacuum gas oil, with heavier feeds, such as naphtha, giving higher yields of by-products. The most common feeds are ethane, butane, and naphtha.

    Stream - Any hydrocarbon flow. Some uses of this general term include: the product emerging from a processing unit (e.g., the naphtha stream from a crude still), the supply of a raw material or product (e.g., the natural gasoline stream from West Texas), and various vague or specific movements (e.g., an ethylene plant's feedstock stream). The term also applies to engaging in processing or moving oil (e.g., on-stream).

    Stress - A force exerted when one body or body part presses on, pulls on, pushes against, or tends to compress or twist another body or body part.

    Styrene - Styrene is a clear, colourless liquid that is derived from petroleum and natural gas by-products, but which also occurs naturally. Styrene is used to create plastic materials used in a wide range of strong, flexible, and lightweight products. It is used in everything from food containers and packaging materials to cars, boats, and computers.

    Surfactant - From SURFace ACTive AgeNT. A substance which prefers to exist at the boundary between two other substances - for example, detergents have one end highly soluble in greasy substances and one end soluble in water.

    Suspension - A mixture of two substances where small pieces of a solid are suspended in a liquid.

    T - Shirt Bags - Shopping bags made from HDPE which create a soft sound like that of wind blowing through leaves.

    T1 - material manufactured outside the EU and possibly subject to duty.

    T2 - material manufactured within the EU.

    Tacticity - The orderliness of the succession of configurational repeating units in the main chain of a polymer.

    TDP - Toluene disproportionation, a process used for making benzene and xylene from toluene.

    Thermal cracking - Thermal cracking is a petroleum refining process used to break up heavy oil molecules into lighter, more valuable fractions (e.g. gasoline, kerosene) by the use of high temperature without the aid of catalysts. It is used to convert gas oils into naphtha.

    Thermoplastic - A plastic which is solid when cold, but which may flow and be re-formed multiple times with the application of heat. Some plastics are dissolved in solvents such as water (a latex) to aid their application.

    Thermoset - Thermosets are a type of plastic that is the reaction product of two or more chemical compounds. While reacting and while still in a liquid shape thermoset plastics are moulded to form a wide variety of parts. Once the reaction is complete, thermoset plastics form durable solid articles (they "set"). Unsaturated polyester resins that are used to make glass reinforced plastics are an example of a thermoset plastic.

    Tight/tightening market - Refers to when the plastics market does not have sufficient supplies of raw material to meet demand.

    Rule of Thumb - A tight or tightening market usually indicates upward pressure on prices as supplies fail to meet demand.

    Thermoforming - The process of heating a thermoplastic sheet to a working temperature and then forming it into a finished shape by means of heat or pressure.

    Thermoplastic material - A material which softens on heating and hardens on cooling. Commercially, the most important type of polymer.

    Thermoset - Thermoset polymers are materials that become rigid on heating usually by chemical reactions leading to a rigid cross-linked network.

    Throughput - The average amount of raw material that is processed in a given period by a facility, such as a natural gas processing plant, an oil refinery or a petrochemical plant.

    Toll Processing - Refining or petrochemicals production done on a fee basis. A plant owner puts another party's feedstock through his equipment and charges for the service. A portion of the product retained by the processor may constitute payment. This form of compensation occurs frequently in refining because the feedstock supplier often wants only one part of the output slate.

    Toluene - Colorless liquid of the aromatic group of petroleum hydrocarbons, made by the catalytic reforming of petroleum naphthas containing methyl cyclohexane. A high-octane gasoline-blending agent, solvent, and chemical intermediate, and a base for TNT (explosive).

    Ton - 2,000 pounds in the United States; in the United Kingdom, a long ton is 2,240 pounds; a metric ton equals 1,000 kilograms. In most countries, oil and petroleum products are sold by weight instead of liquids quantities, e.g., a ton of oil is the equivalent of 6.8 to 8.5 barrels of oil, depending on temperature, specific gravity and other physical factors.

    Toughness - A measure of the ability of a sample to absorb mechanical energy without breaking, usually defined as the area underneath a stress-strain curve.

    Turnaround - A period of brisk activity at a refinery or plant when processing units, or portions of them, are shut down for scheduled maintenance or the installation of new equipment and systems.

    Upstream - A relative term which locates one point closer to origins than another. Crude distillation lies upstream of conversion processing, for example. The opposite of downstream.

    Vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) - A colourless, flammable gas, used principally in making polyvinyl chloride.

    Viscoelasticity - This describes the properties of some liquids to show both viscous and elastic response to an applied stress and is commonly observed in melts of polymers, concentrated polymer solutions and concentrated colloidal dispersions.

    Viscosity - A measure of liquids' resistance to flow. The oil industry uses several measurements, including Saybolt, Redwood, Engler, and Kinematic, to report how fast crude or product moves, or should move, at specified temperatures. Since heavier hydrocarbon mixtures flow easier when heated, any meaningful viscosity specification must indicate a test temperature.

    Volume Minimums and Maximums - A primary component of any contract, the definition of the minimum and maximum quantity to be sold by seller and bought by buyer subject to the pricing terms (which may be fixed or freely negotiated). Equally important is the ratability of the sales/purchases, with contracts commonly stating volumes to be in roughly equal (+/- some percentage) quantities per month or quarter. Any volumes "released" by seller upon request by buyer are deducted from the periodic volume and cannot be called on at a later date unless agreed to by seller.

    Vulcanization - Crosslinking with heat and sulfur to toughen a polymer.

    Yield - The quantity and/or quality of derivatives a process can make, or actually makes, from a feedstock or raw material. The industry speaks of gasoline yields from crude; ethylene yields from naphtha, light products yields from cat cracking, and so forth.

    Yield Slate - The breakdown of various derivatives from processing a feedstock or raw material. Typical yield slates could list the quantities of various fuels made from a grade of crude in a certain type of refinery, or basic petrochemicals from steam cracking a particular ethylene feedstock.

    Wellhead - The top of, or a structure built over, a well.

    White Paper - A White Paper is traditionally used by the European Commission to launch a dialogue on new policy initiatives in a specific area. It contains concrete suggestions for the future, where appropriate for changing existing legislation or introducing new legislation. As such, a White Paper creates no legal obligations. Following the dialogue, the Commission develops specific proposals for legislation.

    Zeolite - A class of minerals that are 'hydrated aluminosilicates'. Zeolites are extremely porous materials, with a regular internal structure of cavities of defined size and shape.

    Ziegler/Natta Catalyst - A type of catalyst produces polymer having relatively narrow MWD.