08 October 2007 00:00 [Source: ICB]
DuPont: diversity key to Alternative fuels
DuPont believes a diversified approach to making alternative fuels will be needed in order to meet growing demand for energy around the world. The need for alternative fuels is clear, but it will take many different technologies to meet demand, said DuPont official Russ Sanders. DuPont is investing in technology to improve corn yield and to convert cellulosic feedstock into biofuel.
Cie looks to Latin America for biofuels
Spain's Cie Automotive will continue to look to Latin America for strategic biofuel acquisitions. On September 29, Cie bought 51% of Guatemalan biodiesel supplier Biocombustibles de Guatemala for €2.3m ($3.2m). "This is going to be the star plant for making biodiesel," said a company spokesman.
HSBC ups outlook for NOVA chemicals
HSBC has raised its share price and profit targets for Canada's NOVA Chemicals in view of its lower cost base and improved prospects in its STYRENIX business. HSBC upped its 2007 earnings per share forecast for NOVA to $3.20 (€2.26), from $2.75, and its target price for the shares to $40, from $37.
BASF restarts Shanghai TDI plant
German chemical major BASF restarted its 160,000 tonne/year toluene di-isocyanate (TDI) plant in Shanghai, China, at the end of September after a four-week turnaround. The joint venture TDI plant, operated by Shanghai BASF Polyurethane, was shut on September 1.
RPM fiscal Q1 profit up 11%
RPM International reported an 11% increase in its fiscal first-quarter (ended August) net income, to $68.3m (€48.4m), on 10% higher sales of $930m. RPM's industrial segment recorded an 8.5% increase in earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), to $80.3m, while the consumer segment recorded a 4.4% rise in EBIT, to $43.8m.
FBI says terrorists target chemical plants
Terrorists are interested in, and are looking at ways to attack US chemical plants with the aim of causing mass casualties, according to Gordon Fuller, supervising intelligence analyst in the Fedral Bureau of Investigation (FBI)'s weapons of mass destruction directorate. "Terrorist groups have said as much, that they want to attack chemical plants, and we have to take them at their word," he said.
Serbia's petrochemical privatization stalled
Further substantial delays could hit the privatization of Serbia's NIS, parent company of petrochemical producer HIP Petrohemija, said a source at Belgrade's Privatisation Agency. Parties in the coalition government were unlikely to agree on whether to sell 25%, or to offer 50% in order to obtain a better price, the source said. NIS is valued by analysts at around €850m ($1.2bn).
Mitsubishi plans new MX plant
Japan's Mitsubishi Gas Chemical plans to build a new yen (Y) 5bn-10bn ($43m-86m, €30m-€61m) unit producing 70,000 tonnes/year of metaxylene at its facility in Mizushima. The unit is expected to start commercial production in November 2009 and would raise the company's total metaxylene capacity to 220,000 tonnes/year.
US positive on ethanol goals
Acting agriculture secretary Chuck Conner acknowledged the challenges of reaching a goal of 36bn gals/year (136bn liters/year) of biofuels production in the US, but assured the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) that the department was working to overcome the hurdles. More than 1bn gals of new ethanol capacity and 15 plants came online in 2006, Conner said. However, just since March this year, more than 1.2bn gals/year of new ethanol capacity has come online.
EC clears Wacker-Schott Solar venture
The European Commission has cleared the proposed joint venture between German chemical maker Wacker and Schott Solar to develop, make and sell crystalline solar wafers. Wacker will supply the polysilicon, which is an important raw material for solar wafers.
Carboclor stays on selling block
Uruguay's Ancap is still seeking a buyer for Argentina's aromatic solvents producer Carboclor, after its deal with Ketsal fell through, a source said. According to a Carboclor spokesperson, the negotiations were called off and controlling shareholders have not yet decided whether or not to sell the company.
Cytec may get back on M&A trail in 2008
Cytec Industries could be back on the acquisition trail in 2008. "This year, we've taken an M&A [mergers and acquisitions] vacation, but in 2008, we will be open to ideas," said CEO David Lilley at CIBC World Markets' 2nd Annual Industrials Conference in New York. Cytec will most likely seek deals in coating chemicals, or surface specialties.
US Congress may alter new security law
Democrats in Congress could substantially change new chemical site security regulations now being implemented, said Jennifer Gibson, vice president for government and public affairs at the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD). "In the House, there is legislation that would eliminate the current law's preemption of state legislation, considerably weaken information safeguards for plant security data and allow private party lawsuits to drive security enforcement," she said.
Georgia Gulf to consolidate plants
Georgia Gulf will close a cellular extrusion operation and a patio door fabrication facility in Woodridge, Canada. The patio door plant will be consolidated with a plant in Montreal, Canada. The cellular trim plant will be consolidated into a similar one in Marion, Virginia, US.
