Most new plants were concentrated in China, such as LyondellBasell’s (NYSE: LYB) 20 kilotonnes-a-year polypropylene (PP) compounding plant and BASF’s (ETR: BAS) world-scale chemical catalyst manufacturing plant with its 50,000 tonnes a year biocatalysed acrylamide capacity. Asian chemical companies in other countries also continued to invest in growth projects.
Thailand’s biggest petrochemical manufacturer PPT Global Chemical (SET: PTTGC) was among the most active investors, reporting in January 2018 plans to spend US$985 million to build a new olefins plant in Map Tha Phut, Thailand, which will boost olefins capacity to 3.74 million metric tons per annum (mtpa) from 2.99 mtpa when it comes on line in 2020.
The investment is in line with its US$4 billion, five-year investment plan to develop eastern Thailand in collaboration with Sanyo Chemical Industries (TYO: 441) and Toyota Tsusho Corp (TYO: 8015). The plan includes boosting ethylene capacity to 500,000 tons/year and propylene capacity to 250,000 tons/year at its existing Map Tha Phut plant.
To take advantage of cheaper gas supplies, South Korea’s Lotte Chemical Corp is also investing KRW300 billion (US$276 million) to expand its polyethylene plants in Malaysia, increasing ethylene production capacity by 13%, from 720,000 tons/year to 810,000 tons/year.
It also plans to expand its production plants in South Korea and the US in 2018 to boost its combined polyethylene volume to 4.5 million tons/year.