02 January 2012 00:00 [Source: ICB]
DOW CHEMICAL FORMS CARBON FIBER VENTURE
US-based Dow Chemical and Turkish acrylic fiber firm AKSA have agreed to form a joint venture for the production of carbon fiber and derivatives. The companies signed a "definite agreement" to form the joint venture after a memorandum of understanding between the firms in June. The joint venture expects to invest $1bn (€770m) within five years in the production of carbon fiber composites for the growing energy, transportation and infrastructure markets.
MERCOSUR MAY SLAP HIGH TARIFFS ON ASIAN CHEMS
Trade bloc Mercosur has approved measures to allow it to impose tariffs of 35% on up to 100 items in a move seen as intended to protect South America from cheap Asian imports of chemicals, textiles and capital goods, a report published in US-based Wall Street Journal said. Mercosur members include South America's largest economies, Brazil and Argentina, as well as Paraguay and Uruguay. Under the agreement, a Mercosur member can propose the tariff for the whole trade bloc. If no other country objects, the tariff will take effect. If approved, the tariffs will last until December 2014, the agreement said. The 35% rate is the maximum allowed by the World Trade Organization.
US VINYL SIDING DEMAND SET FOR RAPID GROWTH
Demand for vinyl house siding will grow rapidly in the US but remain a niche product outside North America, accounting for only a small portion of global siding, US market research firm The Freedonia Group said. The global siding market will grow by 4.8% per year to more than 5bn square meters and $87bn (€67bn) in 2015, the firm said. The fastest growing region will be North America as US demand rises rapidly with the nation's recovering housing market, while the Asia-Pacific market is also expected to make strong gains.
ARTLANT PTA PLANT TO BE ON STREAM BY FEB 2012
Portugal-based Artlant PTA's 700,000 tonne/year purified terephthalic acid (PTA) plant in Sines, Portugal, will have commercial product between the end of January and early February, according to a company source. "We are in production mode already," the source said. "Feedstock is on site... We would expect that, by February, product will be available to ... customers we have contracts with."
TOTAL TO BUY CRACKER STAKE FROM EXXONMOBIL
France-based Total has agreed to buy out US-based ExxonMobil's 35% stake in Europe's second-largest cracker complex, which is run by Fina Antwerp Olefins. Total has not revealed any financial details of the transaction, which is subject to approval by European competition authorities. The company owns 65% of the Antwerp, Belgium, complex, where Fina Antwerp Olefins has capacity to produce 1.4m tonnes/year of ethylene from three cracking units. Total uses some of the output from the complex for its Belgian polymer plants in Antwerp and Feluy. "The Antwerp platform ... also houses the refinery Total Raffinaderij Antwerpen and the polyethylene plant Total Petrochemicals Antwerpen," the company said.
BUSINESS CONFIDENCE UP IN GERMANY IN DECEMBER
Germany's business confidence improved in December after stabilizing in November, according to Germany-based research group Ifo institute. "The German economy seems to be successfully countering the downturn in western Europe," the institute said. "This bodes well for Christmas." Ifo said its monthly German business climate index stood at 107.2 points in December, up from 106.6 in November. The survey is based on about 7,000 responses from firms in manufacturing, construction, wholesaling and retailing. The improvement was driven by more positive assessments from firms in construction, retailing and wholesaling. The manufacturing climate index remained unchanged from November. Even so, "there is no question of a [manufacturing] meltdown comparable to that of 2008," Ifo said.
ARKEMA LIFTS ITS FORCE MAJEURE ON PVC SUPPLIES
France-based chemicals major Arkema lifted the force majeure on its polyvinyl chloride (PVC) supplies on December 19, a company source said. Arkema declared the force majeure in late November after strike-related shutdowns at its plants in Balan, Fos-sur-Mer, Lavera, St. Auban and Saint-Fons, as well as an outage at its Jarrie facilities caused by a chlorine leak associated with start-up problems after an earlier, unplanned shutdown in October. The strikes, organized as a protest against the firm's plans to divest its vinyls business, ended during the last week of November. The Jarrie facilities were restarted at the beginning of December.
