April's top stories: Petronas' $27bn PIC approved, Chevron Phillips' ethane cracker

Petronas has approved a final plan to build the $27bn Pengerang Integrated Complex (PIC) in Southern Johor, Malaysia, while Chevron Phillips Chemical has broken ground on a new ethane cracker facility at its Cedar Bayou plant in Baytown, Texas. Chemicals Technology wraps up the top stories from April.

Petronas approves $27bn PIC development project in Malaysia

Petronas approved the final investment decision (FID) to build the Pengerang Integrated Complex (PIC) in Southern Johor, Malaysia.

The FID is a crucial step in the progress of the proposed PIC that includes a Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) and other associated facilities.

A $16bn investment is estimated for the construction of RAPID, and approximately $11bn for associated facilities, according to the company.

Chevron Phillips breaks ground on USGC petrochemicals project

USGC petrochemical project

Chevron Phillips Chemical broke ground on a new ethane cracker facility at its Cedar Bayou plant in Baytown, Texas, which forms part of the US Gulf Coast (USGC) petrochemicals project.

A joint-venture between JGC (US) and Fluor Enterprises will implement the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) phase of the 1.5 million tonnes per annum (tpa) ethane cracker portion of the project.

The project also includes two 500,000tpa capacity polyethylene facilities, which are planned to be built in Old Ocean, Texas.

BASF joins forces with US universities for research into inorganic materials

BASF, Universities

Germany-based BASF announced it was partnering with three major US universities to open a new research institute, The California Research Alliance by BASF (CARA), which will focus on developing new inorganic materials and their applications, biosciences and related technologies.

The research institute will combine the expertise of BASF experts and researchers from the University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley), Stanford University and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).

CARA will engage in chemical systems biology projects to study molecular pathways, in order to develop safer products and assess the importance of toxicological effects for humans.

European Commission clears Kuraray-DuPont deal

Japanese firm Kuraray's $543m takeover of DuPont's Glass Laminating Solutions/Vinyls (GLSV) business received approval by the European Commission (EC).

The approval requires divestment of GLSV's PVB film production facility in Uentrop, Germany, as the combined entity would dominate the market, which could result in higher prices.

The decision comes after a market investigation by the EC, which showed that the merged entity would have insufficient competitive constraint for the supply of PVB film for architectural applications in the European Economic Area (EEA).

Kuraray has agreed to divest the PVB film site, which means that the transaction raises no competition concerns.

Solvay to divest European PVC compound business

Solvay headquarter

Belgian chemical firm Solvay agreed to sell its polyvinyl chloride (PVC) compound business, Benvic Europe, to US private investment firm OpenGate Capital.

Benvic Europe mixes PVC and additives, pigments and stabilisers to make new plastic compounds. It generated revenues of approximately €160m in 2013.

The plastic compounds will be processed to serve markets ranging from cars and aircrafts to medical applications and construction.

Air Products secures liquid nitrogen supply deal in Singapore

Gas and chemical supplier Air Products secured a contract to provide liquid nitrogen to Singapore's Jurong Rock Caverns (JRC) project.

Developed by the government agency JTC, the JRC is claimed to be the first underground storage facility for petrochemical products in South East Asia.

The JRC, which is located on Jurong Island, will complement the existing infrastructure developed by the JTC to support the growth of chemicals and energy clusters.

The liquid nitrogen provided by Air Products will be used as a blanketing gas for the oil storage caverns for safety purposes.

Dow and Mitsui commission new chlor-alkali facility in US

Dow Chemical and Mitsui commissioned a chlor-alkali facility in Texas, US.

The new facility has the capacity to produce 800,000t per annum (tpa) of chlorine and will serve the growing feedstock needs of performance and market-driven businesses.

The company said that it will also market caustic soda on behalf of the joint-venture.

Solvay copopolymer

Solvay to double copolymers production capacity at Freiburg facility in Germany

Solvay Polyamide & Intermediates (P&I) announced plans to double production of copolymers at its manufacturing site in Freiburg, Germany.

The move is part of the company's efforts to cater to the consumer demand for added-value polyamide solutions.

Solvay P&I's copolymers are part of its Stabamid high-performance portfolio, which are used in engineering plastics, industrial yarns and textiles.