This week's world news
01 September 2008 00:00 [Source: ICB]
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US-based Blue Island Phenol has declared force majeure on all phenol and acetone shipments from its Blue Island, Illinois, plant after a fire. A fire occurred in the oxidizer units on August 24, probably caused by a power failure from electrical storms, a company spokesman said. One employee was sent to the hospital for chemical burns. Blue Island Phenol produces 59m lbs (26,800 tonnes)/year of acetone and 95m lbs/year of phenol.
Ashland expresses regret over accident
Germany-based specialty chemical firm Ashland-Sudchemie-Kernfest (ASK) said it regrets a chemical accident at its site near Dusseldorf, Germany, that injured 53 people last week, and was relieved injuries were not more serious. All injured, who suffered skin, eye and respiratory problems, have been discharged from hospital. The accident last Monday at ASK's facility in Wulfrath came after the release of about 300 liters of a preparation containing the chemical dicyclopentadiene.
ZAP revises up full-year forecasts
Polish fertilizer firm Zaklady Azotowe Pulawy (ZAP) cited "remarkable fertilizer price increases" in revising upwards its forecast net profit for the 2008 fiscal year. It now expects to post full-year earnings of zlotych (Zl) 330.8m ($145.7m, €99.6m), rather than the target of Zl299m announced in April, which would be an improvement of around three times on the net profit recorded for the 2007 fiscal year.
Toray mulls capacity increase
Japanese chemical producer Toray Industries plans to increase the capacity of engineering plastic compounds at its Thailand-based subsidiary Thai Toray Synthetics (TTS) in Bangkok. "It's still a conception," said a spokesman, adding that TTS planned to eventually double the capacity of the 15,000 tonne/year plant. TTS is also mulling installing an additional compounding unit at the Bangkok site to increase the supply of resin compounds such as nylon and polybutylene terephthalate (PBT).
Alberta's royalties positive for chemicals
A decision by Alberta's provincial government in Canada to take bitumen as a royalty-in-kind instead of cash is positive for the province's chemical sector, said Dorothy Golosinski, a Calgary-based spokeswoman for midstream gas processor Aux Sable. The move, aimed at ensuring that more of the upgrading of Alberta's heavy oil sands crude takes place in the province rather than at US refineries, could result in more opportunities to glean ethane-rich offgases from upgrading processes and convert them to petrochemical feedstock.
Dow reduces LLDPE production in Spain
US-based Dow Chemical has reduced linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) production at Tarragona, Spain, due to an unplanned cracker outage at the site, which led to a declaration of force majeure on ethylene and propylene, said a company source. "We are having to run our trains at reduced rates at the moment. C6 in particular will be tight, but some stock has been built up over summer and we don't expect any major supply problems," said the source.
Synthos eyes Europe rubber rivals
Polish chemical firm Synthos is targeting the acquisition of a solution styrene-butadiene rubber (S-SBR) production facility in Western Europe. Synthos declined to name the target, but Tomasz Kasowicz, an analyst at Austria's Erste Group Bank, said it was most likely a 40,000 tonne/year unit in Bassens, Bordeaux, France, operated by French tire maker Michelin. Alternatively, it could be a 60,000 tonne/year unit in Schkopau, Germany, owned by US-based Dow Chemical, he added. Kasowicz said, adding that he expected Synthos to pay out around €60m ($88.3m) for an acquisition.
DSM to close China citric acid plant
Netherlands-based chemical maker DSM will close its citric acid plant in Wuxi, China, in the first quarter of 2009, following a request from the local government, which needs the site for urban development. DSM will receive compensation from the Wuxi government and does not expect to record a loss from the closure. The company will not rebuild the plant elsewhere, mainly because of structural overcapacity in the market.
IPCC pushes back ethylene cargo dates
Iran Petrochemical Commercial Co. has revised the loading dates for its ethylene (C2) tender cargo for a second time, to September 19-20 due to vessel delays, a source close to the commercial arm of state-owned National Petrochemical Co. said. The 4,500-tonne cargo was earlier expected to be loaded from Assaluyeh and/or Bandar Imam Khomeini during September 1-2, but this was initially pushed back to around mid-September due to congestion at the last discharge port of the vessel.
DSM Nanjing restarts caprolactam unit
China's DSM Nanjing Chemical restarted its caprolactam (capro) unit on August 28, after completing a month-long debottlenecking exercise and turnaround, sellers and buyers said. The plant, in Jiangsu province, was shut down for expansion to 160,000 tonnes/year from 140,000 tonnes/year, and also underwent routine maintenance.
Cognis H1 profit plunges 49%
Germany-based specialty chemical firm Cognis reported a 49% drop in first-half net profit before exceptional items, to €19m ($28m), due to rising raw material, transportation and energy costs, and unfavorable exchange rates. Net sales increased by 7%, to €1.53bn, driven by all three major business segments. "Cognis continues to improve its efficiency, and sees the necessity to further increase its prices in the light of high raw material costs and the weak US dollar," said CEO Antonio Trius.
Borealis, MCC step up PP compound supply
Global plastics firm Borealis and affiliates of Japan's Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. have signed manufacturing and supply agreements to improve the delivery of polypropylene (PP) compounds to the automotive industry in Europe and the US. Borealis and its US subsidiary, Borealis Compounds, will use its proprietary Borstar technology to manufacture the products locally using a formula developed by Mitsubishi Chemical Europe, and licensed by Japan Polypropylene.
DC Chem extends shutdown at two PA lines
South Korea's DC Chem has extended a shutdown at two of its three phthalic anhydride (PA) lines due to poor economics, a company source confirmed. The No. 1 and No. 2 lines in Pohang, which have a combined nameplate capacity of 40,000 tonnes/year, were still shut following a turnaround in mid-July due to weak demand. "We have enough inventories to supply our customers," said the source, who confirmed that its 40,000 tonne/year No. 3 line at the same site was running normally.
Yishuo starts pipe production
China's Yishuo Plastics has started producing high-quality polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe products since it commenced operations of its first unit in mid-August, said a company source. Based in Hubei province, the PVC/polyethylene (PE) pipe producer invested yuan 70m ($10.2m) to build a plant including four lines of PVC pipe and three lines of PE pipe which can produce 15,000 tonnes/year of material in total.
Formosa plans turnaround
Taiwan's largest chlor-alkali producer, Formosa Plastics, plans to shut down its units in Mailiao for a turnaround starting in early September. The company will shut down its 800,000 tonne/year vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) unit and 790,000 tonne/year caustic soda plant for three weeks. There are also plans to shut down the 450,000 tonne/year polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant at the same site, but the company had yet to decide on the length of the turnaround.
Pertamina shuts down Cilacap slack wax unit
Indonesian oil and gas major Pertamina has shut down its 2,100 tonne/month slack wax unit in Cilacap for repairs, due to problems in its filter. There were problems in filtering crude oil during slack wax production, and it was not known when the hitch would be resolved. Slack wax, a feedstock for paraffin wax, is solvent-refined to produce fully refined paraffin wax with around 0.5% oil content, and semirefined grades of 0.5-1.5%.
Hanwha Chemical to ramp up EVA
Korea's Hanwha Chemical has begun trial production of ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) with 33% VA content at its 70,000 tonne/year plant at Ulsan, due to strong demand, a company official said. "We have been manufacturing EVA with 33% vinyl acetate content for the hotmelt adhesives and wire and cable sectors for the domestic market, and we are now testing this grade for application in the solar panel sector," he said. "Test samples would be available for export [in September]."
PotashCorp's Allan plant up and running
Canadian fertilizer firm Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (PotashCorp) has consolidated its nonstriking employees at three of its plants to reopen a site in Allan, Canada. The company brought in employees from facilities in Patience Lake and Cory to help run its 2m tonne/year plant in Allan, spokeswoman Rhonda Speiss said. Most of the workers now operating Allan are in management, she added. Workers have been striking at the three potash fertilizer plants since August 7.