Vopak to expand Zhangjiagang terminal
Vopak, the world's largest oil and chemical storage provider, plans to expand its Zhangjiagang terminal in China, while evaluating other expansions and new builds in other parts of the country. Vopak's 125,000m3 (4.4m ft3) Zhangjiagang terminal, which started operations this July, will be expanded by 75,000m3 by early 2009, Vopak chairman John Paul Broeders said at the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) conference.
US agency investigates power plant fire
The Chemical Safety Board has sent an investigator to review a fatal fire at an Xcel Energy power plant in Georgetown, Colorado. Last week, five contractors involved in a chemical fire at an Xcel Energy hydroelectric facility died. Contractors were applying an epoxy coating to the inside of a penstock.
Reliance to expand cracker capacity
Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) is looking at increasing the ethylene capacity at its $3bn (€2.1bn) cracker project in Jamnagar, Gujarat state, India, to as much as 1.6m tonnes/year, from 1.3m tonnes/year by 2010-2011, sources close to the project said. "The extra 300,000 tonnes/year of ethylene will be obtained by extracting it from the off gases before the feedstock enters the cracking furnace," one of the sources said at EPCA.
Sonoco acquires Caraustar plants
US packager Sonoco has acquired the industrial plastic carriers and fiber container assets of Caraustar Industries, for an undisclosed sum. The assets include six plants in the US, employing some 260 workers, with expected annual sales of about $50m (€36m). The operations produce injection-molded and extruded plastic converting cores, thread carriers, film packaging, carpet carriers, and adhesives and sealants.
India considers jump-starting ethanol
The Indian government has proposed a shift in the ethanol sector to facilitate a jump in its production on a sustained basis. The central minister for agriculture and food, Sharad Pawar, asked the state governments to facilitate production of ethanol from sugarcane to tackle the glut in sugar production, which in 2007-2008 is projected at 29m tonnes, versus domestic demand of 19m tonnes.
Uralkali sets share price for London IPO
Russian potash fertilizer company Uralkali has set the price range for its initial public offering (IPO) on the London Stock Exchange at $2.80-$3.50/share (€1.99-2.49/share), local news agency Interfax reported. Uralkali could place about 10% of its shares in London, raising about $700m.
Fuller aims for 3-5% organic sales growth
US adhesive and paint company H.B. Fuller expects to achieve organic revenue growth of 3-5% on a compounded annual basis in a new set of five-year goals. Such growth from 2008-2012 excludes acquisitions, divestitures and foreign currency translations. Fuller expects earnings per share from continuing operations to grow by 10-15%.
Europe shipowners face lethal cocktail
High fuel and chartering levels, and a slump in Europe's freight demand has produced a potentially lethal combination for shipowners as the crucial contract negotiation period begins, said a broker at the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) meeting in Berlin. "At the moment, costs are very high and rates have been hit by a lack of volume. We need to get more volumes into the market to bolster the industry," he said.
Evonik to boost alkoxide capacity
Germany-based Evonik Industries (formerly Degussa) will build a 60,000 tonne/year alkoxide production facility at its Mobile, Alabama, site in the US, and a similar unit in Brazil. The Mobile facility is expected to come onstream in early 2009. A second facility in Brazil is scheduled to start operations in 2010. Alkoxides are used as catalysts in biodiesel production.
Radici and Lati form plastics venture
RadiciGroup Plastics and Lati Industria Termoplastica have signed a letter of intent to form a 50:50 joint venture to serve the Chinese engineering plastics market. The headquarters and production base will be in Suzhou, near Shanghai, manufacturing a range of engineering plastics for the East Asian market.
Azelis buys 49% stake in Marigold
Azelis has agreed to buy a 49% stake in India-based polymer and chemical distributor Marigold International. The move will provide Azelis with a platform for sourcing products for customers and give Western manufacturers a route to the growing India market. Azelis said it plans to eventually acquire all of Marigold and expand its operations into the coatings, food and personal care areas.
USP gives Dr. Reddy's verification mark
The US Pharmacopeia (USP) has awarded a specific verification mark to two active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) - ramipril and finasteride, manufactured by Hyderabad, India-based Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, the USP said at CPhI Worldwide 2007 in Milan, Italy. "The benefit of this to Dr. Reddy's is that USP can attest to the quality of their manufacturing processes," said Rich Wailes, USP vice president of sales and marketing. The USP pharmaceutical ingredient verification program is important for several reasons, he said. Many ingredients that go into the products that reach consumers seldom, if ever, receive inspections, even in developed countries.
BASF to invest €29m in coatings expansion
BASF Coatings is spending €29m ($41m) to expand its production and laboratory capacity for waterborne coatings at its plant in Wurzburg, Germany. BASF will also build a new polyurethane (PU) reactor to produce the resins used to make the coatings.
