22 October 2007 00:00 [Source: ICB]
Work starts on German pipeline
A joint venture of chemical firms started construction on a 60km (37 mile) propylene pipeline to connect chemical sites in Germany's northwest state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the state's government said. The €60m ($85m) pipeline would supply chemical sites at Marl, Gelsenkirchen, Oberhausen, Duisburg und Moers with propylene after completion in early 2009, said Christa Thoben, the state's economics minister.
Berlian Laju to buy Chembulk Tankers
Indonesian and Singaporean-listed Berlian Laju Tanker (BLT), a major tanker fleet owner in the Asia-Pacific region, will buy US-based Chembulk Tankers for $850m (€599m). "The acquisition will add 16 more chemical tankers to BLT's fleet (for a total of 54), making it the world's third-largest stainless steel chemical tanker operator in terms of capacity and number of ships," said BLT's finance director Kevin Wong.
Olin to sell metals division for $400m
Olin plans to sell its metal business to a subsidiary of Global Brass and Copper for $400m (€284m). The sale, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, includes all of Olin's worldwide metal operations, including its US manufacturing facilities in East Alton, Illinois Montpelier and Bryan, Ohio Waterbury, Connecticut and Cuba, Missouri, as well as its A.J. Oster metal service centers.
Abengoa opens $35m pilot ethanol plant
Spain's Abengoa Bioenergy has opened a $35m (€22m) pilot ethanol plant in Nebraska, US, for researching the conversion of lignocellulose into biofuel. Abengoa plans to process 700 tonnes/day of biomass at the plant, to produce 44m liters/year of ethanol, as well as other forms of renewable energy such as electricity and vapor. Meanwhile, the company also signed a collaboration agreement with the US Department of Energy worth $38m to design and develop the world's first commercial-scale biomass-into-ethanol plant in Kansas.
Camco to invest $150m in Mozambique plant
Central African Mining & Exploration (Camec) will invest $150m (€107m) in a biofuel plant in Mozambique. Construction is expected to start in 12 months and the plant is expected to be completed in two years. The company, which already has an agricultural trading business in Mozambique, is likely to produce ethanol from locally grown sugar cane.
Countries breach chemical safety law
A total of 12 countries are in breach of EU legislation for failing to draw up plans to deal with industrial accidents at chemical plants, said the European Commission. The Commission had sent final written warnings to the governments of Austria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.
US Democrats hail Gore's nobel prize
Major US congressional and environmental leaders have hailed Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize, saying the award should spur US action to enact "cap and trade" laws to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Representative Nancy Pelosi (Democrat, California), speaker of the House of Representatives, said the prize recognizes former vice president Gore's advocacy on the global warming issue and "removes any doubt that the climate crisis threatens our world and our children's future."
Amcor PET deal to add €500m to La Seda sales
La Seda de Barcelona (LSB) has signed a final agreement to buy Amcor PET Packaging Europe for about €430m ($611m). The deal will boost LSB's annual revenues by €500m to an estimated €2.1bn and add seven plants to its manufacturing base. Amcor makes 9m polyethylene terephthalate (PET) containers and bottles per year, controlling 13% of the European market.
European Commission cuts biofuel subsidies
The European Commission will reduce the subsidy paid to European farmers that encouraged them to grow crops for biofuels after more land was planted than expected. The energy crop premium, introduced in 2004 to encourage farmers to grow biofuel crops such as sugar beet, cereals and rapeseed has been, until now, worth €45/ha ($155/acre).
Thai Carbon Black to add new line
Thai Carbon Black will invest baht (Bt) 1.1bn ($35m, €24.6m) to add a sixth production line at its Angthong facility in December 2008. Carbon black capacity will be increased by 75,000-80,000 tonnes/year to 280,000-285,000 tonnes.
Lucite restarts Billingham MMA plant
Lucite's 200,000 tonne/year methyl methacrylate (MMA) plant at Billingham, UK, has been restarted successfully after several weeks of maintenance. The plant had been shut down at the close of the week ending September 21 for a projected two- to three-week maintenance period to rectify production issues first reported in July 2007.
Colombia to break ground on petchems
A group of twelve international companies expects to begin initial work in November on the site of a new petrochemical zone in Cartagena, Colombia. "We'll be signing the final contracts this week," said Angela Huzgame, economic coordinator for Acoplasticos, a national trade group that was heavily involved in developing the plan.
Petkim to be sold to new group
Ankara has decided to cancel the sale of its 51% stake in petrochemical major Petkim to a Kazakhstan-based consortium and will now sell to the second-highest bidder, Socar-Turcas-Injaz, for $2.04bn (€1.44bn), a source close to the sale process said. The bidder is a consortium of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (Socar), Turkish petroleum products distributor Turcas and Injaz, a Bahrain-based Saudi investment fund.
