Celanese to examine redundancies as it seeks to cut costs; U.S. chemical industry contracted in August; NOVA Chemicals to carry out employee census to gain insights on diversity; Acetonitrile market to expand over 6% annually over next five years

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Rokeby Site. Image courtesy of NOVA Chemicals

Celanese to examine redundant positions as it seeks to cut costs

Global chemical producer Celanese is looking at ways to save money amid a challenging period of slow demand and those efforts include idling facilities to reduce overtime, cutting use of contractors, as well as looking at “redundancies,” a top company official said on Aug. 8 while discussing second quarter earnings.

“We are idling facilities, not so much entire facilities but say lines within a compounding unit. So that allows us not to staff as much, power savings, etc,” said Lori Ryerkerk, CEO of Celanese.

“So where we have redundant positions, for example, in the organization going ahead in redundancy now versus maybe having waited till later in the year or even into next year,” she said during the earnings discussion  call.

Celanese produces specialty chemical materials. Based in Dallas, Celanese employs approximately 13,000 employees worldwide and had 2022 net sales of $9.7 billion. 

U.S. chemical industry contracted in August

The chemical industry contracted in August, the American Chemistry Council, an association of chemical producers that operate in the United States of America that includes the country´s top resin producers, reported on Sep. 1, 2023.

“Demand (is) still weak. Customer inventories are getting depleted; however, we are not seeing a real uptick in demand. General supply conditions are softening,” a chemical industry respondent said, according to the ACC. 

Order backlogs increased while customer inventories were assessed as “too low,” the ACC added.

As for chemical railcar loadings, they were down to 31,427 for the week ending Aug. 26. Loadings were down 3.6% on-year and down 5.2% year-to-date, it added, citing data released by the Association of American Railroads,

NOVA Chemicals to carry out employee census to gain insights on diversity

NOVA Chemicals Cor., a Canada-based polymers producer, said in a mid-August press release from Calgary, Alberta, that the company will soon survey employees to better understand the diversity of the company´s workforce.

Among plans disclosed by the company, it said it was “launching an employee diversity census to allow the organization to gain deeper insights into its diverse workforce and better address their needs.”

It also said that it planned on “achieving best-ever combined recordable injury rate performance and a combined lost time injury rate of zero, a 100% reduction over five years.”

NOVA Chemicals has nearly 2,500 employees worldwide.

NOVA Chemicals, with $4.5 billion in annual sales in 2022 and led by CEO Roger Kearns, produces chemical goods including ethylene, polyethylene, recycled polyethylene, and chemical co-products.

Acetonitrile market to expand over 6% annually in next five years

The global market for acetonitrile, a chemical used in many applications including industries like the pharmaceutical and agrochemical, may expand to nearly $600 million compared with under $440 million as of mid-2023, according to research by MarketsandMarkets shared in Aug. 2023 in a press release.

“Acetonitrile is used in a variety of applications in the analytical industry, pharmaceutical, agrochemical, and many other end-use industries, which is fuelling the market to grow across the world, “ it said. The pharmaceutical industry uses acetonitrile for drug synthesis and compounds, it added.

The acetonitrile markets can be segmented by type into solvent and derivative types, it said.

The derivative type segment accounted for the second largest market share in terms of value in 2022 and is “the fastest-growing segment, owing to the increasing usage of acetonitrile as a derivative in the pharmaceutical industry,” it said.

Derivative acetonitrile gets widely used in the synthesis of agrochemicals, including insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides, it added.

“The organic synthesis application segment is expected to account for the second-largest share of the acetonitrile market during the forecast period in terms of value,” according to the report.

The growth in the organic synthesis segment is due to acetonitrile being used as starting material for various chemicals such as acetophenone, thiamine, or acetamidine, and others, the release said.

The analytical end-use industry segment is expected to account for the second-largest share of the acetonitrile market during the forecast period in terms of value, the report added.

North America is expected to account for the third-largest share in 2022.

Investments in R&D for drug discovery are one of the major factors driving the North American acetonitrile market growth, the report said.

Market participants include Formosa, INEOS, PetroChina, Formosa Plastic Corporation (Taiwan), ShengHong, and in the U.S. they include Tedia Company Inc., Avantor Performance Materials, the report said.

The company recently completed a polyethylene and cracker expansion in the Canadian province of Ontario.

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