TAIWAN'S NAN YA TO START UP PET PLANT IN FEBRUARY
Taiwan's Nan Ya Plastics will start up its polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle chip plant at Kunshan, China, in early February, just after the Lunar New Year holiday, a source close to the company said. The plant, in China's Suzhou province, has a nameplate capacity of 150,000 tonnes/year.
VAIDYA IS APPOINTED HEAD OF DUPONT SOUTH ASIA
US-based chemical firm DuPont has appointed Rajeev Vaidya as its South Asia president from December 15. Vaidya, who has been managing director of DuPont's chemicals and fluoroproducts in Asia, takes over from Balvinder Kalsi, who has transferred to DuPont's headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, US, to work on corporate strategy. In the six years under Kalsi's leadership, DuPont India tripled its sales revenues to nearly $1bn (€770m).
THREE FIRMS TO WITHDRAW FROM JAPAN VCM VENTURE
Three of the five chemical producers holding shares in Japan's Kashima Chlorine & Alkali and Kashima Vinyl Chloride Monomer (Kashima VCM) will withdraw from both joint ventures, the five companies said in a joint statement. The three leaving are Asahi Glass, Adeka and Kaneka. The two remaining are Shin-Etsu Chemical and Mitsubishi Chemical. Domestic demand for caustic soda, VCM and its polyvinyl chloride derivatives has been shrinking for the past 10 years, a source from Shin-Etsu Chemical said. After the three companies have withdrawn from the project, Shin-Etsu Chemical and Mitsubishi Chemical will both increase their stakes in the two joint ventures, which will become Shin-Etsu Chemical subsidiaries.
JIANGSU HENGLI RUNS PET UNIT AT 50% CAPACITY
China's Jiangsu Hengli Chemical Fibre is running its new 400,000 tonne/year polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle chip unit at Wujiang in Jiangsu at 50% capacity with no immediate plans to ramp up production, a company source said. The company started up the facility on December 2, the source said, adding: "We plan to keep the operating rate at around 50% for bottle chip production. The outlook for the PET market remains uncertain, as it is the traditional lull season."
EASTMAN STARTS BUILDING CHINA ACETATE TOW PLANT
US-based Eastman Chemical has broken ground for the construction of a 30,000 tonne/year acetate tow plant in China in a joint venture with China National Tobacco. The plant is expected to be operational in mid-2013. Acetate tow is used in the production of cigarette filters. Eastman did not disclose the cost of the plant.
TOSOH VCM LINES IN NANYO UNLIKELY TO RESTART SOON
Japan's Tosoh is unlikely to restart its three vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) lines at Nanyo in the near future, even though more than a month has passed since an explosion shut them, according to a company source. The facility consists of a 250,000 tonne/year No. 1 line, a 550,000 tonne/year No. 2 line and a 400,000 tonne/year No. 3 line. The explosion, on November 13, occurred at the No. 2 line. Before the source spoke, there had been expectations that the No. 1 line, the smallest of the three, could resume VCM production by the end of December or at some time in January.
TANGSHAN SANYOU PLANS SODA ASH START-UP IN 2012
China's Tangshan Sanyou Group is planning to start up a 1.1m tonne/year soda ash plant at Tangshan in Hebei province in the middle of 2012, according to a company source. The source said the company expects the plant, which is the first phase of a 2.6m tonne/year project, to be placed on stream at the end of June. "We have invested yuan (CNY) 2.3bn ($363m) on the first phase of the project and a total of CNY5bn on the 2.6m tonne/year project," the source said. Construction of the second phase, with a capacity of 1.5m tonnes/year, will be started after the first phase goes into operation, but no dates have been confirmed. Tangshan Sanyou's soda ash capacity will total 5m tonnes/year after the entire project is in operation.
For the latest chemical news, data and analysis that directly impacts your business sign up for a free trial to ICIS news - the breaking online news service for the global chemical industry.
Get the facts and analysis behind the headlines from our market leading weekly magazine: sign up to a free trial to ICIS Chemical Business.
Sample issue >>
My Account/Renew >>
Register for online access >>
|ICIS Top 100 Chemical Companies|
|Download the listing here >>|