Shell Makes FID to Proceed with Plans For Pennsylvania Petrochem Facility
Shell Chemical Appalachia (Shell) announced a final investment
decision (FID) to build a “major” petrochemical
complex at Potter Township in Monaca, Penn. (PCN, 29
June 2015, p 3).
The complex, earlier estimated to cost $2.5-billion, will
include an ethylene cracker and polyethylene (PE) derivatives
unit. Main construction will start in about 18
months, with commercial production expected to begin
early in the next decade.
Shell’s new complex will use low-cost ethane from shale
gas producers in the Marcellus and Utica basins to produce
about 1.6-million t/y of PE. Because of the close proximity
to gas feedstock, “the complex, and its customers, will
benefit from shorter and more dependable supply chains,”
compared to supply from the Gulf Coast, the company explained.
“Shell Chemicals has recently announced final investment
decisions to expand alpha olefins production at our
Geismar site in Louisiana and, with our partner CNOOC
[China National Offshore Oil Corp.] in China, to add a
world-scale ethylene cracker with derivative units to our
existing complex there,” said Graham van’t Hoff, executive
vice president for Royal Dutch Shell’s global chemicals
Shell broke ground early this year for a new 425,000-t/y
linear alpha olefins (LAO) plant in Geismar, which will
increase LAO capacity at the site to over 1.3-million t/y
(PCN, 22 Feb 2016, p 1). Production is planned to begin in
The project with CNOOC involves completing construction
of a 1-million-t/y ethylene cracker and derivative units
in Huizhou (PCN, 4 Apr 2016, p 2). Completion is expected
in about two years.
Commission Clears Ineos’ Acquisition Of Sole Control Over Inovyn Venture
European Commission has approved Ineos’ acquisition of
sole control over its 50-50 Inovyn chlorovinyls joint venture
with Solvay (PCN, 9 May 2016, p 1).
Inovyn was formed in 2015 to combine the European
polyvinyl chloride, caustic soda and chlorine derivatives
businesses of Ineos and Solvay. At formation, it was
planned that after three years Solvay would withdraw its
interest in Inovyn, making Ineos the sole owner.
The companies recently signed a binding agreement to
end their joint venture ahead of the original July 2018
schedule. Upon completion of the transaction, expected in
the second half of this year, Solvay will receive a final payment
Last month, Solvay announced that it had signed a definitive
agreement to sell its 70.59% interest in Solvay Indupa
to Unipar Carbocloro for $202.2-million. The sale is
subject to customary closing conditions and approvals.
Solvay’s divestitures are part of a plan to transform into
a specialty chemicals group.
Lotte Chem Makes Offer to Acquire Axiall; Westlake Continues Takeover Attempts
Lotte Chemical, joint venture partner with Axiall Corp. in
an ethane cracker project, has submitted a proposal to acquire
Axiall for an undisclosed amount.
Axiall Chief Executive Timothy Mann Jr., in a letter
dated 7 June to Axiall employees, said: “As I have shared
previously, our board is open to considering strategic alternatives
for Axiall in addition to continuing as a stand-alone
company. Our board is willing to consider all alternatives
that deliver full and fair value for all stockholders. At this
time, our board has not made any decisions concerning the
Since the beginning of 2016, Westlake Chemical has
been attempting to take over Axiall (PCN, 11 Apr 2016, p
2). Its original offer to acquire Axiall for $20 per share was
unanimously rejected by Axiall’s board.
In April, Westlake increased it proposal for all of the
outstanding shares of Axiall to $23.35 per share. Its offer
was again turned down by the Axiall board.
Westlake last month said it intended to submit a revised
proposal by 3 June 2016 and will continue to proceed
with its current proxy contest to replace Axiall’s board with
nine independent directors.
BASF Shelves FID On Proposed Freeport Natural Gas-Based Propylene Complex
BASF has postponed a final investment decision (FID) for
its proposed world-scale methane-to-propylene complex at
its site in Freeport, Texas (PCN, 23 Mar 2015, p 1).
