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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 the U.S. and India.  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: August 8, 2006

Technically Speaking

North America

Oilfield closure

BP PLC is shutting down its biggest oilfield in the U.S., Alaskaís Prudhoe Bay, after discovering a damaged pipeline.  This closure sent oil prices nearly 2 percent higher and BPís shares sharply lower.  BP is unable to estimate when output might resume at the field, which regularly pumps 400,000 barrels/day and accounts for 8 percent of U.S. domestic production.  Shutting down a major onshore oil facility, a process that takes at least several days, is usually a last resort.  The outage cuts global daily oil output by about half a percent and sent U.S. crude oil futures as much as 1.7 percent or $1.29 higher to $76.05 a barrel.  The phase Prudhoe Bay oilfield shutdown resulted from an unexpectedly severe corrosion found during an inspection that followed a 200,000-gallon spill discovered in March.  The shutdown does not include the Lisburne field in the same area, as an inspection showed that pipeline integrity was intact.

Focus on water crisis

Dow Chemical and Blue Planet Run Foundation have joined forces to try to solve the clean drinking water crisis by 2015.  As part of its 2015 Sustainability Goals, Dow will develop new solutions for desalination, new chemistry for removing impurities in water, innovative materials for leak-proof water piping, and new solutions for managing municipal water supplies.  Dow is aligning itself with one of the UNís Millennium Development Goals, reducing by half the number of people around the world without access to safe drinking water by 2015.  Blue Planet Run will help spread the message and raise funding.

Plant sold

Eastman Chemical has sold its Arkansas facility to Viceroy Acquisition for $75 million.  The facility makes specialty organic chemical products for the performance chemicals and intermediates segment as well as produces biodiesel.

Potential offshore gas turnaround

A crucial vote in the Senate suggests that the tide has turned on access to vast offshore oil and gas reserved that for 25 years have been denied to industry and consumers.  With overwhelming and bipartisan backing, the Senate voted 82-12 to proceed to debate and consider an offshore energy bill, S-3711, that if passed will open almost 8 million acres of the eastern U.S. Gulf to oil and gas development.  The vote was on a procedural matter Ė the bill is still to be debated and potentially amended before brought to vote.  If the Senate does pass the measure, it will then face a House-Senate conference committee for a compromise between the Senate measure and a much broader offshore energy bill passed earlier by the House.  The compromise would then need to be approved by the House and the Senate before getting to the White House for the presidentís signature.

New bleach-, color- and fragrance-free food surface sanitizer

To help reduce cross contaminate and help prevent food-borne illnesses, Lysol has created a Food Surface Sanitizer that is bleach-, color- and fragrance-free.  Lysol Food Surface Sanitizer is specially formulated for use on food contact surfaces with no rinsing required.  The new formula is safe when used as directed on surfaces to reduce cross-contamination of bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella.  It kills 99.999% of bacteria in 60 seconds.


Hydrogen plant on-stream

Air Products Canada Ltd., a subsidiary of Air Products, has put on-stream a new hydrogen plant in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.  The plant supplies 80 million standard cubic feet/day of hydrogen to two nearby refineries.  The facility is the largest plant outsourcing hydrogen in Canada and the second new Air Products facility to supply hydrogen to Canadian refineries and other customers.  The plant is a gas-based steam methane reformer and will help refineries operated by Suncor Energy Products, Inc. and Shell Canada Products produce ultra-low sulphur diesel and other petroleum products.  The facility is located on a part of the Shell refinery land and supplies hydrogen by pipeline to the nearby Suncor refinery.  Air Products Canada has also commenced engineering to expand production capacity near Edmonton with construction of another hydrogen plant at the Strathcona location.  This plant is expected to be on-stream in April 2008.


Plant closure

Reliance Industries, Indiaís sole isopropanol (IPA) producer, has decided to permanently shut its 35,000 ton/year IPA plant in Mumbai due to poor economics.  The plant had been shut since mid-June due to technical problems.

Ammonium nitrate unit

The green-field integrated complex for nitric acid and ammonium nitrate of Deepak Fertilisers and Petrochemicals Corporation Ltd. (DFPCL) to be set-up in Paradip is expected to start-up in 2008.  The plant would have a capacity of 300,000 tons/year of ammonium nitrate with 100,000 tons/year to be set aside for exports to Southeast Asia.


Research and manufacturing facilities

U.S.-based Actis Biologics Inc. (ABI) has firmed up its plan to enter India with an initial investment of Rs. 100-crore to set up a large-scale research facility in Mumbai and multiple manufacturing sites in the country.  The Indian arm will have five subsidiaries focusing on different biopharmaceutical technology platforms.  Actis Biologics P. Ltd. (ABPL), the Indian company, will have 60% equity held by private and high net worth individual investors, 30% by private equity companies and ABI and 10% holding by promoters.

Switch to LNG

Indian Farmersí Fertiliser Co-operative Ltd. (IFFCO) has been converted from a naphtha-based ammonia-urea complex to a gas-based unit.  GAIL has laid a dedicated 139 kilometer-long spur-line to connect the facility to an HBJ pipeline.  Necessary modifications were carried out by IFFCO to the main plants as well as service boilers for change-over of feed/fuel from naphtha/fuel oil to LNG.

Technically Speaking

Where can I find some good estimates of overall heat transfer coefficient for coils inside a vessel?

Here's a handy chart that should give you some idea of what to expect:

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