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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: April 15, 2008

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North America

Air pollution

The dirty air in Houston, Texas has often been attributed to cars, trucks, ships and oil refineries.  Now, it is believed that sea salt is a part of the equation because of an intense chemical interaction of sea salt, sunlight and polluted air.  Sea salts, by contributing chlorine to the atmosphere, influence ozone formation, but could be vastly underestimated.  Ozone generally is formed during the daytime when nitrogen oxides react with other chemicals in the air.  However, after dark, without sunlight to stimulate the production of ozone, the nitrogen oxide compounds left over generally fall out of the atmosphere.  It is believed that the addition of aerosolized sea salts in the air binds up the nitrogen oxide, keeping them afloat and preserving them for the next dayís sunshine.


Agrium Inc. will buy a 70% interest in Common Market Fertilizers S.A.  The $66 million deal includes a $16 purchase price and working capital as $50.  Common Market Fertilizers has annual sales of more than $500 million.  The acquisition is planned as part of Agriumís global wholesale distribution strategy.  The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2008.

Chemical spill

Eastman Chemical Co.ís Kingsport, Tennessee facility had a minor chemical spill that resulted in no harm to the environment.  The spill was a result of one of the companyís vessels overheating.  To relieve the pressure, employees released about 160 gallons of DowTherm, which they sprayed with water to dilute the mixture that was ultimately washed into the Hoston River and dissipated.


W.R. Grace & Co. plans to settle thousands of asbestos-related personal injury claims that span a number of decades.  The settlement includes $250 million that will be put into a trust, deferred payments of $110 million/year for five years beginning in 2019 and $100 million/year for ten years beginning in 2024.


Monsanto Co. plans to invest up to $196 million during the next 18 months at a manufacturing facility in Luling, Louisiana.  The investment will be used to expand infrastructure and increase the plantís capacity to produce its herbicide products.  In addition, the expansion will include an energy-reduction project to reduce natural gas costs and conserve and utilize hydrogen, a byproduct from the manufacturing process.  Once completed, the investment should increase the facilityís capacity by 20%.


Weyerhaeuser Co. will stop operations indefinitely at its Structurwood-oriented strand board plant in Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan by early July.  The shutdown will affect 170 workers at the mill and is a result of challenges in the North American housing market.  The company is looking to bring its supply in line with current market demand.  The mill will be left in a state that operations could be resumed in the future if necessary or could be sold to interested parties.


GE Oil & Gas will establish its Americas regional headquarters at a new location in Houston, Texas.  The same location will also be the new business headquarters for VectoGray and PII Pipeline Solutions.  The site is currently under construction.  The move is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2009.


Petrochemical projects

Fujian Province plans to pour CNY 101 billion to build 36 large petrochemical projects in 2008.  The largest project as a part of this investment is a CNY 38.18 billion refinery and chemical integration project with an annual capacity of 12 million tons/year, 8 million of which is additional to current capacity.  In addition, the unit will have an annual production capacity of 800,000 tons of ethene and 700,000 tons of arene.

Specialty chemicals plant

BASF SE plans to set up a production site for specialty chemicals near Nanjing, China.  The facility will be located close to an existing steam cracker the company operates in partnership with China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (Sinopec).  BASF is considering operating the facility on its own.  The facility will produce substances like additives for detergents and motor oil beginning in 2011.


Rohm and Haas Co. has bought a controlling stake in Gracel Display Inc. for $40 million.  Gracel Display makes organic light-emitting diode materials used to make flat-panel televisions brighter and given them better clarity and contrast.


Takeda Pharmaceutical plans to spend $8.8 billion to acquire Millennium Pharmaceuticals in an effort to expand its worldwide position in the oncology drug market.  Millennium had revenues of $528 million in 2007.


Pipe systems

Future Pipe Industries Group (FPI) has won a contract to supply Fiberstrong fiberglass pipes and fittings for a project to expand the seawater cooling facility at Ras Laffan, Qatar.  The pipe and fittings orders are valued at more than $138 million.  The project is expected to be complete by the first half of 2010.

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