May’s top stories: Dow 3% workforce cut, $45bn offer for Syngenta

Dow Chemical plans to cut its workforce by 1,500 worldwide to streamline operations, Energy Recovery to build €3.7bn green ammonia plant in Belgium and Syngenta rejected a $45bn acquisition offer from US-based Monsanto, wraps-up the key headlines from May 2015.


Dow plans 3% workforce reduction globally to streamline operations

Dow Chemicals

Dow Chemical is set to cut its workforce by 1,500 worldwide in an effort to streamline operations due to the pending separation of a major chunk of its chlorine value chain.

According to Dow, the reduction will address any stranded costs from the divestment of Dow Chlorine Products.

The company's latest move, set to be completed during the next two years, is aimed driving geographic market engagement, and will further increase its value growth and productivity targets.

Dow said it is also in the process of making additional minor adjustments to its asset footprint in order to improve competitiveness.

Energy Recovery to invest €3.7bn in green ammonia production unit in Belgium

Port of Antwerp

Saudi Arabian company Energy Recovery Systems (ERS) is set to construct a new production unit for green ammonia and green urea (chemical fertiliser) with an investment of €3.7bn at Delwaide dock in the Port of Antwerp.

The company obtained approval from the Antwerp port authorities in Belgium for exclusive concession negotiations on 150ha of land for the plant construction.

At its proposed plant, the company plans to take up waste to chemicals projects.

ERS selected Antwerp as it is located in the middle of a chemicals cluster, has easy accessibility for ships and a good rail and road infrastructure, in addition to a wide network of pipelines for distribution.

Syngenta declines Monsanto's $45bn acquisition offer

Swiss agrochemicals company Syngenta rejected a $45bn acquisition offer from US-based Monsanto, claiming that the deal is not in its best interests.

Syngenta said that that the offer undervalues the company's prospects, and that the proposal also underestimates the execution risks, including regulatory and public scrutiny at multiple levels in various countries.

According to Syngenta, Monsanto proposed to acquire the company at a price of CHF449 ($481) per Syngenta share, with around 45% in cash.

DSM and NHU form JV to produce polyphenylene sulphide plastics compounds in China

Royal DSM

Royal DSM formed a joint venture (JV) with NHU to manufacture and market polyphenylene sulphide (PPS)-based plastics compounds.

Named DSM NHU Engineering Plastics (Zhejiang), the JV will be 60%-owned by DSM, while NHU will hold the remainder.

The JV will produce various engineering plastic compounds based on PPS polymer supplied by NHU from its existing plant in Zhejiang. It will serve automotive, electrical and electronics, as well as industrial markets.

DSM will contribute its expertise in application development and materials science, and access to its global customer network.

Stanford University scientists find way to produce methane in environment friendly way


Scientists from Stanford University achieved a breakthrough in the understanding of how methanogens obtain electrons from solid surfaces, which will help produce renewable bio-fuels and chemicals.

The findings will help scientists design electrodes for microbial factories that produce methane gas and other compounds.

Stanford University chemical engineering professor and study co-author Alfred Spormann said: "The overall goal is to create large bioreactors where microbes convert atmospheric carbon dioxide and clean electricity from solar, wind or nuclear power into renewable fuels and other valuable chemicals.

"Now that we understand how methanogens take up electricity, we can re-engineer conventional electrodes to deliver more electrons to more microbes at a faster rate."

Ube Industries develops strontium carbonate nano particles for resins

strontium carbonate nano particles

Ube Industries created high-dispersion strontium carbonate nano particles using its proprietary gas-liquid reaction method.

Said to be the first-of-its-kind compound, the strontium carbonate nano particles could help formulate resins to produce ultra-high transparency films with less than 1% haze.

Using inorganic filler additives such as Strontium carbonate for optical films, manufacturers of LCDs and organic EL displays will be able to improve performance by delivering enhanced image clarity.

Jacobs to provide EPCM services for Sadara's $20bn chemical complex in Saudi Arabia

Sadara Chemical Company awarded a contract to Jacobs Engineering Group to provide engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) services for its $20bn chemical complex in Saudi Arabia.

Under the four-year contract, Jacobs will provide domestic and external EPCM services to Sadara.

Being constructed in Jubail Industrial City II in a single phase, Sadara's integrated chemical complex will have 26 manufacturing plants. The plants are expected to have a joint capacity of more than three million tonnes a year.

BASF opens polymerisation plant in Shanghai, China


BASF inaugurated an Ultramid nylon 6 and 6 / 6.6 polymerisation plant at the Shanghai Chemical Industry Park near Shanghai in China.

BASF chairman of the board of executive directors Dr Kurt Bock said: "This is the first investment in polyamide polymerisation for BASF in Asia Pacific, and shows our strong commitment to this market.

"The innovative production setup enables us to respond to our customers' needs even quicker, with more flexibility."

With annual capacity to produce 100,000t, the new plant is expected to bolster the company's production and supply network locally, and enable it to better serve the growing Asia Pacific market.

BASF Greater China president and chairman Dr Albert Heuser said: "The demand for polyamide products in the engineering plastics, fibre and film industries will continue to grow strongly, particularly in China."

Indorama completes stake acquisition in Thai's Bangkok Polyester

Petrochemicals producer Indorama Ventures completed its previously announced acquisition of a 94.91% stake in Thailand's Bangkok Polyester, part of the Bangkok Cable group.

The acquisition was originally announced in March and is set to increase Indorama's PET capacity share in the country to 58% from the existing 43%, while increasing its market share in the region.

Bangkok Polyester exports PET to Japan, which is the world's largest importer of PET at present, enjoying zero import duties from Thailand.

According to Indorama, the acquisition of Bangkok Polyester will enhance the company's overall cost synergies and supply chain as it is in line with its strategy of vertical integration.

Solvay and Enirgi Chemicals form JV to produce sodium bicarbonate-based products

Solvay has formed a 50 / 50 joint venture (JV) with Enirgi Chemicals to develop sodium bicarbonate-based products and solutions.

Named SOLVAir Natural Solutions, the new entity will serve North American markets by providing air pollution control applications, including flue gas treatments.

Enirgi Chemicals will supply sodium bicarbonate to the JV, while Solvay will use its expertise to make further gains in the market.

Strict regulations in North America mandate coal-fired power plants and other industries to improve air quality and limit acid gas emissions such as sulphur dioxide and trioxide (SOx) and hydrochloric acid (HCl).