Jan. 16, 2009 Houston Chronicle
Dow Chemical begins layoffs, says it's closing a Texas City unit
Dow Chemical Co. has
begun laying off workers in Texas and in other regions and will
close a third manufacturing plant in the state as part of a
corporate restructuring announced last month.
Layoffs started this week at all of the Midland, Mich.-based chemical giant's operations in Texas, where the company employs 6,000 people at manufacturing sites in La Porte, Freeport, Texas City, Clear Lake, Seadrift and an administrative office in Houston, Dow spokeswoman Tracie Copeland said.
The cuts could continue through the end of the quarter, she said, declining to say how many workers will be terminated.
Dow, the nation's largest chemical maker, also will shut down a production unit at its manufacturing complex in Texas City. The unit, which makes solution vinyl resins, also called SVR, will close later this year, and the company hopes to reassign its 58 workers, Copeland said. The Texas City unit joins two plants at the Freeport complex - a styrene unit at Plant B and a chlor-alkali unit at Oyster Creek - also being shuttered as part of the restructuring.
In December, Dow said it would cut 11 percent of its global work force, or about 5,000 employees, and a third of its 6,000 contractors, as well as slash output at 180 plants and close another 20 plants worldwide. One manufacturing site, like the Freeport complex, can contain dozens of plants.
The company is still determining whether additional plants in Texas could be closed under the plan, Copeland said.
Dow expects to save $700 million annually in operating costs once the changes are fully implemented in 2010.
Industry scaling back
Dow, BASF, DuPont and other chemical makers are cutting production and jobs amid a global recession that has sharply weakened demand for cars, construction materials and consumer goods that contain chemical-derived products. Texas, the nation's largest chemical producing state, could be hit hard by the cutbacks.
In addition, Dow is under pressure to complete its $18.6 billion acquisition of Philadelphia-based Rohm & Haas Co., a speciality chemical maker with operations in the Houston area. Last month, the Kuwaiti government backed out of a $17 billion plan to buy half of Dow's basic plastics unit and form a joint venture called K-Dow, proceeds from which Dow planned to use to fund the Rohm & Haas acquisition.
Now, Dow may be forced to accept “bargain basement prices” for its plastics unit to execute the plan, CreditSights, an investment research firm in New York, said in a report last week.
Prior to the restructuring announcement, Dow said it would temporarily cut production in Freeport - its biggest manufacturing site - to roughly 40 percent of capacity, and send home most of its 4,000 contract workers. Those cuts, initially set to expire on Jan. 5, were extended until the end of the month amid continued poor business conditions.
But company officials have offered few details about how the corporate restructuring plan will further affect the Freeport complex and other Texas sites.
“Supervisors are continuing to work through this process and determine their needs for employees that will fit for the future,” Copeland said. “We're moving forward.”'
In Freeport, Dow has offered 50 voluntary buyouts to its 950 unionized plant operators.
Charlie Singletary, business manager of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 564, which represents 1,200 Dow workers in Freeport and Texas City, said Dow has extended a deadline for accepting the buyouts after failing to get the targeted number.
“We're hoping they can get at least 50 people so we can avoid layoffs,” he said.
Dow officials would not say how many of the Freeport site's 4,500 total employees will be cut as part of the restructuring.
Less BASF activity
Separately, Germany's BASF, the world's largest chemical maker, continues to keep a plant closed at its Freeport site and run a Port Arthur plant at reduced levels.
In November, the company said it was temporarily closing 80 plants worldwide due to slumping demand and cutting production at 100 more in moves affecting some 20,000 workers.
“BASF has not made any further announcements or decisions regarding these locations or associated personnel as we continue to closely monitor market conditions,” company spokesman Daniel Pepitone said.
April 01, 2009 Dow
Dow Completes Acquisition of Rohm and Haas, Creating a Leading Global Specialty Chemicals and Advanced Materials Company
The Dow Chemical Company today announced that it has completed its acquisition of Rohm and Haas. The acquisition is a major step in Dow's strategy of growing its performance products and specialty portfolio to deliver more consistent earnings growth. Combining the two organizations' best-in-class technologies, broad geographic reach and strong market channels will create a $14.0 billion diversified business portfolio, which will be called Dow's Advanced Materials division. The division is intended to achieve $3.0 billion in additional value growth opportunities, as well as annual cost synergies of $1.3 billion.
