InterviewAPIC '13: BASF PETRONAS may expand aroma chems

08 May 2013 17:30  [Source: ICIS news]

By Nurluqman Suratman

TAIPEI (ICIS)--BASF PETRONAS Chemicals may look to expand its aroma chemicals capacity in Malaysia once the company's new $500m (€380m) integrated aroma ingredients complex in Kuantan is fully operational in early 2017, a senior company official said on Wednesday.

"Once these new plants are established there will be potential for investments into other downstream aromas [chemicals] as well," Joachim Queisser, managing director of the BASF PETRONAS Chemicals, told ICIS.

The company is a joint venture between German chemicals major BASF and Malaysian state-controlled oil and gas firm PETRONAS.

The new complex in Kuantan will house citral and precursor plants and will contain downstream production for aroma ingredients including a new world-scale plant for L-menthol and a plant for citronellol.

Aroma chemicals are used primarily in home and personal care products and fine fragrances, as well as in the food industry and in pharmaceutical applications.

The complex will be built in two phases, with the first plants of the project scheduled to begin commercial production in early 2016, according to Queisser.

The second stage of the project will be completed at the end of 2016 or early 2017, he said.

"By the beginning of 2017 we should have everything fully on stream and producing material for the market," Queisser said.

"This is totally a new field of chemicals and chemistry that we are putting in place which has a lot growth potential for the future," he added.

Demand for aroma chemicals is expected to grow by about 5-6% in Asia in the next few years, while Europe and North America will see growth of around 3-4% "or less", according to Queisser.

"The most important thing about aroma chemicals is that you are not just seeing demand growth coming from current applications but from new ones coming into play," he said, adding that demand from emerging markets is expected to accelerate in the future.

Meanwhile, Queisser said that BASF PETRONAS Chemicals' feasibility study for a new superabsorbent polymers (SAP) plant is still ongoing, with no exact timeline fixed for the project to be completed.

"There is no clear end date for the investment but the growth of SAP in the region is strong. We should be able to conclude that [feasibility study] in the next year and be able to announce something," he added.

BASF PETRONAS Chemicals currently operates an integrated complex situated at the Gebeng Industrial Zone in Kuantan, Pahang. BASF holds a 60% share in the joint venture, while PCG owns the remaining 40%.

Queisser was speaking at the sidelines of the Asia Petrochemical Industry Conference (APIC), which will start on 9 May in Taipei.

By: Nurluqman Suratman

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