Axiall provides update on fire at Lake Charles, Louisiana, chemicals facility

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Axiall Corporation announced today that the cause of a Dec. 20 fire that occurred in the vinyl chloride manufacturing area of the company's Lake Charles chemicals complex in Louisiana remains under investigation, said Benzinga.

The company also is working with outside engineering firms to assess the damage to the structure and the impact on production. The remainder of the Lake Charles facility was unaffected by the fire, and production continues as normal in those areas.

The company praised the rapid response of Axiall emergency responders, Phillips 66, the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's office, local hospitals, Louisiana State Police, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, and other local, state and federal agencies -- as well as local residents who heeded a shelter-in-place-order issued by authorities.

"We owe our sincerest thanks to everyone who responded to this fire," said Jon Manns, plant manager at the Lake Charles complex. “This was a serious and unfortunate event, and we are thankful that none of our workers or contractors on site were seriously injured. We regret that this event has occurred."

"We are in the process of conducting a full investigation into the cause of the fire," Manns said. "We will continue to work with all appropriate governmental agencies as we continue our investigation."

As MRC wrote before, Axiall Corp. is considering building a USD3 billion ethane cracker and chemical plant somewhere in Louisiana. The Atlanta-based chemical manufacturer says it could make a decision sometime early next year. Axiall would invest USD1 billion of its own money, while an unnamed partner would put in USD2 billion.

Axiall Corporation is a leading integrated chemicals and building products company. It is an international manufacturer of chlor-alkali and derivatives, chlorovinyls and aromatics products including chlorine, caustic soda, vinyl chloride monomer, chlorinated solvents, calcium hypochlorite, ethylene dichloride, muriatic acid, phosgene derivatives, polyvinyl chloride, vinyl compounds, acetone, cumene and phenol. It also manufactures vinyl-based building and home improvement products, including window and door profiles, mouldings, siding, pipe and pipe fittings, and decking. Axiall, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, has manufacturing facilities located throughout North America and in Asia to provide industry-leading materials and services to customers.

Taminco to buy Kemira formic acid business for USD191 mln

MOSCOW (MRC) - U.S. chemicals group Taminco Corp said on Monday it would broaden its offering by acquiring the formic acid business of Finland's Kemira for 140 million euros (USD191 million), said Reuters.

The business, which includes a plant in Oulu, Finland, had sales last year of around 140 million euros and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of 23 million.

Taminco, which makes ingredients for crop protection products and animal feeds, said the deal helped it add new product lines. Formic acid's uses include the preservation of animal feed and de-icing airport runways.

Kemira had been expected to shed the business as part of a shift to focus on its water treatment business. However, analyst Antti Saari from Pohjola Markets said the deal price was lower than expected.

"The valuation looks low. There had been speculation of a price closer to 200 million euros," he said. Shares in Kemira were flat on the Helsinki bourse in thin trading. Kemira said it expected to report a capital gain from the deal in the first quarter of next year.

As MRC wrote before, Kemira signed an agreement to sell its distribution of hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid and sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) in Denmark to Brenntag Group. The deal includes the distribution business and certain assets in Copenhagen. Revenue of the divested business in 2012 was approximately EUR 15 million and the transaction is expected to be completed during the first quarter of 2014.

Kemira is a global chemicals company serving customers in water-intensive industries. We provide expertise and chemicals that improve our customers' water, energy and raw material efficiency. Our focus is on pulp & paper, oil & gas, mining and water treatment. In 2012, Kemira had annual revenue of EUR 2.2 billion and around 4,900 employees.

Morgan Stanley sells oil trading assets to Rosneft

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Russian Rosneft has taken over an oil unit of US bank Morgan Stanley’s commodities division for an undisclosed sum, said Upstreamonline.

The acquisition-hungry oil giant is getting the global oil merchanting unit that includes access to and international network of oil storage facilities, crude oil and oil products inventories and freight agreements.

Some 100 front-office executives and 180 other personnel will join Rosneft as a result of the deal reached on Friday.

The transaction does not, however, include Morgan Stanley’s stake in TransMontaigne of any of its commodities operations outside of the oil and products sector. It also does not include the bank’s current client business relating to oil and products merchanting.

Commenting on the transaction, Rosneft president Igor Sechin said: "The agreements reached today represent a breakthrough in strengthening Rosneft's commerce and logistics unit, which will spearhead the company's growth in the international oil and products".

"The transaction will deliver increased value for Rosneft's equity barrels by going deeper into the merchanting value chain, while equally enhancing the visibility of global oil and products markets and opening up new revenue streams by accessing third party barrels."

Rosneft became the world's biggest listed oil producer in March after the USD55 billion acquisition of Anglo-Russian oil firm TNK-BP. Its oil output accounts for over 40% of the total in Russia, the global leader in crude production.

Rosneft has amassed assets abroad in the past few years, including refineries in Germany and Italy, but has bought no significant assets in the United States. Rosneft has an oil trading division in Geneva, which helps supply its refining assets in Europe.

Novatek 'to gain' Rosneft gas asset

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Novatek is set to acquire Russian state-owned Rosneft’s stake in the SeverEnergia gas producing joint venture in exchange for other assets, said Upstreamonline.

Rosneft has agreed to hand Novatek its recently acquired stake in SeverEnergia, which is expected to produce 36 billion cubic metres of gas and liquids by 2017, its chief executive Igor Sechin was quoted as saying on Friday by Interfax news agency.

Rosneft recently bought into SeverEnergia by acquiring a stake in Italy's Enel for USD1.8 billion, while Novatek and Gazprom Neft have agreed to acquire Eni's share for USD2.94 billion.


Ineos says most at UK Grangemouth plant agree to terms

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Almost the entire workforce at Ineos's Grangemouth refinery and petrochemical plant in Scotland have signed up to the company's new pension plan and accepted new terms and conditions, reported Ineos in its statement.

The acceptance of the deal comes after a drawn out and bitter dispute between operator Ineos and the Unite union over the dismissal of a union representative.

Ineos Grangemouth (UK) said that "almost the entire workforce" of 1,350 employees had agreed to the new arrangements. The deal puts the company in a good position to bring in significant new investment, Calum MacLean, chairman of Ineos Grangemouth (UK), said.

"With our costs coming under control, the shareholders are committed to making good on their promise of a GBP300 million investment, which will allow us to build a new terminal and use US shale gas as a new raw material for the petrochemicals site," he said.

Ineos is the full owner of the Grangemouth petrochemical plant and a joint owner of the 210,000 barrels-per-day (bpd) refinery along with PetroChina (601857.SS), which holds 49.9%.

It is now planning to double the number of apprentices and new graduate recruits it is hiring over the next three years.

As MRC wrote previously, the company halted operations at Grangemouth in October and demanded changes in terms and conditions before it would permit a restart. It had previously said that losses would force it to shut the petrochemical plant.

INEOS Group Limited is a privately owned multinational chemicals company consisting of 15 standalone business units, headquartered in Rolle, Switzerland and with its registered office in Lyndhurst, United Kingdom. It is the fourth largest chemicals company in the world measured by revenues (after BASF, Dow Chemical and LyondellBasell) and the largest privately owned company in the United Kingdom.