BASF Asia-Pacific plans unchanged after RAPID, Malaysia pullout

21 January 2013 14:58  [Source: ICIS news]

(Recasts fourth paragraph on BASF Petronas Chemicals investment plans in Kuantan, Malaysia)

LONDON (ICIS)--BASF's objectives for growth in Asia-Pacific remain unchanged following the termination of a specialty chemicals heads of agreement (HoA) with PETRONAS for the giant RAPID project in Malaysia, it said on Monday.

The Germany-headquartered chemicals giant said earlier that the (HoA) had been terminated by mutual agreement. It was to jointly develop and construct a number of speciality chemical production facilities at the RAPID complex – a planned $20bn refinery and chemicals complex in Pengerang, Johor, Malaysia.

The HoA was part of a €1bn ($1.3bn) investment plan agreed by the two companies in 2010 to raise chemicals production in Malaysia.

A BASF spokeswoman confirmed that BASF was still considering investment in an existing acrylic acid plant and a new superabsorbent polymer (SAP) plant at its BASF Petronas Chemicals joint venture in Gebeng, Kuantan, Malaysia. The company makes acrylic monomers, oxo products and butanediol there.

The termination of the heads of agreement for Pengerang, however, is likely to mean that BASF invests in production units elsewhere in Asia.

The Pengerang speciality chemicals project plans included plants to produce isononanol, highly reactive polyisobutylene, non-ionic surfactants, methanesulphonic acid and plants for precursor materials, BASF said.

“There won’t be a rethink on investments in Asia overall,” the spokeswoman said. “Our growth plans for Asia-Pacific are not affected by this decision.”

The Pengerang investments were part of BASF’s Asia growth strategy for 2012-2016.

The German company is considering investing in an isononanol plant in Maoming, Guangdong province, south China with Sinopec.

It has significant investments in Nanjing in China, has committed €150m to a production site in Dahej India in 2012,  and is investing in South Korea and Japan, she added.

The RAPID project has drawn local protests on environmental grounds and for religious reasons because the project could lead to the displacement of Muslim graves, according to local media.

($1 = €0.75)

By: Nigel Davis
+44 20 8652 3214

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