Sabah to have first oleochemical plant within two years

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will have its first oleochemical/fatty acid plant using industrial grade palm oil (IGPO) to make stearic acid as the primary product and soap noodles as the secondary product. The plant will be set up by Gamalux Oils Sdn Bhd at the Lahad Datu Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) in Lahad Datu within two years.

Gamalux, which already has an existing factory at POIC Lahad Datu involving solvent extraction technologies from palm oil base and IGPO refinery plant, has recently purchased an additional 1.25ha of land for the proposed oleochemical plant.

POIC Lahad Datu is being developed by state-owned POIC Sabah Sdn Bhd, which is at the forefront of promoting palm oil and biomass downstream industries.

Welcoming the plan by Gamalux Oils, POIC Sabah Senior Manager (Marketing) Rose Pun said the setting up of the plant was a breakthrough in terms of attracting investments to Sabah in the oleochemical industry.

“Sabah is the largest oil palm grower in Malaysia but none of the 20 existing oleochemical plants in the country are sited here. We hope this deal sends a message that investments in the downstream sector is really possible,” she said in a statement here today.

Malaysia produced about 19 million tonnes of crude palm oil in 2016, out of which some six million tonnes were produced in Sabah where there are about 1.5 million ha of oil palm plantations.

POIC Lahad Datu was set up in 2005 to deepen the oil palm industry and add value to Sabah’s palm oil sector. POIC Sabah has so far attracted more than RM4 billion in investments.

IGPO is so-called because it is not used as food. Such oil is usually recovered from slush washed out of palm oil mills, or extracted from spent bleaching earth through a solvent extraction process.

Meanwhile, Gamalux Oils Director, Usman Ahmed, said the company’s vision was to keep growing and contribute to green technology.

Gamalux, with its origin in Pakistan, has been operating at POIC Lahad Datu since 2010.

Its existing factory at the cluster employs green technology and produces refined IGPO, palm fatty acid distillate and high free fatty acid palm oil.

These materials are used in making biodiesel, chemicals and animal feed, and are currently exported to Spain, Switzerland, England, South Korea, Thailand and Pakistan. — Bernama