The facility, planned to have a production capacity of
475,000 t/y of propylene, would be the “largest single-plant
investment to date,” the company earlier noted.
BASF attributed its decision to shelve the project to the
current volatility of raw material prices and the prevailing
“On-purpose production of propylene based on favorable
U.S. shale gas is interesting for BASF,” said Wayne T.
Smith, member of the board of executive directors. “We
will regularly review the development of raw material
prices and the relevant market conditions to determine the
right point in time to commence such a major investment.”
SK Advanced Begins Commercial Production At New Joint Venture PDH Plant in Korea
SK Advanced Co. has begun commercial operations at its
new 600,000-t/y propane dehydrogenation (PDH) facility in
Ulsan, South Korea (PCN, 21-28 Mar 2016, p 1).
The plant, which required an investment of approximately
$1-billion, ran “safe and stable at design capacity
for one full month,” after successfully completing performance
tests on 13 April, and on 14 May began commercial
production, SK Advanced said.
SK Advanced is a joint venture of SK Gas, Advanced
Petrochemical’s Advanced Global Investment Co. and Kuwait
Petroleum Corp.’s Petrochemical Industries Co.
Unipetrol Breaks Ground on PE Facility At Existing Czech Republic Complex
Unipetrol has begun construction on a new 270,000-t/y
high-density polyethylene plant (PE3) at its existing complex
in Litvinov, Czech Republic (PCN, 25 Apr 2016, p 1).
The 8.5-billion CZK facility, based on Ineos’ Innovene S
technology, will be “among the most advanced production
facilities of its kind in Europe,” the company noted. Construction
is expected to be completed in mid-2018.
“The new polyethylene unit will push Unipetrol into the
group of European leaders in terms of plastic production
quality and enable the company to reach more industrial
sectors,” said Marek Świtajewski, chief executive and
chairman of the board of directors.
Technip is the engineering, procurement and construction
contractor for the PE3 facility, which will replace the
older PE1 unit. The 200,000-t/y PE2 unit will continue
U.S. Senate Passes Legislation to Reform 40-Yr Old Toxic Substances Control Act
The U.S. Senate on 7 June passed the bipartisan Frank R.
Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (H.R.
2576), legislation to reform the 40-year old Toxic Substances
Control Act (TSCA).
“This legislation is significant not only because it is the
first major environmental law passed since 1990, but because
TSCA reform will have lasting and meaningful benefits
for all American manufacturers, all American families
and for our nation’s standing as the world’s leading innovator,”
said American Chemistry Council President and Chief
Executive Cal Dooley. “We look forward to the enactment
of H.R. 2576 by President Obama in the coming days.”
Commenting on the congressional passage of H.R. 2576,
Dow Chairman and Chief Executive Andrew N. Liveris
noted that this “landmark legislation will fundamentally
reform our nation’s chemical regulatory program, restore
confidence in the safety of chemicals and provide companies
like Dow with the regulatory certainty necessary to
For more information on H.R. 2576, visit the U.S. Congress’
website at https://www.congress.gov/bill/114thcongress/
JG Summit Planning Feasibility Study On Expanding Batangas PC Capacity
Summit Holdings will conduct a feasibility study on the
potential expansion of its petrochemical facility in Batangas,
the Philippines, according to Business World, citing
Lance Y. Gokongwei, JG Summit’s president and chief operating
“We’re planning to spend $500-million to $600-million
in expanding our petrochemical operations. This will require
us to expand the cracker, build further downstream
for butadiene and aromatics stream,” Gokongwei noted.
JG Summit expects to expand the capacity of the petrochemical
plant at Batangas to 500,000 t/y from 320,000 t/y
In 2014, JG Summit started up the Philippines’ first
naphtha cracker at Batangas, which was designed to produce
320,000 t/y of ethylene and 190,000 t/y of propylene
(PCN, 16 June 2014, p 1).
Orion Engineered Carbons Considering Closure of French Carbon Black Plant
Engineered Carbons SAS is considering ending carbon
black production at its Ambès, France, site.
