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Chexpress - June 5, 2012

North America


Exxon Mobil Corp. is considering a multi-billion-dollar expansion at its petrochemical facility near Houston, Texas. The project would involve building a new ethane cracker and other facilities at the company’s Baytown refining and petrochemical complex. The expansion would enable Exxon Mobil to capitalize on abundant supplies of American natural gas. Start up would be scheduled for 2016. Exxon has filed permit applications with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and expects the approval process to last about a year. Final decisions will be made after the federal and state governments provide approval. The planned facilities would process up to 1.5 million tons of chemicals/year and provide feedstock for a nearby polyethylene plant. The project would create 10,000 construction jobs and 350 permanent jobs.

Cleanup plan

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has accepted Dow Chemical Co.’s plan for cleaning up properties contaminated with dioxin released from its chemical plant in Midland, Michigan. About 1,400 properties in the city, most residential but some vacant, are believed polluted from airborne emissions of dioxin over much of the twentieth century. Beginning this month, Dow contractors will collect soil samples from properties with willing owners and measure their dioxin content. Those with dioxin levels greater than 250 parts/trillion will be eligible to have a 1-foot layer of soil removed and replaced with fresh soil and landscaping.

Operations shift

Oil-Dri Corp. of America is moving its production from Illinois to Mississippi. Oil-Dri is a maker of industrial floor absorbent and cat litter products. As many as 40 workers will be affected by the move, although some employees might be considered for transfers to Mississippi. The company still plans to produce its animal health and nutrition lines in Mounds, Illinois.




Sumitomo Chemical Company and Saudi Arabian Oil Company have agreed to go ahead with the proposed expansion of the Rabigh petrochemical complex on the western coast of Saudi Arabia. Both companies are equal partners. The new plan involves setting up the Rabigh-II project based on the feasbilitiy studies, by moving ahead with the finalization of various project components including engineering, procurement and construction and other project contracts as well as project financing. Petro Rabigh will serve as the project company and the project is estimated to cost $7 billion. It includes expansion of an ethane cracker unit and construction of a new aromatics complex, which will use an additional 30 million cubic feet/day of ethane and around 3 million tons/year of naphtha as feedstock to produce a variety of petrochemical products. The plant is expected to go on stream in the first half of 2016.

Bio-based solvents plant

Rhodia plans to build a bio-based solvents plant at its Paulinia site in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The company is also studying a project in Asia. Rhodia, part of Solvay, currently produces the solvents branded Augeo at its Santo Andre site in Sao Paulo. An investment decision on the new site is expected in the second half of this year and the plant could become operational at the end of 2013 or the beginning of 2014. Rhodia intends to locate its third Augeo plant in Asia, potentially in China, South Korea, Malaysia or Indonesia.


Iran will inaugurate a new petrochemical company named Arvand with the capacity of producing 34,000 tons of PVC annually. Iran is slated to officially inaugurate three important petrochemical industry projects. The projects include the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) production line at Arvand Petrochemical Complex, the oxygen and nitrogen production line at Maroon Petrochemical Plant and the second liquids loading pier at Mahshahr Petrochemical Special Economic Zone. Arvand will increase the country’s annual production capacity of PVC by 340,000 tons. The output will fully satisfy Iran’s domestic demands and even turn the country into a PVC exporter.


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