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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: October 3, 2006

Technically Speaking

North America


Texas Petrochemicals will more than double its production of polyisobutylene by mid 2008.  The company will add a facility at its Houston, Texas plant.  The increase will be by more than 65,000 tons.



Greif has acquired Delta Petroleum from Riverside.  Delta is the largest privately owned blender and packager of lubricants, chemicals and glycol-based products in North America, with revenues of more than $182 million.  Greif expects earnings to impact its fiscal year 2007, which begins November 1.  Delta provides its clients with blending, filling and packaging, drumming, warehousing, distribution and logistics services.

Job cut

Cabot Corp. is laying off 130 employees.  This will result in $15 million of pre-tax charges over the coming quarters, but will cut costs in the long term.  $8 million of the charges will be taken in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2006, with the remainder taken in fiscal year 2007.  It is estimated that within 18 months, Cabot will make back the $15 million it is paying for terminations benefits and other charges related to the layoffs.  Layoffs will be done to streamline the companyís sales, manufacturing, technical service and certain functional groups and are expected to be completed during fiscal year 2007.


Capacity increase

Carus Corp. in Peru, Illinois is expanding its potassium permanganate capacity by 10,000 tons.  The increase is a by-product of improved process technology that was intended to reduce costs.  The improvements are expected to be completed by the end of 2007.



National Starch and Chemical opened its expanded adhesives, synthetic polymers and electronic materials manufacturing facility in Salisbury, North Carolina.  The multimillion-dollar investment added more than 10,000 square feet of production area.


$25 million investment

Chevron will contribute $25 million to a University of California, Davis research program aimed at technological breakthroughs in the conversion of biomass into transportation fuels.  The program is focused on the cellulosic process that would use renewable feestocks like rice straw to produce ethanol and other fuels.


Chemical build

ExxonMobil Chemical is building a specialty compounded products facility in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as part of its commitment to provide engineered thermoplastic materials to the automotive and consumer products industries.  Products produced at the facility could include Santoprene thermoplastic elastomers and other specialty elastomers.  Construction should be completed by the second quarter of 2007.


Fertilizer plant restart

DCM Shriram Consolidatedís fertilizer unit in Kota has been restarted after a planned scheduled maintenance shutdown completed.  This planned shutdown is done once every two years.  This year, the shutdown took about 45 days, which is longer than normal, so that the company could carry out major modifications in the plant to enable the use of LNG as a feedstock in place of Naphtha.  This conversion is aimed at improving the cost competitiveness of fertilizer business and will be completed once the GAIL pipeline to the plant is commissioned and LNG becomes available. 

15 million ton refinery

Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOC) entered into an agreement with the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) to be the anchor investor in the proposed chemicals hub in Haldia.  As anchor investor, IOC will also partner the State Governmentís effort to attract both foreign and domestic investments in the planned 10,000 acre hub.  IOC has proposed a 15 million ton refinery at an anticipated cost of Rs. 15,000 crores in association with MNC oil companies.  IOC is also exploring the possibility of setting up facilities for the production of petrochemical products.  IOC has already committed an investment of Rs. 20,000 crores for the expansion and modernization of its existing six million ton refinery in Haldia and is presently commissioning a crude pipeline from Paradip to Haldia.


Shutdown continues

Grasim Industries is in the midst of major repairs in the Captive Power Plant attached to its Chemical Division in Nagda.  The shutdown will continue and is likely to take another three to four months to complete the repairs.  This shutdown will result in a reduction of its production by about 50% in Grasimís Chemical Division plant during this time.  Grasim, however, believes that while this will impact profitability of its Chemical Division during Q2 and Q3, it does not expect any impact on its overall profitability.

Technically Speaking

How can we prevent what appears to be some kind of salt buildup in our steam turbine?

The problem that's occurring may not be a salt buildup.  The most likely cause is silica buildup.  Steam acts as a very good solvent for silica which actually can vaporize in your boiler along with the water.  The solution to this problem is to minimize the silica content of your boiler feed water.

Experienced operators seems to agree that a maximum silica content of 0.02 ppm in the boiler feed water should solve this problem.   You can read more about this issue at:

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