Management has begun consultations with the Works
Council at the site in order to implement a restructuring
and down-staffing with a potential discontinuation of carbon
black production by the end of the year.
“In order for the group to remain competitive in today’s
global marketplace, it must fully utilize the capabilities of
its carbon black operations, concentrating resources at
more efficient facilities and those capable of producing
technically special and unique grades that can compete in
today’s challenging environment,” said Jack Clem, Orion’s
group chief executive.
If production is discontinued at Ambès, the facility will
be deactivated simultaneously with the depletion of existing
Borealis Plans €40-Million Investment To Upgrade Porvoo Steam Cracker
is investing €40-million in an upgrade of its steam cracker
at Porvoo, Finland, to increase propylene production capacity
and enhance energy efficiency.
Scheduled for completion in the third quarter of 2017,
the project will increase propylene production capacity by
30,000 t/y and crude C4 capacity by 10,000 t/y.
“The project will also upgrade the quality of all produced
propylene to polymer grade, thereby increasing
value as well as productivity in the adjacent polypropylene
production plant,” Borealis said.
“Through continuous investments, Borealis is securing
its position among the most innovative and reliable polyethylene
and polypropylene suppliers in Europe,” noted
Markku Korvenranta, executive vice president of base
KP Engineering Completes Acquisition Of Consulting & Design Firm MPEC
procurement and construction solutions company
KP Engineering has completed the purchase of McDaniel
Process Engineering Consultants, a chemical engineering
consulting and design firm in Houston, Texas.
KP said the acquisition will enhance its expertise in
petrochemical process engineering, refining and midstream,
particularly fractionation applications. Value of
the transaction was not disclosed.
People on the Move
Lubrizol Corp.—Eric R. Schnur has been named
president, effective immediately, and will become chairman
and chief executive on 2 Jan. 2017, to succeed James L.
Hambrick, who is retiring. Schnur has been serving as
executive vice president and chief operating officer.
Nexam Chemical—Johan Arvidsson, most recently
chief executive of aXichem AB, will join Nexam as chief
sales officer, effective 1 Aug. 2016.
Thyssenkrupp—P. D. Samudra has been appointed
chief executive of Regional Cluster India for Thyssenkrupp
Industrial Solutions. He has been managing director.
Sasol Says Louisiana PC Project Cost Could Increase to About $11-Billion
Sasol announced that the total capital expenditure of its
Lake Charles, La., ethane and derivatives project could
increase up to $11-billion from $8.1-billion (PCN, 14 Mar
2016, p 1).
The project includes a 1.5-million-t/y ethane cracker
and downstream production of low- and linear low-density
polyethylene, ethylene oxide and ethylene glycol. It also
includes three smaller, higher-value derivative units for
the production of specialty alcohols, ethoxylates and other
This past March, Sasol said it would conduct a detailed
review of the project, after deciding to pace the execution of
the project to support the company’s low oil price response
plan. The increased project cost was from a preliminary
finding from the ongoing review, which is planned to be
completed during the third quarter of 2016.
The company noted that current indications are that
the estimated increase is mainly caused by construction
delays from rainfall, higher labor costs, lump-sum bid contract
prices being higher that originally estimated, as well
as quantities of bulk materials being in excess of those included
in the original estimate.
As of 30 Apr. 2016, project completion has progressed to
over 40%. The cracker is expected to achieve beneficial
operation in the second half of 2018, which will enable
around 80% of the total output from the project to reach
beneficial operation in late 2018 or early 2019. Remaining
volumes from the other derivative units will become operational
by the second half of 2019, Sasol said.
Alberta’s PCs Diversification Program Receives Significant Investor Interest
Alberta’s new Petrochemicals Diversification Program,
which encourages companies to invest in the development
of new local petrochemical plants through C$500-million in
royalty credits, has received “roughly double” the amount
of applications expected.
On 1 Feb. 2016, companies were invited to apply for up
to C$200-million in royalty credits for a single project, with
credits being awarded following completion of the project
and start of production (PCN, 8 Feb 2016, p 4). Applications
to the program closed 22 Apr.
