BioAmber, Vinmar sign succinic acid off-take deal

BioAmber has signed a 210,000 tpy take-or-pay contract for bio-based succinic acid (SA) with Vinmar International, the companies announced on Wednesday.

Under the terms of the 15-year master off-take agreement, Vinmar has committed to purchase and BioAmber Sarnia, a joint venture with Mitsui & Co., has committed to sell 10,000 tpy of succinic acid from the 30,000 tpy capacity plant that is currently under construction in Sarnia, Canada.

BioAmber and Vinmar also broadened the scope of their previously announced 100,000 tpy 1,4 butanediol (BDO) plant, which the parties currently plan to start up in late 2017. Under that agreement, following the financing, construction and commissioning of the BDO plant, Vinmar has committed to purchase and BioAmber has committed to sell 100% of the BDO produced for 15 years. 

As part of the new succinic acid master off-take agreement, this second plant will be expanded to an annual capacity of 100,000 tons of bio-BDO and 70,000 tons of bio-succinic acid. Vinmar plans to make a 10% or greater equity investment in the expanded plant and has committed to off-take and BioAmber has committed to sell a minimum of 50,000 tpy of bio-succinic acid for 15 years following the plant’s start-up date. 

“This multi-plant deal is a quantum leap forward for our succinic acid business and sets a clear path for rapid growth,” said Jean-Francois Huc, BioAmber’s CEO. “Securing off-take for three plants will help us to obtain project financing and accelerate the deployment of our platform. Our partnership with Vinmar gives us the capability to expand our production capacity, gain economies of scale and guarantees the sale of a significant portion of our output."

Vinmar also has the option to secure additional bio-succinic acid tonnage under the take-or-pay contract if BioAmber has not committed the remaining volume at the time the plant’s financing is secured.

Vinmar also committed to off-take and BioAmber committed to sell a minimum of 150,000 tpy from a new, third plant following its financing, construction and commissioning. The plant would be dedicated to bio-succinic acid production and would have an annual capacity of 200,000 tpy. Vinmar plans to invest at least 10% of the equity in this third plant, which BioAmber expects to start up in late 2020, based on the projected development of the succinic acid market.

The Vinmar take-or-pay contract, together with the take-or-pay agreement signed in April 2014 with PTTMCC Biochem (a joint venture between Mitsubishi Chemical and PTT of Thailand), guarantees the sale of 50% of Sarnia plant capacity during the first three years of operation and 33% of plant capacity for the following 12 years. In addition, BioAmber has signed 19 supply and distribution agreements and seven memorandum of understanding to date, and the cumulative volume of these contracts exceeds the available capacity for sale in Sarnia. BioAmber has been selling bio-based succinic acid for over four years and to date 38 customers have qualified the company as a succinic acid supplier and purchased product from the existing production facility in France.

"Vinmar is committed to growing the market for bio-based chemicals, which have strong global trends favoring their development," said Dr. Serge Verma, president of Vinmar Projects. "Our long-term off-take contract with BioAmber reflects the potential we see for succinic acid as a platform chemical that will substitute adipic acid and other petro-derived building blocks. We believe BioAmber's technology will effectively compete with these chemicals, allowing us to market bio-based succinic acid into the merchant market at competitive prices."

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