BioAmber to Open Plant in 3Q


BioAmber Inc. noted this week that its 30,000 metric ton per year succinic acid plant in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada – which it says will be the worlds largest – is on schedule for start-up in the third quarter of this year.

Montreal-based BioAmber announced that it expects construction of its bio-based succinic acid plant to be completed in two months and commissioning – begun yesterday – to take around five months. BioAmber noted that the cost of the plant will remain within its initial budget of U.S. $125 million, plus or minus 10 percent.

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The Sarnia plant will ferment glucose from renewable feedstocks to make succinic acid that can be used to make lubricants meant to replace petroleum-based products in some applications. The plant will be operated by BioAmber Sarnia, a BioAmber and Mitsui & Co. joint venture.

This is a significant milestone for BioAmber, which is poised to begin a period of rapid growth, said Jean-Francois Huc, CEO in a statement released Tuesday. During the commissioning phase we will test the plant and get it running section by section, produce bio-succinic acid and qualify it with our customers, and begin to sell product that meets specifications. We plan to be in full commercial operation in the third quarter of 2015, by which time we can reliably supply customers, including our take-or-pay contracts.

BioAmber has signed take-or-pay agreements with Houston-based specialty chemicals company Vinmar International and PTTMCC (a joint venture between Thai oil company PTT Plc and Mitsubishi Chemical) for sales of over 5,000 tons in 2015 and 15,000 tons per year in 2016 and 2017. The take-or-pay system is a contract in which the buyer chooses to take product at a fixed price or pay a lower fixed penalty.

BioAmber said that it has also signed a number of supply agreements with non-binding volume commitments that collectively exceed the available capacity in the plant. In December, BioAmber noted that it signed with Oleon, a European oleochemical company that is developing a new line of succinic-acid based lubricants, to be its exclusive supplier of bio-based succinic acids.