“The closing of this transaction strongly positions Dow for the future by transforming our business portfolio,” said Dow Chairman and CEO, Andrew N. Liveris. “This is an exciting day for all of Dow's stakeholders, and we are committed to delivering on a clear and measurable plan designed to meet the needs of our investors, employees, customers and suppliers, even in this current challenging macroeconomic environment. Our first critical task is to ensure a seamless integration of Rohm and Haas that maximizes the synergies and opportunities offered by this transaction.”
Rohm and Haas is the key element in Dow's new Advanced Materials division. Pierre Brondeau has been named president and CEO of this division, which includes: Coatings, Building and Construction, Specialty Materials, Adhesives and Functional Polymers, and Electronic Materials.
Transaction Delivers on Announcement Day Promises
We expect the creation of Dow's new Advanced Materials division will:
Continued Progress on De-leveraging
Dow has decided to exercise its option to have the Haas Family Trusts make an additional $500 million investment in Dow equity. This is consistent with Dow's disciplined plan to retire the bridge loan for the financing of the Rohm and Haas transaction by the end of 2009. This will be accomplished through the sale of assets, issuance of equity and debt, and the previously announced reduction in the Company's dividend to preserve cash.
On January 23, 2009, Dow entered into a consent order with the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that permitted the completion of the acquisition, provided that certain actions to address potential anticompetitive effects are implemented within 240 days of the deal closing. Specifically, under the terms of that agreement, Dow is required to divest the following businesses:
The consent order also includes an Order to Hold Separate which requires Dow to maintain the competitiveness of these businesses pending their divestiture and to ensure that confidential information is not transferred between these businesses and the other businesses of Dow.
Dow has already initiated procedures to comply with the FTC consent order and has been actively seeking buyers for the impacted businesses. The acquisition previously received regulatory clearance from the European Commission on January 8, 2009.
Effective today, Rohm and Haas common stock will cease trading.
May 05, 2009 Dow
Dow Takes Action
to Improve Capital Structure, Announces $1.625 Billion Public
Common Stock Offering
The Dow Chemical Company announced today it has commenced a public offering of the Company's common stock in which it will raise approximately $1.625 billion of capital.
Of the total capital raised, approximately $1 billion will be through shares offered by the Company and approximately $625 million will be through shares offered by accounts and funds managed by Paulson & Co. and trusts created by members of the Haas Family.
These investors have agreed to sell a portion of their shares of Dow's Perpetual Preferred Stock, Series B to Dow at par plus accrued dividends for shares of common stock which are subsequently being sold in the offering.
The selling stockholders have granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase an additional number of shares equal to 15 percent of the total number of shares offered to cover over-allotments.
Dow intends to use the $1 billion of proceeds it will receive from the offering to repay a portion of its $9.2 billion term loan agreement borrowings, under which it used to pay a portion of the purchase price for its recent acquisition of Rohm and Haas Company.
"Today's offering will not only strengthen our balance sheet and improve our financial flexibility, but it is also very consistent with the objectives of our de-leveraging plan, which is designed to pay off our bridge financing facility by the end of this year," said Andrew N. Liveris, Dow's chairman and chief executive officer.
In addition to the equity offering, Dow is also considering a potential benchmark offering of senior unsecured notes in a registered public offering, subject to market conditions. The Company stressed that the consummation of the common stock offering is not conditioned upon the concurrent completion of the senior notes offering, and vice versa.
Morgan Stanley, Citi, Merrill Lynch & Co., and HSBC Securities (USA) Inc. are acting as joint book-running managers for the offering.
The offering will be made pursuant to the Company's effective shelf registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
May 20, 2009
Dow to Divest Calcium
Chloride Business and Interests in TRN Refinery
Company’s plans to pay down debt and enhance cash flow progressing ahead of schedule
The Dow Chemical Company announced today that it has signed two separate sale agreements totaling in excess of $900 million as part of its de-leveraging plan designed to pay down debt, preserve financial flexibility, streamline its portfolio and improve cash flow. Sales of non-strategic assets announced so far this year now total in excess of $2.6 billion, well ahead of the Company's original divestment plan.
