(EnergyAsia, March 19 2012, Monday) — Malaysia’s state energy company Petronas and German chemicals giant BASF said they will jointly invest a total of RM4 billion to develop an integrated oil refinery-petrochemical complex in the southern Malaysian state of Johor, and expand their existing venture in nearby Pahang state. (US$1=RM3.05).

The two projects are targeted for completion between 2015 and 2018, said Petronas, which will be represented by subsidiary Petronas Chemicals Group Berhad.
The partners will form a new entity, with BASF holding a majority 60% stake, to jointly own, develop, construct and operate new plants to produce isononanol, highly reactive polyisobutylene, non-ionic surfactants, methanesulphonic acid and precursor materials to form part of Petronas’s proposed Refinery & Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) complex in Pengerang in Johor.

The head of agreement for the project was signed early this month by Martin Brudermueller, BASF’s vice chairman, and Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin, Petronas’s executive vice president (downstream).

The partners also announced that they are “making progress” with a feasibility study to expand the operation of their existing BASF Petronas Chemicals Sdn Bhd plant in Pahang’s Kuantan city.

They are planning to expand their C3 value chain by adding a superabsorbent polymers plant and expanding the existing glacial acrylic acid unit. BASF holds a majority 60% stake in the company which was set up in 1997.

Dr Brudermüller, who is responsible for BASF’s Asia Pacific operations, said:

“With our new development in Pengerang and the expansion of the Verbund site in Kuantan, we will be able to improve supply our customers in Asia Pacific with specialty chemicals that help meet the needs of a rapidly growing population, especially in the ASEAN market.”

Mr Wan Zulkiflee said: “The development of a new specialty chemical products portfolio is an important component of PETRONAS’ plan to facilitate the sustainable development of our downstream petrochemical business. This complements our integrated plan to become a key player in the region as well as to spur domestic investment in the oil, gas and petrochemical industries.”

Non-ionic surfactants are used in almost all cleaning applications, particularly in environmentally friendly laundry detergents as well as in technical processes, including as ingredients for auxiliaries in the textile and leather industry.

Methanesulphonic acid is utilised in many different applications wherever a strong, readily biodegradable and low-corrosive acid is needed, such as for use in detergents, electroplating, and chemical synthesis.

Isononanol is a feedstock for the production of plasticisers, which is used in a variety of industries including construction and automotive.

Superabsorbent polymers are the key ingredients in disposable diapers and adult hygiene products. Aroma chemicals are used mainly in the flavours and fragrance industry.