New chemical fibers production to solve problem of raw materials shortage in Russian nonwovens industry

By Eugene Gerden, Contributor | March 6, 2012

New chemical fibers production to solve problem of raw materials shortage in Russian nonwovens industry

The Russian government plans to solve the problem concerning the shortage of raw materials for the domestic textile and nonwovens industry in the coming years through the construction of a new large plant for the production of synthetic fibers and filaments in the Ivanovo region.  The new plant is expected to start up some time in 2013 and will be located on the territory of the Ivanovo region, the center of Russia’s textile and light industry production.

The implementation of the project will occur, as part of the already existing state strategy known as “For the Development of Light Industry in Russia until 2020.”  The  total cost of the project, which will create more than 2000 new jobs, is estimated at more than 8 billion rubles or $240 million.

According to state plans, the construction of the plant will ensure the establishment of a new textile cluster in Russia, which is expected to be comprised of several producers. The manufacturers will specialize in the manufacture of innovative products for  special purpose and industrial use with the use of polyester fibers and yarns.

Russian analysts believe that the project is of great importance for Russia, taking into account that, according to forecasts of the country’s Ministry of Industry and Trade, the demand of in chemical fibers among the Russian textile and nonwovens enterprises is expected to reach more than 600,000 tons by 2015. At the same time the current per capita production of chemical fibers in Russia is estimated at less than one kilogram per person compared to six kilograms for every European.

Paul Konkov, First Deputy Prime Minister of the government of the Ivanovo Region, comments:  “The global demand for chemical fibers is steadily growing. Currently the annual global production of cotton fibers and polyester fibers is estimated at about 27 million tons and 50 million tons respectively, however the Russia share of these volumes remains insignificant. One of the main goals for the construction of the new complex is to restrict imports of raw materials for the domestic textile and nonwovens industry, thus strengthening the economic stability of Russia.”

The implementation of the project will be performed by specially established  “Ivregionsintez”  Textile Cluster Corporation in cooperation with the German engineering firms EPC Engineering Consulting GmbH and Textima Export Import Gmbh companies, which are currently conducting pre-study and design works for the project.

The Russian government believes that successful implementation of the project will allow Russia to reach Soviet figures of chemical fibers production in due course.

The USSR was one of the world's largest producers of chemical fibers in the past, with the annual volume of production more than one million tons, representing 9% of world production in 1990.

According to plans of the Soviet government, by 2000 these figures should be increased to three million, however due to the collapse of the USSR in 1990, these plans were never implemented. At present, the share of all the former Soviet states in the global market of chemical fibers is estimated at no more than 1%.

Current conditions
The annual volume of production of chemical fibers and manmade yarns in Russia is currently

Workers at a Russian nonwovens factory
in the Ivanovo region.
estimated at about 150,000 tons annually, while in neighboring Belarus the volume is 250,000 tons. The latter, until recently, was one of the leading European countries in terms of chemical
fibers and yarns production, however, due to the current financial crisis in the country, production volumes have dropped dramatically. The crisis has already resulted in suspension of a single production of viscose fibers in the CIS region, which was located in Belarus.

Back to the project, Russian analysts believe that the establishment of a large production facility will create an uninterrupted supply source of raw materials for many segments of the Russian textile industry and, in particular nonwovens, which is currently steadily growing.

The active development of the Russian nonwovens industry has started after the financial crisis and the following default of the Russian economy in 1998, which led to a strong increase in prices for nonwoven materials imported from Turkey, Poland and Germany. This, in turn, has resulted in an increase of demand for domestic production, and the following increase of local production by four times. In recent years, Hollowfiber has become the most popular type of nonwovens in Russia and was recognized as a well-known trademark by Russian Agency for Patents and Trademarks.

There is a possibility that future production of the new plant will be sold to Russia’s largest producers of nonwovens, as well as leading international companies, which have been successfully working on the Russian market in recent years, in particular, Freudenberg Politex.

