Novapex starts deliveries from new Roussillon isopropanol unit

27 January 2010 18:09  [Source: ICIS news]

PARIS (ICIS news)--Novapex has started to make deliveries from its new isopropanol (IPA) plant at Roussillon, France, the phenol and acetone producer said on Wednesday.

Novapex director-general Gilles Grenier said that the 40,000 tonne/year installation started production on 15 January, with the first commercial deliveries commencing on 22 January.

Isopropanol is being produced in three grades to serve the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and technical markets.

The plant was constructed by local contractor ERAS using technology licensed from Mitsui. It uses Novapex’s own acetone supply as a feedstock.

Grenier said market conditions should allow the plant to gradually ramp up production to full capacity by 2011.

Local customers’ increasing awareness of their carbon footprint would make them choose Novapex over its competitors when it came to having a local supplier in southern France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland, according to Grenier.

“Following the closure by LyondellBasell of the Shell Berre facility in September 2009, we’re the only IPA producer in southern Europe. We have local production and local customer service. Some big companies will favour a local plant to cut their carbon-dioxide footprint,” he said.

Grenier said that being a local supplier would also allow Novapex’s customers to reduce working capital requirements, because inventory levels could be cut.

The IPA market had not suffered as much as many others during the downturn, with some niche end-markets such as pharmaceuticals and household goods having held up well due to their being counter-cyclical, he said.

Pierre Luzeau, president of Novacap, Novapex’s parent company, said: “We aim to be cost competitive. We have Mitsui’s technology; we are backward integrated into acetone; we are part of a large chemical platform, so have a good fixed-cost position; and we are close to customers.”

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Author: Will Beecham

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