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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: September 30, 2010

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North America

Acquisition Negotiations

Johnson & Johnson is close to making a deal to acquire Crucell. Already holding a 17.9 percent stake in the company, Johnson & Johnson is offering $2.3 billion for the rest. The two companies have been partners since September 2009 when they began collaboration on the development of influenza and other vaccines. According to the two companies, Crucell’s discovery and manufacturing capabilities will create a strong platform for Johnson & Johnson in the vaccine market.


Westlake Vinyls will pay $800,000 to the federal government and the state of Kentucky under an agreement to settle accusations of environmental violations at a western Kentucky plant. The company doesn’t admit any wrongdoing or liability, but has agreed to take corrective actions. The federal government will receive $687,500 of the civil penalty, while Kentucky will receive $100,000. Westlake will pay $12,500 to the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, a $2.7 billion pool of money the federal government and states use to offset the cost of cleaning up spills, along with research and development.

Chemical Spill

A chemical spill in Spacesaver Corp.’s Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin manufacturing plant sent five people to the hospital. Fire officials said phosphoric acid spilled after a valve broke on a 330-gallon container. The plant was evacuated and five people exposed to the acid were taken to the hospital as a precaution.


Momentive Performance Materials Holdings Inc. and Hexion LLC have agreed to combine to create one of the world’s largest specialty chemicals and materials companies. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the boards of both companies have approved the deal and expect it will close on Oct. 1. Hexion makes resins for wood and industrial markets. Momentive makes silicon and other specialty materials. The new company will operate as Momentive Performance Materials, but the companies’ capital structures will remain separate and in place.

$50 Million Investment

Braskem America plans to invest $50 million in its U.S. polypropylene business through 2011 to better serve its customers and to position the company for growth in the North American market. The investments will focus on upgrading facilities’ infrastructure, integrating business processes with the parent company (Braskem S.A.), and implementing Braskem’s quality and productivity programs. More than $35 million will be invested in manufacturing assets, with $15 million targeted to the La Porte, Texas plant.


Eastman Chemical Co. will increase capacity by approximately 32,000 metric tons and will include a 4,500 metric ton debottleneck for a total capacity increase near 37,000 metric tons at its Longview, Texas site. The company expects to complete the expansion by mid-2012. In support of the 2-EH expansion, a 40,000 metric ton expansion of butyraldehyde will also occur at the site.


Job Cut

Solvay plans to cut 800 jobs, or 5 percent of its global workforce, as part of a plan to save more than $160 million annually and reorganize the firm. The company expects about $88 million in annual savings will come from the job cuts, while the balance will come from other cost savings measure. The actions are intended to refocus the firm on its chemicals and plastics businesses and should be completed by 2012. The reorganization includes the creation of two new global businesses: a specialty polymers unit to be headquartered in Bollate, Italy, and a specialty chemicals unit to be headquartered in Seoul, South Korea.

Safety Unit

BP’s incoming CEO Bob Dudley is taking steps to start working on repairing the company’s battered reputation. Not only has he fired the executive responsible for deep water wells like the one that blew out in the Gulf of Mexico, he has also announced a new unit to police safety practices throughout the company. The Safety & Operation Risk unit will have the authority to intervene in all of BP’s technical activities.

Triple Production

HC Petrochem Co., Ltd. has selected UOP LLC to provide technology for an expansion of its petrochemicals plant in Daesan, South Korea. HC Petrochem Co., Ltd. is a joint venture between Japan’s Cosmo Oil and South Korea’s Hyundai Oilbank. It will use the UOP Parex process and the UOP Isomar process to help triple production of high-purity para-xylene to support growing, long-term demand for petrochemicals worldwide. Basic engineering design of the plant has begun and startup is projected for the second half of 2013.


Arkema has begun construction of a latex plant in China to produce a range of emulsion polymers for use primarily in the coatings and adhesives markets. The company will invest $30 million in the new plant located on its Changshu platform, with startup expected in late 2012.

Project Revived

Hindustan Petroleum Corp. is in the process of reviving a petrochemical and refinery project (named Vizag) at Visakhapatnam in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The company is seeking to tap growing local demand for oil products and plastics and boost its earnings through exports.


PTT Plc is considering joint-venture partnerships with NatureWorks LLC and Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. as it prepares to begin investments in green products next year. It has conducted a feasibility study for the joint ventures to manufacture different types of bioplastics in Thailand. A final decision will be made by the end of this year for investments to take place next year and moving forward. Details of the investment amount are being decided, but the company plans for the bioplastics plant to be operational in 2014.

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