Shell in negotiations to sell its Swedish assets

LONDON (Reuters) -- Royal Dutch Shell is in exclusive talks with Finnish fuel distributor St1 to sell the oil major's Swedish refinery, both companies said on Monday.

If the companies reach an agreement, it would be the second European refinery deal for Shell in a short period, following the sale of its German refinery in late August.

Shell has been looking for buyers for other refineries in Europe as a part of a plan to divest about 15 percent of its refining assets as margins are expected to remain weak for a long time in many developed countries, where industry experts say demand has peaked.


UK National Composites Centre construction began

(prw) -- Work has begun on building the GBP 16m National Composites Centre (NCC), which the UK government announced last December.

The NCC is a collaboration between the University of Bristol (as lead partner) and the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA), with additional funding from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and the European Regional Development Fund. It will be the first building completed at the Science Park in Emerson's Green between Bristol and Bath.

AgustaWestland has joined ⌠First-Tier partners Airbus UK, GKN, Rolls Royce and Vestas who have committed to participate in the NCC, which will also forge links with other centres of advanced manufacturing expertise across the UK.


Haitian breaking records in H1 2010

(prw) -- Haitian International, China's largest injection moulding machine maker, reported record-setting sales and profit for the first half of 2010 fuelled by strong demand in China and growth in emerging markets such as Brazil, the Middle East and Asia.

The company reported that first half sales hit 3.23bn yuan (┬369m) with a net profit of 542m yuan (┬61m), and said it plans to build another machinery factory, this time in the North China city of Dalian, that it aims to open in 2012.

The figures suggest Haitian was able to maintain its strong performance from the second half of 2009, its previous record six-month period, as the Chinese economy continued to expand. Haitian said both sales and profits were up 30% so far in 2010 over the previous high.


Corn-derived plastics to be more heat-tolerant

(plastemart) -- Making corn-derived plastics more heat-tolerant is one of several top-priority targets of collaborative research at the Agricultural Research Service's Western Regional Research Center in Albany, California. This will help broaden the range of applications for which corn-based plastics would find application. Orts and Lapol co-investigators are doing the work at ARS where Orts leads the Bioproduct Chemistry and Engineering Research Unit. ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.

The Albany team is developing a product known as a heat-deflection temperature modifier that would be blended with PLA to make it more heat-tolerant. The modifier is more than 90% corn-based and is fully biodegradable. There currently are no commercially available heat-deflection temperature modifiers for PLA. Preliminary tests at the Albany lab indicate that, when blended with PLA, the modifier can raise PLA's heat-deflection temperature by at least 50╟F.


Suspended projects in Map Tha Phut will not change location

(plastemart) -- The Thai Administrative Court has ordered termination of the operating permits of only two industrial projects in the Map Ta Phut, allowing 74 other earlier-suspended projects to go ahead. The two suspended projects are expansions - An ethylene-glycol (EG) plant by TOC Glycol, a unit of PTT Chemical PCL, and a vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) plant by an affiliate of Siam Cement PCL. To get a new licence, the company will have to conduct new environmental and health impact assessments. The two operators have decided not to move location as the long-awaited environmental regulations have shown clarity. The court noted that the two projects might be included in the list of 11 harmful activities recently approved by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry. Thai Plastic and Chemicals Plc (TPC), a unit of Siam Cement Group, expects the HIA and EIA of its vinyl chloride monomer capacity expansion will be completed by the end of this year. TPC's project to increase capacity by 40,000 tpa is expected to be ready for operation in the Q3-2011.