Blast shuts naphtha cracker
Chinese Petroleum Corp (CPC, 中油) shut down its No. 3 naphtha cracker after a leak from a methanator reactor caused an explosion during an attempt to restart the plant, an official said yesterday. Damage caused by the explosion late on Friday at the 230,000-tonne-per-year plant will likely take about month to repair, the official said, although newspapers reported the plant could be out of action for longer. "It happened as we were restarting the plant. The input valve for the reactor broke off and hydrogen leaked out," an official said. "We are still evaluating, but it should be back on line within about a month," he said. The cracker, located in Kaohsiung, had been brought off-line at the end of May because of weak profit margins and reduced buying from local customers. No one was injured in the explosion, the official said.
■ Mobile phones
Singaporeans have become so addicted to their cellphones that 60 percent of those queried even use them while sitting on the toilet, a survey revealed last Sunday. The Sunday Times poll on cellphone usage and habits found users would rather lose their purse or identity card than their cellphone. The 150 people queried between 14 and 40 affirmed that the gadget has, in less than 10 years, become an integral part of their lives. Six out of 10 told the newspaper they continue talking even when nature calls although the person on the other end can hear the flushing and other awkward noises. "What's the big deal? It's not as if the other party can smell your stink," businesswoman Wileen Chang, 35, was quoted as saying. Fifty-six percent of the young use their phones to flirt, sending SMS messages to those they fancy. Eighteen percent find it expedient for breaking up.
Swedish ban takes effect
Unless Swedes suddenly have changed their habits, about one in 10 became a criminal overnight on Friday when a ban on downloading copyrighted material from the Internet took effect. High-tech savvy Swedes are among the world's most prolific file-sharers of movies, music and games. Authorities say the new law -- which follows an EU directive -- is part of an effort to crack down on Internet piracy. But many industry experts say the normally law-abiding Swedes have grown so lax about copyright infringement that any regulation is likely to be useless. Industry groups estimate that about 10 percent of Sweden's 9 million residents freely swap music, games and movies on their computers, making the Scandinavian country one of the world's biggest copyright violators.
Yulon-GM aims for top five
Yulon-GM Motor Co (裕隆通用) aims to be among Taiwan's top five auto sellers by 2009, and the venture will introduce four to five new Buick cars in Taiwan in the next four years, chairman Kenneth Yan (嚴凱泰) said on Friday at Yulon-GM's formation ceremony. The first Buick model will be rolled out in the second half of next year. General Motors Corp and Yulon Motor Co said on Jan. 10 that they will invest NT$2 billion (US$63 million) to form a venture to assemble Buick sedans in Taiwan. Detroit-based General Motors, the world's largest automaker, owns 49 percent of the venture. Yulon Motor, the nation's second-biggest carmaker, owns the remaining 51 percent, companies said on Jan 10.