Myriant and PTT Chem in bio-succinic JV

Southeast Asian chemical companies seem to be ahead of the game when it comes to partnering with renewable chemical companies (mostly US-based).

First we had Elevance Renewable Science partnering with Wilmar for specialty chemical production in Indonesia. Then BioAmber (formerly DNP Green Technology) partnering with Mitsui Chemicals for exclusive bio-succinic acid distribution in Asia, and Glycos Bio and METabolic Explorer partnering with Bio-XCell to build glycerine-based chemicals plants in Malaysia.

Now, Myriant announced yesterday that it formed a joint venture with Thailand-based PTT Chemical through a $60m equity investment. PTT Chemical, by the way, is Thailand’s largest petrochemical producer (and co-owner of Malaysia-based oleochemical player Emery Oleochemicals — just can’t resist adding this). As far as announcements in the renewable chems sector this month, this is pretty significant indeed!

Not much information was relayed to the press aside from the interesting tidbit that the companies will collaborate in the research and development for green chemicals, and that the $60m investment will help in Myriant’s incoming 30m lbs/year bio-succinic acid facility currently being constructed in Louisiana and slated for startup next year.

Now, the green blog recalled that PTT previously announced in September 2009 its deal with Mitsubishi Chemical (MCC) for the development of bio-polybutylene succinate. MCC already produces GS Pla (MCC´s trademark for its polybutylene succinate), a bio-degradable polymer made from petro-based succinic acid in Japan and markets it worldwide.

The PTT/MCC collaboration aimed at that time to develop biomass-based Pbs. To make this more interesting, MCC announced to its investors in December that it is planning to establish operation in Thailand w/ PTT for the production of its bio-Pbs using “low-cost raw materials to enter new markets.” Target production in Thailand is around 20,000 tons/year by fiscal year 2015.

I’m going to put two and two together (and might come up with six) but I have a hunch that a biomass-based succinic acid supply might come in handy for producing this new bio-Pbs for MCC.

I am currently trying to get more information on how the Myriant/PTT JV will proceed going forward in terms of future investments in Asia.

In the press release, PTT Chemical also noted its intention to become a leading player in bio-based chemicals as well as Thailand’s government policy that encourages the private sector to set up a bioplastic plant in the country.  In fact, the company recently formed a collaboration with Thai government agencies to jointly develop bioplastics.

Searching the green blog found interesting ongoing green investments in Thailand:

  • Solvay building its glycerine-to epichlorohydrin plant
  • Thailand’s Science and Technology Ministry plans to form a $32.2m joint venture with PTT Chemical, Siam Cement Group and Mitr Phol Group to build the country’s first polylactic acid pilot plant.
  • Purac aims for Thailand lactide plant start-up in second half of 2011.
  • NatureWorks in talks with potential partners including PTT Plc to jointly invest in a large-scale bioplastic plant in Thailand worth about $400 million.
  • Bioplastic producer Novamont signed a deal with Thantawan Industry for the distribution of its Mater-Bi bioplastic in Thailand.
  • Cereplast formed a distribution agreement with Thailand-based Alphani International to supply bioplastic resins to Thailand

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