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Plant Watch: November 2018

By Chemical Engineering |

Plant Watch

Covestro to invest €1.5 billion in new, world-scale MDI plant in Baytown

October 9, 2018 — Covestro AG (Leverkusen, Germany; approved an investment of around €1.5 billion to build a new methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) plant in Baytown, Tex. This investment at the existing site in Baytown is the largest single investment in the history of the company. Total capacity of the new train will be 500,000 metric tons per year (m.t./yr) of MDI, and production is expected to begin in 2024. Covestro also plans to double its MDI production capacity in Brunsbüttel, Germany from 200,000 to 400,000 m.t./yr in 2019. At the same time, an older, 90,000-m.t./yr MDI unit will be closed.


Non-phthalate plasticizer capacity to be added in 2019, Perstorp says

October 9, 2018 — Perstorp (Malmö, Sweden; will substantially expand the production capacity of its non-phthalate polyester plasticizer Pevalen in 2019. To accomplish this, Perstorp has entered into a longterm production agreement with Italian company Alcoplast Srl. The new partnership more than doubles the current production capacity, bringing it to a total of 50,000 m.t./yr. Additionally, plans to further increase the production capacity beyond 100,000 m.t./yr are advancing and will be timed to meet future market demand.


Saudi Aramco and Total launch studies to build petrochemical complex in Jubail

October 8, 2018 — Saudi Aramco (Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; and Total S.A. (Paris, France;, signed a joint development agreement for the front-end engineering and design (FEED) of a giant petrochemical complex in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. The world-class complex will be located next to the Satorp refinery, operated by Saudi Aramco (62.5%) and Total (37.5%). It will comprise a mixed-feed cracker (50% ethane and refinery off-gases) with a capacity of 1.5 million m.t./yr of ethylene and related high-added-value petrochemical units. The project represents an investment of around $5 billion and is scheduled to start up in 2024.


Hexcel opens combined precursor and carbon-fiber plant in France

October 5, 2018 — Hexcel Corp. (Stamford, Conn.; has officially opened its new plant at the Les Roches-Roussillon Chemicals Industry Platform in Isère, France. The new 37-acre plant is the company’s first combined precursor and carbon-fiber plant outside the U.S. Hexcel invested around €200 million in the plant.


Sumitomo completes new methionine plant in Japan

October 5, 2018 — Sumitomo Chemical Corp. (Tokyo; completed its new production line for feed-additive methionine in Niihama City, Ehime Prefecture, Japan. The production capacity of the new line is approximately 100,000 m.t./yr, which brings Sumitomo Chemical’s total production capacity for methionine to approximately 250,000 m.t./yr, including existing facilities.


Ineos Phenol to expand production capacity in Mobile, Alabama

October 3, 2018 — Ineos (London; announced that Ineos Phenol is planning to expand the capacity of its plant in Mobile, Ala. up to 850,000 m.t./yr, making it the largest phenol-production unit in the world. Phenol products are used in a diverse range of end markets, including the automotive, construction, electronics and fiber industries.


ExxonMobil starts producing ultra-low-sulfur fuels at new Beaumont unit

September 28, 2018 — ExxonMobil Corp. (Irving, Tex.; said that a new unit at its integrated Beaumont, Tex. facility has started operations, increasing production of ultra-low-sulfur fuels by about 45,000 barrels per day (bbl/d). The new unit relies on a proprietary catalyst system that removes sulfur while minimizing octane loss.


Mitsui to construct U.S. production plant for glass-fiber-reinforced polypropylene

September 24, 2018 — Mitsui Chemicals, Inc. (MCI; Tokyo; will set up a new production facility for long glass-fiber-reinforced polypropylene (LGFPP) at the Ohio plant of its U.S. subsidiary, Advanced Composites, Inc. The new plant is expected to have a capacity of 3,500 m.t./yr of LGFPP. The site is slated for completion in Sept. 2019, with operations commencing in Oct. 2019.


Inovyn to raise PVC production in Belgium

September 24, 2018 — Inovyn (London, U.K.; intends to increase production of general-purpose polyvinyl chloride (PVC) at its Jemeppe site in Belgium. The new investment, which will add another 200,000 m.t./yr of capacity at the site, is set to be operational in 2020.


Mergers & Acquisitions

Celanese to acquire engineering thermoplastics compounder in India

October 12, 2018 — Celanese Corp. (Dallas, Tex.; agreed to acquire Next Polymers Ltd. (Mumbai, India), one of India’s largest domestic engineering thermoplastics (ETP) compounders. Next Polymers specializes in custom compounding of various ETP materials and operates a production facility in Silvassa, India, with a capacity of 20,000 m.t./yr. Celanese expects to complete the transaction in the first quarter of 2019.


Total and Sonatrach form joint venture for polymers project in Algeria

October 10, 2018 — Total and Sonatrach (Algiers, Algeria; have signed a shareholder agreement to create a joint venture (JV) known as STEP (Sonatrach Total Entreprise Polymères). STEP will be responsible for carrying out a joint petrochemical project in Arzew, western Algeria that includes a propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit and a polypropylene production unit with an output capacity of 550,000 m.t./yr.


Cabot acquires NSCC Carbon from Nippon Steel Carbon Co.

October 3, 2018 — Cabot Corp. (Boston, Mass.; has acquired NSCC Carbon (Jiangsu) Co. from Nippon Steel Carbon Co. The group owns a 50,000-m.t./yr carbon-black manufacturing facility in Pizhou, China, which was originally commissioned in 2015. Acquisition of this plant will support Cabot’s specialty carbons product line within the Performance Chemicals segment.


Ineos to acquire the chemicals intermediates business of Flint Hill Resources

October 3, 2018 — Ineos Enterprises (London; has entered into a binding agreement to acquire the chemical intermediates business of Flint Hills Resources, LLC (Wichita, Kan.; The deal is expected to be complete by the end of 2018, subject to regulatory approval. The acquired business comprises production facilities for purified isophthalic acid (PIA), trimellitic anhydride (TMA) and maleic anhydride (MAN) located near Chicago, Ill.


BASF and LetterOne sign agreement to merge Wintershall and DEA

September 28, 2018 — BASF SE (Ludwigshafen, Germany; and LetterOne Group (Luxembourg; signed a definitive transaction agreement to merge their respective oil-and-gas businesses in a joint venture (JV), which will operate under the name Wintershall DEA. Closing of the transaction is expected in the first half of 2019. BASF will initially hold 67% and LetterOne 33% of Wintershall DEA’s ordinary shares.


Westlake Chemical plans to acquire French compounding company

September 25, 2018 — Westlake Chemical Corp. (Houston; has offered to acquire Nakan, a compounding solutions business headquartered in Reims, France. Nakan has eight production facilities, located in China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain and Vietnam, as well as a research facility in France and an application laboratory in the U.S. Nakan’s products are used in the automotive, building and construction and medical industries.


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