On the Chemical Crescent

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  • A city of s cen i c b e a u t y , N e w O r l e a n s has 151 w h a r v e s a n d t e rmina l s , o c c u p y i n g 20 mi les of w a t e r f ron tage . P o r t faci l i -t ies n o w h a v e a v a l u a -t i on of m o r e t h a n $300 m i l l i o n r a t e d first i n efficiency a n d e c o n o m y b y U . S. A r m y Eng inee r s

    On the Chemical Crescent New Orleans1 postwar chemical expansion exceeds

    $370 million; over $15-million payroll added since 1946

    H ISTORIC N E W ORLEANSsugar bowl of the nationis fast becoming a chemical center of the South. Already a counteipart of Houston's famous ship channel, the sprawling industry begins a t Reserve, 30 miles upriver, and ex-tends all the way down to Oak Point, 1 5 miles below New Orleans.

    New chemical plants, valued at more than $277 million, have moved into the area since 1946; the "old timers" have spent more than $94 million revamping and expanding their present facilities. A fact hard to believe by many residents the value of chemical industries added since the war now surpasses the total net worth of New Orleans' wharves and docks.

    An industry employing more than 10,200 people, with an annual payroll exceeding $36 million, these chemical plants consume more than 200 million cubic feet of natural gas daily, and more than 200 million gallons of water. Elec-trical requirements exceed 700,000 kw.-hr., more than enough to supply a city of 1.5 million people.

    A port second only to New York in value of imports and exports, the Cres-cent City is served by almost 100 steamship linesover 3000 ships regu-

    larly arrive and depart each year. Over 50 barge lines (excluding private car-riers) operate from New Orleans.

    Feeding the port, and contributing to the importance of the city as a distri-bution center, are nine major railroads, with systems of nearly 50,000 miles (20% of the nation's Class I t rackage). Overnight service is provided to major southern markets, and 24-hour freight service as far north as Chicago. Add to this eight regular passenger air lines, two trunk line railroads, and 46 motor freight linesboth common and con-tract carriersand you get a picture of the transportation network serving the Mid-South.

    Nowhere in the world is there greater op-portunity for the development of chemical industry than in Louisiana, where almost inexhaustible supplies of salt, sulphur, oil, and gas occur in close proximity.


    Contributing to this great industrial expansion is the state's abundance of natural resources. Louisiana now ranks third in the nation's total petroleum pro-duction, second in natural gas, fourth in salt, second in sulfur, first in sugar. Major imports into New Orleans in-

    clude bauxite, petroleum, and petro-leum products , crude rubber, fertilizer materials, sugar, molasses, oils and fats (animal, fish, and vegetable) , and ni-trates.

    A remarkable expansion made b y the petroleum indoistry in this area has been one of the most important elements in its industrial progress. In recent years the petroleum industry has learned how to operate in wha t was once considered inaccessible marsh lands. More than 93 active fields, embracing more than 3000 oil and gas wells, exist within a 100-mile radius of the city.

    Sugar Cane Has Several Important Chemical a n d Materials By-Products

    The sugar industry, which attracted the first petroleum refineries by its con-sumption of fuel oil, has several impor-tant chemical and material by-products. Godchaux Sugars has a plant at Race-land recovering calcium-magnesium ac-onitate from sugar cane liquors and mo-lassesthe only commercial unit of its kind in the world. Aconitate is shipped to Dow Chemical for conversion into aconitic acid estersthe light-fastness agent for Saxan Wrap . Both custom and captive molasses are processed; some of the custom treating is per-formed "en rou te" to the final destina-tion. It's a customer choice deal, he may receive His own molasses in return, or other refined stocks from storage. Godchaux's cane mills at Reserve and Raceland utilize bagassesugar cane

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  • wastefor production of "Servall," a product sold for cattle and poultry litter, and horticulture humus. Its other product, "Camola," is a dehydrated material made from molasses and bagasse. The largest consumer of bagasse is Celotex a t Marrero, employing more than 2400 people engaged in the manufacture of wall board, insulating material, and soundproofing materials. Consumers of molasses, U. S. Industrial Chemicals (New Orleans) and Publicker (Westwego) produce ethyl alcohol by fermentation. Crude cane wax, -extracted from cane m u d in Cuba, is imported by Colonial Sugars at Gramerey for purification. Refined wax is used as a substitute for carnauba

    Aviation A lky la te Unit Converted To Commercial Cumene Production

    Located at Norco, about 25 miles up-river from New Orleans, Shell Oil operates a refinerybuilt in 1920which contributes heavily to the industrial activity oi St. Charles Parish. The refinery processes crude into all petroleum products except lubricating oils now lias storage facilities for more than 2 million barrels.

