IHS Chemical Week


Chemical industry weekly news roundup—4 January

1:35 PM MST | January 4, 2013 | By LINDSAY FROST

This week in CW:

Dow Chemical says it is postponing the second phase of its Santa Vitória, Brazil, biobased polyethylene project with Mitsui because of escalation in costs to design, construct, and operate the facility, along with uncertainties around land ownership legislation in Brazil, Dow says. The 50-50 jv was formed for a 240,000-m.t./year ethanol plant at Dow’s existing sugarcane operation at Santa Vitória.

Mitsubishi Chemical announced it is acquiring Qualicaps (Japan) from the Carlyle Group for $650 million. Qualicaps develops, manufactures, and distributes capsules for pharmaceutical, and health and nutrition products—including hard gelatin capsules, nongelatin hypromellose capsules, and pharmaceutical processing equipment. The transaction is expected to close in March.

Braskem has sold its water treatment affiliate Distribuidora de Aguas Camaçari and its majority stake in industrial waste treatment firm Cetrel to Odebrecht Environmental (São Paulo) for a combined 652 million reais ($318 million).

Mitsui Chemicals announced it has decided to cease production of resorcinol at its Iwakuni-Ohtake production complex at Waki, Japan, after exiting the business in December 2012. The decision was made after an explosion occurred at the plant in April 2012, killing 1 employee and injuring 25. Operations were suspended after the accident, but all except the plants that produce resorcinol, cymene, and hydroquinone have since restarted.

Around the Web:

A new study published by Princeton researchers, described in an article on science news site phys.org, says previous models for measuring drought could be mathematically incorrect—suggesting that there is less of a trend towards global drought than previously indicated. The researchers said that errors resulting in the stimulation model commonly used to assess drought, called the Palmer Drought Severity Index, have led to overestimates of the severity of drought worldwide.

The Economist, along with the Economist Intelligence Unit, has published its list of what it expects to be the fastest growing economies of 2013—with Macau, a region of Western China, taking the lead at almost 15% growth due to the prospect of visitors with rising wages continuing to raise gambling revenues as new casino projects are built. Mongolia took second place—thanks to a potential boost in its mining sector. The fastest rate of shrinkage, or decline, is predicted to be Greece while the euro crisis continues.

According to the Energy Collective, researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have reconfirmed earlier findings of high rates of methane leakage from natural gas fields. Preliminary results from a field study in the Uinta Basin of Utah show methane leakage rates of 9% of total production—nearly double the cumulative loss rates estimated from industry data, especially since increased fracking in that area, the article states.

After months of debate, the fiscal cliff crisis was averted at the very last minute, though many decisions, including spending cuts and the potential of raising the government’s debt limit, are yet to be made—which could affect the economic outlook for 2013 in the United States. According to an article written by the Associated Press in the Huffington Post, if all budgetary uncertainty can be resolved within the next few months, growth can be expected in the second half of 2013. However, businesses remain wary of expanding or hiring during the wait.

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