BASF shifts Isononanol Plans to China as Evonik Steps Into Petronas Project

24.01.2013 -

A revolving door seems to have opened in Petronas' Refinery & Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) project at Pengerang, Johor, Malaysia. BASF and the Malaysian oil and petrochemicals heavyweight have canceled their Heads of Agreement (HoA) agreement signed in March 2012 calling for a BASF majority-owned (60:40) specialty chemicals joint venture within the RAPID project, and Evonik has moved in as a new European partner for at least three planned production facilities.

In a statement, BASF and Petronas said they had concluded it would be in their mutual interest to terminate the HoA as they had been unable to agree on terms and conditions of the proposed venture. At the same time, the two petrochemical giants stressed that their commitment to continuing their existing long-term jv, BASF Petronas Chemicals, in Gebeng Industrial Zone, Kuantan, Pahang.

The new BASF- Petronas partnership would have owned, developed, built and operated production facilities for a number of chemicals. Tentative plans included a superabsorbent polymers plant and a capacity increase at an existing glacial acrylic acid plant as well as facilities for the plasticizer feedstock isononanol (INA), isobutylene, non-ionic surfactants, methanesulfonic acid and precursors.

BASF is now preparing to relocate some of the projects to other sites. After announcing the Malay cancelation, the group said that, following a feasibility study, it had decided to form a 50:50 joint venture, BASF MPCC Co., with Sinopec, to build and operate a world-scale plant for INA at Maoming, China. The facility, scheduled to start up in 2015, would be fully integrated into an existing petrochemical site at Maoming.

Subsequently, Essen, Germany-based Evonik said it has signed a letter of intent to build among other things, a 220,000 t per year facility for INA within the Petronas RAPID project. Under what appear to be the same terms as envisaged between the Malay group and BASF, Petronas and Evonik said they intend to jointly own, build and operate production facilities for 250,000 t of hydrogen peroxide and 110,000 t of 1-butene annually -- alongside the INA plant. The peroxide is planned to be processed on-site using technology developed by Evonik and German engineering group ThyssenKrupp Uhde.