24 September 2007 00:00 [Source: ICB]
INEOS shelves cracker at Wilhelmshaven
Skyrocketing capital costs have forced INEOS to suspend its planned ethane cracker at Wilhelmshaven, in Germany. The cracker would have been the first new ethylene plant to have been built in Europe in years. Capital costs for the project had risen by more than 30% in the past 12 months alone, making the project unviable.
Hanwha chairman resigns from two units
Hanwha Group's recently convicted chairman, Kim Seung-yun, is vacating the CEO post from two of its six units. Within the next three months, he will step down as the CEO of Hanwha Engineering and Construction. Kim will still remain as chairman of Hanwha Group and CEO for the four remaining units. South Korean law stipulates that ex-convicts are not allowed to head companies that deal in gunpowder and construction.
Novasep to buy PharmaChem
Groupe Novasep is finalizing discussions to acquire Bahamas-based PharmaChem Technologies for an undisclosed sum. "Customers worldwide will now benefit from Novasep's top-notch R&D capabilities and innovative technologies, along with PharmaChem's ample manufacturing capacity to produce smart active pharmaceutical ingredients [APIs] and intermediates," said Novasep.
INEOS NOVA buys sterling rights
INEOS NOVA has agreed to buy the rights to Sterling Chemicals' entire styrene production capacity at its Texas City, US, plant for $60m (€43m) through 2017. In addition, INEOS NOVA will buy Sterling's styrene monomer railcar fleet. However, INEOS NOVA plans to shut down production at Sterling's plant as soon as this year, said NOVA CEO Jeffrey Lipton. "The entire industry has had a very tough time," he said.
PPG to sell fine chem business for $65m
US-based PPG Industries is selling its fine chemicals business to an Italian firm for $65m (€47m). The company, ZaCh System, is expected to complete the deal in the fourth quarter. ZaCh is a subsidiary of Zambon, a pharmaceutical and chemical company based in Milan, Italy.
Jubilant to supply pyridines to Syngenta
India's Jubilant Organosys has secured a "multimillion-dollar" five-year contract for the supply of pyridines to Swiss crop protection major Syngenta. Jubilant neither disclosed the total value of the contract, nor the quantity of pyridines to be supplied from early 2008.
Reliance maxes out PP production...
India's Reliance Industries said it will maximize production of propylene at all its sites to facilitate an increase in polypropylene (PP) output. With prices expected to remain firm in the coming year, Reliance said it would enhance production and supply of niche grades of PP, both in the domestic and overseas markets.
...And eyes more polyester acquisitions
Reliance Industries is set to acquire more polyester capacity at a low-cost in order to strengthen its position as the world's largest polyester producer. "We will endeavor to strengthen our global leadership position in polyester by building and acquiring new capacities at very competitive costs," said chairman Mukesh Ambani.
DuPont to invest $500m to boost Kevlar
DuPont plans to invest $500m (€360m) to expand capacity for its para-aramid fiber by 25% by 2010 to meet growing demand for the product, which is widely used in body armor. As a first step, DuPont will expand Kevlar capacity at a plant in Richmond, Virginia, US, later this year, with expansions at other facilities to be announced.
Eastman to sell Latin American PET plants
US-based Eastman Chemical is selling two polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plants, in Mexico and Argentina, to Mexican conglomerate ALFA for an undisclosed sum. The plants include Eastman's 150,000 tonne/year facility in Cosoleacaque, Mexico, and its 185,000 tonne/year line in Zarate, Argentina.
India's Alpha mulls Saudi plastic investment
India's Alpha Group has signed a memorandum of understanding with DevCorp International to conduct a feasibility study for setting up a plastics processing unit in Saudi Arabia. The cost of the project is expected to be around Indian rupees (Rs) 2bn ($49.6m, €35m) and the company aims to start commissioning the project in October 2008.
Repsol in force majeure at Tarragona
Spanish producer Repsol has declared force majeure on polyethylene (PE) supplies from its Tarragona unit after an upstream cracker issue. The declaration was announced last Wednesday and applies to both the 130,000 tonne/year low density polyethylene (LDPE) and 150,000 tonne/year high density polyethylene (HDPE) units.
Lanxess says Reach offers opportunity...
Germany-based Lanxess expects the cost for registering its chemicals with Reach to amount to around €200m ($279m) over the next 11 years, but the EU system will present opportunities at the same time, CEO Axel Heitmann said. "Lanxess has superior infrastructure and know-how to deal with such legislation," he said. "We can turn Reach into a competitive advantage."
...And earmarks €1bn for Asia-focused expansion
Lanxess will invest €1bn ($1.4bn) over the next three years to strengthen its businesses, with a focus on expanding in Asia. The company is also considering investing €400m in a new butyl rubber plant in Asia, said CEO Axel Heitmann. Should the project go ahead, Heitmann said it would go on stream in 2010 in either Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore.
