BASF and Petronas Chemicals to build PIB plant in Kuantan, Malaysia

BASF and Petronas Chemicals Group Berhad (PCG) will build a new world-scale plant to produce highly reactive polyisobutene (HR-PIB) at the site of their existing joint venture, BASF Petronas Chemicals Sdn Bhd, in Kuantan, Malaysia.

The plant, which will be the first of its kind in South East Asia, with a total annual capacity of 50,000 metric tons of HR-PIB, is expected to start production in the fourth quarter of 2017. HR-PIB is an important intermediate product for the manufacturing of high performance fuel and lubricant additives.

“Leveraging excellence in technology will be an important factor in accelerating future profitable growth globally and especially in Asia,” said Christian Fischer, president of BASF’s Performance Chemicals division. “With this investment, we are building on the solid, long-term relationship with our strategic partner Petronas.”

BASF Petronas Chemicals’ fully integrated Kuantan site is one of BASF’s two Verbund sites in the Asia-Pacific region. According to Fischer, the joint investment with BASF’s partner PCG at the Kuantan Verbund site will further increase security of supply for HR-PIB, especially for the Asian market. The new plant will further strengthen the global footprint of BASF as the leading supplier of this product.

“The investment marks another significant milestone in the development of the Kuantan site as a leading specialty chemicals hub in the Asia-Pacific region, in line with PCG’s strategy to diversify into specialty chemicals and solutions,” said Datuk Sazali Hamzah, president and CEO of Petronas Chemicals Group Bhd. “It also strengthens the presence of highly advanced and forward-oriented technologies and expertise in Malaysia and the region.”

BASF has more than 70 years of experience in the manufacturing of HR-PIB. Besides the new plant in Asia, the company operates production facilities for HR-PIB at its Verbund sites in Ludwigshafen, Germany and Antwerp, Belgium and within a joint venture with Sinopec YPC in Nanjing, China. BASF offers the broadest range of PIBs in the market with different molecular weights which are marketed by the global business unit Fuel and Lubricant Solutions under the brand names of Oppanol® and Glissopal®.

BASF and PCG founded their joint venture BASF Petronas Chemicals in 1997, which operates an integrated complex situated at the Gebeng Industrial Zone, Kuantan, Pahang. In addition to the proposed plant, BASF Petronas Chemicals is also building two plants at its Kuantan site: an integrated aroma ingredients complex to manufacture citronellol, L-menthol as well as citral and its precursors which are widely used in the flavour and fragrance industry; and a 2-ethylhexanoic acid (2-EHA) plant to manufacture 2-EHA compound for the production of synthetic lubricants, as well as oil additives. It is also used for functional fluids like automotive coolants, metal salts for paint dryers, plasticizers, stabilizers, catalysts and other applications in various industries.