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Infineum Invites Suitors

ExxonMobil Chemical and Shell Chemicals Ltd. say they have agreed to evaluate market interest and discuss the possible sale of Infineum International, their additives joint venture that develops, manufactures and markets lubricant additives along with additives for fuel and refineries. According to the Telegraph, Britains online newspaper, several large private-equity firms plan to submit offers for the U.K.-headquartered Infineum, which the paper said is valued at up to $3.9 billion (Euro 2.5 billion). The Telegraph, which did not cite any sources for its report, said interested buyers included Apollo Management, BC Partners, Carlyle Group, Cinven, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Vestar Capital Partners. Additionally, the CEO of Newmarket Corp., which owns competitor Afton Chemical, in early February said his company might try to acquire Infineum if it came up for sale.

Engine Oil Fires Spark Recall

Automobile fires stemming from engine oil leaks have led General Motors to recall more than 200,000 model year 1997 to 2003 Buick Regal and Pontiac Grand Prix vehicles equipped with 3.8-liter supercharged V-6 engines. According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recall notice summary, Engine oil can leak from the valve cover, due to maneuvers such as hard braking. If the oil reaches the hot exhaust manifold, it may ignite, causing an underhood fire. GM said it will send a customer advisory letter to each of the 207,542 affected customers, explaining the situation, offering free of charge repairs, and providing precautionary measures.

S-Oil, Total Form Alliance

S-Oil and Total have formed a 50-50 joint venture, S-Oil Total Lubricants Co. Ltd., that will offer a variety of finished automotive and industrial lubricants for the domestic market in South Korea. The venture, jointly managed by the partners, combines S-Oils lubricant business division and Totals lubricant subsidiary in South Korea. According to Total, the j.v. will have a blending capacity of about 140,000 metric tons per year. The companies said they plan to integrate their lubricant facilities into one plant at S-Oils Onsan, South Korea, refinery, and to double its current capacity to more than 2,500 barrels per day by 2009. The j.v. will have capital of 35 billion won (U.S. $34.7 million).

Cortec Blaze Injures 2

An explosion and fire at Cortec Corp.s corrosion inhibitor plant in Spooner, Wis., injured two workers and caused a limited evacuation of local area residents and businesses. According to a Wisconsin State Patrol report, the incident took place on the morning of March 18, at the Cortec Spray Technology Division plant which manufactures vapor-phase corrosion inhibitors that serve as additives for lubricants and fuels, aerosol products and paint solvents. The explosions impact destroyed much of the building, sent two employees with burn-related injuries to a local area hospital, and snarled local traffic for hours. As of this writing, the cause is still undetermined, and the investigation is ongoing.

$6B Price for Packagers

International Paper has purchased two Weyerhaeuser Co. industrial lubricants packaging businesses – SpaceKraft and Tri-Wall – for $6 billion in cash. The transaction, expected to close in the second half, includes nine containerboard mills, 72 packaging locations, 10 specialty-packaging plants, four kraft bag and sack locations and 19 recycling facilities. SpaceKraft supplies liquid semi-bulk packaging, intermediate bulk containers and corrugated pallets, while Tri-Wall manufactures triple-wall, heavy-duty double-wall and laminated bulk corrugated packaging. Carol Roberts, senior vice president of International Papers packaging business, said, The acquisition expands our geographic presence in the U.S. and Mexico and diversifies our customer base in key product lines. Weyerhaeuser said it will use a substantial portion of the proceeds to pay down debt.

PAO Project Moves Ahead

As part of a previously announced expansion, Ineos Oligomers has awarded a contract to Foster and Wheeler to increase polyalphaolefins (PAO) production at its Belgium site, to over 50,000 metric tons per year by 2010. The Durasyn brand and our portfolio of PAO products are globally recognized, and this increase in capacity will help us to meet our customers needs well into the future, said Ineos business director Joe Walton.

Lubrizol Outlines Growth Plans

Lubrizol Corp. says it will invest $200 million over 10 years to increase global capacity in its additive business, to keep pace with the 1 percent per year predicted growth in demand. The firm plans debottleneckings at its facilities in Bayport and Deer Park, Texas, and in Painesville, Ohio; and in France in Rouen and LeHavre. Construction of a new manufacturing facility in the Tianjin Harbour Industrial Park, China has been slated for late 2009. The investment is in addition to the Lubrizol Additive segments continued re-investment in its existing operations and environmental compliance at roughly the rate of depreciation.

Bottle Buyers Beware

Blow-molded polyethylene prices are following crude oil pricing, packaging expert Kirk Rumsey told the recent Petroleum Packaging Council meeting in Tampa, Fla. He identified key changes in global and North American energy markets that are driving pricing for the resins used to make motor oil bottles, caps and closures and other plastic lubricant packaging.

Since January 1999, crude prices have moved up 645 percent, he noted. Resin pricing has become reactionary as a result of huge margin loss potential from monomer moves. Rumsey predicted that HDPE resin prices, after a sharp rise in the first quarter of 2008, may ease back some by midyear. The latter half of the year is likely to see flat pricing, he suggested.

More Group II/III for India

Hindustan Petroleum is upgrading its existing base oil plant in Mumbai, India, to produce 200,000 metric tons per year (3,800 barrels/day) of Group II and 130,000 mt/y (2,500 b/d) of Group I base oils. The $144.4 million (5.76 billion rupee) contract covers a raffinate hydrotreating unit, a Mobil Selective Dewaxing Unit (licensed from ExxonMobil Research & Engineering), and a hydrofinishing unit. The work includes process design, engineering, procurement, supply, installation and inspection, among other things. The Mumbai plant, with current capacity to make 6,400 b/d of API Group I, accounts for a third of Indias total base oil production. The upgrade project is expected to be completed in April 2009.

