Rhodia to target etac from Saudi project at Europe

09 August 2010 17:50  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--Rhodia plans to target output from its proposed ethyl acetate (etac) project in Saudi Arabia at European markets, Vincent Kamel, president of Rhodia’s phenol and solvents business, said on Monday.

Saudi International Petrochemical Co (Sipchem) revealed plans last week to build the project, in partnership with Rhodia, at its site at Al-Jubail. The 100,000 tonne/year plant is expected to start up in 2013 and require a Saudi riyals (SR) 400m ($107m) investment, the Saudi company said.

Rhodia will provide the technology and ethanol feedstock for the project and market most of the output, said Kamel in a telephone interview. Under the current agreement, Sipchem will fully own the project, he added.

The French company will market “a very important part of the output” under a long-term agreement, Kamel remarked. A large part of that will be targeted at Europe, which is an etac importer, he said.

The plant will also have the flexibility to produce butyl acetate, although it is expected to produce just etac for the first few years, he added.

This will be the Middle East’s first etac project, and represents another step towards Sipchem becoming a fully integrated acetyls producer, commented William Bann, business manager for acetyls and methanol at London-based consultancy Tecnon OrbiChem.

Sipchem already had methanol production and brought on-stream acetic acid and vinyl acetate monomer (VAM) plants at its Jubail site last year.

“Before those two plants started up, nothing was happening in the acetyls sector outside China,” said Bann. “Sipchem is showing that it will be a serious participant in the acetyls markets.”

The Jubail etac project is interesting for Rhodia because of the availability of low cost feedstock and because it is well positioned between Europe and Asia, said Kamel.

Rhodia will source sugarcane-based ethanol feedstock from Brazil, he noted.

The agreement with Sipchem represents the first step to greater cooperation with Sipchem and other partners in the region, he said.

($1 = SR3.75)

For more on ethyl acetate visit ICIS chemical intelligence
To discuss issues facing the chemical industry go to ICIS connect

By: Anna Jagger
+44 20 8652 3214

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