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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 14, 2009

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North America

Dow Chemical Co. has closed on its $16.5 billion buyout of Rohm & Haas Co., a deal that it hopes will fuel growth in the high-margin specialty chemicals market. Rohm & Haas will form the core of a new advanced materials unit that is expected to have $14 billion in annual sales. The Rohm & Haas brand will disappear.

Having completed its $16.5 billion buyout of Rohm & Haas, Dow Chemical Co. will sell Morton Salt to K+S Aktiengesellschaft in a deal that values the former Rohm & Haas unit at $1.675 billion. The sale is part of Dow’s plan to sell off non-core Rohm & Haas assets to pay down the debt it had to take on to complete the purchase. The divestiture is expected to close in the middle of 2009.

Air Products will supply hydrogen and hydrogen fueling station technology for Nestle Waters’ Dallas, Texas facility, where it will be used to fuel a fleet of 32 Class I hydrogen fuel-cell powered forklifts to be used in daily operations. Nestle Waters is in the process of expanding its bottling and warehousing operations in Dallas and is converting its materials handling equipment to hydrogen fuel cell forklifts. The fueling station is to be installed and operational during the second quarter of 2009.

Early Retirement Offered
3M Co. is offering early retirement packaged to 3,600 employees to reduce costs even further amid the economic slowdown. The voluntary buyout offers follow the manufacturer’s recent moves to cut 3,600 jobs, defer merit pay raises and adjust vacation allowances.


Job Cuts

LyondellBasell has increased its fixed-cost reduction target to $700 million by the end of 2010. The new target is part of a total performance improvement plan of $1.3 billion, which also encompasses variable and energy cost reductions, as well as revenue enhancement initiatives. The plan also includes a reduction in employee headcount of more than 3,000 and a reduction of contractors approaching 2,000. It includes the closure of 20 offices and research and development sites as well as the closure of 10 or more manufacturing plants, most of which have been announced or completed.

Oil Complex Startup
Sumitomo Chemical Co.’s oil refinery and petrochemical complex has started full operations in
Rabigh, Saudi Arabia. The company’s total investment was more than one trillion yen. Sumitomo Chemical and Saudi Arabian Oil Co. each have a stake of 37.5 percent in the complex, with the remaining 25 percent held by other investors. The complex will produce 1.3 million tons of ethylene/year for use in the production of plastics for exports to China and other Asian markets.

Expansion Plan
Saudi Arabian Oil Co. and Sumitomo are close to signing an agreement to expand their Rabigh, Saudi Arabia refinery and petrochemicals project. The refinery currently serves as a 400,000 barrels/day crude topping facility, with main products being fuel oil, naphtha and jet fuel/kerosene.

Output Boost
Abu Dhabi Gas Industries Co. (Gasco) will significantly boost its capacity to produce natural gas and related products by 2014. The unit’s current production capacity of 3 billion standard cubic feet/day of pipeline natural gas will increase by about 25 percent. Gasco will distribute methane domestically using a high-pressure gas pipeline network supplying power and desalination plants as well as other industries in Abu Dhabi.

Joint Venture
The Linde Group has been awarded a contract with Syncope Sichuan Vinylon Works (SVW) to jointly build gas plants and produce industrial gases for the long-term supply to SVW’s chemical complex. The initial investment in this collaboration is approximately 50 million Euros. In the first phase of development under this joint venture, a new air separation plant with a capacity of 1,500 tons/day of oxygen will be constructed to produce and supply gases by 2011. In the long-term, the joint venture is intended to expand the capacities of air gases and also construct synthetic gas (HyCO) plants to meet the overall gases demand by SVW and its associated companies.

Joint Venture Closure
Sumitomo Chemical Co. and Mitsui Chemicals Inc. will shut their polystyrene joint venture due to a sharp fall in domestic demand. The fifty-fifty joint venture, Japan Polystyrene Inc., will be dissolved after halting operations at its two plants in September.

Production Cutback
Merck KGaA will curb pigment production in Germany, the U.S., Japan and China. The company said it would put about 500 German pigment workers on shorter hours at the Gernsheim facility near Frankfurt. Other pigment production sites at Savannah, Georgia; Onahama, Japan; and Songjiang, China will also be affected.

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