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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: June 9, 2009

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North America

BPA Safety Reconsidered

The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing its conclusion from last year that biosphenol-A (BPA) is safe for infants. The FDA ruled last year that trace amounts of BPA that leach out of bottles and food packaging are not dangerous. But the agency’s own advisors faulted the report for relying on a small number of industry-sponsored studies. And consumer advocates have said it ignored dozens of animal studies suggesting the chemical can interfere with infant hormone levels. The FDA’s review of its conclusion will be completed in weeks, not months.

New Coating Unit

The Dow Chemical Co. has formed Dow Coating Materials, a new business unit focused on the coatings market. This formation follows the company’s $16.5 billion buyout of Rohm & Haas Co. in April. The new unit merges Dow Coating Solutions and Rohm & Haas Paint and Coating Materials.


Sun Chemical has acquired certain assets and liabilities of Handschy inks, coatings and varnishes business, from its parent company, Graphic Packaging International, Inc. Handschy’s customer lists, formulations and trademarks will be included in the acquisition. With this acquisition, Sun Chemical will have the opportunity to meet the inks, coatings and other printing needs of Handschy’s customers.


Sale Complete

Solutia Inc. has completed the $50 million sale of its nylon business to an affiliate of SK Capital Partners II. The sale includes the unit’s management and employees, as well as all five of its manufacturing plants in Alvin, Texas; Decatur, Alabama; Greenwood, South Carolina; Pensacola, Florida and Foley, Alabama. SK Capital paid Solution $50 million in cash for the nylon assets. Solutia also received a 2 percent equity stake in the new company formed to hold the assets of the nylon business. Solution will also receive $4 million in deferred cash payments to be paid in annual $1 million installments beginning in 2011.


Base Oil Plant

Taiwan government-owned refiner CPC Corp. is studying plans to build a base oil plant to produce lubricants in Vietnam or China. The base oil unit would have an annual capacity of 300,000 to 500,000 tons. The unit needs to be built because the refiner has to shut down its 220,000 barrel/day refinery and 500,000 metric ton/year No. 5 naphtha cracker as well as a base oil unit by 2015 due to a government decision.



Venezuela’s National Assembly passed a new law that would allow the state to take control of the petrochemical industry. The law was passed in the first of two readings necessary before it becomes law. A takeover of the petrochemical business follows President Hugo Chavez’s ongoing nationalization of oil services companies in recent weeks.


Plant Startup

A 600 kilo-ton MEG plant owned by Petro Rabigh that licenses the Shell Global Solutions OMEGA (Only Mono-Ethylene Glycol Advanced) has come onstream in Saudi Arabia. This is the second plant of its kind, following one in Korea last year. The next OMEGA plant due to come onstream is Shell’s own Shell Eastern Petrochemicals Complex in Singapore. That plant is scheduled for 2009 or 2010.


Service Contract

Technip has been awarded a lump-sum contract by CF Industries for the front-end engineering design of a proposed grassroots nitrogen complex to be built in Peru near San Juan de Marcona. The project would be the first major nitrogen fertilizer complex in Peru. It would be fed by natural gas from the Camisea field, which would be connected to the facilities through a new pipeline system. The contract covers a 2,600 ton/day ammonia unit, a 3,850 ton/day urea synthesis unit, a 2,850 ton/day urea granulation unit, and the utilities and offsite facilities.

Plant Closure

Dow Chemical will close down its polystyrene production plant in Bilbao, Spain by September 2009 with the loss of 46 jobs. Dow blamed the poor state of the construction sector in Spain and the wider European polystyrene market for its decision to close the plant. Studies carried out also indicated that the operation was not viable on an international level. The site comprises two separate plants: one turning out polystyrene resin for a range of applications, including Styrofoam extruded polystyrene (XPS), which Dow manufactures in the second unit. The XPS is used for thermal insulation.

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