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BP to quit SECCO petrochemical JV in China

August 9, 2016
Energy & Chemical Value Chain

BP plc is seeking to divest its 50% holding in Shanghai SECCO Petrochemical Co. Ltd. (SECCO), a major petrochemicals joint venture (JV) with China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. (Sinopec) based at Caojing, China, according to Reuters, which cites people familiar with the matter.

BP has reportedly hired an investment bank to assist with the sale, which could raise $2–3 billion. SECCO is one of China’s largest petrochemical operations and includes a 1.3–million metric tons per year (MMt/y) naphtha cracker and many downstream units. BP tells CW that the company is “making no comment on this speculation.”

The move would represent the latest chapter in the narrowing of BP’s chemicals portfolio. In 2005, the company sold most of its petrochemical operations to Ineos Group Ltd. following a strategy review. BP retained only three differentiated main segments—purified terephthalic acid (PTA), para-xylene, and acetic acid—as well as a few other assets, including the stake in SECCO and two ethylene plants at Gelsenkirchen, Germany, with a combined capacity of 1 MMt/y. These plants formed part of the Ruhr Oel refinery JV with Rosneft (Moscow, Russia). The Gelsenkirchen assets have since been transferred to BP under a swap deal with Rosneft.

In addition to SECCO, BP has major PTA and acetic acid manufacturing assets in China. It commissioned last year the third phase of a PTA complex at its BP Zhuhai Chemical Co. Ltd. affiliate at Zhuhai. The plant, with a capacity of 1.3 MMt/y, increased the site’s overall PTA capacity to 2.7 MMt/y.

BP, in its second-quarter financial results, says that it plans to offload $3–5 billion worth of assets this year, of which $1.9 billion have been agreed on. BP recently agreed to sell its aromatics complex at Decatur, Alabama, to Indorama Ventures Ltd. (Bangkok, Thailand). BP says the divestment is in line with its worldwide petrochemical strategy that focuses on world-scale, low-cost facilities that use BP proprietary technology, including the production of PTA.

Analysts say BP is also likely to sell the petrochemical assets in Germany, which include a solvents production subsidiary, DHC Solvent Chemie GmbH.

By Natasha Alperowicz

Source: Chemical Week

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