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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: January 6, 2009

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North America

Final Payment

Huntsman Corp. has received its final $425 million in payments from Hexion Specialty Chemicals Inc. This is the final installment of the $1 billion for terminating an earlier buyout deal. This closes the settlement sooner than originally anticipated.

Unit Idled

Equistar Chemicals, LP will temporarily idle its olefins unit at Chocolate Bayou, Texas, due to declining market and economic conditions. The olefins unit is expected to remain out of service until sufficient demand for petrochemical derivatives resumes. The plant has a capacity of 1.2 billion pound of ethylene/year and 725 million pounds of propylene/year.


Plant Idled

Westlake Chemicals Corp. is idling one of its ethylene plants in Lake Charles, Louisiana due to significant customer inventory destocking and weakened demand of the company’s derivative products. A maintenance turnaround scheduled for this plant for the first half of 2009 will be brought forward and performed during this down time.

Hoping to Keep Deal Alive

Dow Chemical is working to keep its $15 billion takeover of Rohm & Haas Co. alive after the unexpected end of its K-Dow Petrochemicals joint venture (see brief story in World news section of ChExpress). The move by Kuwait deprived Dow of about $9 billion in planned financing, but there is a possibility that Dow could tap a $13 billion bridge loan to pay for the Rohm & Haas acquisition.


Joint Venture

Eastman Chemical Co. and South Korea-based SK Chemicals Co. Ltd. are forming a joint venture to build a manufacturing plant that will produce cellulose acetate tow, a raw material used primarily in cigarette filters. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The new company will be named Eastman Fibers Korea Ltd. Eastman will have 80 percent ownership and will operate the company. SK will own the remainder and will be responsible for construction of the plant that will be located next to an existing SK Chemicals site in Ulsan, South Korea. Construction should begin in early 2009 and be finished by the second quarter of 2010. The plant is expected to produce about 27,000 metric tons of cellulose acetate tow/year.

Ethylene Plant

The Linde Group and Samsung Engineering, Korea have been awarded the contract to build a turnkey ethylene plant in Dahej, India. The plant has been commissioned by the Indian company OPAL. The contract is worth around 1.030 billion Euro in total. The plant will produce 1.1 million tons of ethylene, 400,000 tons of propylene, 150,000 tons of benzene and 115,000 tons of butadiene each year. These products are used as source materials in the plastics industry.

Economic Crisis Affects Joint Venture

The K-Dow Petrochemicals joint venture between Dow Chemical and Petrochemical Industries has fallen victim to the financial crisis and the collapse of oil prices. The Kuwaiti government has said it will back out of the venture in the face of opposition of Parliament.

Decision this Spring

The Hindustan Petroleum Corp. Ltd. and its partners, including Total S A of France, GAIL India Ltd., Oil India Ltd. and Mittal Energy Investments Pte Ltd., will decide in April or May on setting up a 14 – 15 million ton oil refinery cum petrochemical project in Visakhapatnam, India. The project may cost up to $10 billion; however, the group will carefully review the current financial environment and oil demand before moving forward with the project.

Sale Completed

Albemarle Corporation has completed the sale of its facility in Port de Bouc, France to Azur Chimie SAS, a wholly owned affiliate of International Chemical Investors Group (ICIG). The sale included the transfer of all equipment, buildings, land and certain other assets. Azue Chimie will toll manufacture certain products for Albemarle moving forward.

Potable Water

Palm Utilities, a subsidiary of Istithmar World PJSC, has recently commissioned the Sea Water Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) plant at the Crescent of Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Utilizing Ultra Filtration (UF) as the pre-treatment technology, the SWRO plant supplies drinking/potable water to the Atlantis and other developments within the Palm Jumeirah’s Crescent. Another seawater water treatment facility will be commissioned in mid 2009, increasing the total daily capacity to 64,000 cubic meters.

Chapter 11 Possibility

LyondellBasell Industries may seek bankruptcy protection. The company is still struggling with huge debts related to a merger in 2007 and, with other industry players, has been hit hard by a recession-fueled downturn. The company has hired outside advisers and is working with its banks to find the most efficient way to restructure, with filing for Chapter 11 being one option.

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