IHS Chemical Week


Chemical industry weekly news roundup, 20 December

12:21 PM MST | December 20, 2013 | By LINDSAY FROST

This Week in CW:

Several key changes were announced this week. On Friday, CF Industries named Anthony Will, current senior vice president of manufacturing and distribution, president and CEO, effective 2 January 2014. Uralchem deputy chairman, Dmitry Osipov, will be appointed CEO of Uralkali (Berezniki, Russia), a leading producer of potash, news agency reported Friday citing Uralkali customer sources. The move would end weeks of Interfax speculation about whether current Uralkali CEO Vladislav Baumgertner will keep his position. Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) firm Metabolix (Cambridge, MA) announced Thursday that its Board of Directors has appointed Joseph Shaulson as its new president and CEO, effective 2 January 2014, and as a member of the Board of Directors, effective immediately. Tessenderlo Group (Brussels) says that its CEO, Frank Coenen, is leaving the company with “mutual consent.” The change has been approved by the board of directors and is effective immediately. The board has appointed Luc Tack and Mel de Vogue to a shared CEO role.

Axiall has chosen Louisiana as the location of a possible world-scale ethylene plant and associated derivatives plant, the company announced on Thursday. Axiall expects the capital investment to total $3 billion, with Axiall putting up $1 billion, and a “soon-to-be-named” partner contributing $2 billion. Carrico says Axiall will begin the permitting process and certain front-end engineering design activities while it selects a final site for the cracker project. The company says that the plant could begin operation in 2018.

Solvay (Brussels) has announced an agreement to sell its 70.59% stake in Solvay Indupa (Buenos Aires) to Braskem for $290 million. The deal, subject to antitrust approval, will give Braskem a commanding position in South America’s polyvinyl chloride (PVC) market. Braskem (São Paulo) is already South America’s largest PVC producer, with 1.25 million m.t./year of PVC production capacity. Solvay Indupa, the region’s second-largest producer, has 540,000 m.t./year of PVC capacity divided between two facilities in Brazil and Argentina. After the acquisition, Braskem will have a total of 1.79 million m.t./year of PVC capacity.

ACC says its Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB) rose slightly in December, signalling continued, moderate that is expected to continue in 2014. The CAB ticked up 0.1%, to 93.9 on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis. This is the eighth consecutive monthly gain for the CAB—which is up a total of 2.8% year-over-year.

Around the Web:

The NY Times writes that the United States economy grew at a 4.1% annual pace in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said Friday. That is the strongest growth in nearly two years, and only the third time the economy has expanded that quickly since 2006. The Commerce Department revised its estimate of third-quarter growth to 4.1% from 3.6% in this release. The refined estimate is based on “more complete source data,” the department said, showing personal consumption and investment in things like factories to be higher than previously thought.

Stock markets have rallied after the US Federal Reserve's commitment to keep interest rates low offset its decision to scale back its stimulus program, the BBC writes. In Europe, London's FTSE 100 closed 1.4% higher, Germany's Dax and France's CAC added 1.6%. On Wednesday, the Fed said it would scale back its $85 billionn a month bond-buying programme by $10 billion a month. It also said that short-term interest rates would remain close to zero until unemployment was below 6.5%.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Zuzana Konopkova of Photon Science Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY; Hamburg, Germany) has shown that, under certain conditions, ordinary rock salt can take on some surprising forms that violate textbook rules of chemistry, according to Sci-News. The scientists first used new computational methods and structure-prediction algorithms to identify an array of possible stable structural outcomes from compressing rock salt (sodium chloride, NaCl). They then attempted to verify these predictions, using a diamond anvil to put salt mixed with molecular chlorine or metallic sodium under high pressure. NaCl turned into stable compounds of Na3Cl, Na2Cl, Na3Cl2 and NaCl7, all of which have highly unusual chemical bonding and electronic properties.

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