India polymer buyers to get a tax refund
Polymer importers and end-users in India are expected to benefit from a refund of a special additional duty (SAD) currently levied on polymer and finished goods imports into the country. They will be eligible for a refund on the SAD, provided they furnish proof of sales and payment of a 4% value-added tax (VAT). The SAD is 4% of the countervailing duty, which is 16.48% of the total value.
Iran's Karun to export first TDI cargo
Iran's Karun Petrochemical plans to export its first toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) cargo in late October, a source close to the company said. "Its new 40,000 tonne/year TDI plant is starting up in the first half of October and production should stabilize in the second half of October," the source said. Output from the new TDI plant, Iran's first, will be exported to several markets, including India and China.
China Agri shelves ethanol plans
The country's largest fuel ethanol producer, China Agri-Industries, has shelved three projects with a total capacity of 700,000 tonnes/year in response to a government ban on the use of grain as a fuel feedstock. The company said it was unlikely to get government approvals for the Hong Kong dollars (HK$) 861.4m ($110.6m, €79.2m) projects, located in Hebei, Liaoning and Hubei provinces, following the ban.
IOI inks two palm oil JVs in Indonesia
Malaysian palm oil producer IOI has entered into two joint venture (JV) agreements to cultivate oil palm in Indonesia. It signed a deal with Ivygate International and Red Canyon Enterprise to acquire Singapore investment holding firms Lynwood Capital Resources and Oakridge, which collectively own 33% of Bumitama Gunajaya Agro, for $62.6m (€44.8m). The second JV deal with Goldharvest Group has IOI acquiring Oleander Resources for $20.3m.
Dow to buy Edulan
Dow Chemical will acquire Edulan, a Danish polyurethane (PU) systems company specializing in rigid foam and elastomer technologies, for an undisclosed sum. The deal will expand Dow Polyurethane Systems, a business unit within Dow Polyurethanes, and strengthen its presence in Northern Europe.
First lots of Iran PE arrive at Antwerp
The first quantities of linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) from Iran's National Petrochemical Co. (NPC) were arriving at its hub in Antwerp last week. "Volumes are small at the moment and will have no noticeable impact on the European LLDPE market," a source said. The next delivery of Iranian material via the Antwerp hub will be the high density polyethylene (HDPE) blow-molding grade, he said.
R&H UPS ion exchange resin capacity
Rohm and Haas is aiming to expand the capacity of its ion exchange resin facilities in China, Japan, the US and France by 15-20%. Investments across the network include capacity increases, new packing lines, development laboratories and process optimizations, company officials said.
Eastman Longview cracker back up early
Eastman Chemical has restarted ahead of schedule its Longview, Texas, US, plant that had been halted by a steam leak on September 12. "The cracking plant was restarted with quality output beginning early Saturday morning," Eastman spokesperson CeeGee McCord said. "This was over a day ahead of schedule and all derivatives have been restored to scheduled rates."
Samnam Petchem plans PTA/QTA shutdowns
Samnam Petrochemical has planned a series of shutdowns at its four purified terephthalic acid (PTA) lines in Korea between October and November. The company's No. 1 unit, which produces 300,000 tonnes/year of qualified terephthalic acid (QTA), will be shut at the tail end of October for about 10 days for maintenance. The No. 2 and No. 3 lines, which respectively produce 300,000 tonnes/year of PTA and 600,000 tonnes/year of QTA, will be shut for two weeks each in mid-October. Finally, the No. 4 500,000 tonne/year QTA facility will be down for seven to 10 days in mid-November and restart within about a month.
Citigroup ups Cosan on ethanol prospects
Citigroup has upgraded shares of Brazil's sugar and ethanol major Cosan to buy from hold on good longer-term prospects for ethanol, it said in a research note. While the short-term outlook would remain difficult due to weak commodity pricing, Cosan would benefit from longer-term price increases, Citigroup said in the note.
Argentina to import 500,000 tonnes of urea
Imports of urea fertilizer into Argentina will likely soar to 500,000 tonnes in 2007, according to an executive from Profertil, the largest domestic producer. Imports have boomed because Profertil lost around 270,000 tonnes of production at its Bahia Blanca plant due to government-enforced gas cutbacks. Around 300,000 tonnes are scheduled to arrive in September alone, the executive added. Only 40,000 tonnes were imported in 2006.
Petrobras in secondbase oils turnaround
Brazilian state oil company Petrobras will implement a second turnaround at its base oils plant at the Duque de Caxias refinery in Rio de Janeiro in mid-October. The one-month turnaround will complete maintenance that was postponed after an earlier stoppage in June and July was disrupted by a strike.
EC approves Univar buy
The European Commission has cleared the planned acquisition of chemical distributor Univar by private equity firm CVC Capital Partners. CVC announced in July it would acquire Univar in a deal worth €1.53bn ($2.12bn).
