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Chexpress - February 21, 2012

North America

Disclosure fight

Monsanto Co. is fighting with Idaho’s utilities, arguing they should be forced to disclose more information about costs of future power plants or transmission lines so customers will be better armed to oppose unnecessary rate hikes. The company convinced lawmakers to schedule hearings on a bill requiring utilities to reveal their best guess on how potential large expenditures, stretching up to 20 years from now, will impact rates. Rocky Mountain Power contends it already makes all of its plans available to the public, except for a limited amount of commercially sensitive information.

Clean up

Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality has reached a long-sought deal with Dow Chemical Co. to clean up 1,400 residential properties in Midland, Michigan and a plant that polluted the area with dioxin for much of the past century. The parties have agreed on the outlines of a cleanup plan, marking a milestone in on-and-off negotiations that begin in the mid-1990s. Dow will cover all of the costs and will fill in the plan details and submit them for review next month. The total cost of the plant won’t be clear until it is known how many of the 1,400 properties require cleaning and how much work needs to be done. The company said it would offer to buy about 50 homes and lots in two areas close to the plant. Property owners will get to decide whether to accept Dow offers to clean or buy their properties.

Air separation unit online

Air Liquide Large Industries U.S. LP has started up a new Air Separation Unit (ASU) at its facility in Geismar, Louisiana to increase its supply of nitrogen, oxygen and argon to customers in a range of industries, including refining, natural gas, chemicals, and metals. The new production unit has increased the site’s production capacity.


Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. was awarded a contract from Methanex Corporation to provide engineering services for a potential methanol production facility in Louisiana. The plant would be relocated from Chile to Louisiana and could be operational in the second half of 2014.


Basic engineering services

Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. is executing four contracts from Arkema France for basic engineering services to support the provision of Arkema’s proprietary suspension and emulsion technology to four of its clients in China. The contract value was not disclosed. Arkema’s technology is being used in four new polyvinyl chloride (PVC) production plants in Hefei, Golmud, Etuoke Banner and Wu Lan Cha Bu. Jacobs’ PVC technology experts in its offer in Leiden, The Netherlands and Arkema’s PVC technology team based in Lyon, France are currently performing the basic engineering work.

Contract awarded

Subsidiaries of Foster Wheeler AG’s Global Engineering and Construction Group have been awarded an engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCm) contract by Aramco Overseas Company B.V., a subsidiary of Saudi Aramco, and by Dow Europe Holding B.V. for a propylene oxide (PO) unit at Jubail Industrial City, Saudi Arabia. The unit will be part of a world-scale, fully integrated chemicals complex, which will be constructed, owned and operated by Sadara Chemical Company, a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Dow. The contract has been awarded as an extension to the front-end engineering design contract awarded to Foster Wheeler by Aramco Overseas Company and Dow in 2008. The unit is expected to be completed during the first quarter of 2015.

Joint venture

Siam Cement Group has signed a joint-venture agreement with Vietnam Oil and Gas Group, Vietnam National Chemical Group and Qatar Petroleum International to invest in a petrochemical complex in Vietnam. Commercial operation of the $4.5 billion complex will commence within four years. The complex will have a capacity of 1.4 million tons of olefins from various feedstocks, including ethane, propane and naphtha. The project will also have supporting infrastructure, including storage facilities, a port, jetties, a power plant and utilities. Other downstream products, including polyethylene, polypropylene and vinyl chloride monomer will also be made at the complex.

Extra plant

Sumitomo Chemical broke ground this week on its latest Singapore investment, a $120 million synthetic rubber plant. It is already planning an additional plant to meet fast-growing demand for its solution styrene-butadiene rubber (S-SBR). S-SBR is seeing rapid demand growth as a raw materials for high-performance, fuel-efficient tires amid increasingly strict worldwide regulations on automobile fuel consumption. The 40,000 tons/year S-SBR plant is scheduled for completion in June 2013.


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