Argentine chemicals see positive second half
Argentina's chemical industry is expected to see continued growth in the second half of 2008, said Jose Maria Fumagalli, executive director of the local Chemical and Petrochemical Industry Association. "Chemical companies in Argentina are foreseeing a positive scenario for the second part of the year, since general internal demand continues in ascent," he said. Chemical production rose by 3.5% in the first half, year on year.
20 killed in Guangzi chemical blast
Tweny people were killed and 60 injured in an explosion at a chemical plant in China's Guangxi province last week. Eighteen people were still reported missing. The plant, owned by Guangxi Guangwei Chemical Industry in Yizhou, produces polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH), calcium carbide and vinyl acetate monomer (VAM).
Dalian Port plans $37m oil terminal
Chinese terminal and logistics firm Dalian Port has entered into a joint venture with PetroChina International Dalian (a port-managing subsidiary of Chinese oil major PetroChina) to build a yuan 250m ($36.5m) oil terminal with berthing capacity of 300,000 tonnes of crude oil, in Xingang.
venezuela to spend $950m on petchems
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has approved an additional $950m (€646m) for the development of the national petrochemical industry. "We are in second place after Brazil, but by 2013, we'll be the first," he said in a state media broadcast. "We'll be one of the most powerful petrochemical nations in the world."
HIP Petrohemija boosts polymer capacity
Serbia-based producer HIP Petrohemija plans to expand capacity for low density polyethylene (LDPE) by 20% to about 70,000 tonnes/year and high density polyethylene (HDPE) by 30% to just over 90,000 tonnes/year. The company also plans to build a polypropylene (PP) plant.
Hanergy plans 7.2m t/yr methanol plant
China's Hanergy Holdings Group plans to build a 7.2m tonne/year coal-based methanol complex for yuan (CNY) 38.5bn ($5.62bn) in collaboration with the government of Shuangyashan city in Northeastern Heilongjiang province. The project will be undertaken in two phases, with construction of a 1.2m tonne/year plant to commence at the end of this year. In the second phase, Hanergy will build a 6m tonne/year facility.
Mitsui builds CO2-based methanol line
Japan's Mitsui Chemicals is building a yen 1.5bn ($13.6m), 100 tonne/year pilot plant at its Osaka facility to produce methanol from carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by other units at the site. The plant is expected to be completed by February 2009 and fully operational by March 2010.
Dow Reichhold will close by year end
US-based specialty latex producer Dow Reichhold is to cease all business by the end of the year. "The joint venture [JV] is no longer strategic for the two parent companies," said spokesman Mike Crisp. He also cited market conditions. Formed in 2002, the specialty latex company is a 50:50 JV between Dow Chemical and advanced polymers company Reichhold, both US. The JV, which employs 203 people, plans to sell certain business assets and permanently close all its facilities.
Chevron to build US base oil plant
US oil major Chevron plans to build a 25,000 bbl/day premium base oil plant adjacent to its 330,000 bbl/day refinery in Pascagoula, Mississippi, to meet rising demand. The company has submitted an environmental permit application. Construction is expected to start in 2009 and be completed in 2011.
US chemical safety board to expand
The US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) plans to open its first regional office in Denver, Colorado, early next year and perhaps add an additional investigative field office in Houston, Texas, in 2010. Chairman and CEO John Bresland said CSB would ask Congress for additional funding for fiscal year 2010 to support the new operations.
DC Chemical bags polysilicon contract
South Korea's DC Chemical has secured a contract worth won 169bn ($159m) to supply polysilicon to Taiwanese solar cell manufacturer Motech Industries from 2010-2016. The company also recently secured a won 290bn contract with Taiwanese electronic materials supplier Wafer Works.
Zhongtu Chemical to add resin capacity
China-based Zhongtu Chemical (Shanghai) is to build a 9,000 tonne/year polyamide resins plant and a 5,400 tonne/year epoxy resins facility and to expand its other units at a cost of $30m (€20m). Construction will begin later in 2008.
Blast shuts Chemtrade sulFuric acid plant
Canadian sulfuric acid producer Chemtrade Logistics closed down its plant in Beaumont, Texas, US, on August 21 following an explosion in its furnace. Two workers were injured.
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