Though masks captured more headlines and are more central to the fight against COVID-19, pandemic-related demand for exam-style gloves is also prompting investment. The oil and gas firm Petronas has signed a deal with LG Chem to respond to that demand by building a nitrile butadiene latex plant with capacity for 200,000 metric tons (t) per year, enough to produce some 13 billion gloves. The new plant will be in Malaysia, which Petronas says is the world’s largest exporter of gloves. LG Chem already produces nitrile butadiene rubber in South Korea. The firms expect to start production in 2023. Petronas CEO Datuk Sazali Hamzah says the move is part of a push into specialty chemicals from its base in petrochemicals. The project follows rubber investments by other chemical firms. The Russian company Sibur plans to add 3,500 t of capacity for nitrile butadiene rubber for gloves at its site in Krasnoyarsk by the end of the year, and the isoprene rubber specialist Cariflex will double output in Paulínia, Brazil, by 2021 to meet growing medical market demand.