By Malini Hariharan
While looking at China it is easy to get distracted by the activities of the majors - Sinopec and PetroChina. But there is a strong second tier that is steadily becoming more visible.
Yantai Wanhua, a major producer of isocynates, is an example.
The blog recently heard from a source close to the company that it has ambitious plans to become a leading integrated player in the global polyurethanes business.
Pic source: China.com
This is reflected in the recent move made by its parent, The Wanhua Industrial Group, to acquire a stake in Hungary's Borsod Chem, which plans to become Europe's largest producer of toluene di-isocynate (TDI) and second largest of methyl diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI).
But Yantai Wanhua's major investments in the future will be in China.
Work is already underway to build 11 plants at a new chemical park in Shandong, which the company says will be a low cost, fully integrated isocynates complex. Major facilities include a 600,000 tonnes/year plant for MDI and 300,000 tonnes/year of TDI and the site would also have plants for caustic soda, formaldehyde, nitric acid, aniline and nitrobenzene.
Completion of this project in 2013 would give the company 1.5m tonnes/year of isocynates capacity in China.
The source also highlighted two other projects that are being planned. In Shandong, the company is studying an interesting route to produce propylene oxide (PO).
It is looking at importing M100 (a type of Russian fuel oil) as a feedstock to produce propylene and then PO. If feasible the project could come up in 2013.
And it is also looking at participating in a coal chemistry park at Shaanxi to produce benzene and aniline.
Yantai Wanhua is clearly working towards giving the global isocynate majors a run for their money.