SINGAPORE (ICIS)--Borouge expects to start commercial production at its expanded polymer compounding plant in China by late 2020, the CEO of Borouge's marketing & sales company said on Monday.
The debottlenecking project at the Shanghai plant will grow its annual capacity by 35,000 tonnes to 125,000 tonnes/year, Wim Roels told ICIS on the sidelines of the 2018 Asia Petrochemical Industry Conference (APIC) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The expansion project is now at the front-end engineering and design stage, he said.
Output from the plant will mostly serve the Chinese automotive market, where there is a growing focus on electric vehicles.
“What is fascinating is the commitment and the investment automotive companies are putting into electric cars… it is such a great opportunity for us, as such vehicles have bigger challenges with weight,” Roels said.
“We are working with electric car manufacturers to develop products that fit with their applications as weight reduction is the number one priority,” he added.
Meanwhile, Borouge’s new 480,000 tonne/year polypropylene (PP) unit (PP5 Project) at Ruwais in Abu Dhabi, UAE, is on track to be completed by 2021, Roels said.
The company awarded in July this year the engineering contract for PP5 to Maire Tecnimont.
PP5, to be completed by the end of 2021, will be integrated within the existing Borouge 3 Complex.
“[PP5] is an important step for us to keep growing and securing market share and will extend our capabilities on the PP side,” Roels said.
On the demand front, Roel expects “sound growth” for both polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) demand globally over the next decade at 4-5%.
“This is partly supported by the fact there is a lot of replacement going on from other materials into plastics… and in a number of the countries in Asia the per capita consumption of plastic remains below the global average,” Roels said.
“You would expect them in the coming years as part of their development to also grow plastic consumption per capita,” he added.
Infrastructure changes in Asia, like the shift from coal to gas for heating in China, will boost demand for plastic pipes. Similarly, India also has a project underway to supply district gas to the big cities for cooking, according to Roels.
“These projects will boost the demand for pipe so we believe infrastructure will remain a strong growth area,” he said.
Another area for polyolefins demand growth is agriculture in Asia, Roels said.
“Asia has a major challenge in feeding in a fast growing population, so agriculture has to become more intensive and more effective at the same time you have a shortage of water, so effectively using water for irrigating plants is one of the key challenges for the next decade,” he added.
Interview article by Nurluqman Suratman