The Company announced that it has signed an agreement to sell its Calcium Chloride business to a strategic chemical industry buyer for a value in excess of $210 million. At the closing of the transaction, employees of the Calcium Chloride business will transition to the buyer's business. In addition, the Company announced a definitive agreement for the sale by Dow Europe GbmH and Dow Benelux BV of their interests in Total Raffinaderij Nederland N.V. (TRN), Dow's joint venture with Total S.A., to Valero Energy Corporation for an enterprise value expected to be approximately $725 million.
"These asset sales at valuations that result in significant de-leveraging represent another major step in the acceleration of Dow's divestiture and de-levering plans despite a challenging economic environment," said Andrew N. Liveris, Chairman and CEO of Dow. "We are delivering on our commitments ahead of schedule and creating the momentum needed to strengthen our financial position and create a faster path to earnings growth."
The transaction for the Calcium Chloride business will include the calcium chloride assets associated with Dow's Ludington, Michigan operations; Dow-owned calcium chloride terminals; and the nationally-known brands PELADOW™ premium ice-melt, LIQUIDOW™ calcium chloride solution, COMBOTHERM™ blended deicer, BRINER'S CHOICE™ calcium chloride, and DOWFLAKE™ Xtra calcium chloride flake. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals, and is expected to close by the end of June 2009.
TRN is a crude oil
refinery located in the Zeeland region of The Netherlands on the
river Scheldt and has approximately 400 employees. The change in
ownership is not expected to have any immediate impact on
operations or employment. The TRN transaction remains subject to
regulatory and other approvals and is expected to close during or
before the third quarter of 2009.
These planned divestitures follow other actions by Dow designed to increase the Company's financial flexibility, improve its cash flow, and pay down its bridge loan by year-end. Recent actions include:
As a result of the actions announced to date by the Company, the retirement of the bridge loan is substantially ahead of plan.
June 29, 2009
Dow Announces Plan to Build and Operate a Pilot-Scale Algae-based Integrated Biorefinery with Algenol Biofuels
The Dow Chemical Company announced today that it plans to work with Algenol Biofuels, Inc. to build and operate a pilot-scale algae-based integrated biorefinery that will convert CO2 into ethanol. The facility is planned to be located at Dow's Freeport, Texas site.
"This project and the innovative technology involved offers great promise in the battle to help slow, stop and reverse the growth of greenhouse gas emissions," stated Andrew N. Liveris, Dow chairman and chief executive officer. "We are very excited to be part of this ground-breaking alternative energy project, which is a good example of Dow's holistic approach to CO2 capture and storage by adding value through chemistry."
Algenol's technology uses CO2, salt water, sunlight and non-arable land to produce ethanol. Dow, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and Membrane Technology & Research, Inc. are contributing science, expertise, and technology to the project. Their combined expertise offers new and innovative technology, with the opportunity for creating a breakthrough process for ethanol production.
Algenol submitted its formal request last week to obtain a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for financial support to successfully conduct the pilot. Upon approval of the grant, Dow and the other collaborators will work with Algenol to demonstrate the technology at a level to sufficiently prove that it can be implemented on a commercial scale.
In addition to leasing the land for the pilot-scale facility, Dow plans to develop the advanced materials and specialty films for the photobioreactor system. In addition, Dow will also provide the technology and expertise related to water treatment solutions and will provide Algenol with access to a CO2 source for the biorefinery from a nearby Dow manufacturing facility. The CO2 will be supplied to the algae in the photobioreactors and will serve as the carbon source for the ethanol produced. The result is a CO2 capture process which converts industrially derived CO2 into more sustainable fuels and chemicals.
In line with Dow's sustainability efforts, the project exemplifies the Company's commitment to providing solutions that improve energy efficiency, promote renewable energy and advance the environmental performance of its existing energy sources. According to Rich Wells, Dow vice president, Energy & Climate Change and Alternative Feedstocks, "This is yet another way that Dow is helping to solve world energy challenges with our expertise in sustainable chemistry that is good for the world, and good for business."
