Tianhe Builds Additive Plants

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Tianhe Chemicals is in the midst of building two lubricant additive factories that it plans to open next year, in Dubai and Singapore.

Officials say the projects will significantly boost the companys manufacturing capacity and enable it to continue expanding both geographically and in terms of volume.

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This is quite critical both for our growth and to give us security of supply, G.S. Ravi, CEO of Tianhes lubricant additive division, said Friday during a telephone interview.

Tianhe, which claims to be the largest Asian lubricant additive manufacturer, is headquartered in Jinzhou, China, and until this year its additive components and packages were produced at multiple facilities in China. Earlier this year it began making specialty lube additive components at a production facility that opened in Bangalore, India, at the same site of its new research and development center.

The next plant to come online will be the one in Dubai, which is scheduled to open in February. Ravi said it is designed with capacity to make 30,000 metric tons per year of additives – mostly additive packages. When it first opens, the facility will blend chemical components that are manufactured elsewhere – mostly at other Tianhe locations – but manufacture of some individual components will begin in Dubai in the not too distant future, Ravi said.

The Singapore plant is on track to open a few months later, by the middle of 2016, he said. He added that it will be a little bigger than the Dubai plant but did not disclose precise size. Like the Dubai plant, the one in Singapore will make mostly additive packages for both automotive and industrial lubricants. Also like the Dubai plant, the Singapore facility is being built as a joint venture, though Tianhe has not yet disclosed its partners.

Tianhe, which also supplies fluorochemicals, has stated an ambitious goal to build a lubricant additive business on the same order of the industrys four main suppliers – Lubrizol Corp., Infineum, Chevron Oronite and Afton Chemical.

Traditionally most of its additive sales have been in China, and its growth plan will require it to become more of an international supplier. Ravi said Tianhe now sells additives into 46 countries and that the new factories will allow it to serve international markets more effectively. The Dubai and Singapore locations were chosen partly because they offer excellent logistics for imports and exports.

We are expanding a lot in the Middle East and Africa, and neighboring countries like Egypt and Turkey can also be serviced from that region, Ravi said. This is also about business continuity and security of supply. Its very important that we be manufacturing products in more than one location, so that if we have a problem at one plant we can continue to produce.

Products from the Singapore plant will be sold into numerous countries from India to Taiwan, including Southeast Asia.

For the past two years the volume of our exports [from China] have grown at least 25 percent year on year, Ravi said. These new plants will enable us to sustain such growth for the next three to four years.

The company is already planning for its next plant – one that will be built in the United States, probably through a joint venture. Ravi said Tianhe aims to start developing the project next year and to open the plant in 2017.