January’s top stories: Shell $11bn deal with Iraq, DuPont and Chenguang form JV

Shell signs $11bn deal with Iraq Government to build a petrochemicals complex, University of Delaware researchers develop a new chemical detector device, and DuPont and Chenguang form new fluoroelastomers joint venture, Chemicals-technology.com wraps-up the key headlines from January.

He Syngas-t

Shell signs $11bn deal with Iraq Government to build petrochemical complex in Basra

Anglo-Dutch oil and gas giant Shell signed a deal worth $11bn with the Iraq Government to build a petrochemicals complex near Basra, south-Iraq.

Planned to be named Nibras, the complex is expected to produce 1.8 million tonnes of petrochemical products a year, including plastics, fertilisers and other derivatives.

Reuters cited Industry Minister Nasser al-Esawi as saying at a conference: "The Nibras complex will be one of the largest (foreign) investments (in Iraq) and the most important in the petrochemical sector in the Middle East."

The Nibras plant will commence operations within six years and is said to make Iraq the largest petrochemical producer in the Middle East.

MeadWestvaco to separate speciality chemicals business


US-based MeadWestvaco (MWV) received approval from its board of directors to proceed with its planned separation of its specialty chemicals business.

The approval came after a thorough strategic review process, the company said.

MWV's speciality chemicals business produces chemicals used in printing inks, asphalt paving and adhesives, as well as chemicals used in the agricultural, paper and petroleum industries.

US researchers develop new chemical detector device

Researchers at the University of Delaware, US, designed a new device that can identify and quantify chemical compounds in complex mixtures such as fuels, oils, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and food.

The quantitative carbon detector (QCD) is said to have a significant impact on the time required for chemical analysis. It is being manufactured by Minnesota-based start-up Activated Research Company.

The Catalysis Centre for Energy Innovation (CCEI) creates new technologies for the production of renewable fuels and chemicals using biomass as feedstock.

NCSU researchers develop catalytic compound to produce hydrogen and syngas feedstock

He Syngas

Researchers from the North Carolina State University (NCSU), US, developed a new catalytic compound that uses solar power to convert methane and water into hydrogen and syngas.

Compared with previous thermal water-splitting methods, the new catalytic material is more than three times more efficient at converting water into hydrogen gas, researchers said.

NCSU PhD student in the lab of professor Fanxing Li and lead author of two articles describing the material and process, Feng He said: "We're excited about the new material and process because it converts water, inexpensive natural gas and clean, renewable solar energy into valuable syngas and hydrogen fuels."

Anellotech, IFPEN and Axens to develop bio-aromatics production technology

Anellotech, IFP Energies nouvelles (IFPEN) and Axens partnered to develop a new technology for low-cost production of aromatics from renewable non-food biomass.

Under the terms of the partnership, Anellotech will work on the clean technology platform at the Pearl River pilot plant in New York, US, to produce bio-based aromatics.

IFPEN will conduct process scale-up and hydrodynamic studies at its facility in Lyon, France, while Axens will be responsible for final development and basic plant design, as well as preparing the technology for commercialisation.

Shell and Qatar Petroleum shelve $6.4bn petrochemical joint venture in Qatar

Oil and gas giant Shell and Qatar Petroleum shelved plans to proceed with their Al-Karaana Petrochemicals complex joint venture (JV) in Ras Laffan Industrial City, Qatar.

The decision followed a thorough evaluation of commercial quotations from engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) bidders, with the estimated capital cost of the project rendering it commercially unfeasible in the current economic climate, Shell said.

In December 2011, the companies signed a heads of agreement deal for the project.

Sadara and Chemie-Cluster Bayern to develop chemical-based value chains in Jubail

Sadara - CCB

Sadara Chemical Company (Sadara) signed an agreement with Chemie-Cluster Bayern (CCB) to jointly support the development of chemical-based value chains at PlasChem Park in Jubail, Saudia Arabia.

Under terms of the deal, the companies will focus on attracting German and European small and medium enterprises (SMEs) working in the chemical industries to establish their presence in PlasChem Park, which is a collaborative effort by Sadara and the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu (RCJY).

Sadara and CCB aim to identify better market opportunities in Saudi Arabia for chemical companies, particularly SMEs with a specific interest in opening or expanding operations in the kingdom.

DuPont and Chenguang form new fluoroelastomers joint venture

US-based DuPont Fluoropolymer Solutions (DuPont) and China-based Zhonghao Chenguang Chemical Research Institute Company (Chenguang) formed a 50/50 joint venture for the production and marketing of fluoroelastomer gums and pre-compounds in China.

The move forms part of their strategy to serve China's rapidly expanding fluoroelastomer market through science and technology, targeted capacity expansions and sustainable solutions for high-performance applications.

Fluoroelastomers play a major role in many applications, such as designing more efficient and reliable automobiles, building longer-lasting chemical process equipment, generating clean and renewable energy options and developing high-performance aircraft.

The 50/50 joint venture (JV) brings together the complementary expertise of DuPont and Chenguang.

Mitsui and Kuala Lumpur Kepong reach agreement on oleochemical project in China

TPOZ Zhangjiagang Factory

Japan-based Mitsui and Kuala Lumpur Kepong (KLK) reached agreement on Mitsui's participation in the oleochemical business operated by KLK in China.

Under terms of the agreement, the Japanese firm will invest $44m in the business and acquires 20% of the shares in KLK Premier Capital (KLKPCL) from KLK.

KLKPCL is an investment holding company, which owns 100% of the shares in Taiko Palm-Oleo Zhangjiagang (TPOZ), a manufacturer and supplier of oleochemicals based in Zhangjiagang City.

BASF terminates partnership with Cargill and Novozymes in bio-based acrylic-acid project

BASF terminated its partnership with Novozymes and Cargill, formed to develop a bio-based process to produce acrylic-acid from renewable raw materials.

In 2012, BASF joined Cargill and Novozymes to produce 3-hydroxypropionic (3-HP) and acrylic-acid using a bio-based process.

3-HP is a renewable building-block and chemical precursor to acrylic-acid.

Acrylic-acid is produced by the oxidation of propylene, which is a crude oil derivative.