Surgutneftegaz abandons plans
Russian oil firm Surgutneftegaz has abandoned its plans to build a polymer production unit in western Siberia, due to the potential oversupply of polyethylene (PE). Instead, the company is considering building an ammonia and fertilizer complex, said a source. Surgutneftegaz originally revealed plans to build the complex in 2004 at an estimated cost of $750m (€528m).
Malaysia's biofuel plan hits rocky road
Malaysia's plan to implement a 5% biodiesel blend for its transportation sector has hit a snag. The government had planned to implement a policy requiring the country's vehicles to use palm olein-based biodiesel but major auto producers said this formula was unsuitable for engines of most of the country's commercial vehicles.
Ancom chemical unit for sale
Malaysia's largest agricultural chemical company, Ancom, plans to sell its industrial chemicals business if the right offer comes along, said a company spokesman. "We are not in a hurry to sell. We will sell only if the price is right," he said. The company's industrial chemical business belongs to its listed unit Nylex, which produces polyvinyl chloride (PVC) leather cloth, films and sheets, geosynthetics and rotational-molded products.
Celanese delays acetic acid restart
Celanese will postpone the restart of its 500,000 tonne/year acetic acid plant at Pulau Sakra, Singapore, to late October after a failed restart on October 13, a source close to the company said. The plant was shut on October 3 due to feedstock carbon monoxide supply issues, which had also caused a prolonged outage in August. Orders were filled from a plant in China, one customer told ICIS.
Sinofert buys stake in Qinghai Potash
Chinese fertilizer major Sinofert will buy a stake in Qinghai Salt Lake Potash for yuan (CNY) 6.7bn ($892.1m, €627.7m), making it the country's biggest potash fertilizer producer. Sinochem will sell its 18.49% stake in Qinghai to Sinofert.
Lonza lifts PIA force majeure
Lonza lifted the force majeure at its purified isophtalic acid plant in Singapore last week. "The critical equipment in the plant at Jurong Island, which was the root of the force majeure is operating normally. The facility is running at full capacity for now," an executive said. Technical issues caused the shut down in September.
RFA president blasts biofuel critics
Recent criticism of bioethanol is based on hysteria and unfounded fears meant to impede the global movement toward renewable energy sources, said Bob Dinneen, president of the US' Renewable Fuels Association (RFA).
"The insidious campaign being waged today has very little to do with the feedstock for ethanol and a great deal to do with the loss of petro-leum market share that will occur if we are successful" in bringing cost-effective cellulosic ethanol to the fuels marketplace, he said.
Methanol found in Indonesian liquor
The Australian government has warned travelers about the risks of imbibing alcohol in Indonesia, it said in an advisory updated last week. Some of the alcohol could be laced with methanol, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said in a statement. "Foreigners have died after consuming brand-name alcohol adulterated with methanol bought from black market traders," the DFAT warned.
Analysts downplay JM takeover rumors
Analysts said a bid for Johnson Matthey (JM) by Praxair was unlikely, as takeover speculation in the international media fueled a 10% jump in the company's shares. Citigroup said the niche nature of JM's businesses limited potential synergies for predators.
Marubeni sells stake in JG Summit
Japan's Marubeni has sold its 17.72% stake in Philippines-based JG Summit Petrochemical to JG Summit Holdings, making the polyolefins producer a wholly owned subsidiary of the latter. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. JG Summit Petrochemical produces high density polyethylene (HDPE), polypropylene (PP), and linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) at its plant in Batangas.
Japan crackers face heavy 2008 schedule
Japan's olefin supplies will tighten from late in the first quarter of 2008 as it undergoes at least seven naphtha cracker shutdowns, up from six this year, market sources said. Asia's largest olefins producer makes an estimated 7.7m tonnes/year of ethylene from 15 of its crackers. The schedule next year could be even heavier as Mitsui Chemical's 450,000 tonne/year Osaka cracker could also be shut down.
Sigma-Aldrich gets Halal certified
Sigma-Aldrich has introduced 350 halal-certified food-grade products into its aroma chemicals product line to better penetrate lucrative Middle East and Asian markets. The company also plans to add a large number of halal-certified products to its flavors and fragrances aroma offerings by the end of the year.
Natural fuel buys jatropha feed
Australian biodiesel producer Natural Fuel has signed a letter of intent to buy crude jatropha for its Singapore facility from GEM Biofuels. Natural Fuel could import up to 55% of GEM's crude jatropha oil production in Madagascar at $500/tonne FOB (free on board), it said.
Celanese jv expands US PPS plant
Fortron Industries, a joint venture created by Kureha and Ticona Engineering Polymers, a subsidiary of Celanese, has expanded a plant in Wilmington, North Carolina, US that makes linear polyphenylene sulfide (PPS). The plant, the world's largest for PPS, can now produce 15,000 tonnes/year, double its capacity in 2004.