    During the war, Norco produced 1300 barrels per day of aviation alkylate from a plant designed for 500 barrels. By converting its polymeriza

    tion unit completely to cumene production, Norco became the first refinery in the world to produce commercial quantities of this Shell-developed ingredient.

    Largest in the plant's history, a $30 million modernization and expansion program is now under way to increase present capacity by approximately 50%. The refinery's crude throughput will go to 75,000 barrels per day; storage ^capacity to more than 4.6 million barrels. A large share of the expansion centers around a new catalytic cracking unit .

    Shell, in effect, produces lubricating oils, motor oils, and greases through its subsidiary company, International Lubricants, located in New Orleans. Competition is provided by Delta Petroleum, manufacturers of lube oils and greases, also in New Orleans. Add to this, production of similar products by Pan-Am Southern at nearby Destrehan, 18 miles upriver.

    Oronite's Oak Point plant , 15 miles south of New Orleans, s tarted its production of lube oil additives in 1943, and eventually supplanted its parent company's (Standard Oil of California) operations at Richmond, Calif.

    Plant capacity has been increased several fold since startup; the most recent expansion will be completed in August, at which time t h e plant will be

    able to supply additives to treat almost 20,000 barrels per day of lube oils. Recent diversification has carried Oronite into the production of gas odorants, nonionic dispersants for dry cleaning and laundering applications, fuel ofl dispersants, and algicides.

    Oil RefinersOld Timers In AreaExpand Facilities

    Noted for its fluid hydroforming unit the world's firstPan-Am Southern's refinery, constructed by Mexican Petroleum, has been in operation since 1914. Continuous production of asphalt was initiated in 1927, another first for the company. Destrehan, by the addition of more recent facilities, is now capable of blending 3 million pounds of solid grease, 5.5 million pounds of liquid grease, and 9.5 million gallons of motor oil per year.

    Dependent largely upon asphalt sales until 1953, Destrehan completed a major revamp and expansion program initiated in 1949. New facilities included a delayed coking unit, a Model IV cat cracking unit, sulfuric acid alkylation, and a fluid hydroformer. Changes in crude topping facilities increased the refinery's capacity to 30,000 barrels per day of crude. Destrehan claims another first commercial operationits Model IV cat cracker.

    Scale 1-500,000 I inch =8 statute miles

    (n produtlloB before the end of 1954. bln produttlon by orly 1955.

    V LU M E 3 2 , N O . 2 7 J U L Y 5, 1 9 5 4 2677






    New and Expanded Facilities: total manufacturing I I

    total chemical

    -en 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1953

    Products for domestic sales are shipped and piped to a six-state marketing territory-Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky., Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee; substantial quantities are exported. Present storage capacity for raw materials and products is about 3 million barrels-

    Largest Public Bulk Terminal Handles All Types of Oi l Products

    Largest public bulk terminal in the area, the General American Tank Storage Terminals, has been operating at Good Hope since 1925. Total capacity is 1.7 mulion barrels, with storage tanks in sizes ranging from 150 to 80,000 barrels. The terminal handles all types of petroleum, fish, and vegetable oil products. Oils are drummed, canned, and eased for both domestic and foreign trade. Bonded materials can be stored at the terminal.

    Coastwise Petroleum, with executive and scales offices in Baltimore, operates a refinery for purification of benzene and coal tar distillates inside the General American terminal grounds. In perfoxming these operations, the company employs 13 men, processes more than 1 million gallons of distillates per montli. Approximately 2000 tons of sulfuric acid and 400 tons of caustic soda are consumed annually in refining raw stocks. Sulfuric acid sludge is shipped away and subsequently regenerated.

    Ingram Oil & Refining at Chalmette refines South Louisiana crudes for production of premium and regular grade gasolfcnes, kerosine, Diesel fuel, burner ois, and heavy fuels. Representing an investment of about $4 million, this latest newcomer started its units on

    stream during February and March. Still in the throes of initial operation, the refinery has storage facilities for al-most 600,000 barrels of crude oil and products. Two other refineries market similar products, Bay Petroleum, also at Chalmette, and Petco at Marrero.

