Malaysia sets up biorefinery site to attract chemical firms

14 June 2012 21:24  [Source: ICIS news]

NEW YORK (ICIS)--The Malaysian government is planning to develop Asia’s largest biorefinery site in Kertih, in the state of Terengganu, to attract manufacturing facility investments from foreign companies that can produce bio-based chemicals and materials, a spokesman from the government agency BiotechCorp said on Thursday.

The 1,000-ha (4,050-acre) biorefinery site, which will be in the Kertih Biopolymer Park, is a collaboration between the Terengganu state government, BiotechCorp and the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC).

The ringgit (M$) 170m ($53.5m, €42.3m) project is expected to create 2,500 jobs for Malaysia.

In addition, 30,000 ha will be dedicated for feedstock plantations that will produce 10.5m tonnes/year of wood chips from Acacia mangium and Leucaena leucocephala or locally known as Petai Belalang.

The site will also rely on cellulosic fuel for energy instead of natural gas, according to BiotechCorp.

BiotechCorp is the lead development agency for biotechnology in Malaysia. The agency expects to secure M$4bn of investment in the industrial biotechnology sector by 2013 in response to Malaysia’s commercialisation phase of the National Biotechnology Policy (NBP).

“The complex will further create opportunities for technology and science-driven companies in the green chemical sector, which is central to the development of the bio-based economy,” said Mohd Nazlee Kamal, CEO of BiotechCorp.

BiotechCorp said this will be Malaysia’s first biorefinery project that will use cellulosic feedstock to produce advanced carbohydrates, bio-based chemicals, bio-based materials, biofertilizers and active feed ingredients.

This year, BiotechCorp and ECERDC have secured a M$2bn investment from a joint venture between South Korean chemical firm CJ CheilJedang and France-based Arkema to develop the world’s first bio-methionine plant in Kertih Biopolymer Park.

Construction of the 80,000 tonne/year bio-methionine plant, which will also produce thiochemical-based derivatives, is expected to start in the third quarter of 2012. Start-up of the facility is expected at the end of 2013.

By 2015, the park is expected to be occupied by eight global industrial biotechnology players, according to BiotechCorp.

The spokesman said another well-known industrial biotechnology company is expected to announce their plans to set up facility at the site within the next week.

BiotechCorp and ECERDC have been actively engaging several global industry biotechnology players, especially from the US, Europe, South Korea and Japan, to set-up their bio-based chemical manufacturing facility in Kertih Biopolymer Park, the agency said.

The Kertih Biopolymer Park is also close to PETRONAS Kertih Integrated Petrochemical Complex, which, according to BiotechCorp, allows cross supply of products between both complexes, while providing economies of scale for utilities supply and logistics. 

($1 = M$3.18)
($1 = €0.79)

Check out Doris de Guzman’s Green Chemicals Blog for views on sustainability issues

By: Doris de Guzman
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