With the recent flurry of activity in the glove sector in Malaysia, state-owned Petronas Chemicals Group Bhd (PCG) and South Korea’s LG Chem have tied up to build a nitrile butadiene (NBR) latex manufacturing plant at the Pengerang Integrated Complex (PIC) in the southern state of Johor, targeting the growing nitrile glove market and further strengthening Malaysia’s position as the largest exporter of gloves globally.
PCG said construction of the plant will begin in 2021 while production is scheduled to start in 2023. It will have a production capacity of 200,000 tonnes/year when completed.
PCG and LG Chem will also work together to offer various grades and new applications of NBR as well as develop high-value added products through continuous R&D and investments, according to PCG.
PCG Managing Director/CEO Datuk Sazali Hamzah said the partnership marked a strategic step in developing the group’s speciality chemicals portfolio, underpinning its position as a leading integrated chemicals producer in Malaysia and enhancing its presence in attractive end-markets, especially for personal care and healthcare, mainly in the Asia-Pacific region.
PCG is moving into segments with higher growth potential with more speciality chemicals in its portfolio, he added.
NBR is a synthetic rubber that uses butadiene as the main feedstock and is a core raw material in making nitrile gloves, which is widely used in industries such as healthcare, medical, and food, among others, to complement the existing natural rubber gloves due to its chemical-resistance features.
Nitrile gloves usage has seen a rapid growth recently due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with demand rising at an annual average of more than 10%, and is expected to account for 70% of the entire latex gloves market in 2024.