IHS Chemical Week


Chemical industry weekly news roundup, 15 August

8:50 AM MDT | August 15, 2014 | By LINDSAY FROST

This Week in CW:

Kinder Morgan, Inc. (KMI) announced that it is buying out its two master limited partnerships (MLPs) – Kinder Morgan Energy Partners (KMP) and El Paso Pipeline Partners (EPB) – along with limited liability management firm Kinder Morgan Management (KMR), bringing the four entities into one corporate and financial structure. The consolidated entity will be owned by Kinder Morgan, Inc., and will be North America’s largest energy infrastructure company, worth about $140 billion. It will own and operate about 68,000 miles of natural gas pipeline. The deal is expected to close in the fourth-quarter of this year.

Sabic has announced that it is going ahead with majorly upgrading its olefins plant at Wilton, UK, to enable it to use ethane gas feedstock imported from the United States. The company said last year that it is carrying out studies to convert the naphtha cracker, which is designed to produce 865,000 m.t./year of ethylene; 400,000 m.t./year of propylene; and 100,000 m.t./year of butadiene. The conversion will be carried out with the help of more than £9 million ($15 million) of funding from the UK government’s Regional Growth Fund. Work is already underway to build a cryogenic tank at the company’s North Tees, UK, site as part of a gas import terminal. Whessoe has been contracted for the work. The project, when completed in 2016, will make the plant one of the most competitive crackers in Europe.

The president of Mexico, Enrique Pe­ña Nieto, has signed the country's energy reform bill into law, the president's office says. The law preserves and guarantees state ownership of Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex; Mexico City) and the Comisión Federal Energética (Mexico City), as well as of hydrocarbon resources and oil revenues. Mexico's petrochemical industry is set to benefit from access to more competitively priced energy and feedstocks in the medium and long terms. The president has announced 10 short-term measures aimed at setting the reform in motion. These include the list of exploration and production fields that Pemex will retain, which will be made public on 13 August. The announcement was pushed forward by one month to grant Pemex more time to define its strategy.

Apple announced that it will ban the use of benzene and n-hexane in the final assembly of its electronics as part of a renewed effort to eliminate unsafe work conditions since the addition of ex-EPA chief Lisa Jackson as v.p./environmental initiatives in May 2013. Apple previously phased out the use of polyvinyl chloride in its power cords, as well as mercury in its displays and brominated flame retardants in enclosures. “Our history proves that the electronics industry can make use of green chemistry,” Jackson says. “It’s time now to do even better, and we are eager to take on this challenge.”

Around the Web:

European stocks inched higher on Thursday, turning positive after Russian President Vladimir Putin made comments seen as conciliatory, though gains were limited by weak German and French economic data, according to Reuters. Data showed Germany's economy suffered a surprise contraction—its first in more than a year—in the three months to June, and France slashed its growth forecasts for this year and next after its economy failed to grow in the second quarter. By Thursday afternoon, the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was 0.2% higher at 1,328.24 points, adding to this week's tentative rebound.

Scientists at Brown University’s Center for Capture and Conversion of CO2 have discovered that copper foam could provide a new way of converting excess CO2 into useful industrial chemicals, including formic acid, according to News from Brown. A catalyst made from a foamy form of copper has vastly different electrochemical properties from catalysts made with smooth copper in reactions involving carbon dioxide, a new study shows. The research suggests that copper foams could provide a new way of converting excess CO2 into useful industrial chemicals.

Reuters says US retail sales unexpectedly stalled in July, pointing to some loss of momentum in the economy early in the third quarter. But with job growth holding sturdy, sales activity was likely to rebound in the coming months, economists said. The Commerce Department said on Wednesday that retail sales, which had increased 0.2% in June, were in part held back by a second straight month of declines in receipts at auto dealers. July's reading was the weakest since January.

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