Algenol today possesses the most advanced third generation biofuel technology in the United States. Algenol makes low cost ethanol directly from CO2 and seawater using hybrid algae in sealed, clear plastic photobioreactors through its unique, patented Direct to Ethanol(TM) technology - all powered by the sun. Algenol's research and development efforts have culminated in a process that produces over 6,000 gallons of ethanol per acre per year, compared to corn at 400. Algenol's process achieves an energy balance of more than 5 to 1 and a life cycle carbon footprint that is merely 20 percent of petroleum (an 80 percent reduction from petroleum). For more information about Algenol Biofuels, please visit www.algenolbiofuels.com.
Algenol Biofuels Inc. is introducing its DIRECT TO ETHANOL（TM） technology.
? Algenol Biofuels is an innovative algae to ethanol company.
? Algenol has the most advanced 3rd generation biofuels technology producing ethanol from algae through a process powered by the sun.
? Algenol’s technology produces industrial-scale, low-cost ethanol using algae, sunlight, CO2, and seawater.
? Algenol does not use food, farmland, or fresh water.
? Algenol will produce ethanol at a rate of over 6,000 gallons per acre per year.
? The Direct to EthanolTM process links photosynthesis with the natural enzymes to produce ethanol inside each tiny algae cell.
? The Direct to EthanolTM technology is the only end-to-end commercial process that stabilizes and reduces CO2 levels. Algenol puts CO2 to work.
1. Initial proof of science was generated by Dr. John Coleman at the University of Toronto between 1989 and 1999. Since then, the process has been refined to allow algae to tolerate high heat, high salinity, and the alcohol levels present in ethanol production.
2. The Direct to Ethanol(TM) process links sugar production to photosynthesis with enzymes within individual algae cells. The enzymes are naturally occurring and are the same as those used to produce bread, beer and wine, thus pose no known risks to humans.
3. There are over 100,000 species of blue-green algae useable with rapid growth cycles, high photosynthesis efficiency, large sugar storage attributes that Algenol has access to in refining algae with its Direct to EthanolTM process. The algae are metabolically enhanced to produce ethanol while being resistant to high temperature, high salinity, and high ethanol levels, which were previous barriers to ramping to commercial scale volumes.
4. Algenol's prototype production strains can produce ethanol at a rate of 6,000 gallons/acre/year, and are expected to improve to 10,000 gallons/acre/year by the end of 2009. With further refinement, the algae cells have the potential to increase production rates to 20,000 gallons/acre/year in the future.
5. Algenol only uses algae strains that do not produce human toxins. In addition, the specific algae cells used cannot live in the environment found outside their Capture TechnologyTM contained sealed bioreactor.
6. Scientific priority is placed on developing regional specific algae organisms to disperse ethanol production globally ahead of cell production gains. This will result in Algenol partnered production locations in multiple countries with inexpensive desert land with different saline or seawater sources, climates and CO2 sources.
7. Algenol has the ability to produce ethanol using atmospheric nitrogen consuming algae. As the algae organism dies, it has the additional economic benefit of being able to be composted into nitrogen rich fertilizer for the agricultural industry, further reducing the fossil fuel requirements associated with traditional fertilizer.
8. Complementary to its Direct to EthanolTM initiative, Algenol is building a CO2 to “x” or multi-carbon platform to leverage the technology to produce other high value carbon-based molecules such as plastics and polymers.
