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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 21, 2010

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North America

Caustic Soda Release

Olin Corp. is still investigating an equipment failure that damaged parts of its Alabama complex. A pressure valve blew open, causing a release of caustic soda. The cause of the problem remains undetermined, but no caustic soda left the plant.


Plant Closure

Lonza Group Ltd. will close its plant in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania suburbs by the end of this year. The closure is part of a worldwide restructuring expected to cut 450 of the company’s 8,500 workers. The Pennsylvania plant has approximately 140 employees. Other closures are expected in Quebec and the U.K.

Stricter Smog Standards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed stricter national smog standards. Tighter smog rules are expected to impact factories, oil and natural gas companies, and utilities, which will be required to reduce their emissions and nitrogen oxides. The agency proposed setting the acceptable ozone limit in the air between 0.06 and 0.07 parts per million.


SynGest Inc. has engaged Stern Brothers & Co. to raise capital for its first biomass-to-ammonia plant to be located in Menlo, Iowa. After this project is launched, the company has plans to build similar fertilizer mini-plants in other parts of the U.S. Discussions are currently underway regarding opportunities in Ohio, Oregon, Michigan and Minnesota.


Processing Center

Essar Steel Middle East FZE will open a steel processing and service center in the Jebel Ali Free Zone in Dubai. The facility will process 250,000 tons of steel/year. The new facility is designed to serve the company’s expanding regional client base in consumer sectors.

Joint Venture

INEOS Phenol and Sinopec Yangzi Petrochemical Company have signed a Letter of Intent to study and negotiate a joint venture to build and operate a phenol/acetone manufacturing site at the Nanjing Chemical Industrial Park in Jiangsu Province, China. The expected annual capacity of the new facility will be 400,000 tons of phenol and 250,000 tons of acetone. The facility will also include 550,000 tons/year of cumene capacity. The expected completion date is 2013.


Contract Signed

The South Oil Company of the Republic of Iraq, the Missan Oil Company of the Republic of Iraq, Shell Iraq Petroleum Development B.V., and Petronas Carigali Sdn Bhd have signed a 20-year service contract to provide technical assistance in the development of the Majnoon oilfield. Shell will hold a 45% share, with Petronas holding 30% and the Iraqi state holding 25% of the participating interests in all contractor consortia. The consortium is targeting a production plateau of 1.8 million barrels of oil/day.


Solar Tower “Beam Down” Facility

Masdar, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Japan’s Cosmo Oil Company, and the Tokyo Institute of Technology have launched an advanced concentrated solar power Central Tower research and development project in Masdar City, U.A.E. The research project will test an innovative “beam down” technology that has the potential to convert solar irradiation into electricity in a more efficient way than other technologies. The “beam down” process inverts conventional tower solar tower technologies.



An Exxon Mobil Corporation affiliate, a Petrobras affiliate, and the Turkish National Oil Company (TPAO)  have signed an agreement to explore for hydrocarbons in the deepwater Black Sea offshore Turkey. Under the terms of the farm-in agreement, ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Turkey B.V. will acquire a 25% interest in the Sinop, Avancik and Carsamba sub-blocks of the AR/TPO/3922 exploration license. Petrobras will retain a 25% equity interest in the block and will remain the operator. TPAO holds the remaining 50% interest.

EB/SM Plant

Petrochina Jilin Petrochemical Company has awarded Lummus Technology with a contract for the license and process design of a grassroots ethylbenzene and styrene monomer (EB/SM) plant in Jilin, China. The plant has a design capacity of 320,000 metric tons of styrene monomer/year and is expected to start up in 2011.


Eastman Chemical Co. has acquired Tongxiang Xinglong Fine Chemical Co. near Shanghai. The facility is a cellulose-based specialty polymers plant. The acquisition is intended to help the company meet growing demand in China.


New Plant

Lanxess has advanced its plans to build a new butyl rubber facility in Singapore. The groundbreaking ceremony will be held in May and production is expected to start in the first quarter of 2013. The 100,000 tons/year plant will involve an investment of up to $575 million.

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