21 August 1995 00:00 [Source: ACN]
ICI is the latest European producer to confirm a significant hike in PET polymer capacity, following last month's announcement by Eastman Chemical (ACN 31 Jul, p21) and an earlier move by Shell Chemical.
None of the three global leaders has yet unveiled plans to invest directly in the polymer in Asia Pacific, though Eastman has hinted it is talking with potential joint-venture partners in India. With major expansions of capacity now confirmed in both Europe and the US, it is possible the indecision of the last few years over an entry into the Asian market may again be deferred by the three majors.
ICI has announced a total 130 000 tonne/year expansion of its European PET capacity. The expansion program in Wilton, Teeside, will begin with a 10 000 tonne/year upgrade of an existing plant to come onstream later this year, to be followed by a new £80m (US$50m) 120 000 tonne/year plant to start up in Q4 1996.
Fluor Daniel will act as managing contractor for the new plant. Technology used is a development of that used in ICI's 100 000 tonne/year US plant in Fayetteville, South Carolina, now under construction to come onstream in Q4. Both the Wilton and Fayetteville plants will undergo low-cost upgrades soon after they are commissioned, to 150 000 tonne/year each, bringing ICI's worldwide PET capacity to almost 500 000 tonne/year by 1999.
Shell Chemicals has received approval for the doubling of capacity of its Societa Italiana Polietilenetcreftalato (Sipet) plant at Patricia, Italy, announced in July. The project will bring the plant's output to more than 160 000 tonne/year, making Sipet the largest PET production facility in Europe. The expanded product is scheduled for early 1997. Sipet is a joint venture between Shell Italia and Cobarr. The new investment will increase Shell Italia's shareholding from 85% to 92.5%.
With the new capacity, Shell's European capacity will increase to about 200 000 tonne/year, including the output from UK subsidiary Crystal Polymers. Outside Europe, the company operates more than 300 000 tonne/year of PET production at Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and is building another 90 000 tonne/year unit at the same site due onstream in mid-1996. In Mexico, the company is completing engineering work for a new worldscale unit.
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