By Liz White, UT editor
Shanghai, China-Today sees the fruition of a massive isocyanates project in China. Two global majors in the polyurethanes sector, Huntsman Corp. and BASF AG, together with their Chinese partners, have inaugurated a complex for making MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate) and TDI (toluene diisocyanate) in Shanghai.
The two western groups, together with local partners Shanghai Hua Yi (Group Co.), Sinopec Shanghai Gao Qiao Petrochemical Corp. and Shanghai Chloro-Alkali Chemical Co. Ltd, held an opening ceremony 18 Aug at the Shanghai Chemical Industry Park, to celebrate the start-up of this integrated complex.
Total capital expenditure on the Shanghai plant was $1000 million. The project was completed on schedule, said the partners. At full capacity the operation will be able to make 240 kilotonnes per annum (ktpa) of crude MDI and 160 ktpa of TDI. This isocyanates capacity is needed to fill high demand growth in China for polyurethanes, currently running at about 10 percent annually. At this rate, economists predict that China will be the biggest polyurethanes market globally by 2015, said statements from Huntsman and BASF.
Present at the ceremony were Dr John Feldmann, BASF board member responsible for plastics and oil & gas, and Dr Martin Brudermüller, BASF board member responsible for Asia. Peter Huntsman, president and ceo of Huntsman Corp., was also in attendance, as was the Shanghai Municipality's vice mayor Hu Yanzhao.
"The Chinese economy is growing strongly and China is rapidly becoming a major area of focus for all of our business divisions," said Peter Huntsman, in the Huntsman statement. He added that the project, "demonstrates our commitment to increasing our presence here, even as we increase our investments in our differentiated business portfolio."
For BASF. Feldmann said, "Our isocyanate complex in Shanghai will give us an excellent competitive position to participate in the rapid growth of the Chinese market and better serve our customers from local production."
The BASF executive added that next year the German group will also, "open a new facility in Pudong (Shanghai), which will produce polyurethane specialties tailored to the requirements of our Chinese customers."
BASF, which currently has sales in China of €2800 million (2005) and a workforce of more than 4000, aims to generate 10 percent of its total chemical sales and earnings in China within four years.
"Today we are inaugurating BASF's second largest investment project in China, which will make a significant contribution to our ambitious targets," said Brudermüller, thanking go the "employees who have worked on this project since groundbreaking in spring 2004."
The three joint ventures are as follows:
* Shanghai Lianheng Isocyanate Co. Ltd-A 240 ktpa plant to make crude MDI including manufacturing of precursors aniline and nitrobenzene. Built by BASF, Huntsman, Shanghai Hua Yi, Shanghai Chlor-Alkali Chemical and Sinopec Shanghai Gao Qiao Petrochemical (BASF share: 35 percent);
* Shanghai BASF Polyurethane Co. Ltd-An MDI finishing plant and a 160 ktpa TDI plant, with precursors nitric acid and dinitrotoluene built by BASF, Shanghai Hua Yi and Sinopec Shanghai Gao Qiao Petrochemical (BASF share: 70 percent); and
* Huntsman Polyurethanes Shanghai Ltd-An MDI finishing plant and prepolymers plant built by Huntsman and Shanghai Chlor-Alkali Chemical.
The photo shows BASF's John Feldmann speaking a the ceremony, watched by Peter Huntsman (far right).