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Chexpress - November 20, 2012

North America

Acquisition Bids

Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc has trumped Bayer AG’s agreed deal to buy Schiff Nutrition International Inc. with a higher offer of $1.4 billion for the vitamin maker. The bid tops Bayer’s $1.2 billion price and opens up a potential bidding war for Schiff. Schiff’s portfolio of vitamins and nutritional supplements include MegaRed for heart car and Move Free for joints. Under the terms of its deal with Bayer, Schiff is allowed to entertain superior offers made in writing before Nov. 28; if it decides to go with another offer, it would have to pay a $22 million breakup fee to Bayer.

Growing Margins

NewMarket is a maker of chemical additives that improve the performance of petroleum products. Its products include diesel cetane improvers, tetraethyl lead, performance fuels, refinery chemicals and engine oil additives. The company has been throwing off cash hand over fist, despite being a part of a slow-growth industry. It recently announced a $25/share special dividend in addition to a six-fold increase in its regular quarterly dividend rate over the past five years.

Deepwater Exploration Blocks

BP has won four deepwater exploration blocks offshore of Nova Scotia, Canada. The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board announced that BP bid a combined $1.04 billion for blocks five, six, seven and eight in the Call for Bids NS12-1. Together, the blocks cover an area of almost 14,000-square kilometers and are located approximately 300 kilometers off the Nova Scotia coast in water depths ranging from 100 meters to 3,000+ meters.     



Earthquake-resistant Wallpaper

Bayer MaterialScience AG has developed wallpaper that can help protect buildings from earthquakes. The tear-resistant woven fabric is applied directly to walls using a flexibly adhesive based upon Dispercoll U, a waterborne polyurethane dispersion from Bayer. According to Bayer, the wallpaper holds large areas of masonry together, keeping it stable, giving the occupants time to flee the building to safety. Development partners included the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and KAST. The system is available from professional distributors under the name MapeWrap EQ System.

Manufacturing Enhancement

Electrochemical chlorine production is one of the most energy-intensive processes in the chemical industry. A new way of manufacturing chlorine, using oxygen depolarized cathode (ODC) technology, can reduce power consumption by as much as 30% compared to standard membrane technology, with a corresponding cut in indirect carbon dioxide emissions. The process developed by Bayer MaterialScience integrates the cathodic fuel cell reaction of oxygen reduction into the membrane electrolysis that produces chlorine from salt. By feeding in gaseous oxygen, the technology enables electrolysis to be performed at a lower voltage. A demonstration plant with an annual capacity of 20,000 metric tons of chlorine went on-stream in mid-2011 in Germany. Assuming the trial is successful, Bayer intends to gradually switch parts of its chlorine production to the new process.

Plant Upgrade

Royal Dutch Shell PLC will upgrade its petrochemical plant in Singapore to meet the rising demand for ethylene in Asia. The upgrade will increase the plant’s capacity to produce olefins and aromatics by more than 20%. The upgrade will take place during the next maintenance turn-around of the plant. The plant can currently produce 800,000 tons of ethylene/year, mainly using naphtha as a feedstock.

New Plant

PTT Global Chemical is looking into a building a new plant in China to take advantage of the strong petrochemical demand there. A feasibility study will be completed by the end of the year. The company is also evaluating investment opportunities in Indonesia.

Low-Density Polyethylene Plant

Qatar Petrochemical Company (QAPCO) is inaugurating its third low-density polyethylene (LDPE) plant. The plant is at Mesaieed Industrial City and will produce prime high-pressure grade LDPE. The new plant is designed to take advantage of the company’s excess ethylene feedstock and will produce 300,000 metric tons of LDPE/year.


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