DUESSELDORF, Germany—The Chinese synthetic rubber market now is a major priority for Arlanxeo, according to Donald Chen, who recently took over as CEO of the company that 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 an Oct. 16 interview at the K2019 trade fair in Duesseldorf.
In terms of its geographical presence, Arlanxeo is "very proud of its global footprint with one exception: China," the CEO said, adding that the company is "under-represented" there in almost all of 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," Chen said.
Competition from low-cost synthetic rubber producers in China shouldn't threaten the company's position, according to Chen. "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, especially in areas such as mobility.
The Maastricht, Netherlands-based company's focus on high-end polymers recently was highlighted by an upgrade of its chloroprene rubber production facilities in Dormagen, Germany. The move brought the total capacity there to 70,000 metric tons per year.
The multi-million-euro project, originally announced in 2018, also involved upgrading and modernizing the plant to increase the flexibility and capability of the unit to produce specialty products, Arlanxeo said in a statement issued Oct. 8.
In addition, Arlanxeo made "substantial progress" in modernizing its nitrile butadiene rubber plant in La Wantzenau, France. That investment program 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 center for research and development activities for NBR.
At K2016, Arlanxeo listed its SR portfolio as comprising:
- Butadiene rubber and styrene-butadiene rubber at more than 1 million tons per year;
- EPDM at 450,000 tons per year;
- butyl rubber at 400,000 tons per year;
- NBR rubbers at more than 130,000 tons per year;
- chloroprene rubber at more than 60,000 tons per year; and
- EVM rubber at around 15,000 tons per year.
The company's main production sites include Geleen, Netherlands; Dormagen, Germany; Orange, Texas; Jurong Island, Singapore; and Changzhou, China.