An abridged and not rewritten version from Guide to Chemicals in Australia. More fully described under Altona
Qenos formerly Kemcor Australia and the polyethylenes production part of Orica is the major operator at the petrochemical complexes at Altona and Botany with a combined production of 500 000 tpa of ethylene. It was formed in 1999 to prepare for its sale by owners Orica Ltd and Exxon Mobile Corp. In October 2005 it was sold for at least A$200million to the China National Chemical Corp. formed in 2004 by the combination of China National Bluestar Group and China Haohua Chemical Industrial Corp. Orica will book a loss of A$34 million. (In 2003, Orica wrote its shareholding in Qenos to zero but increased it recently to A$19million.)The purchase represents a purchase of an ethane gas supply from Longford (owned by Exxon) and a business that manufactures and imports polyethylene.
The Altona complex is well located with natural gas supplied by pipeline from Bass Strait. Gas is processed by Altoma in SCAL 2 (1971) an ethane cracker with a 120 000 tonne ethylene capacity.
In January 1997, Hoechst sold its polyolefin operations to Kemcor Australia. Kemcor as a result the company produces some 260 000 tpa of polyolefins compared with 250 000 tpa by its competitor ICI.
In May 1998 Orica announced it would merge its polyethylene business at Botany with Kemcor assuming a 50 per cent (Kemcor is 50:50 owned by Mobil and Exxon) to be managed by Kemcor's MD. The joint venture will therefore produce polyethylenes, polypropylene and SB and SBR rubbers. It will import the new metallocene polyethylene polymers.
A delivered to market cost reduction of A$40 was anticipated on combined sales of A$700 million. In March 1999, the merger was approved by the FIRB and ACCC (Foreign investment and competition regulatory authorities in Australia). The joint venture will produce 470 000 tonnes of polyethylenes valued at A$A$700 million and employ 1200. Botany PE production will be upgraded increasing capacity by 35 per cent. In 1999 it was renamed Qenos.
This joint venture will therefore have capacities of: 470,000 tonnes pa ethylene; 130,000 tonnes/y low density and linear low density polyethylene; and 165,000 tonnes/y high density polyethylene. The use of Kemcor technology at Orica's unit in Botany Bay could increase high density polyethylene capacity to 100,000 tonnes pa.
Given that Botany is now largely a polyethylene business, it effectively means Orica would barely control the nucleus of ICI's core commencement in Australia. Orica is clearly confirming a direction of its parent away from commodity chemicals including plastics.
The primary petrochemicals, ethylene, propylene and butadiene are manufactured to polyolefins at the complex. Principal product capacities are LD polyethylene (50,000 tpa), HD polyethylene (160,000 tpa including the 70,000 tpa plant operated by Hoechst until 1997), polypropylene 45,000 tpa (formerly operated by Hoechst).
The styrene butadiene rubber (20,000 tpa) and the LDPE polyethylene (ca. 50,000tpa) both 1961-1965 vintage, were closed in November 2000. Announcing the closure, the company said "the company planned to invest more than A$70 million in Victoria over the next three years to secure its 800-strong workforce."
The complex today (some updating required - eg. the Hoechst operations are now owned by Qenos).
From 1 October, a joint venture was formed with Orica in polyethylene resins AND Kemcor Australia was renamed to Qenos and managed by Kemcor clearly signalling the end of Orica's involvement with plastics in Australia.
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