New US security rules may apply overseas
New US chemical plant security regulations may impose obligations on non-US companies at their foreign locations, said Dennis Deziel, deputy director for chemical security compliance at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The DHS may require background checks and other compliance measures of foreign personnel if they control cyber traffic, IT operations or product disposition at a "high-risk" US chemical facility.
Olin to temporarily shut down four plants
US chlorine and caustic soda producer Olin plans to shut down three plants for maintenance on October 8, while a fourth shutdown will follow later in the month. The longest will be a 10-day shutdown at Olin's McIntosh plant in Alabama, which is also the company's largest caustic soda facility, at 400,000 tonnes/year.
Jubilant to double SSP capacity
Indian fine chemicals major Jubilant Organosys plans to bring onstream a new superphosphate (SSP) plant by December 2007 or January 2008. "Our new 150,000tonne/year plant at Udaipur,in Rajasthan state, will double our existing capacity and greatly strengthen our agribusiness division," said Pankaj Kapoor, president of the company's acetyls, ethanol and specialty gases business.
Atul plans fine chemical expansions
Atul, the diversified Indian chemical major, is planning significant capacity expansions at one of its fine chemical plants. The company will expand capacity at its para cresol plant from 12,000 tonnes/year to 14,000 tonnes/year by February 2008. Atul is also evaluating an expansion of the plant to 18,000 tonnes/year or 22,000 tonnes/year in two to three years.
Iran Petrochemical Commercial Co. (IPCC) plans to commission the Kermanshah ammonia/urea project on November 11. The plant will have capacity of 660,000 tonnes/year of urea and 396,000 tonnes/year of ammonia, with 23,000-25,000 tonnes/year of extra ammonia for export.
ADM eyes acquisitions on ethanol slump
Archer Daniels Midland may seek to benefit from the current slump in ethanol by cheaply acquiring ethanol plants. "We will look at all opportunities, including acquisitions," said Doug Schmalz, senior vice president at a Citigroup investor conference in New York.
Russian investor and Birla eye Lenzing
Russian billionaire investor Andrej Kozitsy and India's conglomerate Aditya Birla Group are interested in acquiring Austria's fiber major Lenzing, according to reports by the Austrian media. Lenzing had no comment.
Sunoco declares force majeure on acetone
Sunoco has declared force majeure on acetone due to logistical problems in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US, said a source close to the situation at the European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) annual meeting in Berlin last week. Sunoco operates two acetone plants in Pennsylvania: a 125,000 tonne/year facility and a 185,000 tonne/year unit, said the source.
AOL's Sohar project nears completion
Aromatics Oman Ltd. (AOL) has achieved 33% completion at its aromatics project in Sohar, and expects to bring it onstream in the last quarter of 2009, sources close to the company said at EPCA. AOL is targeting most of its paraxylene (PX) exports to key destinations in China, South Korea and Taiwan. The project will produce 800,000 tonnes/year of PX and 200,000 tonnes/year of benzene.
Jubilant to extend reach to Brazil
Indian fine chemical major Jubilant Organosys is looking at a possible acquisition or greenfield project in Brazil for ethanol. "Such a move will provide us with good synergy in terms of both economics and regularity of feedstock supply," said Pankaj Kapoor, president of the acetyls, ethanol and specialty gases business, at EPCA.
Shchekinoazot to build methanol unit
Russia's Shchekinoazot will build its 450,000 tonne/year methanol unit in Shchekino, in the Tula region by the second half of 2009, a company source said at EPCA. The new plant, to be built with technology from Haldor Topsoe, will be located on the same site as the existing 360,000 tonne/year unit.
Basell's German cracker at full rates
Basell is running its 340,000 tonne/year Munchmunster cracker in Germany at full rates for the first time since an explosion at a derivatives unit at the same site in 2005, said a company source at EPCA. Expansion work due to start in early October at OMV's cracker in Burghausen, Germany, meant that higher operating rates were needed at the Munchmunster cracker to balance ethylene supply, said the source.
Furnace revamp in Shell hydrowax plan
Shell's decision to crack more hydrowax at its Moerdijk cracker, in the Netherlands, will involve a substantial revamp of two furnaces to deal with the heavier feed, Graham van't Hoff, vice president for base chemicals in Europe, said at EPCA. Shell is making "a significant investment" to strengthen integration between the Pernis refinery and Moerdijk chemical complex.
INEOS NOVA joint venture expanded
The INEOS NOVA joint venture (JV) has just been expanded to include NOVA's STYRENIX unit and other styrenic polymer assets, and is expected to post $3.8bn (€2.7bn) in annual revenues. The JV has sites in the US, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden.
The September 24, 2007 issue of ICIS Chemical Business incorrectly referred to the European petrochemical business of SABIC as "SABIC EuroPetrochemicals." In fact, the company is SABIC Europe and Boy Litjens is chairman and CEO of SABIC Europe.
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