Each application will be evaluated by a third-party
monitor to ensure the proposed project is economically viable,
meets Alberta’s strict environmental performance
conditions and demonstrates the best overall benefits to
Alberta. Final decisions will be made within 60 days from
6 June 2016.
The program is expected to create up to 3,000 jobs during
construction and over 1,000 jobs once operation begins.
BASF Boosting Production Capacities At German UV/EB Acrylates Plants
BASF said it is “significantly” increasing its production
capacities for Laromer UV/EB (ultraviolet/electron beam)
acrylates at existing production units at its Ludwigshafen,
The additional capacities will be available as of the
third quarter of this year and will help BASF respond to
the rising demand for high-quality UV/EB acrylates.
Global Bioenergies & IBN-One Get Funds For Commercialization of Bioisobutene
Bioenergies and IBN-One, a joint venture of Global Bioenergies
and Cristal Union, have been approved to receive
€9-million in funding by the Investissements d’Avenir program
for the commercialization of bio-based isobutene
(PCN, 27 July 2015, p 2).
Global Bioenergies, Cristal and L’Oréal have launched
a 44-month industrial and commercial project focused on
the first bioisobutene plant in France, which will use
Global Bioenergies’ process to produce isobutene from renewable
“The process is now entering a new phase of development:
step by step, we are leading up to our targeted performance,
and we are getting ready to run the process in
our demo plant, whose construction in Germany will be
completed within the next few months,” said Global Bioenergies
Chief Operations Officer Frédéric Pâques.
Global Bioenergies is the project coordinator, mainly responsible
for completing the industrial development of the
process, and may receive up to €5.7-million. IBN-One may
receive €3.3-million, which will mostly be dedicated to life
cycle analyses, engineering design work in the French
plant and market value validation of derivatives intended
for the fuels, materials and cosmetics.
The new commercial plant is now entering the detailed
engineering phase and is expected to begin operations in
2019. It will have a capacity of 50,000 t/y. CO2 emissions
will be reduced by more than twice the amount of isobutene
produced, noted Bernard Chaud, chief executive of
Cristal is working on the supply of sugar beet substrates
and preparing the integration of the future production
unit into one of its sites.
“This project is developing in the context of the impending
end to sugar quotas, which is inspiring the entire
European beet growing industry to identify additional outlets,”
said Xavier Astolfi, deputy chief executive of Cristal.
L’Oréal will test batches of compounds from the bioisobutene
and may become a customer of IBN-One once the
Siluria, Air Liquide Partner to Develop Novel Catalytic Process Technologies
Siluria Technologies and Air Liquide Global E&C Solutions
have entered into a strategic partnership to collaborate on
the development of novel catalytic processes using both
companies’ expertise in gas conversion technologies.
The new process offering will be developed using the
same platform as Siluria’s Oxidative Coupling of Methane
(OCM) technology, but will be focused on new fields beyond
the companies’ current product offerings. The partners
will work together in the commercialization, licensing and
marketing of the new process technologies.
As part of the agreement, Air Liquide Global E&C Solutions
has invested in Siluria’s Series E financing.
“Global markets require compelling new solutions to
meet the ever changing demand for petrochemicals and
other energy products,” said Erik Scher, interim chief executive
and president of Siluria.
Siluria’s OCM technology is the first commercial process
to directly convert natural gas into ethylene. The company
last month said it has proven the commercial viability
of the technology (PCN, 16 May 2016, p 2).
Looming Retirement of ‘Baby Boomers’ Challenges N. American Companies
large number of retiring “baby boomers” in the next three
to five years, combined with a shortage of experienced
workers, could cause challenges for North American
chemical companies, if not resolved, said a new survey by
Accenture and the American Chemistry Council (ACC).
These workforce turnover issues could mean more unplanned
operations disruptions, more hiring and training
costs and more efforts to maintain safety.
Of the chemical companies surveyed, 86% agree that if
the aging workforce issue is not resolved in the next three
to five years, the chemical industry’s profitability will suffer
significantly at a time when industry expansion is expected
to continue in North America.
