Cetex Expands Chemical Plant


Chemicals producer Cetex is nearing completion of a two-phase expansion of methyl ethyl ketone capacity at its chemical plant in Chennai, India. MEK is used as a dewaxing agent in conventional refining of API Group I base oils.

Since acquiring the plant last year, Cetex increased MEK capacity from 4,000 metric tons per year to 10,000 t/y. Last week the company announced that it is installing another production unit that will boost capacity of MEK, also known at butanone, by an additional 5,000 t/y.

The same project will raise capacity for secondary butyl alcohol – a solvent used in paints, lacquers and pharmaceutical applications – from 10,000 t/y to 5,000 t/y. (SBA capacity was 6,000 t/y when Cetex bought the plant.) The company claims to be the only MEK and SBA producer in Southeast Asia.

Cetex also purchased a chemical plant from Shell Chemical in Houston, United States, and is dismantling and transferring it to Manali, an industrial zone in Chennai, where it will be reassembled to make a plant with capacity to produce 50,000 t/y of methyl iso butyle ketone and methyl iso butyl carbinol. MIBC is a solvent used in the production of brake fluids, in organic synthesis and in the production of plasticizers.

Cetex will spend a total of Rs 400 crore (Rs 4 billion or U.S. $65 million) on all of the expansion work, according to a press release issued last week. The installation of the MIBK and MIBC plant is scheduled to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2016.

Officials said the company undertook the expansions in response to increased demand and that some of the new output will be exported.

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