BASF revives castor-based plastic
BASF is reintroducing its castor-oil-based polymer, Ultramid Balance, which was produced and marketed by the company 50 years ago. The polyamide 6,10 is made from up to 60% sebacic acid, a major chemical derivative of castor oil. "We have woken it up from a long sleep because the subject of renewable raw materials has become important to our customers," said Kurt Hoefli, head of marketing for BASF Engineering Plastics in Europe.
Primagra opens biodiesel plant
Czech firm Primagra has opened a koruny 100m ($5.1m, €3.6m) plant for production of biodiesel component rapeseed methylester. The unit in Milin, Central Bohemia, will initially target around 35,000 tonnes/year of output but will ramp up to around 70,000 tonnes/year.
Huntsman shareholders approve buyout deal
Shareholders of Huntsman voted to approve its $10.6bn (€7.4bn) merger agreement with Hexion Specialty Chemicals. The deal is pending regulatory approval in the US and Europe.
PPG buys coatings assets from CRC
PPG Industries has acquired a number of industrial coatings assets from Coatings Resource Corporation (CRC). CRC, based in Huntington Beach, California, US, supplies customized coatings solutions to plastics makers. The assets included inventory, accounts receivable, equipment, formulations and customer lists. CRC's plant at Huntington Beach will toll manufacture products for PPG.
Safic Alcan sets up units in Eastern Europe
Specialty chemicals distributor Safic Alcan has created two new companies in Poland and Romania to strengthen its presence in Eastern Europe. Warsaw-based SA Polska and SA Romania, based in Bucharest, will serve formulation industries such as rubber, adhesives and thermoplastics.
Jubilant profit up 61%
Jubilant Organosys reported a 60.5% year-on-year rise in operating profit for the second quarter at Indian rupees (Rs)1.5bn ($38.3m, €27m) due to continued strength in the pharmaceuticals and life sciences businesses. Jubilant's net sales grew 32.7% to Rs6.2bn.
Jamnagar project over 70% complete
India's Reliance Petroleum has achieved more than 70% progress in the completion of its refinery complex at Jamnagar in Gujarat state and the project is ahead of schedule, said chairman Mukesh Ambani. "The team is fully geared up and motivated to commission the refinery ahead of its initial schedule of December 2008," he said.
State phthalates ban draws fire from ACC
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger last week signed into law a bill banning the use of certain phthalates in all products "designed or intended by the manufacturer to facilitate sleep, relaxation, or the feeding of children, or to help children with sucking or teething." The law takes effect on January 1. American Chemistry Council President Jack Gerard expressed "deep regret" over the move, saying the ban "is the product of the politics of fear."
Chevron plans gasoline unit
Chevron plans to build a 600,000 gal/day (2.2m liter/day) gasoline production unit at its Pascagoula refinery in Mississippi, US, for $500m (€355m). Construction of the continuous catalyst regeneration (CCR) project is due to begin in early 2008, with completion expected by mid-2010. A replacement for two aging process units, the new unit will improve equipment reliability and utilization and allow the refinery to optimize product yields, said Chevron. Crude oil capacity at the 330,000 bbl/day refinery will remain the same, but gasoline production is expected to rise by 10%.
Grande Paroisse builds nitric acid unit in France
Total's fertilizer subsidiary Grande Paroisse has signed a €50.9m ($72.2m) order for the construction of a nitric acid plant, according to Chemoprojekt. The Czech engineering firm will build the 1,500 tonne/day plant, near Rouen in northern France. The facility will be one of the three largest nitric acid plants in the world.
Perstorp to acquire Solvay caprolactones
Sweden's Perstorp has agreed to acquire Caprolactones, a unit of the Belgian group Solvay, for undisclosed terms. The deal is expected to close before the end of the year. Perstorp plans a significant increase in the capacity of the unit.
Frutarom makes $67m german flavors buy
Israeli flavors and fragrances Frutarom has agreed to buy savory flavors maker Gewurzmuller and starter culture producer Blessing Biotech, together the Gewurzmuller Group, for $67m (€47m). The Gewurzmuller Group, which had sales of $65m in 2006, has two production sites in Stuttgart, Germany, and sales and marketing representatives in 12 countries. Ori Yehudai, president and CEO of the Frutarom Group, said the move "further establishes Frutarom's position as one of the 10 largest global leaders in the field of flavors Gewurzmuller's activity is especially synergetic and will be integrated with the successful activity of the German company Nesse, which was acquired by Frutarom at the beginning of 2006, and with Frutarom activity in Israel."
Russia's Titan eyes bioethanol projects
Russia's Titan Group is studying the feasibility of building bioethanol plants in the Krasnodar region of southern Russia, the company said. Titan tentatively plans a 150,000 tonne/year bioethanol facility in the Pavlovsky district and a 80,000 tonne/year plant in the Labinsky district at an estimated cost of nearly $800m (€562m). Both projects could be launched in the second quarter of 2008, with the plants expected onstream by 2010.
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