Only about 25% of North American chemical companies
retained 90% or more of their millennial employees hired
in the past three years. Most saw a 30% to 50% attrition
rate among millennials, said the survey, noting a new Accenture
strategy study that shows new university graduates
expect to stay on the job for more than three years.
“Abundant supplies of domestic natural gas from shale
have moved the U.S. from being a high-cost producer of key
petrochemicals and resins to among the lowest cost producers
globally, creating a period of unprecedented
growth,” stated ACC President and Chief Executive Cal
“We currently have more than 262 new chemical projects
announced that are valued at over $161-billion. For
the first time in more than a decade, the U.S. chemical industry
is once again creating good, high-paying American
jobs and it’s vital that we be able to attract and retain a
talented workforce that helps us continue to drive economic
expansion, innovation, and global competitiveness,”
“We must not only hire the right people as older workers
retire and transfer their knowledge to a younger work
force, we must bridge the gap with millennials and get
them excited about what we do with chemistry, as we develop
new products to meet the needs of their generation,”
noted Inga Carus, ACC board member.
New technologies are also challenging the industry,
however, “60% of chemical companies said they are adapting
to digital technologies, but with some resistance,” commented
David Yankovitz, managing director and chemical
practice lead for Accenture. “They also recognize a greater
need to embrace digital technologies to gain a competitive
advantage. So as the industry overcomes this resistance . .
. , success will come in many areas.”
Jindal Poly Films Extends Completion Date Of BOPP Capacity Boost for Europe, U.S.
Jindal Poly Films Ltd., in its recent earnings conference
call, said a new biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP)
line at its sites in Brindisi, Italy, and LaGrange, Ga., will
be complete by mid-2017 (PCN, 21-28 Dec 2015, p 3).
The new lines, originally scheduled for completion by
the fourth quarter of 2016, will each add 60,000 t/y of
BOPP capacity at the sites. Jindal is also increasing metallizing
and extrusion capabilities at the sites.
Also, the company said an additional BOPP line in India
is complete and likely to be operational in the next two
months, adding 41,000 t/y of capacity.
There are no plans to expand biaxially oriented polyethylene
terephthalate capacity, Jindal noted.
TCEQ Issues Trecora Resources Permit To Build, Operate New Reformer Unit
Trecora Resources has received a construction and operating
permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental
Quality (TCEQ) for a new 4,000-b/d reformer unit at its
South Hampton Resources (SHR) subsidiary in Silsbee,
Texas (PCN, 7 Dec 2015, p 4).
Utilizing Chevron Phillips Chemical Co.’s Aromax Process,
the new unit will support the recently completed DTrain
expansion. Cost of the project is estimated between
$45-million to $50-million. Construction will begin immediately
with completion expected in the second quarter of
The unit will produce a “significantly higher value byproduct
stream compared with our existing reformer,” said
Trecora President and Chief Executive Simon Upfill-
Brown. “In addition, the new reformer will provide a secure
and reliable source of hydrogen for SHR’s high purity
pentane production and custom processing activities.”
Trecora expects the Aromax Process benzene, toluene
and xylene by-product stream to be sold well above feedstock
costs, unlike recent quarters, where by-product volume
was sold at average prices below feedstock cost, significantly
impacting gross margins, Upfill-Brown noted.
Amec Foster Wheeler Gets Contract For LNG Terminal In Tamil Nadu
Foster Wheeler has been awarded a contract by Indian Oil
LNG Private Ltd. for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal
in Ennore, Tamil Nadu, India.
Amec Foster Wheeler’s scope of work includes supervision
of works related to various engineering, procurement
and construction contracts for the LNG regasification and
marine import facilities, as well as the LNG storage tanks.
Included in Amec Foster Wheeler’s contract is responsibility
for project management consultancy activities for the
entire project, from engineering development and construction
phases, through to pre-commissioning, commissioning
The contract, which will be delivered at the end of 2018,
follows the successful completion of a front-end engineering
and design contract for the terminal in 2012.