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Chexpress - January 10, 2012

North America

Production suspension

Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. plans a four-week production shutdown starting next month at its Allan mine in the Saskatoon area. No layoffs are expected among the 290 hourly wage workers during the Feb. 5 to March 3 shutdown at the mine. All workers will continue working at the mine. The company cites softer market demand as the reason for the shutdown so that it can adjust its supply according to the demand.

Petrochemical unit

The Dow Chemical Co. is teaming up with UOP LLC, a Honeywell company, to produce propylene at a first-of-its-kind petrochemical facility in an undisclosed location in Texas. Once the production plant is complete in 2015, it will be the largest propane dehydrogenation unit to convert shale gas-derived propane into propylene, which is used in the production of packaging, adhesives, coatings, cleaners and other end-use applications. The facility is expected to produce 750,000 metric tons/year of polymer-grade propylene.

Acquisition complete

Celanese Corporation has completed the acquisition of certain assets from Ashland Inc., including two product lines, Vinac and Flexbond, which will support the strategic growth of the Celanese Emulsion Polymers business. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Celanese had announced its agreement to acquire the assets in Nov. 2011.


BASF is participating with $30 million through BASF Biorenewable Beteiligungs-GmbH & CoKG in the American technology firm Renmatix Inc. The BASF subsidiary led a $50 million financing round, joined by new and existing investors. Renmatix has developed the Plantrose platform. This patented process enables industrial sugar to be produced from lignocellulosic biomass (wood, cane trash or straw). The technology makes it possible to produce industrial sugar in large quantities and at competitive cost from non-edible plant mass.

Cost-cutting measures

Alcoa Inc. plans to close an aluminum smelter in Tennessee and some operations at a Texas facility to cut costs in the face of weak prices. The company’s smelter in Alcoa, Tennessee, which was idled in 2009, will be permanently closed. It will also shut down two of the six idle production lines at a smelter in Rockdale, Texas. It expects to complete the moves in the first half of this year and announce other reductions soon.


Heat exchangers

Alfa Laval has won an order for compact heat exchangers from a refinery in Russia. The order is worth approximately SEK 70 million. Alfa Laval’s compact heat exchangers will be used in the refinery distillation process where crude oil is preheated in different steps. They will reuse heat from the process for preheating the crude oil, resulting in a very energy-efficient solution.


Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. has been awarded a contract by IDEA Soda Ash and Calcium Chloride Company (ISACC) to provide engineering and project management services for the construction of a $300 million soda ash and calcium chloride production facility in Jubail’s Second Industrial City, Saudi Arabia. The contract value was not disclosed. Jacobs’ offices in Winnersh, United Kingdom; Mumbai, India; and Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia are supporting ISACC for the pre-contract award activities. The facility’s commissioning production run is scheduled to start by end of 2014 and commercial operations are expected to follow in the first quarter of 2015.

Stake purchased

Japanese-based Marubeni Corp. has agreed to buy a 35 percent stake in shale oil and gas acreage in the U.S. from Hunt Oil Co. in a $1.3 billion deal that includes future drilling costs. Marubeni will acquire 52,000 net acres in the Eagle Ford area in Texas. Hunt has plans to drill several hundred wells in the area over the next five to 10 years.


Indorama Ventures plans to acquire non-woven fiber manufacturer FiberVisions. The company said the acquisition will significantly enhance its position in the world’s most specialized fibers business for hygiene products and other growing fiber applications. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.


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