Full Speed Ahead for Ineos PIB Plant


Ineos Oligomers will invest $4.5 million in structures and equipment for its Whiting, Ind. polybutene plant soit can reach its full, rated annual capacity of 110,000 metric tons, a company official told Lube Report.

Its all logistics – racks, unloading equipment, rail structures and putting in unloading facilities, said Joe Palm, market manager, PIB Americas for Ineos Oligomers, part of League City, Texas-based Ineos USA. The company, which announced the investment plans last Friday, expects to complete construction and installation in the second quarter of 2007.

Palm said that the plant was once part of the BP organization; it was spun off from BP about a year and a half ago and became part of the Ineos Group. Before that, the plant had received a feed directly from BP. Palm explained that after the change, the plant was limited to production of 90,000 to 95,000 metric tons per year.

But now by putting in these – thats why we call them logistics modifications – they will be unloading rail cars, so we can supplement the current feed structure with other feed, he said. That will eliminate any shortages in feed stock and keep the plant up to its rated capacity.

He said factors driving the investment project included growth in the industry and the need for some versatility. The polybutene supply in this country has been pretty tight, he said. This will give us more options.

Some industry analysts expect polyisobutene (PIB) to replace themajority of a projected shortfall in bright stock over the next decade. Ineos, Infineum, Lubrizol and BASF supply almost two thirds of the PIB lubricants market.

Geeta Agashe, director of Kline & Co.s Petroleum & Energy practice, said recently that PIB will be the synthetic of choice to replace bright stocks, followed by naphthenics, PAOs [polyalphaolefins], PAGs [polyalkylene glycols] and others. PIB will fill 80 percent of the shortfall, heavy naphthenics 8 percent. PAO was expected to fill 6 percent of the need and PAG 5 percent.

Palm said the primary market for PIB is in lubricant additives, whether drivetrain, fuel line or crankcase. These all contain a small portion of polybutenes, he added. Innovene, part of the Ineos Group, markets Indopol brand polybutenes, which are widely used as dispersants to control deposits and prevent oil thickening and sludge formation.

He said polybutenes are also used in a variety of other applications, including adhesives, coatings and cosmetics.

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