Malaysian olefins and polyolefins producer Titan Chemicals Corp. Bhd. is focused on expanding business in China, Southeast Asia and India, as well as preparing for competition from the Middle East.
``We are looking at business opportunities in China,'' said Thomas Patrick Grehl, who became Titian Chemicals' managing director July 1.
China already accounts for one-third of Titan's exports, and Grehl sees strong potential to invest there. ``We are also beginning to explore business potential in India,'' he added.
Titan has three plants, two in Malaysia - in Pasir Gudang and Tanjung Langsat - and one in Indonesia. Grehl said Titan will debottleneck an existing cracker at its Pasir Gudang site and expand the Malaysian sites, with commercial production of new products expected to begin there in 2009. But the major challenge will come from Middle East petrochemical producers, supported by their huge supply of inexpensive resin feedstocks.
``The Middle East is a concern for the entire petrochemical industry,'' Grehl said. To date, competition from that region has been slowed by shortages of engineers and equipment, he said.
Grehl is preparing Titan for the competition. He is keeping abreast of developments in feedstocks, especially agriculture-based materials, and natural gas. The company has the flexibility to switch feedstocks; for example, the company recently used a blend of liquefied petroleum gas and naphtha.
``We are making sure our feedstock is competitive, and we are looking at alternatives,'' he said in a teleconference interview at the firm's Kuala Lumpur headquarters.
While keeping operations lean, Titan is working on product diversification. It also continues to strengthen its presence in its main markets, with priority in Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Grehl said Cilegon, Indonesia-based PT Titan, which produces high density and linear low density polyethylene resins, has made a major turnaround, boosting its Indonesian market share to 25 percent in the third quarter of this year, up from 8 percent when Titan bought the operation last year.
Highlighting the success, Gerhl has set a new target for PT Titan, aiming for 50 percent of the Indonesian market. PT Titan has restarted two mothballed lines since April, and is refurbishing a third line, scheduled to start commercial production by the second quarter of 2007.
In Malaysia, Titan is boosting production of butadiene and propylene.
Titan Chemicals started in Malaysia with one polypropylene plant in 1991. It has been publicly traded in Malaysia since 2005.