ＮＥＤＯ海外レポート ＮＯ.1026, 2008.7.23
メリーランド州のアルジェノール・バイオ燃料社は、メキシコのバイオフィールズ社から8 億5,000 万ドルの投資を受け、バイオフィールズ社が行っている微小藻類からエタノールを生産する事業に技術を提供する。
今回の事業ではまず初めに、メキシコのソノラン砂漠のプラントで、塩水を使い、年産100 万ガロンのエタノールを生産することを計画しており、2012 年までには生産を全体で10 億ガロン、１エーカーあたりで6,000 ガロンに増大させるとしている。
アルジェノール社は、CEO ポール・ウッズが1980 年代に開発した、藻類の細胞からエタノールを取り出す技術を活用している。この技術は、藻類を乾燥し、加圧してバイオディーゼル用の油を抽出するという、コストのかかる工程を省略できるものであった。
同社はバイオフィールズ社との契約に加え、非公開の個人投資家から 7,000 万ドルの資金提供を受けていると発表している。一方バイオフィールズ社は、メキシコの国営石油企業であるPemex(メキシコ石油公社)と、売買契約を既に結んでいるとしている。
・ワシントン州では、起業家、科学者と企業経営者のグループが、藻類バイオマスの技ＮＥＤＯ海外レポート ＮＯ.1026, 2008.7.23
術開発と商業利用の促進のために藻類バイオマス機構を設立した。このグループは、10 月23 日・24 日にシアトルで、第２回の藻類バイオマスサミットの開催を予定している。
・テキサスでは、ＵＳサステイナブル・エナジー社が、原料として20 ポンドの藻類を用いたバイオ燃料の製造試験を行っている。現在既に、40％の水分を含んだ、原油を5％含む藻類バイオ燃料20 ポンド用いた導入試験を最近行い、発火性の燃料の生成に成功している。
Algenol is a company developing a process to produce ethanol directly from algae. Rather than grow algae and then harvest them, the ethanol is removed without killing the algae. Their process appears somewhat unique in this regard as nearly all other fuel comes from either long dead organic matter in the case of fossil fuels or recently dead organic matter in the case of normal biofuel.
Algenol claim the process can produce 6000 gallons per acre per year as compared with around 370 gallons produced by growing corn and fermenting it and 890 gallons for sugar cane. The algae is grown in salt water and so can be grown in desert areas using sea water rather than needing existing agricultural land and water sources. Their process also uses carbon dioxide generally obtained as a waste product from power stations.
The company operates the world's largest algae library in Baltimore, Maryland and the algae they are using was chosen from a collection of more than 10,000 strains and modified to enhance certain traits.
They have committed $850m to build an algae farm in the Sonoran Desert in northwest Mexico and are intend to sell the ethanol fuel at about US$3 per gallon. Production was planned from Mexico in 2009, now delayed to 2010 due to planning delays and the company says it plans to produce 1 billion gallons by the end of 2012 which would make it the worlds largest ethanol producer. They have claimed production costs as low as $85c per gallon.
They are also planning to start building a plant in Florida during 2009 and later one in Texas.
Jun 19, 2009 WSJ
Lukoil to Take 45% Stake
in Dutch Refinery
Russia's OAO Lukoil said Friday it will pay $725 million for a stake in a Dutch refinery owned by France's Total SA, blocking a bid for the holding from Valero Energy Corp.
The move is the latest in a series of deals signaling Russian energy companies' push to strengthen their positions in the European market.
Lukoil, which is 20%-owned by U.S. oil major ConocoPhillips, said it plans to close the deal for a 45% stake in Total Raffinaderij Nederland by year end.
The announcement coincides with a state visit by Russian President Dimitry Medvedev to the Netherlands and reflects Russia's open advocacy for foreign expansion by its big energy players, which can boost the country's international influence.
Total has been seeking to build relations with Russian energy companies. It holds a stake in OAO Gazprom's Shtokman gas project in the Barents Sea and also has a stake in Russia's northern Kharyaga field.
U.S.-based Valero said last month that it agreed to buy the 45% stake in the Dutch refinery from Dow Chemical Co., which co-owned the refinery with Total. However, the French oil company exercised its pre-emptive rights to purchase the stake and simultaneously agreed to sell the holding to Lukoil. Total will keep a 55% stake in the refinery.
The 153,000 barrels-a-day refinery located in Vlissingen is mainly run on Russian crude oil.
Lukoil Chief Executive Vagit Alekperov said the acquisition "organically fits in our company's strategy aimed at increasing oil refining capacities located in the immediate proximity to the markets where products with higher added value are sold."
Lukoil is striving to boost its refining capacity by more than 70% by 2016. However, some of its recent attempts to buy assets abroad have failed, either because the deals were too expensive or because of what the company called the European Union's wariness about Russian investment.
