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Saudi methanol producer plans expansion program

Saudi Methanol Co., an affiliate of Saudi Basic Industries Corp., and a consortium of Japanese companies signed a $160 million loan agreement with the Export Import Bank of Japan to finance its expansion program. AR-RAZI president Abdulaziz I. Alaudah signed the agreement in Tokyo with Hiroshi Yasuda, JEXIM's governor.

According to Ibn Salamah, SABIC vice chairman and managing director, the loan will fund construction of an 850,000-metric tons/yr chemical-grade methanol plant at the AR-RAZI complex Al-Jubail. According to Salamah, AR-RAZI is already the largest single complex chemical-grade methanol producer in the world with two plants producing 1.4 million metric tons/yr. "This expansion will strengthen AR-RAZI's and SABIC's position as a leading producer and supplier of methanol in the world petrochemical market," he says.

AR-RAZI signed a construction, engineering, and procurement contract with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. of Japan for the new plant. Like the existing plants, the new facility will use Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Co.'s production technology.

When the expansion comes onstream in mid-1997, SABIC's total methanol output capacity will be more than 3.5 million metric tons/yr, including production at IBN SINA (National Methanol Co.) and GPIC (Gulf Petrochemical Industries Co.), Bahrain.

Structural Agreement - Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget (SCA) Stockholm, Sweden, has reached an agreement with Kimberly-Clark Corp. to take over Kimberly-Clark's tissue mill in Prudhoe, Great Britain.

With an annual capacity of 80,000 tons, this acquisition will give SCA Hygiene Paper, the group's combined tissue operations, a share of about 15% of the tissue capacity in Great Britain. In return, Kimberly-Clark will take over SCA Molnlycke's Peaudouce brand of baby diapers in France.

The sales of SCA's planned product mix from the Prudhoe mill are estimated to amount to approximately [pounds]130 million. SCA Molnlycke's sales in France are about FFr 2.4 billion, of which FFr 500 million can be attributed to the Peaudouce diapers. Private-label diapers account for SCA Molnlycke's remaining FFr 1.9 billion in sales. The sales of the company's tissue operations in France amount to about FFr 1.6 billion.

Waste Treatment - Dr. Arthur Wellinger, Infoenergie, writes in a report for the Swiss Government Energy Office that by the year 2000, 100 gwh of heat and 50 gwh of electricity will be produced by agricultural biogas, anaerobic digestion, and municipal solid waste.

Switzerland's "Energy 2000" national energy program sets a number of targets for anaerobic digestion by the year 2000:

* about 150,000 tons of source-separated municipal solid waste

* about 10 to 15 plants for the pretreatment of industrial waste water should be in operation

* 5 to 10 centralized biogas plants should be built in agriculture.

Presently, about 140 Swiss farmscale biogas plants are in operation. Three are treating solid waste, and the remaining plants are running on liquid manure of various dry matter contents from somewhere around 2%-12% total solids.

Thirteen installations are currently in operation for the treatment of industrial waste waters, which are rich in organic matter but low in solids.

In the case of municipal solid waste, the space for new landfilling sites became scarce, and the construction of new incineration plants is often contested by environmental pressure groups. One possible treatment is the anaerobic digestion of the solid organic fraction.

Capacity Expansion - BASF, Germany, announced it will increase its capacity for styrene-butadiene dispersions in Europe. The recently undertaken expansion of existing plants at Arnhem, The Netherlands, and Tarragone, Spain, are expected to be completed by the end of 1998 and should increase the company's total capacity in Europe for this class of products by 150,000 to 250,000 metric tons/yr.

In the paper and textile industries, styrene-butadiene dispersions are used mainly for coating paper and board.

The company also produces styrene-butadiene dispersions in the joint venture Raision Lateks/in Finland and at various other sites in the US, Latin America, and Asia.

Vladimir Wolpert publishes reports dealing with paper and plastics technology, marketing, and environmental matters. He has been in the industry for more than 50 years.

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