Currently, the Italian company puts big hopes for Russia, considering it as one of the most promising regions for its further international development. This is reflected by Freudenberg’s latest plans to establish a new spunbond line for the production of polyester nonwoven fabrics for the construction market at its Russian plant in Nizhny Novgorod region. The volume of investments in the project is estimated at more than €20 million.

The new spunbond line, which is scheduled for launch in the first half of 2012, will make Freudenberg Politex Russia’s largest manufacturer of both standard and reinforced nonwoven materials for construction applications, using staple and spunbond technologies. The launch of the new line will allow the company to increase supplies of polyester spunbond on the Russian market up to 7000 tons, which will be sold as a base for bituminous roofing membranes and other applications for the construction industry.

This is expected to be the third production line, launched by the company at its Russian plant in the city of Zavolgie (Nizhny Novgorod region) since 2004. The first stage of the plant for the production of staple nonwovens for the roofing industry was launched by the company in September 12, 2006 and has the capacity to produce 11,000 tons of fabric per year. Total volume of investments amounted to more than 500 million rubles ($16,6 million).

In June 2010 Freudenberg Politex launched a second line at its Russian plant, for the production of nonwoven geotextiles, which are mainly used in road and hydraulic engineering. Total production capacity of the new line amounted to 3,000 tons per year.

At the same time there is a possibility that part of the production of the future plant will be supplied for the needs of Avgol Rus, the Russian subsidiary of Israeli firm Avgol Industries, which has been operating on the Russian market since June 2006.

Currently the Russian plant of Avgol is located in the Tula region (Central Russia), close to a facility for the production of baby diapers of Procter & Gamble, Avgol’s largest client.
According to Avgol Russia, up to 80% of total production of its Russian plant is supplied to the Russian market of sanitary-hygienic products, while its Russian range currently includes all the materials used to manufacture the covering layers of disposable diapers and sanitary pads.

Industry conditions
Currently the Russian nonwovens market is growing steadily , despite the unstable economic situation in the country.

At present nonwovens remains the most promising segment in the Russian textile industry. The production and consumption of nonwovens currently grows faster than fabrics and knitwear, partly due to the traditionally cold Russian climate, which stimulates the demand for warm clothing.

According to official data of the Russian Federal State Statistics Service, in recent years the Russian non-wovens production has significantly increased from 266.7 million square meters in 2008 up to 1.8 billion square meters in 2011.

Growth is expected to continue in the market on the heels of the the successful implementation of a new national strategy aimed at the development of the domestic nonwovens industry, which was recently approved by the Russian government.

Since 1990 the Russian nonwovens industry has been going through difficult times despite the ever growing consumption of nonwovens in Russia, mainly due to the fact that the Russian government has never considered nonwovens production as one of the priority areas for its further economic development.

Members of the Ivanovo government presenting plans
for the construction of Russia's largest synthetic fibers
production plant.
Among the main problems in the industry were the lack of a clear tariff and customs policy, the ever-growing volume of imports from abroad, low quality of domestic raw materials and the high share of the shadow market.

The implementation of the new strategy, which was developed with the participation of experts of the Russian Scientific-Research Institute of Nonwovens, Russia’s leading company, specializing in production and research activities in the field of nonwovens is expected to not only solve the above problems but to also create conditions for significant growth of domestic production of nonwovens to continue technical reequipment of the industry (where the share of manufacturing equipment with a service life of 10 years and more is about 70%) while expanding the production range of most of the domestic producers of nonwovens.

Total volume of investments in the project is estimated at 20 billion rubles ($600 million), of which 15 billion rubles will be invested in the upgrading of industry equipment and the adoption of new technologies.

The implementation of the new strategy is divided into three phases. According to state plans, by 2013-2014 several industry projects and programs are expected to be implemented on the basis of already existing scientific and technical reserves, which should improve the competitiveness of the Russian nonwovens products and to allow domestic enterprises to strengthen their position in the domestic and foreign markets.

The implementation of the strategy will allow to increase the total volume of nonwovens  to 1.2 billion square meters in 2020. In addition, it will create conditions for the reduction of imports, which are currently estimated at around 500-530 million square meters a year and a further increase of domestic consumption of nonwovens.

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