Growing environmental concerns cast a shadow over future of Mab Ta Phut Industrial Estate

Growing concerns regarding environmental pollution over the last few years at Thailand’s leading chemical site Mab Ta Phut, has prompted the Thai government to announce that it would introduce tougher emission standards, as per ICIS. The growing protests and ensuing measures have jeopardised the site's ability to attract continued investment, almost 20 years after establishment. Over 50 chemical companies have invested Baht (Bt) 548 bln (US$13.81bln) here, making it the eighth-largest petrochemical hub in the world. However, a court ruling in March this year has identified Mab Ta Phut as a pollution control zone in response to a petition filed by health and pollution control officials. This ruling is expected to have an adverse effect on investor confidence and could derail planned investments. The Federation of Thai Industries has estimated that up to Bt288 bln in new petrochemical investments could be at risk if emission rules and standards for Mab Ta Phut are not clearly spelled out by the government. Committees have been set up to review air and water quality and to draw up plans to tackle industrial waste. Projects that have already got approval for their environment impact assessment (EIA) studies and projects expected to start over the next 12 months have the go ahead for the construction. The Federation of Thai Industries has estimated that eight projects are in the process of seeking an approval, and are awaiting the new standards to be announced. Companies will face higher construction costs to meet the new standards, and hence will need to calculate returns on investment. Interestingly, so far, no projects have been cancelled at projects at Mab Ta Phut. Among the major projects due to be commissioned during this period is a 1mln tpa ethane cracker erected by PTT Polyethylene (PTTPE). Ethylene from the cracker will feed new low density polyethylene (LDPE) and linear low density PE (LLDPE) plants being built by the company and also a high-density PE (HDPE) unit being set up by Bangkok Polyethylene. Both PTTPE and BPE are subsidiaries of state-owned PTT Chemical. Another cracker, a joint venture between SCG, one of Thailand's largest conglomerates, and Dow Chemical, is scheduled for commissioning Q2-2010 with a capacity of 900,000 tpa. The two companies are investing around Bt53.7bn on four joint-venture projects at Mab Ta Phut. These projects have secured all approvals, and construction is ongoing. The table gives details about major projects at the complex (ICIS)
CompanyProductCapacity (tonnes/year)Start-up
Map Ta Phut Olefinsethylene900,000Q2 2010
 aromatics400,000Q2 2010
SCG Dowpropylene oxide 390,0002011
 linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE)350,000Q2 2010
Thai Polypropylenepolypropylene400,000Oct 2010
PTT Polyethyleneethylene 1,000,000end 2009
 low density polyethylene (LDPE)300,0002010
 LLDPE400,000Q3 2009
Bangkok Polyethylenehigh density polyethylene (HDPE) 250,000end 2009
HMC Polymerspolypropylene (PP) 300,000Q3 2009
PTT Asahi Chemical Co.acrylonitrile (ACN)200,000 2010
 methyl methacrylate (MMA)70,000 
 ammonium sulfate160,000 
PTT Phenolphenol250,0002009
 bisphenol A (BPA)150,0002010
MTP HP JVhydrogen peroxide330,000H2 2010
Solvayepichlorohydrin100,000Q2 2011
Thai MMAmethyl methacrylate180,000Q3 2010
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