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Sumitomo to expand PO capacity in Asia

By Patrick Raleigh UT On-line/news editorTokyo-Sumitomo Chemical Co. Ltd plans to build new propylene oxide (PO) production facilities in Asia, as part of a three-year corporate business plan announced 1 March.The capacity will be based on the Japanese group’s by-product-free production technology, which uses cumene hydroperoxide oxidising agent to convert propylene to PO.Under its 2004-2006 business plan, Sumitomo said it aims to “leverage [the] superior cost-competitiveness of proprietary PO-only production process to expand in high-growth Asian markets.”PO demand in Asia, excluding Japan, will increase from about 1000 kilotonnes per annum (ktpa) in 2004, to around 1300 ktpa in 2007 and 1650 ktpa by 2010, the group forecasts.Sumitomo supplies PO via Nihon Oxirane Co.- a 60:40 joint venture between the Japanese group and minority partner Lyondell Chemical Co.Sumitomo itself operates a 200-ktpa PO plant, based on the cumene hydroperoxide technology in Chiba, Japan. This recently started facility will, however, be positioned within Nihon Oxirane by 2006. Tokyo-headquartered Nihon Oxirane also operates a 180-ktpa PO/SM (styrene monomer) unit.

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