France's Atofinaannounced on 17 September that it had acquired the 10 per cent stake in Qatar Petrochemical Company (Qapco)held by Italy's Enichem. The acquisition means that Atofina becomes the only foreign shareholder in Qapco, with a 20 per cent interest: the remaining 80 per cent continues to be held by Qatar Petroleum (QP). Qapco produces 525,000 tonnes a year (t/y) of ethylene and 380,000 t/y of low density polyethylene (LDPE). It is planning a major debottlenecking of its ethylene cracker which will take capacity up to 725,000 t/y (MEED 23:8:02).
The deal consolidates Atofina's position in the local petrochemical sector, increasing the company's interests in several other ventures where Qapco has a stake. These are:
Qatofin. A recently formed joint venture between Atofina (36 per cent), Qapco (63 per cent) and QP (1 per cent), Qatofin is planning to be involved in two major projects, due to be commissioned in 2007. These are: the proposed 1.3 million-t/y cracker at Ras Laffan, which will be built with the Q-Chem IIventure; and the 450,000-t/y linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) plant at Mesaieed. Following the purchase of the Enichem stake, Atofina has raised its interest in the ethane cracker to 22.2 per cent and its stake in the Mesaieed project to 48.6 per cent (MEED 21:6:02).
Qatar Vinyl Company (QVC). Both Qapco and Atofina already had stakes in QVC, which came on stream in 2001. The acquisition means that Atofina has raised its interest in QVC to 19.29 per cent from 16.1 per cent.
Atofina, the chemical arm of France's TotalFinaElf, said that the Enichem transaction is part of its strategic commitment to expand its local petrochemical activities to meet fast-growing demand in South East Asia. The acquisition also gives the TotalFinaElf group the opportunity to consolidate its local presence through industrial synergies between its upstream and chemical operations in the gas sector, the company added.
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