Dusseldorf, Germany – The Chinese synthetic rubber (SR) market is a now major priority for Arlanxeo, according to Donald Chen, who has recently taken over as CEO of the company, which claims to be the world’s largest SR producer.
The Saudi Aramco-owned company’s ambitions in China encompass both capacity and the company's technological offerings there, Chen said in a 16 Oct interview at the K2019 trade fair in Dusseldorf.
In terms of its geographical presence, Arlanxeo is “very proud of its global footprint with one exception: China,” the CEO adding that the company is “under-represented” there in almost all the polymers its produces.
“We see a lot of development in the Chinese market, and a lot of growth in that region. We clearly want to play a bigger role there,” continued Chen.
Asked about competition from low-cost synthetic rubber producers in China, Chen insisted “we as a technology-led company, should be able and will be able to occupy the top part of the pyramid. That will be our intent.”
Technical innovation, he noted, will be instrumental for the development of new SR 'solutions' and in meeting customer demands in a changing market environment, in areas such as mobility.
Arlanxeo will, therefore, leverage its technological advantages as well as its technical support capabilities, with high-end polymers among the top priorities for China, the CEO concluded.
The Maastricht, The Netherlands-based company’s focus on high-end polymers was recently highlighted by a turnaround of its chloroprene rubber (CR) production facilities in Dormagen, Germany – bringing the total capacity there to 70 kilotonnes per annum (ktpa).
The ‘multi-million-euro’ project, originally announced in 2018, involved upgrading and modernising the plant to increase the flexibility and capability of the unit to produce speciality products, Arlanxeo said 8 Oct.
In addition, Arlanxeo said it had made “substantial progress” modernising its nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR) plant in La Wantzenau, France.
The “double-digit million euro” investment programme started in mid-2018 and aims to bring the plant up to the latest technology standards.
The La Wantzenau facility is claimed to be the world’s largest NBR production site, serving as Arlanxeo’s centre for research and development activities for NBR.
At K2016, Arlanxeo listed its SR portfolio as comprising: Butadiene rubber and styrene-butadiene rubber, over 1,000ktpa; EPDM, 450ktpa; butyl rubber, 400ktpa; NBR rubbers, over 130ktpa; chloroprene rubber, over 60ktpa; EVM rubber, around 15ktpa.
The company’s main production sites include: Geleen, The Netherlands; Dormagen, Germany; Orange, Texas; Jurong Island, Singapore; and Changzhou, China.