TOKYO, July 28, 2010 _ Ube Industries, Ltd. today announced that that it has decided to expand its facilities for manufacturing synthetic rubber (butadiene rubber) at the Chiba Petrochemical Factory in Ichihara City, Chiba Prefecture, Japan. The move is in response to growing demand for butadiene rubber (BR) in the Asia region including Japan and China. The expansion will add a further 15,000 tonnes of production capacity per year, increasing the plant's total production capacity for BR to 110,000 tons annually, up from 95,000 tonnes. The capital investment for the expansion is estimated at ¥1.4 billion, with the facilities scheduled to be brought online in August 2012.
The main applications for BR are for use in tires, high impact polystyrene (HIPS), and shoe soles. Demand for BR is expected to grow by almost 5% in the future, centering on the Asian market which comprises the biggest market for BR. In the tire market, many BR users centering on major tire manufacturers are moving forward with plans to increase their production capacity. Ube Industries' expansion plans will position it to capitalize on the subsequent growth in demand for BR.
Ube Industries currently maintains a global framework for BR production with plants in Japan, China and Thailand. The annual production capacity in Japan through the Chiba Petrochemical Factory currently stands at 95,000 tonnes, with a capacity of 72,000 tonnes and 50,000 tonnes respectively in Thailand and China. The total annual production capacity of 217,000 tonnes makes Ube Industries the fourth largest manufacturer of BR in the world.
Ube Industries already has plans to add a further 22,000 tonnes of annual production capacity in China, to be brought online in late 2011. In addition, the Company is presently considering plans for a second expansion phase that will add another 15,000 tonnes of annual production capacity in China, to be brought online in August 2013.
The expansion plans will enable Ube Industries to best leverage its global production framework, and further strengthen the presence in the growing Asian market while meeting the expectations of users.