IHS Chemical Week


Chemical industry weekly news roundup, 31 May

2:58 PM MDT | May 31, 2013 | By LINDSAY FROST

This Week in CW:

Linde announced on Thursday that it is making its largest Us investment with an air separation unit (ASU), gasification train and supporting equipment at La Porte, TX. The total investment is estimated at $200 million, and the plants are scheduled to come onstream in the first quarter of 2015, the company says. The addition of a gasification plant to the hydrogen-, methanol-, and carbon monoxide–producing plant will create the world’s largest gas-based partial-oxidation complex for the production of synthetic gas (syngas) products for petrochemicals. Oxygen and nitrogen produced by the ASU will supply the gasification assets at the La Porte site, the company says.

Eastman said on Wednesday that it will invest $1.6 billion at its Kingsport, TN site over the next 7 years. Investment will focus on safety and environmental projects, increased warehouse capacity, building renovations, expansion of its corporate headquarters campus, and further expansion opportunities to be detailed in the coming years, a company spokesperson says. Eastman says it will add 300 jobs at Kingsport. 

Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Co. (Orpic; Muscat), plans to invest $3.6 billion to develop a petrochemicals complex near the Ṣuḥār, Oman, refinery, which will provide raw materials for a planned downstream plastics-based industry in Oman, reports the local media, confirming earlier announcements. Together, the projects would require an investment of some $5 billion. Musab Al Mahrouqi, Orpic’s CEO, said earlier this week that the project will be implemented in tandem with the Ṣuḥār refinery improvement scheme.

Kuwaiti oil minister Hani Hussein resigned on Sunday over the $2.2 billion penalty payment to Dow Chemical earlier this month. He stepped down to avoid being questioned in parliament over the payment and other issues. Kuwait’s cabinet accepted his resignation and appointed finance minister Mustafa Al Shimali as acting oil minister, state-run Kuna news agency reported. Hussein's resignation was accepted Monday.

Around the Web:

The Washington Post says in a blog that coal is making a comeback in 2013—despite reports of how a glut of cheap shale gas was killing off coal in the US and slashing the country’s carbon-dioxide emissions. According to the latest data from the Energy Information Administration, coal has been reclaiming some—though not all—of its market share in 2013. Natural gas prices have been creeping up over the past year, thanks to a combination of a colder winter, higher demand for heating fuel, scaled-back drilling, and also new storage facilities that are preventing a glut of gas on the market. The ultra-low gas prices that were devastating the coal industry in 2011 and 2012 weren’t sustainable forever. However now, the Post says US carbon dioxide emissions will rebound a bit as coal recovers, it will be hard to count on natural gas alone to continue to drive down US carbon emissions—though, coal could continue to struggle.

According to Voice of America, the US Central bank has concluded that American househoulds have recovered less than half the wealth they had before the country’s recession in 2008 and 2009. A regional branch of the Federal Reserve in St. Louis, MO says US families accumulated a net worth of $66 trillion by the end of last year. However, it said that amounted to only 45% of the total households had amassed in 2007, in the months before the sharpest US downturn since the 1930s, the article says.

The Verge reports that photographs have captured the moment atoms bond for the first time. Researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have captured the moment when atoms form a covalent bond. The team happened upon the discovery by accident: they set out to build graphene nanostructures, and used an atomic force microscope to ensure they had correctly arranged the atoms. Much to their surprise, the microscope captured some stunning images of carbon atoms and their bonds.

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