    Petrochemicals Production Started Wi th Oils, Now Turns to Gases

    First of its kind in Louisiana and the Southwest, Sherwood Refining's in-stallation at Gretna manufactures petrolatums, white mineral oils, petro-leum sulfonates, and specialty waxes. The company's largest refinery, Gretna receives its raw materials from Texas and the Mid-Continent field, ships products to all points in the nation and to foreign markets. Probably the largest company in the world specializing in these products, Sherwood acquired its plant in 1950 through purchase and renovation of the Seaboard refinery. The Gretna operation has a record of continuous expansion, with good possi-bilities of further increases throughout this year and 1955. Proximity of raw materials, and economical transporta-tion facilities attracted Sherwood to Gretna; the company has its own dock facilities for domestic and overseas shipment by water.

    One of the area's latest newcomers, Shell Chemical, plans to go on stream next year at Norco with production of allyl chloride, nematocide ( D - D ) , and crude chlorohydrins, produced from the refinery's propylene and ethylene. Ty-ing in with operations at Houston, Shell will export crude epichlorohydrin for purification an^ conversion into Epon resins at the Houston plant. Norco's output will also increase Shell's glyc-

    erol production by 2 5 million pounds per year.

    Aluminum Industry Contributes One Half Area's Postwar Capital

    Single-handed, the aluminum indus-try has contributed about one half of the total postwar capital expansion in the area. Kaiser Aluminum & Chemi-cal, with the nation's largest reduction plant at Chalmette, produces 400 mil-lion pounds annuallymore than the country's entire production prior to World War I I .

    The Chalmette p lan t poured its first metal at the end of 1951 and com-pleted its eighth potl ine in 1953. The reduction plant consists of sixteen 960-foot buildings, two to a potline. Each building contains 72 electric smelting furnaces, designed to produce 1O00 pounds of aluminum per day.

    Kaiser Aluminum's power plant at Chalmette is probably the largest ever erected for a single industrial installa-tionit generates enongh electricity to supply the needs of a city of 1 million people. No small consumer of natural gas, Kaiser uses some 50 billion cubic feet annually. Its water plant pumps 150 millions gallons per day.

    Chalmette, employing the Soderberg reduction method, is integrated with Kaiser Aluminum's b ig alumina plant (purchased from t h e government in 1949) in Baton Rouge, 90 miles to the north. Almost 1.5 million tons of baux-ite are shipped annually from the Guianas and Kaiser's mining operations in Jamaica for processing into 800,000 tons of alumina at Baton Rouge. More than half of the alumina produced at Baton Rouge goes t o Chalmette, the rest goes to Kaiser's other reduction plants at Tacoma and Mead, Wash.

    A large share of Chalmette's output

    Kaiser Aluminum's reduction plant at Chalmette was completed in 1953 at a cost of almost $180 million. Its series

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  • is in the form of small ingots or pigs, ranging in size from six to 50 pounds. From Chalmette a portion of the primary metal is shipped to Kaiser aluminum plants at Trentwood, Wash., Newark, Ohio, and Halethorpe, Md., for processing into sheet, plate, rod, bar, wire, and extruded shapes. Other metal produced at Chalmette goes to hundreds of independent aluminum fabricators.

    Ag Chemicals and Fertilizer Gain Increasing Importance

    Lion Oil brought its new Barton plant on stream during May. Scheduled to produce pelleted ammonium nitrate at Luling soon, the company has its nitric acid and anhydrous ammonia units in operation. Lion will market both products in the southern states. Now under construction, a carbon dioxide plant is scheduled for operation by the end of 1954, to manufacture liquid carbon dioxide and dry ice.

    Located at Waggaman, American Cyanamid is also shooting for its share of the anhydrous ammonia market. The Fortier plant marks Cyanamid's first entry into production of chemicals from natural gas. Company announced in June that its sulfuric acid, oxygen, and ammonium sulfate units were in operation; acetylene, hydrocyanic acid, ammonia, and acrylonitrile units would go on stream shortly, Via a seven-step process, the plant will produce its main product, acrylonitrile, from oxygen, methane, and ammonia.

    An "early bird" in the field of agricultural chemicals, Davison Chemical (now a division of W . R. Grace) has operated its fertilizer mixing plant at Gretna since 1927, when it was acquired from Pick Fertilizer Service. One of 12 plants operated by Davison's

    mixed fertilizer division, Gretna ships ground and granulated mixed fertilizers to all parts of Louisiana, to southern Mississippi, and throughout the rice belt. Superphosphates are purchased locally, potash comes from Carlsbad, . ., ammonium sulfate from steel mills in Birmingham and Pittsburgh. Granulated fertilizers are shipped in by water from its Curtis Bay (Baltimore) plant. Davison's neare...


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