UpdateVersalis to build new 70,000 tonne/year BD unit at Dunkirk

26 July 2012 16:43  [Source: ICIS news]

(adds start-up detail in fourth paragraph)

LONDON (ICIS)--Versalis will increase its butadiene (BD) capacity in Europe by almost 25% as part of its four-year plan to develop its elastomers business, a spokeswoman at the Italy-based producer said on Thursday.

It will build a new 70,000 tonne/year BD unit at its petrochemical site at Dunkirk in France, which will be “fundamental to the supply of raw materials to the elastomer production sites, particularly in the UK”.

In May, Versalis – formerly known as Polimeri Europa – outlined its €1.6bn investment plan, of which €500m ($609m) will be used to build the new BD unit, strengthen the current elastomer production, and expand existing capacity by the construction of new plants at Ravenna and Ferrara in Italy and Grangemouth in the UK.

The company spokeswoman declined to divulge the exact timing of the Dunkirk unit’s start-up but Versalis CEO Daniele Ferrari said in a separate interview that it would start up “end 2014, beginning of 2015.”

Earlier this week there was news that Versalis had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Genomatica and Italy-based biodegradable plastics firm Novamont to develop polymer-grade BD from renewable feedstocks, further demonstrating its focus on BD and BD derivatives.

A widely predicted shortage of the BD molecule, as demand growth forecasts outstrip the number of dedicated BD production units, has led to another two European producers recently announcing new or expanded capacity.

Earlier this month, German chemical major BASF announced plans to build a 155,000 tonne/year BD extraction plant at its site in Antwerp, Belgium, which is expected to start operations in 2014.

In February, LyondellBasell said it would expand butadiene capacity at its extraction unit in Wesseling, Germany, by 40% to 238,000 tonnes/year. This is due to be operational in the fourth quarter of 2013.

($1 = €0.82)

By: Nel Weddle
+44 20 8652 3214

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