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Chexpress - January 29, 2013

North America

Chemical Activity Barometer Up

The American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) monthly Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB) is showing sustained growth, notching a 0.4 percent gain over December 2012 on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis. The year-over-year 3MMA showed a solid 2.8 percent gain over January 2012. January 2013 marked the CAB’s sixth consecutive monthly gain. The CAB is a leading economic indicator derived from a composite index of chemical industry activity.


NCI Building Systems, Inc.’s wholly owned subsidiary, NCI Group, Inc., has opened its premier Metal Coaters Coil Coating Facility in Middletown, Ohio. The opening represents the extension of NCI’s coil coating operations into the upper Midwest and Northeast, which will effectively provide the company’s Buildings and Components groups with more cost-effective regionalized access to coated products and services. It will also enable additional capacity and reach for the Coaters group to service its diverse customer base. The facility is capable of coating various gauges and widths of metal for a wide variety of applications.


OM Group Inc. has reached a deal to sell the downstream portion of its advanced materials business to a new joint venture for at least $325 million. The deal includes an initial cash payment of $325 million and potential future payments of up to an additional $110 million if the business meets certain targets over the next three years. The joint venture is expected to include Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., Lundin Mining Corp. and La Generaled des Carrieres et des Mines. The sale remains subject to regulatory approvals, but is expected to close before the end of April.


Execution Drug

Vietnam will being producing its own chemical for executing prisoners after factories in the European Union stopped shipments because of objections there to the death penalty. Vietnam stopped using firing squads in 2011 because of concerns it was traumatizing the shooters. Last year, the government said it was unable to executive 532 on death row because it couldn’t source the drugs for lethal injections. EU factories are the main supplier of drugs that can be used in executions. Several American states have also said objections from European factories were making it hard to find the chemical.


ArcelorMittal will close a coke plant and six production lines in Belgium. The company said collapsing demand for steel and structural overcapacity in the sector have forced it to take the measures in eastern Liege, which has had a steel industry going back two centuries. This move threatens 1,300 jobs. After the closures, the company will be operating five steel production lines, which will employ 800 people. The plant workers hope that the government will intervene to save their jobs.

Specialty Chemicals

Petronas and Evonik Industries AG have signed a letter of intent to jointly develop the production facilities of specialty chemicals within Petronas’ Refinery & Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) project in Pengerant, Johor. Under the letter of intent, the two parties will form a partnership to jointly own, develop, construct and operate facilities for the production of hydrogen peroxide, C4 co-monomer and oxo-products within Rapid. The plants are expected to have the capacity to produce 250,000 tons of hydrogen peroxide, 220,000 tons of isononanol (INA) and 110,000 tons of 1-butene annually. These projects are expected to come on stream in 2016.

Desalination with Renewable Energy

Masdar is to build the UAE’s first large-scale water desalination plant to be powered by renewable energy. The company is looking for technology partners for three trial projects to run until the end of 2015. Construction on the plant is expected to begin in 2016. The pilot programs will help Masdar have a large-scale, commercially viable water desalination plant powered by renewable energy by 2020. The company is considering solar, geothermal or other sources, or maybe even a combination.

Pumping Resumes

Colombia’s 480-mile Cano Limon pipeline has resumed pumping following a rebel attack. The pipeline carries some 70,000 barrels/day from Occidental Petroleum Corp’s Cano Limon field to the Atlantic port of Covenas. The pipeline has been blown up twice this year. Each time it is attacked, Ecopetrol halts pumping, usually for several days, until repair crews can safely enter the area and fix the damanges.  


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