LyondellBasell Advanced Polyolefins plans to increase its investment in Asia significantly, slating new facilities for India, Russia and the Middle East, and relocating its global headquarters from Germany to Hong Kong.
The APO unit of LyondellBasell Industries AF SCA will have more than 2.2 billion pounds of compounding capacity this year. The unit wants to see Asia grow from 10 percent of its global sales to about 25 percent in five years, said Advanced Polyolefins President Paul Yeates.
``We want to really increase the focus on Asia,'' Yeates said in an April 17 interview at the Chinaplas trade show, held April 17-20 in Shanghai. ``This is where the growth is.''
Yeates said the unit's headquarters moved from Frankfurt to Hong Kong on Jan. 1, to be positioned better for the Asian market.
The company plans to open an Indian polypropylene compounding operation in the second half of 2009, and will set up additional investments for PP compounding in Saudi Arabia and Russia next year as well, Yeates said.
Some of the new investments could be acquisitions but the company still is looking at options, he said. The Saudi plant is projected to have about 66.1 million pounds of capacity and Russia about 44.1 million pounds.
LyondellBasell, which is the largest polypropylene resin maker in the world, added significantly to its compounding capacity in December with the purchase of Solvay Engineered Polymers of Mansfield Texas, a major PP compounder in the U.S.
In Asia Pacific, the company has about 375 million pounds of compounding capacity, and will boost that to nearly 419 million pounds this year with a new compounding plant in Guangzhou, China, and additional capacity at a Thailand plant, he said.
LyondellBasell said automotive will be one of its key growth markets in Asia, where the typical car uses more PP compounds than in the U.S. The Chinese car market is projected to reach 9 million vehicles a year in five years, surpassing the Japanese domestic market, he said. India also is projected to roughly double its car market in that period, from 1.7 million vehicles a year now, to more than 3 million, he said.
Yeates said the company is working on several research projects, including with a major carmaker to develop PP bumper fascias that could reduce bumper weight by 30 percent. LyondellBasell also is commercializing a material to target ABS or painted ABS resin, he said.
The company plans to open its first technical applications development center in China, in Suzhou, this year, he said. It currently has a similar facility in Japan.
He also said the company plans to expand compounding capacity in Central and South America, adding its first Mexican PP compounding plant next year and expanding capacity in Brazil and Argentina, from about 154 million pounds to more than 220 million pounds by 2010.