15 May 2007 07:19 [Source: ICIS news]
By John Richardson
SINGAPORE (ICIS news)--Lucite International is negotiating to build a joint venture 250,000 tonne/year methyl methacrylate (MMA) plant at Al-Jubail in Saudi Arabia for start-up in 2011, Neil Sayers, a vice president with the UK-based company, said on Tuesday.
“We have signed a memorandum of understanding with Sipchem, the privately owned Saudi company, and will make a decision on whether or not proceed in the fourth quarter of this year,” added Sayers, who has responsibility for ?xml:namespace>
The company had said in October that it planned to build in the
Sayers stressed that other locations remained on the table, with elsewhere in the Middle East and
“This could be an ideal fit for us because we would be able to offtake ethylene feedstock from the cracker, carbon monoxide from the acetic plant and the other feedstock we need, which is methanol. Sipchem is also planning a methanol facility,” said Ian Lambert, Lucite’s chief executive officer.
The Saudi project would be the second to employ Lucite’s Alpha technology. Lucite claims that the process delivers a 30% cost saving over the conventional hydrogen cyanide (HCN) route to MMA.
The first plant to employ Alpha is under construction at
The 120,000 tonne/year
Sayers added that there are plans for an Alpha 3 unit, for start-up in 2014, which would have a capacity of 350,000 tonnes/year. The location could be in the Middle East,
Lucite also has an existing 100,000 tonnes/year plant at Caojing, near
Alpha 4 could also be built with a capacity bigger than 350,000 tonnes/year for start-up in 2017.
But Lambert was keen to stress that all these plans were subject to revision based on market conditions.
He added that global demand growth has been 5% for MMA while the
“We think there will be a downturn in 2010 when global operating rates dip to the low 90% level from the current 95%. After that the market will be recover.”
Operating rates were in the high 80% region during the last downcycle in 2001-02, he added.
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