BASF, Petronas Plan PIB Plant


BASF and Malaysias Petronas Chemicals Group Bhd. will build Southeast Asias first highly reactive polyisobutene plant in Malaysia, the companies announced last week.

The plant, which will be designed with capacity of 50,000 metric tons per year, will be located at the site of the BASF Petronas Chemicals joint venture, in Kuantan, Malaysia, and is scheduled to start operations in the fourth quarter of 2017.

The project is aimed at providing materials for Petronas lubricants and fuels businesses, although the plants output will initially go to third parties.

[T]he HR PIB will be sold to manufacturers of fuel and/or lubricant additives, who then will sell them… to Petronas, a Petronas Chemicals spokesman told Lube Report Asia.

No market projections were given for HR PIB used in the production of lubricant additives. However, this project is expected to create export revenue of around 300 million ringgit (U.S. $79 million) to the country as 100 percent of the HR PIB will be for export, said Dato Azman Mahmud, CEO of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority.

BASF officials said such projects further the economic development of Asian nations.

Leveraging excellence in technology will be an important factor in accelerating future profitable growth globally and especially in Asia, Christian Fischer, president of BASFs Performance Chemicals division, said in a news release.

According to Fischer, the new plant will improve security of supply for HR PIB, especially for the Asian market, and further strengthen the global footprint of BASF as the leading supplier of HR PIB.

HR PIB is a chemical intermediate used in the production of high-performance lubricant and fuel additives, including additives for sludge prevention. It speeds the producing of derivatives like detergents and dispersants used in lubricants.

Highly reactive refers to the products higher chemical reactivity versus conventional polyisobutenes, said the BASF spokesman, who asked not to be identified. HR PIB is easier to process and results in less by-products than conventional PIB and technically is suited as a bright stock replacement.

According to Petronas Chemicals spokesman, the project has the advantage of having the feedstock isobutylene at our site in Kuantan.The key feedstock for the plant will be IB, which will be supplied by MTBE, a subsidiary of Petronas Chemicals located at the same site.

BASF has HR PIB production facilities in Germany and Belgium and a joint venture plant with Sinopec YPC in Nanjing, China. BASF offers a range of PIBs in the market with different molecular weights, marketed under the brand names of Oppanol and Glissopal.

BASF Petronas Chemicals, a 60:40 joint venture between BASF and state-owned Petronas Chemicals, was set up in 1997 to operate an integrated complex situated at the Gebeng Industrial Zone in Kuantan. In addition to the new plant, the joint venture is also building a factory for the manufacturing of 2-ethylhexanoic acid (2-EHA), a compound used in the production of synthetic lubricants and oil additives.

Based in Germany, BASF produces ashless dispersants for engine oil manufactured with HR PIB. According to the company website, [these] lubricant additives show an excellent efficiency over a long period of time in passenger vehicle and commercial vehicle engines, and they enable extended oil drain intervals. BASF had sales of over 74 billion in 2014 and around 113,000 employees with shares traded on stock exchanges in Frankfurt, London and Zurich.

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