Lukoil owns refineries in Bulgaria and Romania and runs gas stations in various European countries and in the U.S.
Meanwhile, PetroChina Co. is in talks with beleaguered British chemicals firm Ineos to invest in a giant oil refinery in Scotland, a move that could mark the Chinese oil company's first venture in European refining.
State-owned PetroChina, the largest Chinese oil producer by output, is one of a number of Chinese companies trying to secure global energy assets to power the country's hungry economy.
Ineos, one of Britain's largest private companies, is heavily in debt. The company said in May that lenders had approved its request for a covenant waiver extension, giving it breathing room to restructure its ?7.5 billion ($10.47 billion) debt load.
Ineos said in a statement Friday that it was in discussions "with a number of potential partners about growth opportunities" at its Grangemouth refinery.
But it said the talks were "exploratory" and "may or may not lead to investment" in Grangemouth. It said it was committed to the refinery, which remained "a core part" of the Ineos group.
A local councillor in Falkirk, Scotland, Angus Macdonald, said the manager of Grangemouth had told residents at a community meeting that "there was a possibility of PetroChina purchasing part of the plant." The manager also confirmed Ineos was talking with other parties.
Recently, PetroChina's president, Zhou Jiping, said the company wanted to take advantage of relatively low oil prices to actively seek out opportunities overseas.
It is in talks with a number of international oil majors, such as Royal Dutch Shell PLC and Chevron Corp., as well as state-owned energy companies in Qatar and Venezuela, according to company executives.
PetroChina couldn't be reached to comment.
Grangemouth, which Ineos acquired BP PLC in 2005, is strategically important because it is connected to the North Sea Forties pipeline, which carries about a third of the U.K.'s oil to shore.
September 14, 2009
Commemorates Thailand HPPO Progress with Stone Laying Ceremony
PO facility at Map Ta Phut on schedule to start up in 2011
The Dow Chemical Company (Dow) announced today that the SCG-DOW Group, a joint venture between Dow and The Siam Cement Group (SCG), and Solvay Peroxythai Ltd. recently commemorated significant milestones on the hydrogen peroxide to propylene oxide (HPPO) related investments with a foundation stone laying ceremony at the Asia Industrial Estate (AIE) site near Map Ta Phut, Thailand, where the HPPO facility is being built.
The SCG-DOW Group has procured all equipment and entered the initial construction phase on a world-scale propylene oxide (PO) plant, with an anticipated start-up in the first half of 2011. Once complete, the facility will manufacture PO via HPPO technology jointly developed by Dow and BASF, and will have a name plate capacity of 390 kilotons per annum (KTA).
The AIE site will also feature a specialty elastomers plant; a hydrogen peroxide plant built as a joint venture between Dow and Solvay; and power utilities and infrastructure. Nearby, a new liquids cracker, also jointly owned by SCG and Dow, will come on stream in 2010. The integrated Thailand plants represent a significant increase of the asset base for Dow in Thailand and Dow's largest manufacturing investments in Asia Pacific.
"This significant strategic investment helps enable Dow Polyurethanes to leverage our low cost-to-serve leadership position across the portfolio as well as fuel the growth of Dow's other Performance and Advanced Materials businesses," said Pat Dawson, president of Dow Polyurethanes, a global business group of Dow. "The new large-scale, back-integrated plant, based on advanced HPPO technology, will be best positioned to address the region's increasing demand for PO and derivatives, which are driven by increased demand in markets such as appliance, construction, coatings, adhesives and sealants. Our customers in Asia Pacific will benefit from the reliable supply of this key raw material they need to competitively grow their business. Dow and our joint venture partners are very pleased to be able to offer the PO technology that delivers greater energy efficiency, a reduced physical footprint, and improved environmental performance."
In addition to the environmental benefits offered by HPPO technology, the Thailand HPPO project is also creating jobs in the region. By the time the expansion is complete, the companies of Dow in Thailand will have doubled their workforce. At the peak of new construction, it is estimated that up to 10,000 contract laborers will be working on the entire AIE site. With all of the new employees and activity at the site, Dow is proud that five million hours have already been worked safely on this project highlighting our commitment to environment, health and safety (EH&S).