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Chexpress - March 26, 2013

North America

MDI plants investments

Huntsman Corporation has made a combined $135 million investment at two of its methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) manufacturing facilities. The investment enabled the company to increase capacity at its Geismar, Louisiana site and upgrade the downstream specialties production capability at its Rotterdam, the Netherlands site. The Geismar capacity will be increased by 50ktes to 500ktes using improved process technology. The new capacity is expected to come on-stream in 2014. At the Rotterdam facility, Huntsman is commissioning a new MDI splitter and downstream specialties manufacturing unit, which will enable the company to serve customers with a full range of next-generation, differentiated polyurethane products for automotive, adhesives, coatings and other applications. The unit will be operational by the end of March.

Petrochemical Plant

Williams plans to spend up to $900 million to build a plant that converts Alberta propane into a more valuable product used to make plastics. The proposed facility in the Industrial Heartland near Edmonton would make polymer-grade propylene. Polymer-grade propylene is more than four times as valuable as the propane used to make it. The propane dehydrogenation facility is expected to initially produce 500 kilotons/year, with the possibility of doubling output through future expansions. The plant is expected to come on line in the second quarter of 2016, provided it receives regulatory approvals. The propylene gas will be transported on pressurized railcars to petrochemical producers on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

GMO labeling

Committees in the Hawaii Senate agreed to table a proposal that, if passed, would have required labels on genetically modified food that is imported. The decision is a victory for big agriculture companies. Instead of moving forward with the bill, senators are going to push a resolution that increases the amount of research done on genetically modified organisms.


Dow Chemical will construct several Gulf Coast chemical plants and supply raw materials to a major U.S> facility planned by a Japanese joint venture. Dow will build an ethylene cracker at its Freeport, Texas site as well as add several downstream polymer facilities at yet-to-be-determined locations. Among the projects are a low-density polyethylene plant serving the packaging and telecommunication markets, an “enhanced” polyethylene facility making polymers for packaging and medical applications, and a facility producing elastomers for hot-melt adhesives. Dow also restated previous plans to build an ethylene-propylene elastomer plant. Dow’s Japanese partners, Idemitsu Kosan and Mitsui & Co., plan to build a 330,000-metric-ton-per-year α-olefins facility on the Gulf Coast by 2016. The plant will consume ethylene from Dow’s production grid and supply comonomers for Dow polymers.



Project on track

Petrobras’ refinery and petrochemical project in Comperj is on schedule. The company recently dispelled a report about delays because of high production costs. Petrobras is targeted $236.5 billion worth of investments during a five-year period, of which $65.5 billion is earmarked for refining, transportation and commercialization of oil derivatives. The Comperj project, which is currently under construction, would include two refineries and a number of downstream petrochemical units that will produce ethylene, propylene, polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and other chemicals.

Fertilizer project

Mosaic Co. plans to invest up to $1 billion in a joint venture in Saudi Arabia to produce phosphate. Mosaic plans to team up with Saudi Arabian mining Co. (Maaden) and Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (Sabic) on the $7 billion project. Under terms of the agreement, Maaden would own 60%, Mosaic would own 25% and Sabic would own 15%. The project would give Mosaic an advantage in shipping fertilizier to India and elsewhere in Asia. Mosaic said it would help design, construct and operate the new facilities. The companies expect to finalize the agreement in the first half of this year. The facilities are expected to produce approximately 3.5 million metric tons of phosphate-related products starting in late 2016.


Solvay SA will increase its investment in Thailand while pursuing opportunities in Indonesia, Singapore and India. The company has earmarked 900 million Euros for capital expenditure this year, half of it for maintaining and developing existing plants. The other half will be used to build new capacity, the vast majority of which will be for Asian markets.

Lead paint

PPG Industries’ subsidiary, Seigneurie, is selling house paint with significant lead concentrations in Cameroon without labeling that warns users of the lead content, according to a new study by environmental health researchers. Lead concentrations are as high as 50 percent by weight in household paint being sold, and the lead concentration is more than 5,000 times the allowable limit in the U.S., the study says. In a company-issued statement, PPG said it was in compliance with all applicable laws.


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