INEOS has embarked upon a joint venture with a leading Chinese petrochemical company to design, build and operate the largest-ever phenol production plant in China.
Once built, it will be capable of producing at least 400,000 tons of phenol every year to serve the rapidly growing Chinese market for this valuable raw material.
The deal with Sinopec Yangzi Petrochemical Company was struck earlier this year.
Harry Deans, CEO of partners INEOS Phenol, said it was the largest capital investment ever made by INEOS in China.
“This mutually beneficial partnership is an important development for INEOS Phenol and INEOS in China,” he said.
“Combining a strong, local partner like Sinopec YPC with our phenol technology and access to the market will bring considerable value to our business and to our customers.”
The plant, which is expected to become fully operational by the end of 2015, will also be able to produce 250,000 tons of acetone – another valuable raw material used in everyday products – and 550,000 tons of cumene every year.
Dr Ma Qiulin, CEO of Sinopec YPC, described the joint venture as an important partnership.
“Our established presence, competitive edge and cumene technology, combined with INEOS’ leading phenol technology, puts us in a strong position to meet growing demand for downstream petrochemical products in the region,” he said.
INEOS is already the world’s largest manufacturer of phenol and acetone with sites in Germany, Belgium and America.
This will make it the only manufacturer in the world to have phenol and acetone production sites in Europe, America and Asia.
The path was cleared for the project to proceed in November last year when the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection approved INEOS and Sinopec’s Environmental Impact
That approval, which followed a detailed analysis, was viewed as a major step forward towards the formation of the joint venture.
The plant will be built on the Nanjing Chemical Industrial Park in Jiangsu Province – at the heart of China’s largest market for phenol and acetone.
With China now the world’s fastest growing market for phenol and acetone, it is expected that the new plant in Nanjing will free capacity at INEOS’ European and American plants so that they too can meet growth in those regions.
Sinopec, which is China’s leading producer of phenol and acetone, currently has three production sites in Shanghai, Beijing, and Tianjin.