EPCA ’13: Loss of Europe DOP output may impact medical products

07 October 2013 20:25  [Source: ICIS news]

BERLIN (ICIS)--The proposed closure of specialty chemicals producer Arkema’s dioctyl phthalate (DOP) plant in Chauny, France, could have an impact on the availability of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) used in blood bags, market sources said on the sidelines of the 47th annual European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) meeting on Monday.

DOP is a low-phthalate plasticizer that is used as an additive in flexible PVC production. Arkema is a major European producer of DOP.

While news of the planned closure prompted little concern among most participants in the European DOP market, some suggested that the loss of Arkema’s DOP production could be problematic for the medical products industry.

A producer of dioctyl terephthalate (DOTP), another plasticizer, said that Arkema has a large presence in the medical products market and emphasised that product quality is critical for medical applications.

Only high-quality DOP can currently be used for the manufacture of PVC blood bags, the source said.

BASF’s non-phthalate plasticizer Hexamoll DINCH (di-isononyl-cyclohexane-dicarboxylate) is a possible substitute product for this application, another source noted.

The decision to begin the process of closing down the Chauny facility by March 2014 with a loss of 71 jobs was announced on 20 September. Arkema cited a decline in market demand for its products and what it identified as “substantial overcapacity” in Europe.

The closure of the Chauny plant would represent the latest stage in a long-term rationalisation of DOP production capacity in Europe.

DOP has been included in the EU Candidate List and is likely to be phased out by February 2015 under Reach legislation.

On Monday, a participant in the plasticizers market described the closure of Arkema’s plant as “the last nail in the DOP coffin”.

The Chauny site is part of Arkema’s acrylic monomers business unit and produces material for the plasticizers and resins markets.

The site has a nameplate capacity of 70,000 tonnes/year of DOP and 90,000 tonnes/year of phthalic anhydride (PA).

DOP is also produced in Europe by Poland’s ZAK and the Czech Republic’s Deza.

The EPCA meeting runs from 5-9 October.

($1 = €0.74)

Author: Sam Weatherlake

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