Expansions: Toray Carbon’s new carbon fibre line in Europe; Ineos to buy stake in Sinopec cracker in China

Toray Carbon’s new carbon fibre line in Europe

Toray Carbon Fibers Europe, a European carbon fibre producer and subsidiary of Toray Industries, is to invest about EUR100 million to build a new production line at its plant in South West France. This investment will enable the company to meet growing demand for high-performance carbon fibre in France and other European countries.

The new line will be able to produce a range of carbon fibres, including high-modulus (HM) carbon fibre, offering high mechanical performance that are ideally suited for the requirements of high-tech industries such as renewable energy, nuclear power and aerospace.

Construction work will commence in the second half of 2023, with production expected to start at the end of 2025. Providing up to 1,000 tonnes of additional capacity, this investment will also generate about 50 new jobs at the plant.

“This investment demonstrates our shareholders’ recognition of the excellence of our products and their confidence in us as a company,” said Jean-Marc Jean-Marc Guilhempey, CEO of Toray Carbon Fibers Europe.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, Toray adds it has adapted its business model from a strong focus on aerospace markets to industrial sectors linked to green energy production and the development of new mobility solutions. In view of the sustained demand from these emerging sectors, and the gradual recovery of the aerospace industry, Toray considers it vital to prepare for the future by investing in such initiatives.

Ineos to buy stake in Sinopec cracker in China

In other news, UK’s Ineos and China’s Sinopec are in a new joint venture agreement that will see Ineos acquire a 50% share in the existing Tianjin Nangang Ethylene Project from Sinopec. The project is currently building a 1.2 million-tonne ethane cracker, expected to come on-stream at the end of 2023, and downstream derivative plants in Tianjin, China.

A full suite of derivative units is being built at the complex, including the 300 kilotonnes/year ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) plant and the 500 kilotonnes/year HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) plant announced by Ineos and Sinopec in July.

The ABS plant will be based on Ineos’s Terluran ABS technology. It is the second of three ABS plants that Ineos has agreed will be built and operated in China in partnership with Sinopec, the first being the 600 kilotonnes/year plant currently under construction by Ineos in Ningbo.

The HDPE plant, which is also expected to be onstream by the end of 2023, is the first of three planned units to produce Ineos pipe grade with Sinopec under license in China.

Through this partnership Sinopec will benefits from Ineos’s technological knowledge and operational expertise, and Ineos achieves a substantial presence in China, the fastest growing market in the world.

This is the fourth venture signed in 2022 with Sinopec. Two are petrochemical complexes and two are product joint ventures. Each is a similar scale.

The three projects previously announced with Sinopec are:

  • Ineos agreed to acquire a 50% stake in Shanghai SECCO Petrochemical Company Limited (SECCO), a subsidiary of Sinopec. SECCO currently has a production capacity of 4.2 million tonnes of petrochemicals - including ethylene, propylene, polyethylene, polypropylene, styrene, polystyrene, acrylonitrile, butadiene, benzene and toluene. It is a 200-ha facility, located inside the Shanghai Chemical Industry Park.

  • Ineos also agreed to establish a new 50:50 joint venture with Sinopec with the intent to build production capacity of up to 1.2 million tonnes of ABS, to meet rapidly growing demand in China. The 600ktpa ABS plant in Ningbo, which is currently under construction by Ineos Styrolution and is planned to be operational by the end of 2023, will become part of the joint venture. The companies also plan to work together on two additional 300ktpa ABS plants, which will also be built by the joint venture based on Ineos’s Terluran ABS technology. It is one of these 300ktpa plants that will be located in Tianjin. The location of the third unit is yet to be decided.

  • The third agreement will see Ineos and Sinopec build the new 500 ktpa HDPE plant as part of the Tianjin Nangang Ethylene Project. In addition to the Tianjin plant Ineos and Sinopec will build at least two additional 500ktpa HDPE plants in the future to produce Ineos pipe grade under license.

China is a key growth region for Ineos and the agreements significantly extend its petrochemicals business with a focus on products where it has some of the leading proprietary technologies.

The transactions are all subject to regulatory approvals and other conditions and will be financed through a combination of internal cash resources and external financing.


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