Exclusive: BP considers new worldscale PTA plant in Europe

29 June 2000 11:41  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (CNI)--BP Amoco is considering a substantial increase in European purified terepthalic acid (PTA) capacity, with firm plans to debottleneck its 500 000 tonne/year No 3 plant at Geel in Belgium and outline proposals to build a new worldscale plant in northwest Europe, CNI learned on Thursday.

The world leader in PTA production has already announced plans this year to construct a new 700 000 tonne/year plant in North America and is studying options to raise capacity at its Cooper River, South Carolina plant by up to 180 000 tonne to 1.5m tonne/year.

According to market reports, BP Amoco is well advanced with initial planning on the Geel debottlenecking, which will raise capacity by about 100 000 tonne to 600 000 tonne/year. The additional capacity would be due onstream in 2002. This would bring total annual capacity at Geel to around 960 000 tonne, as BP Amoco's No 2 plant has a capacity of about 360 000 tonne.

Although plans for a new worldscale plant in Europe are much less advanced than the Geel debottlenecking, BP Amoco is understood to be keen to ensure that its PTA capacity remains in step with burgeoning demand growth. The putative new plant could be built at Geel although there are understood to be several other possible sites in Europe.

If sanctioned this year or early 2001, the new plant could be brought onstream in 2003-04, according to market sources. The exact timing, however, is likely to depend on progress with plans for the new worldscale plant in North America which is tentatively scheduled for completion around the end of 2003.

BP Amoco said in response to inquiries from CNI that it was looking at options to expand European PTA capacity but said no decisions had been made. "Anything more than that is pure speculation."

It is, however, a measure of both BP Amoco's determination to maintain its market leadership and the pace of PTA demand growth that it is contemplating plans for new worldscale plants in both Europe and the US.

Outgoing chief executive of BP Chemicals Bryan Sanderson said earlier this year that PTA is a strategic part of the company's petrochemical portfolio. He said BP Amoco remained committed to expanding its position as the world's number one producer and marketer of PTA.

Earlier this week Spanish PTA producer Interquisa announced plans to build a new 350 000 tonne/year plant at San Roque near Algeciras in southern Spain.

By: Neil Sinclair
+44 20 8652 3214

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