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christa.jpg (5628 bytes) Chemical Industry News Editor Christa Semko
Every two weeks, Christa will bring you the latest chemical industry news from around the world.  If you have a press release that you'd like to share with us, please mail it to us through our online contact form here.

Dateline: March 4, 2008

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North America

Business realignment

Dow Chemical Co. plans to realign a number of businesses to a newly created business group it is calling Dow Portfolio Optimization.  Each of the businesses within the new group has been earmarked for strategic evaluation in an effort to define how best to maximize the long-term value of each business to the company.  Options include realignment to other Dow businesses, joint ventures or divestitures.


Valero Energy Corp.’s board of directors has approved the company’s largest ever capital investment project, expanding its refinery in Port Arthur, Texas.  The expansion will involve the construction of a 50,000 barrel/day hydrocracker, a 45,000 barrel/day coker and revamps and expansions of numerous other units at the facility.  It is estimated that it will cost $2.4 billion, including interest and overhead.  The expansion is expected to increase the refinery’s overall capacity to 415,000 barrels/day.  The hydrocracker project should be finished in the fourth quarter of 2010 and the coker project by the second quarter of 2011.

Clean air violations

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached an agreement with Dow Corning Corp. on alleged clean air violations at two of its production processes in Michigan.  The EPA said the agreement includes a $95,000 penalty and resolves EPA allegations that Dow Corning failed to meet several conditions that restrict emissions of volatile organic compounds and particulate matter according to its state operating permit and state regulations.


Syngenta and DuPont have announced a global agreement that will provide DuPont’s Pioneer Hi-Bred business access to Syngenta’s insect control corn event, MIR162.  As part of the royalty-bearing agreement, Syngenta will grant Pioneer a non-exclusive, global license with stacking rights to MIR162.  MIR162 is currently in the regulatory review process in the U.S. and the major corn export markets and is expected to receive U.S. regulatory approval by the end of the year.  MIR162 protects corn above the ground by delivering high-level control of a broad spectrum of lepidopteran insects including fall army worms, corn ear worms, western bean and black cut worms and sugar can borers, all key pests in the U.S., Brazil and Argentina.


Distribution agreement

Sea-Land Chemical Company will distribute Air Products’ surfactants in an expanded territory for household, institutional and industrial cleaning and metalworking fluids markets in Washington, DC, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and locations in eastern Pennsylvania and New York.  Products included in the agreement are Tomado linear alcohol ethoxylate surfactants and Tomamine ether amine and amine derivative additives.

Drug promotion restrictions

The FDA is proposing guidelines that would allow pharmaceutical companies to alert doctors about medical or scientific journal articles that involve unapproved uses of a company’s prescription drug products.  Previously, drugmakers are prohibited from marketing products for uses that have not been cleared by the FDA as safe and effective.  That law expired on September 30, 2006, and the FDA made an exception that allowed companies to give physicians reprints of medical journal articles that provide information on unapproved uses.  Under new guidelines that are being proposed, the FDA would “officially” allow drugmakers to continue this practice provided they adhere to certain principles including coming from a peer-reviewed journal that has a conflict-of-interest disclosure policy.


LyondellBassel Industries has completed the acquisition of Solvay Engineered Polymers, Inc.  The company believes integrating the two businesses will provide its customers with a broader product portfolio and expanded support and application capabilities.


Emission reduction

Bion Environmental Technologies, Inc. has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a large dairy in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania to retrofit its existing dairy operation with a Bion Nutrient Management System that is designed to reduce ammonia emissions and nutrients in the effluent.  Initially, it will treat the manure from the main 1,400-head dairy barn, with follow-on expansions designed to capture the remaining manure from the milk house, heifers, dry cows, calves and potentially the manure from the co-located chicken facilities.


New Plant

Asahi Kasei Chemicals Corp. will build a 6-billion yen plant for producing lithium-ion battery separators in Hyuga, Japan.  The plant is scheduled to begin operations in 2010 with an annual output capacity of 20 million square meters.


A Polish graduate student lost both hands and an eye in a laboratory accident at the Military University of Technology in Warsaw, Poland.  The explosion did not cause a fire and no one else was hurt as a result of it.  The student was working on nano-structured explosive materials under the supervision of a University chemist.

Joint venture

Dana Gas and Emirates General Petroleum Corporation have agreed to establish a joint venture to own, manage and operate the Middle East’s first common user gas pipeline that is scheduled to be completed in March.  The two companies, along with the three end users (the Federal Electricity & Water Authority of the UAE, the Sharjah Electricity & Water Authority and Crescent Natural Gas Company Limited) signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the implementation and utilization of the pipeline in January 2006.


Antioxidant production expansion

Albemarle Corporation’s board of directors have approved a project to more than double the antioxidant production capacity of Shanghai Jinhai Albemarle Fine Chemicals Co., Ltd., part of a joint venture in which Albemarle gained a majority ownership stake last year.  The expansion will allow Jinhai Albemarle to maintain its market position as the leading manufacturer and supplier of polymer antioxidants in China.

Food technology center

Air Products has opened its Asia Food Technology Center in Bangkok, Thailand.  The Center has been established to provide innovative solutions and technical expertise to support the increasing demands from the growing Asian food market.  The Center showcases the company’s food preservation solutions and also includes other facilities like a laboratory kitchen and a cold storage room.


Expansion plans

Huntsman Corporation has commenced design and feasibility studies to increase its global capacity for the manufacture of methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) through investment in a new plant at its site in Rozenburg, the Netherlands.  A final investment decision is expected sometime this year, with the new 400,000 metric tons capacity unit starting up by mid-2011.  The final plan may also incorporate the closure of older, less efficient capacity in Europe            

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