September’s top stories: PTT's $22bn refinery, star-shaped molecule breakthrough

PTT and Saudi Aramco partnered for $22bn refinery and petrochemical complex in Vietnam, University of Manchester scientist achieved a breakthrough in creating a new star-shaped molecule, while AkzoNobel was solicited to buy Axalta Coating Systems for $7bn, Chemicals-technology.com wraps-up the key headlines from September.


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Yara in talks with CF Industries over possible merger

Norway-based Yara International announced negotiations are ongoing with CF Industries over a possible merger, which could create a fertiliser company with annual sales of around $20bn.

If the companies agree to proceed with the merger, the combined company would benefit from Yara's global distribution capabilities and CF Industries' proximity to natural gas, used in the production of nitrogen fertiliser.

Yara International said in a statement that discussions were at an early stage and there are no assurances that they will result in a transaction.

BASF, Cargill and Novozymes convert 3-HP to acrylic acid

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German chemical company BASF successfully converted 3-hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP) to glacial bio-based acrylic acid and superabsorbent polymers in collaboration with Cargill and Novozymes.

The move marked a milestone in the joint development of technologies, to produce acrylic acid from renewable raw materials.

Acrylic acid is currently produced by the oxidation of propylene, which derives from refined crude oil.

BASF, Cargill and Novozymes intend to further upscale the process.

AkzoNobel solicited to buy Axalta Coating Systems for $7bn

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Dutch speciality chemicals producer AkzoNobel was reported to be the potential buyer of automotive coatings firm Axalta Coating Systems for more than $7bn.

Although AkzoNobel did not reveal its plans for Axalta, investment banks were in negotiations with the Dutch chemical firm to offer a bid, reported Bloomberg citing sources familiar with the matter.

The people said that AkzoNobel and US-based Sherwin-Williams were identified as possible buyers of Axalta.

UK scientist creates star-shaped molecule

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A scientist at the University of Manchester in the UK achieved a breakthrough in creating a new star-shaped molecule, which could help develop light and flexible materials.

The 'Star of David' molecule, created by PhD student Alex Stephens, is made up of interlocking rings and is said to be the most complex-of-its-kind, comprising of two molecular triangles, which are twisted about each other three times into a hexagram, the scientists said.

Interlocked molecules in the structure are very small and each triangle is 114 atoms in length around the perimeter.

Using a process called 'self-assembly,' the molecular triangles are attached to each other at the same time when the triangles are formed.

PTT and Saudi Aramco plan $22bn refinery and petrochemical complex in Vietnam

Thai oil and gas company PTT partnered with Saudi Aramco for a proposed $22bn refinery and petrochemical complex in Vietnam.

The companies submitted the project proposal to the Vietnamese Government.

The Vietnamese's trade and industry ministry will discuss the proposal with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha in the coming months.

RusVinyl commissions €1.4bn polyvinyl chloride plant in Russia

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RusVinyl commissioned its €1.4bn polyvinyl chloride (PVC) facility near Kstovo in the Nizhniy Novgorod region of Russia.

Commissioning of the plant followed a trial production of PVC at the plant in August.

The PVC plant is said to be one of the largest petrochemical investment projects in Russia and will cater to domestic demand for the product.

The facility incorporates advanced vinyl technology, automated production and equipment and multi-tier safety systems with marginal environmental footprint.

Arkema plans to buy Total's adhesives unit for $2.25bn

French chemical group Arkema offered to buy Total's adhesives unit, Bostik, for approximately $2.25bn.

Bostik, which has peen part of Total since 1990, produces the Blu-Tack adhesive brand and is the third-largest in the adhesives sector, with sales of €1.5bn in 2013.

Arkema's offer included plans to continue sustainable operations, to preserve existing jobs and maintain employee benefits.

Eastman Chemical to buy speciality chemical company Taminco for $1.8bn

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Eastman Chemical agreed to acquire speciality chemical company Taminco in a $2.8bn deal, including its $1bn debt.

The acquisition is part of Eastman Chemical's strategy to strengthen its presence in food, feed and agriculture markets and accelerate growth in the personal care, coatings, and oil and gas segments.

Eastman Chemical said it would pay $26 for each share of Taminco common stock and plans to finance the acquisition using available cash and debt financing.

CHS to build $3bn fertiliser plant in North Dakota, US

US agribusiness firm CHS unveiled plans to proceed with the construction of a $3bn fertiliser plant at Spiritwood in North Dakota, US.

The company received approval from its board of directors for the project in September.

Planned to be located ten miles north-east of Jamestown, the facility will produce over 2,400t of ammonia per day, which will be converted to urea and ammonia nitrate (UAN), and diesel exhaust fuel.

Evonik Industries to invest €2bn in German operations

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Speciality chemicals company Evonik Industries unveiled plans to invest around €2bn in its German operations as part of its growth strategy in the country from 2012 to 2016.

The company plans to set up large-scale industrial plants and new research centres, as well as expand its production capabilities at existing facilities.

Evonik executive board chairman Klaus Engel said: "Germany has a strong and healthy industrial base."