BASF has broken ground on a previously announced multi-million dollar plastic additives facility at the Bahrain International Investment Park, with production of customer specific antioxidant blends (CSB) to start in 2012. The company said the investment was spurred by a supply agreement with Astra Polymer, the Damman, Saudi Arabia based supplier of masterbatch, additives, and compounds, as well as the opportunities presented by the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which represent one of the fastest growing sectors of polyolefin production worldwide.
BASF describes the planned plant as "worldscale" calling it a "significant addition" to its existing plastic additive plants around the world in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Production will occur across multiple lines with a high degree of automation, according to BASF. The company said the new operation will become one of the world's largest CSB plants with an annual capacity of about 16,000 metric tonnes, according to a July release. The company said this investment reflects its strong commitment to the plastic additives industry, following its acquisition of Ciba in 2009.
John Frijns, BASF's plastic additives head, said his company's interest in the region is tied to its growth prospects and ongoing evolution. "The expected growth of the plastic polymer production in Middle East will get an additional push by increasing efforts to grow the plastics downstream market locally."
Hassan Fakhro, Minister of Industry and Commerce of the Kingdom of Bahrain; Jürgen Barwich, BASF's regional head; and John Frijns, plastic additives head, headlined the groundbreaking ceremony.
Ciba and Astra Polymer originally had plans to form a joint venture to produce CSB in the Middle East Region, but after acquiring Ciba, BASF and Astra decided in July 2010 to discontinue JV plans. At the time, BASF noted that the termination of the joint venture plans would have no impact on the existing tolling agreement between the itself and Astra to produce customer specific antioxidant blends for the region.