Press Releases

INEOS announces legal action against Sinopec and Sinopec subsidiaries

  • Jim Ratcliffe, Chairman, says “we want to take our best technology to China but we need to know that it will be protected.”
  • INEOS, one of the world’s largest chemical companies, takes legal action in China against a number of Sinopec subsidiaries for misuse of trade secrets in its Acrylonitrile business.
  • Acrylonitrile, used in plastics and carbon fibre, is one of the world’s largest petrochemicals businesses.  INEOS’s own Acrylonitrile business is world number one and valued at $3 billion, employing 5,000 people worldwide. 
  • INEOS says that the prolific building of Acrylonitrile copy plants in China will destroy its business.
  • Jim Ratcliffe, says “the fundamental value of INEOS depends upon its technology.  We have no option but to defend our hard won intellectual property

INEOS, the fourth largest chemical company in the world, has today announced that it is taking legal action against a number of Sinopec and Sinopec subsidiaries (SNEC, Anqing and others) for breach of contract and/or misuse of trade secrets.

INEOS says that Sinopec Ningbo Engineering Company has broken a long established technology agreement which, together with trade secret misuse by other Sinopec companies, has enabled development of a series of new world scale Acrylonitrile plants without INEOS agreement or consent.  

INEOS, which has otherwise excellent relationships with Sinopec and with China, has no choice other than to protect its intellectual property.

INEOS fears that these breaches of rights will cause major harm to its Acrylonitrile business which generates up to $500m per annum of profit and has a replacement value of $3 billion. It supports around 5,000 direct and indirect jobs in the USA and Europe.

INEOS is pursuing parallel actions in the Beijing High Court and through arbitration in Sweden.

INEOS has every confidence  that China has now developed an excellent system to protect intellectual property consistent with the fact that China now files more patents than any other country.

Jim Ratcliffe, INEOS Chairman, says “We have good and  valuable relationships with Sinopec and other Chinese companies across our business. But in this case, we have to take action to protect the interests of our stakeholders. The fundamental value of a business like INEOS depends on its intellectual property which includes trade secrets and patents, covering technology, design and operations. Unless we protect our intellectual property, ultimately we will see the demise of INEOS



Notes for editors:

INEOS currently leads the global Acrylonitrile market. Acrylonitrile is an important molecule which is used to manufacture a wide range of high value goods. It is a key building block for carbon fibre which is essential for a range of highly engineered products in the automotive, aerospace and defence industries.   The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner relies on Acrylonitrile based carbon fibre for its construction. In addition, Acrylonitrile is a key ingredient in ABS polymer, used in many everyday applications from children’s toys and computer monitors to white goods. It is the key ingredient in acrylic fibre and by products from the process are essential in a wide range of uses from pharmaceuticals to gold extraction.

INEOS has had a long standing agreement with SNEC (a Sinopec company) for the licensing and use of Acrylonitrile technology in China dating back to 1984.

INEOS believes in the long term development of the Chinese petrochemical industry and is strongly committed to working with companies in China to help them to develop their businesses. INEOS currently has plans to jointly build a phenol plant with Sinopec and an Acrylonitrile plant with Tianjin Bohai. INEOS brings world beating technology and a long history of exemplary manufacturing capability to the highest safety and environmental standards.

INEOS AG is a company based in Switzerland. Acrylonitrile manufacture is carried out at 4 major sites around the world; Green Lake Texas, Lima Ohio, Seal Sands UK and Cologne Germany. INEOS Acrylonitrile technology provides the basis for over 90% of the world’s production. The technology was developed and patented in the United States and is still developed and improved by INEOS USA LLC at our technology centre in Lisle, Illinois.


Media contacts:

Richard Longden (INEOS)                  + 41 (0) 21 627 7063 or  +41 (0) 7996 26123

Mark Killick (Media Zoo)                     +44 (0) 20 7384 6980 or +44 (07836 634449

Andrew McLachlan (Media Zoo)         +44 (0) 20 7384 6980 or 07931 377162

Hannah Brandstaetter (Media Zoo)      +44 (0) 20 7384 6980 or +44 (0) 7896 776554

Anna Jakubisiak (Media Zoo)              +44 (0) 20 7384 6980 or +44 (0) 7814 971960

Share this Article: