IHS Chemical Week


Chemical industry weekly news roundup, 6 December

10:11 AM MST | December 6, 2013 | By LINDSAY FROST

This Week in CW:

Dow Chemical announced this week that it is carving out a chunk of its chlorine value chain representing $5 billion in annual revenue for disposal as part of the company’s long-term shift to higher-margin, noncyclical activities. Over 40 manufacturing facilities at 11 sites and nearly 2,000 employees are affected. The assets are to be split into three units: epoxy, chlorinated organics, and North America chlor-alkali and vinyl. Dow says it will evaluate all separation alternatives, including joint ventures, spin-offs, and divestitures. The company aims to complete the transactions within the next 12–24 months. Executive v.p. Jim Fitterling will oversee the process.

PotashCorp announced that it is taking the “difficult but necessary” step to reduce its workforce in Canada, the United States, and Trinidad by approximately 18%, equivalent to more than 1,000 people. The job cuts include 440 in Saskatchewan, 130 in New Brunswick, 350 in Florida, 85 in North Carolina, and approximately 40 positions elsewhere in the United States and Trinidad. Following a comprehensive review of PotashCorp’s business and operational needs, the company has decided to enhance its global competitiveness and maintain operational flexibility in potash to meet anticipated demand growth. All three business operating segments—nitrogen, phosphate, and potash—as well as corporate services, will be impacted by the reductions, the company says.

Shell will not move forward with a proposed 140,000-bbl/day gas-to-liquids (GTL) project in Louisiana and will suspend all further work on the project, the company has announced. Shell says it has carefully evaluated a number of development options for GTL on the US Gulf Coast using natural gas feedstocks. Shell had in late September selected Ascension Parish, LA, as the location for a possible GTL facility, as reported by CW. The project would have required an investment of $12.5 billion.

Ingleside Ethylene, the recently formed 50-50 joint venture between OxyChem, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum; and Mexichem, announced that CB&I was awarded the approximately $1-billion engineering and construction contract to build a previously announced steam cracker at Ingleside, TX. CB&I earlier completed front-end engineering and design work for the 1.2-billion lbs/year ethylene plant, which will be located at OxyChem’s complex there.

Around the Web:

General Motors is set to shut down the European arm of Chevrolet by the end of 2015 after it failed to build significant market share, and the company will focus instead on its Opel and Vauxhall lines to try to return to profitability there, according to Reuters. The world's second-biggest carmaker behind Japan's Toyota Motor Corp said on Thursday that the decision would result in one-time charges of up to $1 billion, but it should lead to production, marketing and distribution savings.

According to Time, a private survey shows US businesses last month added the most jobs in a year, powered by big gains in manufacturing and construction. Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that companies and small businesses added 215,000 jobs in November. ADP also said private employers added 184,000 jobs in October, much stronger than its initial estimate of 130,000. The ADP numbers cover only private businesses and often diverge from the government’s more comprehensive report. Last month, the Labor Department said private businesses added 212,000 jobs in October.

US exports hit an all-time record in October, pushing down the US trade deficit, the Commerce Department said Wednesday, written about in USA Today. After falling three straight months, exports rose 1.7% to a record $192.7 billion. Higher shipments of industrial supplies, including oil, liquid natural gas and chemicals, partly drove the increase. Auto exports dipped. Imports also jumped 0.5% to a 19-month high of $233.3 billion on sales to the US of industrial supplies and consumer goods. The trade gap fell 5.4% from September to $40.6 billion.

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