Finolex to belatedly resume full PVC output
India's Finolex Industries was set to resume full production at its 130,000 tonne/year polyvinyl chloride (PVC) unit at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra by September 21, three weeks later than originally scheduled. "We expect to have enough vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) feedstock by then to ramp up operating rates," a company source said.
CF Industries to buy 50% of Keytrade
US-based nitrogen and phosphate producer CF Industries has agreed to buy a 50% stake in global fertilizer trader Keytrade for Swiss francs (Swfr) 30m ($25.2m, €18.2m). The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year. Initially, CF Industries will work exclusively with Keytrade to export phosphate-based fertilizers and import urea ammonium nitrate (UAN) solutions.
UK Rexam's offer for Rostar rejected
UK packaging company Rexam's application to acquire Rostar, the Russian beverage can maker, has been rejected by the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS). The proposed acquisition was announced in early July. Rexam said the acquisition would give the company less than 15% of the Russian beverage container market.
Dow to start polyols expansion by 2008...
Dow Chemical will begin construction in early 2008 to increase capacity by nearly 50% at its 350,000 tonne/year polyols plant in Terneuzen, the Netherlands. Nameplate capacity will be increased by 180,000 tonnes/year. Raw material for the polyols will be sourced from the 300,000 tonne/year joint Dow and BASF hydrogen peroxide-to-propylene oxide facility currently under construction.
...As Terneuzen PE production reduced
Dow's polyethylene (PE) production at Terneuzen, in the Netherlands, was running at reduced rates after its No. 1 cracker remained out of action, a company source said. Dow's No. 1 ethylene cracker tripped on September 13 and was expected to be down for about 10 days. The 525,000 tonne/year cracker went off line because of a dip in power.
Poland's SK Chem to turn PET plant
Polish polyethylene terephthalate (PET) producer SK Chemicals has shut down its 120,000 tonne/year plant in Wloclawek for a 25-day planned maintenance turnaround, according to a company source. The source said customers were keen to pre-buy October volumes, but SK was not in a position to meet such requirements because of the turnaround.
Costs rise for Maaden and SABIC phosphate JV
The cost of a phosphate joint venture (JV) between Saudi Arabian Mining (Maaden) and SABIC has risen by 61.5% to Saudi riyals (SR) 21bn ($5.6bn, €4bn) on soaring construction prices. "The primary cause is the significant increase of the cost of construction in international markets," a Maaden spokesman told ICIS. Maaden and SABIC finalized the JV to create the world's largest fully integrated fertilizer operation on September 15.
Chemical accident kills three in Russia
Three workers died last Monday at a chemical firm in Ufa, the center of Russia's internal republic of Bashkortostan, the Ufa municipal administration said in a statement. The accident happened at NPO Tribonika, which produces lubricants. Preliminary investigations suggest that workers died following a leak of ammonia and chlorine. NPO Tribonika is a small firm, but Ufa is a center for Russia's petrochemical industry and home to sector major Ufaorgsintez.
ACC to target big-box retailers
The American Chemistry Council plans to target big-box retailers in its advocacy focus, said CEO Jack Gerard. Wal-Mart has voluntarily phased out certain plastic items such as vinyl baby bibs. "The power of big-box retailers can be so pervasive that it can have a greater impact than government," said Gerard. "These retailers are making decisions - not based on science, but on pressure from certain advocacy groups."
SP Chemicals to build China SM facility
SP Chemicals plans to invest yuan (CNY) 1.1bn ($146.3m, €105.5m) to manufacture 320,000 tonnes/year of styrene monomer (SM) at Taixing, in Jiangsu province. Construction is expected to commence in the third quarter of 2008 and be completed by the fourth quarter of 2009.
Celanese files patent infringement suit
A US district court judge scheduled a pretrial hearing for November 1,after US acetic acid producer Celanese filed suit against US product distributor Oxyde Chemicals for alleged patent violations. Celanese accuses Oxyde of importing acetic acid from a Chinese manufacturer, Jiangsu Sopo, made using Celanese's patented process.
Bayer to double China polycarbonate
Bayer MaterialScience plans to double its polycarbonate (PC) capacity in China by September 2008, said a source close to the company. Nameplate capacity at the plant in Caojing, eastern China, will be increased to 200,000 tonnes/year from the current 100,000 tonnes/year.
India's PVC demand to surge 15%
Demand for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in India is expected to grow by 15% to 1.4m tonnes in the fiscal year ending March 2008, from 1.2m tonnes the previous year, according to C. Paparao, senior executive vice president of Reliance Industries' PVC and polyethylene (PE) business. The growth drivers for PVC this year have been the construction sector and the water, sanitation and irrigation pipes segment.
S-Oil delays plan to up propylene output
S-Oil, South Korea's third-largest refiner, has shelved plans to double its propylene capacity to 400,000 tonnes/year by 2010, due to rising construction costs. The additional 200,000 tonnes of propylene capacity was to have come from a 65,000 bbl/day residual fluid catalytic cracker, to be built as part of a planned refinery complex in Daesan.
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