Dow Upping Biocide Capacity

Dow Biocides will increase its U.S. production capacity for glutaraldehyde by 60 percent, with the new capacity to be online and operational by January 2009. The company is boosting production for the biocide – used in metalworking fluids – because of the availability of critical raw and intermediate materials, said general manager Mark Henning.

In addition to making incremental expansions at the existing Dow asset, we are also investing in breakthrough process technology, to keep capital costs low and execute the expansion quickly and efficiently, he said. The increased capacity, which will not involve new buildings or facilities, will allow Dow to increase product offerings within certain market areas.

Colonial Adds Detroit Warehouse

Colonial Specialty Chemical has leased a 90,000-square-foot warehouse in Detroit to serve customers in the Midwest, a growing market for the specialty chemical distributor. Vice President Craig H. Mott, at the companys headquarters in Tabernacle, N.J., said that the new warehouse has an ideal location, situated about 20 minutes from the Detroits largest metalworking fluid manufacturers. Colonial distributes a large variety of components for metalworking fluids, among them biocides and corrosion inhibitors from Lonza, vegetable oils, esters and fatty acids from Oleon, Sasol emulsifiers, plus antioxidants, dyes and lard oils.

More Sulfonates for Pilot

Pilot Chemical has acquired all the product lines of chemical manufacturer Intertrade Holdings Inc., including sulfonates and organic acids that complement Pilots chemicals used in metalworking fluids. The acquisition enables Pilot to offer customers seven new products, in bulk and packaged quantities, including Sulfonate AA10, SADPO (sulfonated alkyl diphenyl oxide, sodium salt), Sulfonate OA-5R, Sulfonic 800, Sulfonate OE-500, PTSA (para toluene sulfonic acid, anhydrous) and PTSA 65. Tom McAlpin, Pilots marketing manager, said that [Intertrades products] are basically geared towards oil and water emulsions. They complement our other technologies that we currently have, and this helps round out our line and finds newer applications into this industry.

Lubrizol Researcher Accused

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed criminal information papers against Kyung J. Kim of Broadview Heights, Ohio, accusing the ex-Lubrizol employee of conspiring with executives of Seoul-based SK Chemicals to steal and receive Lubrizol trade secrets and other technologies related to the plastics industry, from late 2001 through January 2008. The charges came after a company investigation found that Kim, a former senior research and development associate, gathered and sold Lubrizol secrets regarding thermoplastic polyurethane, non-halogen flame retardant technology and static control technology to the co-conspirators, in exchange for $10,000 in cash on various occasions. The Justice Department said that if a trial results in Kims conviction, the court will determine the sentence after reviewing factors unique to the case. The FBIs investigation continues.

Briefly Noted

ExxonMobils polyolefins plant in Baton Rouge, La., has won NPRAs Distinguished Safety Award for a sixth consecutive year – a winning streak unmatched in the safety programs history. Created in 1982 and developed by NPRAs Safety & Health Committee, the award promotes accident prevention in the petroleum refining and petrochemical manufacturing industries and recognizes the industrys excellent record of safety in operations. Recipients must pass a comprehensive and objective review of individual safety performance programs.

Oleon has started up a new distillation tower at its fatty acid plant in Ertvelde, Belgium, a year after a fire destroyed part of the plants main distillation unit. The company has also begun construction of a lubricants ester plant in Malaysia, its first foray into the growing Asia Pacific market.

Albemarle Corp. will more than double the antioxidant production capacity of Shanghai Jinhai Albemarle Fine Chemicals Co. Ltd., part of the Jinhai-Albemarle joint venture in which Albemarle gained a majority ownership stake last year. Jinhai Albemarle supplies antioxidants to many Chinese petrochemical companies from two production sites.

Troy Corp. has tapped Chidley & Peto Co. as its distributor for specialty biocides and metal carboxylates in the Midwest region. Chidley & Petos marketing area includes Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Iowa.

Faces in the News

The Dallas-based Automotive Oil Change Association, which represents the fast oil-change industry, recently elected Chris Tolsdorf as the groups new president. Head of Tolsdorf Oil, he owns four fast-lube outlets in the suburban Philadelphia region. The group also elected Glenn Morris, of Auto Lube Care in Ventura, Calif., as vice president, and Steve Allison, of Xpress Lube in Myrtle Beach, S.C., as secretary and treasurer.

Bericap GmbH & Co. has promoted Christian Musiol to sales director, effective April 1. Based in Hamburg, Germany, Musiol will market coordination automotives, be responsible for the Asia region, with a focus on India, and serve as an account manager for large lubricant companies.

Dorf Ketal Chemicals LLC has named William Loven to the new position of president of Dorf Ketal Chemicals North America. Loven will continue to manage the Mumbai, India-headquartered companys lubes and additives product lines, Star refinery products, Phlox fuel additives and the downstream process chemicals business.

South American surfactant and intermediate manufacturer Oxiteno USA has named Luciana Ortiz De Pinho as sales manager, based in Freehold, N.J. She most recently held the position of sales manager for agrochemicals and textile chemicals in Oxitenos office in Brazil.

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