(EnergyAsia, June 7 2013, Friday) — Germany’s Lanxess has officially opened its 400-million-euro plant on Singapore’s Jurong Island to produce premium halobutyl rubber and regular butyl rubber for use in a wide range of products including tyres, pharmaceuticals, protective clothing, shoe soles, adhesives and chewing gum. (US$1=0.76 euro).

The Leverkusen-based chemical giant, which has made Singapore the global headquarters for its butyl rubber business, said the plant will produce up to 100,000 tonnes of high-quality halobutyl rubber a year and create 160 high-end jobs.

The company, which has a butyl rubber plant in Sarnia, Canada, and another in Zwijndrecht, Belgium, said it will begin commercial production at the Singapore plant in the third quarter, and ramp it to capacity in 2015.

“This is the largest investment in the company’s history, and underlines the importance of Asia as a location for our synthetic rubber business,” said Axel C. Heitmann, Lanxess’s chairman at the plant’s opening ceremony this week.

Also present at the event were Teo Chee Hean, Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister, Angelika Viets, the German ambassador to Singapore, and Ron Commander, Head of Lanxess’s butyl rubber business unit.

Mr Teo said: “Lanxess is using Singapore as their base to grow their Pan-Asian business. With companies expanding their activities in Singapore to include headquarter and R&D activities, we expect a wide range of enriching career opportunities for many Singaporeans in the chemicals sector.”

Driven by demand in Asia, the butyl rubber market is expected to grow by an average annual rate of five percent in the coming years. The tyre industry accounts for around three-quarters of sales at the company’s butyl rubber business unit.

With the passenger car population expected to more than triple in China and India alone over the next 15 years, Lanxess expects to continue growing its business in Asia, which already accounts for more than half its sales revenue.

China and India will lead in the demand for halobutyl rubber which is used for inner lining in increasingly popular radial or tubeless tires for buses and trucks. The halobutyl rubber lining helps keep tyre pressure constant for longer because of its impermeability to gases, thus saving fuel and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.