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Chexpress - July 16, 2013

North America

Top Award

PPG Industries’ CEO Charles Bunch will be honored on Oct. 30 with this ICIS Kavaler Award by The Chemists’ Club. The award recognizes Bunch’s contributions to the chemical industry, including the spinoff of PPG’s commodity chemicals business and the acquisition of the architectural coatings unit of AkzoNobel.

Derailment scrutiny

The deadly derailment and explosion of an oil train in Quebec involved DOT-111 type tanker cars, which have come under scrutiny from transportation safety experts concerned with what they say is their tendency to split open during derailments and other major accidents. DOT-111 tank cars are the workhorse of the rail freight industry, hauling all sorts of chemicals and hazardous materials. A 1991 safety study revealed design weaknesses that accident investigators say almost guarantee the tankers will split open in major derailments. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has noted several problems with the type of car: its steel shell is too thin to resist puncture in accidents; the ends are especially vulnerable to tears from couplers that can fly up after ripping off between cars; and unloading valves and other exposed fittings on the tops of tankers can break down during rollovers. The rail and chemical industries and tanker manufacturers have voluntarily committed to safety changes for cars built after Oct. 2011 to transport ethanol and crude oil, including thicker tank shells and shields on the ends of the tanks to prevent punctures. But, the industry is appealing to regulators to reject the NTSB recommendations that the existing ethanol tankers built under the older specifications be modified or phased out. 


Two families are suing Allford Propane for more than $2 million over a deadly blast at a Eufaula, Oklahoma sandblasting company. The explosion in May left one man dead and another badly burned. The wrongful death lawsuit filed by the deceased man’s family seeks more than $1 million; the injured man’s family is also seeking more than $1 million. The suit blames the propane company for the explosion.



Eni plans to renovate and recover its Gela, Italy refinery. The aim of the project is to create an economically sound refinery capable of meeting the challenges of a competitive and evolving market. The refinery will also be redesigned to be more environmentally friendly and respectful to the local area. The project is estimated to involve an investment of €700 million and should be fully operational in 2017.


The VETEK Group has completed its purchase of the Odesa Oil Refinery from Lukoil. The refinery is another link in the closed business cycle VETEK is building: from delivery of crude oil to production and retail sale of finished product. The Odesa refinery will be restarted soon. It can refine 2.8 million tons of crude oil/year. The plant was shut down in Oct. 2010 due to the economic situation that had developed on the oil-product market in Ukraine as well as due to changes to the oil delivery scheme.

Algae-based fuel

PTT has set its sights on introducing algae-based energy by 2017 and it is keen on setting up production facilities in Australia in the near future. The company is already in partnership with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency, to develop a project involving algae-oil extraction. Currently, the research and development of fuel extracted from marine algae costs about three to four times as much as palm-oil-based biodiesel. 

Lubricant plant

Sinopec has opened its first lubricant manufacturing plant outside Tuas, Singapore. The company has invested about 650 million yuan in the lubricant production facility, which will also serve as its Asia-Pacific hub for logistics and service. The plant is expected to employ between 140 and 150 people and will have an initial annual production capacity of 100,000 tons of lubricant.


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