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Plastics supply: Sabic enters acrylic business

Already among world leaders in the supply of polyolefins, SABIC has signed a joint venture agreement with Japan's Mitsubishi Rayon to build MMA and PMMA plants in Saudi Arabia. The MMA plant will be the world's largest, say the companies.

SABIC is Saudi Basic Industries Corp., one of the world's top petrochemical companies. The Saudi Arabian government owns 70% of SABIC shares with the remaining shares held by private investors in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries. The Mitsubishi Rayon Group became the world's largest methyl methacrylate (MMA) producer in 2009 following its acquisition of U.K.-based Lucite International Group Ltd. MMA is a monomer, with the vast majority of the world's MMA used to produce PMMA. Some MMA also is used to modify PVC, a material that SABIC also produces. Major PMMA competitors include Dow Chemicals, Arkema and Evonik Degussa.

The 50/50 joint venture between the two will build and operate two plants - one for MMA, the other for polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA, also known as acrylic) - at one of SABIC's manufacturing affiliates in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. The MMA plant will be the largest ever built, say the companies, with a 250,000-tonne/yr capacity. The PMMA plant will have an annual capacity of 40,000 tonnes.

The JV gives SABIC entry into marketing of a new material, and Mitsubishi Rayon access to the lower feedstock costs available in Saudi Arabia. MMA/PMMA are used in applications in construction, automotive, electronics, medical technologies and appliances.

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