Processing news briefs, May 19

Nova Chemicals Corp. ... China Petrochemical Development Corp. ... Formosa Petrochemical Corp. ... Shell Chemicals UK ... Foster Wheeler Energy Ltd.

Nova Chemicals Corp., Calgary, says it is actively seeking expansion and acquisition opportunities. CEO Jeff Lipton said his company may acquire more properties this year. In the first quarter, Nova, a spin-off of the 1998 TransCanada PipeLines Ltd.-Nova Corp. merger, completed acquisition of Royal Dutch/Shell's polystyrene operations in Europe for $210 million. In late 1998, it acquired Huntsman Corp.�s US styrene business for $637 million. Lipton said Nova could do a deal on the same scale as the Huntsman purchase. The company now has 18 plants in the US, Canada, France, the Netherlands, and the UK.

China Petrochemical Development Corp. has inaugurated its new $12 billion (Twn.), or $390 million (US), caprolactam plant in Kaohsiung. With a production capacity of 120,000 tonnes/year, the plant is the world�s largest, says CPDC, and will make it the world�s fourth largest producer of caprolactam after BP Amoco PLC, BASF AG, and DSM NV. A CPDC official said the plant's capacity eventually will be increased to 150,000 tonnes/year. The plant's production is aimed at Asian markets, which are expected to account for 47% of the 3.8 million tonnes of caprolactam projected to be required by makers of nylon yarn in 2001.

Formosa Petrochemical Corp. expects to begin commercial operation of the second naphtha cracker at affiliate Formosa Plastics Group�s Yunlin County petrochemical complex in August. When fully operational, the second cracker will have an annual production capacity of 900,000 tonnes/year of ethylene. Then, annual production capacity of the company�s first cracker will increase to 600,000 tonnes/year from the current 450,000 tonnes through debottlenecking. Most of the ethylene will be used by Formosa Plastics Group petrochemical subsidiary plants in the complex. Any excess will be sold to factories in Kaohsiung�s Linyuan or Ta-sheh industrial parks.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs awarded Formosa Petrochemical Corp. a business license to begin retail marketing of petroleum products on the domestic market. The first phase of FPG�s new naphtha cracking complex, expected to become fully operational in June with a refining capacity of 150,000 b/d, will produce gasoline, diesel fuel, fuel oil, aviation fuel, LPG, and naphtha, to be marketed by FPC. Initial customers will include factories and operators of freight transportation and bus companies. The company will also retail gasoline through a chain of gas stations.

Shell Chemicals UK let contract to Foster Wheeler Energy Ltd. (FWEL) for basic design and engineering of a debottlenecking project of the Shell Higher Olefins Plant at its Stanlow manufacturing complex in South Wirral, UK. The project will be executed under FWEL's existing alliance contract with Shell, which has been extended for an additional 3-year period. Shell Higher Olefins and Derivatives produces chemical intermediates used to enhance the properties of biodegradable detergents, plastic films, and synthetic lubricants.

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