Worker dies as fire hits petrochemical refinery in Saudi Arabia

MOSCOW (MRC) -- One worker has been killed after a fire at a petrochemical refinery in western Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, reported ArabNews with reference to authorities.

One person died and 11 others have been injured in the incident, the spokesperson for the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu, Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Abdulqader told Saudi TV. The name of the deceased individual has not been released.

Fire crews in Yanbu, a city on the Red Sea coast, battled the blaze at the National Petrochemical Industrial Company (Natpet) before bringing the situation under control.

In an earlier statement, the spokesman said the industrial accident control teams had rushed to the site in record time when the fire first erupted at 5:40pm.

He also said the Royal Commission’s environmental monitoring and protection teams were reviewing air quality in the residential and industrial areas. Readings in the first and sixth stations were normal and the wind direction was southeast, he said.

As MRC wrote before, Natpet shut its polypropylene (PP) plant in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia, for a four-week scheduled maintenance in early April, 2017.

AkzoNobel delivers on commitment by returning an additional EUR5.5 billion to shareholders

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Akzo Nobel N.V.has announced shareholders will receive EUR5.5 billion, following completion of the sale of the Specialty Chemicals business, said the company.

This is in addition to EUR1 billion advance proceeds distributed by a special cash dividend paid on December 7, 2017.
A total of EUR6.5 billion will have been distributed to shareholders, delivering on a commitment to return the vast majority of EUR7.5 billion net proceeds, from the separation of the Specialty Chemicals business.

The additional EUR5.5 billion proceeds will be distributed using a capital repayment and share consolidation of EUR2 billion, special cash dividend of EUR1 billion, and share buyback of EUR2.5 billion.

Thierry Vanlancker, CEO of AkzoNobel, said: "This is a clear sign we are delivering on our commitments and focused on creating value for all our stakeholders as a paints and coatings company.

"We consulted many shareholders and evaluated various options to determine an optimal and timely way to return the vast majority of net proceeds following the sale of the Specialty Chemicals business."

The capital repayment and share consolidation will be subject to shareholder approval at an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM), to be held on November 13, 2018. The special cash dividend will be paid shortly after the capital repayment and share consolidation has been completed. The share buyback will commence following payment of the special cash dividend and likely be completed during the middle of 2020. Shares will be canceled following repurchase.

Remaining proceeds will be used for the repayment of debt, costs associated with the transformation, and bolt-on acquisitions. The ordinary dividend relevant for AkzoNobel as a focused paints and coatings company is €1.65 per share, as announced on April 19, 2017, and the dividend policy remains ‘stable to rising’. AkzoNobel is committed to retain a strong investment grade credit rating.

Nigerian oil unions say talks planned with govt on Chevron labour issues

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Nigeria’s two main oil unions said they will hold talks with Chevron and the government to address a labour dispute with the U.S. oil major, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The talks, set for Thursday, come after the unions threatened on Saturday to go on nationwide strike over the dispute with Chevron, though that has not yet begun.

Chevron did not immediately respond to request for comment. The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) have accused Chevron of attempting to sack thousands of Nigerian workers, in violation of their contracts.

"The federal government through the Ministry of Labour are intervening," said William Akporeha, NUPENG’s president, in a message. "We are meeting tomorrow," he said.

PENGASSAN’s General Secretary, Lumumba Okugbawa, in a separate message, also confirmed the talks.

Nigeria, an OPEC member, is Africa’s largest oil producer and crude sales make up around two-thirds of government revenues in West Africa’s largest economy. The dilapidated state of its refineries means it imports most of its refined fuel.

KBR to supply technologies for new olefins unit

MOSCOW (MRC) -- KBR, Inc. Houston announced that it has been awarded contracts for a technology license, basic engineering design services and proprietary catalyst supply by Lihuayi Lijin Refining & Chemical Co., Ltd., for a new olefins production unit in Dongying, China, as per Hydrocarbonprocessing.

The unit will use KBR’s proprietary Catalytic Olefins Technology (K-COT) and Selective Cracking Optimum Recovery (SCORE) Technology.

KBR K-COT is a flexible technology for converting low-value olefinic, paraffinic or mixed streams into high-value propylene and ethylene.

Lihuayi has previously successfully implemented KBR’s phenol technology at its site in Dongying.

"Lihuayi always follows the direction of developing petrochemical business in a green and energy-efficient way," said Xu Yunting, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lihuayi Group. "KBR’s innovative catalytic olefin technology fits our corporate development plan well and we believe it can help Lihuayi to further speed up the progress of industry upgrading and to be more competitive in the market."

"We are extremely pleased to support Lihuayi on this new project," said John Derbyshire, President, KBR Technology. "Lihuayi is a ground-breaking company with the strategic vision to develop a new approach to the downstream chemical business in China. KBR’s innovative technologies make us the partner of choice to fully support Lihuayi in accomplishing their vision."

As MRC wrote before, in August 2018, KBR, Inc. announced that it had been awarded a license and engineering and a proprietary equipment supply contract by China Pingmei Shenma Group (PMSM) to build two new polycarbonate (PC) plants in Kaifeng and Pingdingshan in the Henan Province in China. Under the terms of the contracts, both 100,000 metric tonnes per annum plants will utilize KBR's proprietary phosgene-based interfacial polycarbonate technology PCMAX. As part of its overall polycarbonate strategy, PMSM intends to expand its total production capacity to 800,000 metric tonnes per annum.

Linde-Praxair merger secures Chinese antitrust authority approval

MOSCOW (MRC) -- German chemical company Linde has announced its proposed USD83 bn merger with Praxair has been approved by the Chinese antitrust authority, reported Chemicals Technology.

In June last year, Linde agreed to merge with American company Praxair in a move that could create the world’s largest supplier of industrial gases.

However, the European Commission’s (EC) launched an in-depth investigation to assess competition concerns in various markets in the European Economic Area (EEA).

To alleviate the EC’s concerns, Praxair and Linde agreed to divest Praxair’s entire gas business in the EEA, including all relevant legal entities, assets and personnel. Both companies also agreed to fulfil other demands.

Subsequently, the EC gave conditional approval to the proposed merger between Linde and Praxair in August this year.

The deal has now been approved by Chinese antitrust authority, which is the State Administration for Market Regulation (Beijing). However, the deal still requires regulatory approvals in South Korea and the US, as well as the outstanding buyer approval from the EC.

The firms are in the process of selling additional assets to secure the regulatory approvals and complete the merger.

The combined company is expected to generate approximately USD1.2bn in annual synergies and cost reductions. The merged entity will be governed by a 12-member board of directors with equal representation from Linde and Praxair.

As MRC informed before, in late August, 2018, industrial gases groups Linde and Praxair won conditional antitrust approval in Brazil for their planned merger after committing to asset sales. Linde will sell its entire business in Brazil, subject to merger completion.

Munich (Germany) headquarted Linde is primarily active in industrial gases and medical gases, speciality gases, helium and the related engineering and services sectors.

Headquartered in Connecticut, US, Praxair is an international industrial gases company.