Cracker Builders Unite | May 28, 2012 Issue - Vol. 90 Issue 22 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 90 Issue 22 | p. 9 | News of The Week
Issue Date: May 28, 2012

Cracker Builders Unite

France's Technip is acquiring Stone & Webster from Shaw Group
Department: Business
Keywords: engineering, construction, petrochemicals, shale gas

French engineering firm Technip is buying Shaw Group’s Stone & Webster process technologies business for $300 million.

The acquisition will combine two of the world’s largest builders of ethylene crackers. Stone & Webster has designed or built 120 of the 260 crackers around the world, plus many plants that make polymers such as polyethylene. The deal includes Shaw’s interest in the Badger Licensing joint venture with ExxonMobil, which offers technologies for aromatic chemicals such as styrene and bisphenol A. Technip will also get Shaw technologies related to energy and refining, such as gas-to-liquid conversion and catalytic cracking.

Some 1,200 Shaw employees will transfer to Technip when the deal is completed in the second half of the year. Technip will take over offices in Cambridge, Mass.; Houston; Milton Keynes, England; and Mumbai, as well as an R&D center in Weymouth, Mass.

Shaw is retaining all legacy engineering, procurement, and construction contracts, including an ethylene plant that it has almost completed for ExxonMobil in Singapore.

Shaw’s energy and chemicals segment, which is almost wholly composed of Stone & Webster, lost $190 million pretax on revenues of $593 million in the fiscal year that ended on Aug. 31, 2011. At the time, the company blamed a slowdown in new awards and costly delays at the Singapore plant.

However, Technip CEO Thierry Pilenko sees a bright future for construction, particularly in the U.S., where access to low-cost shale natural gas is spurring interest in new plants. “We are seeing more projects on the horizon today than we have seen for the past 10 years, both in petrochemicals and in fertilizers,” Pilenko says.

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