August’s top stories: Orica chemical spin off, Rabigh II integration

Orica plans to sell off its $1bn chemical unit, Saudi Aramco and Sumitomo Chemical to integrate Rabigh II into PetroRabigh, Solvay sells Eco Services business unit for $890m. wraps-up the key headlines from August.

ExxonMobil Chemical

Orica to sell chemicals unit

Orica confirmed plans to either demerge or sell off its chemical business division, worth up to $1bn.

The company took the decision following an eight-month strategic review.

The latest move forms part of Orica's decade-long plan to shift its focus towards core mining services activities and benefit from its global leadership positions in commercial explosives, ground support and sodium cyanide.

Saudi Aramco and Sumitomo Chemical to integrate $8.5bn project ownership to PetroRabigh

Saudi Aramco and Sumitomo Chemical agreed to integrate their proposed SAR32bn ($8.5bn) project, Rabigh II, into their existing joint-venture (JV), Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical (PetroRabigh).

The Rabigh II project is currently under construction and is an expansion of PetroRabigh's existing petrochemical facility.

The latest decision is based on a due diligence study conducted by Petro Rabigh for a comprehensive assessment.

Solvay to sell Eco Services business unit to CCMP for $890m


Belgian chemical firm Solvay has signed an agreement to sell its Eco Services business unit to CCMP Capital Advisors (CCMP) for $890m.

Headquartered in Cranbury, New Jersey, the US, Eco Services recycles spent sulphuric acid, which it supplies to refineries in the West Coast, the Midwest, the Gulf of Mexico and Canada.

The company produces virgin acid products for industrial applications, including mining, water treatment and other chemical processes. It operates six manufacturing plants and has a workforce of more than 500.

The sale is part of Solvay's strategy to achieve higher growth and greater returns.

Kraton Performance Polymers and LCY terminated planned merger

Kraton Performance Polymers and Taiwan-based LCY Chemical have terminated their proposed plans to merge Kraton and LCY Chemical's styrenic block copolymer (SBC) operations.

The deal, which was originally announced in January, would have created an entity with revenues of more than $2bn.

The termination came after Kraton requested some revisions to the terms of the combination agreement.

Dow Chemical seeks to offload two speciality chemicals units

Dow Midland

Dow Chemical is reportedly looking to offload two of its speciality chemicals subsidiaries in line with its strategy to divest non-core assets by 2015 and increase returns to shareholders.

The sale of the two chemical units could fetch Dow close to $2bn, Reuters reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Dow is seeking to raise as much as $6bn through asset sales.

Scientists discovered a way to convert carbon dioxide to industrial chemicals using copper foams


Scientists at Brown University's Center for the Capture and Conversion of CO2 discovered that a foamy form of copper could provide a new process to convert carbon dioxide into useful industrial chemicals.

Researchers said that catalysts produced using copper foam exhibit different electrochemical properties, compared with those made with smooth copper, in reactions involving carbon dioxide.

Brown University professor of engineering and senior author of the research Tayhas Palmore said: "Copper has been studied for a long time as an electrocatalyst for CO2 reduction, and it's the only metal shown to be able to reduce CO2 to useful hydrocarbons."

ExxonMobil Chemical selected Jacobs Engineering for Texas projects

ExxonMobil Chemical

ExxonMobil Chemical has awarded a contract to Jacobs Engineering to provide engineering, procurement and construction services for its ethane cracker project and associated product facilities in Texas, US.

The scope of the contract comprises provision of site to enable works and interconnections services, including site preparation of 350 acres for the ethane cracker in Baytown, as well as 100 acres for the product facilities in Mont Belvieu.

Jacobs will also work to interconnect the two facilities by integrating an ethane steam cracker in Baytown and two new polyethylene lines in Mont Belvieu into ExxonMobil's existing facilities.

Appalachian Resins signed LoI to lease land for $1bn ethane cracker in Ohio

Appalachian Resins has unveiled plans to lease land in Salem Township, Ohio, US for its proposed $1bn ethylene / polyethylene production facility.

The company signed a land lease letter of intent with Monroe County (Ohio) Port Authority for 50 acres of land for the project.

The company initially planned to build the ethylene / polyethylene plant in West Virginia and make use of natural gas liquids from the nearby Marcellus and Utica shale formations.

However, due to business and commercial reasons, and to accommodate a larger production facility, Appalachian Resins selected Ohio.

Mitsubishi and Gap Insaat to build $1.3bn fertiliser plant in Turkmenistan

Japanese firm Mitsubishi and Turkey's Gap Insaat are to build a $1.3bn fertiliser plant in Turkmenistan.

Planned to be built for Turkmenistan's state-owned company Turkmenhimiya, near the Garabogaz Bay in the Caspian Sea, the facility will use natural gas to produce fertiliser for export markets, particularly in Europe and East Asia.

The facility will house an ammonia plant, which will produce 2,000t per day, a urea plant, which can produce 3,500t per day, and other related infrastructure and delivery facilities.

Ineos acquired shale gas exploration licence near Grangemouth petrochemicals complex

Grangemouth  B

Ineos has acquired a 51% stake in the shale portion of a joint Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence (PEDL) in Scotland, UK, from BG Group.

Covering 329km² of the Midland Valley, the PEDL 133 licence covers the area around the company's Grangemouth petrochemicals complex.

The acquisition marked Ineos' first foray into the shale exploration segment.