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8 May, 2008 03:05

Russian chemical firm targets 5% global share

A Russian chemicals giant is aiming for a 5% share of the world production market of a resin best known for its use in laminates and plastics. EvroChem will pioneer the manufacture of melamine in partnership with the German company Lurgi – and

Russia's advantage is that natural gas is an essential part of melamine production. But so far it's been selling gas to Europe while countries like Austria and Poland produce melamine and sell it back to Russia.

EvroChem is ready to change that, cutting the price of the product from the current level of more than 3,000 dollars per tonne.

Melamine is a product with a huge number of uses – from some plastic wood and table tops, to fabrics, glues and household products. It’s also commonly used in flat-pack furniture.
An upgraded plant will see EvroChem make melamine under licence from Casale of Switzerland. Production is tightly controlled, so the contract represents a coup for the Russians.

“Only a limited number of companies which hold a special licence can produce melamine,” said EuroChem General Director, Dmitry Strezhnev. “We will buy the technology and manufacture this product ourselves. About one million tonnes of melamine are produced annually. After launching this project we aim to have about five per cent of the global market.”

The alliance with Lurgi, which will equip the EvroChem plant, may bear fruit in other sectors.

“We are working with partners from Russia for bio-ethanol plants,” said Lurgi Senior Vice-President, Ludolf Plass.

Russia seems to be entering a new phase of growth in its chemical and bio-ethanol industries.

And with its resources of land and minerals, experts say the country stands to become a leading competitor.