PET

25 June 2001 00:00  [Source: ICB]

Strong demand growth and limited capacity expansions look set to tighten European markets over the next two years

Uses



Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) can be made into resin or film. PET resin's main use is in bottled soft drinks with rapid growth in the bottled water market. It is also used to package food and in non-food applications.

Supply/demand



European markets are expected to tighten over the next two years with continued strong demand growth and limited capacity expansions. Total European production was 1.57m tonne in 2000 out of an effective capacity of 1.88m tonne with consumption at 1.83m tonne, according to Tecnon Orbichem. Utilisation rates were 83.5% last year and total European capacity will reach just under 2.2m tonne by the end of 2002, noted Tecnon Orbichem. Anti-dumping duties imposed in December 2000 have had some impact on reducing Asian imports, with one or two Asian suppliers now facing prohibitive duties. However, other Asian suppliers continue to export to Europe and a 40% increase in Asian material is reported into eastern Europe in January/February this year compared to 2000. Most of Europe had a disappointing second quarter because of poor weather. Eastman was forced to reduce output across its plants in June/July. DuPont recently announced the sale of its US PTA/PET resin interests to Mexico's Alpek.

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Pricing



Producers say quarter two prices averaged DM2.60-2.70/kg. Some major suppliers have announced they will be seeking a rise of DM100/tonne from 1 July, mainly in an attempt to recover the anticipated increase in feedstock costs. An early quarter three paraxylene contract has been agreed at a E73/tonne increase, although it is unclear whether this will be accepted by the market. Margins were said to be close to reinvestment economics in quarter two, but are likely to be pressured again next quarter as producers face an uphill struggle pushing through price increases.

Technology



Pure terephthalic acid (PTA) and monoethylene glycol (MEG) are reacted to make a basic ester which is polymerised in a melt phase, polycondensation finishing reactor operating under heat and vacuum. The molten polymer is extruded, cut into chips and cooled. The chips pass to a solid state polycondensation unit which is an annealing process to form the resin. New catalysts are being developed to reduce the esterification time. Researchers are also looking for ways to remove the solid state polycondensation stage. Synetix has unveiled a new titanium catalyst which works in both the esterification and polycondensation processes that can increase yields by 15% compared to existing antimony catalysts. DuPont's sale to Alpek includes a licence to use DuPont's technology and the Melinar and Laser+ brand names in the Americas.

Health and safety



PET poses a low risk to human health and the environment. It has very low toxicity, and even under exaggerated conditions of exposure, migration of components from PET packaging materials into food is extremely low. PET can react with strong oxidising agents and powdered material may form explosive dust-air mixtures. Molten material will produce thermal burns.

Outlook



Forecast growth is strong at 10-11%/year in Europe and worldwide to 2005. Between 2005-10 Tecnon Orbichem rates European growth at 8.5%/year. Some small capacity expansions will come onstream by end 2001 and Moscow-based Sibur will commission Russia's first plant in quarter four (see table). DuPontSa is raising capacity at Adana to 100 000 tonne/year by early 2002 and is still evaluating a worldscale plant in Europe. KoSA also plans a 150 000 tonne/year plant in Europe but is delaying a decision as players are predicting a trough in 2004-05.

EUROPEAN PET CAPACITY '000 TONNE/YEAR





Company Location Capacity


Aussapol Udine, Italy 60


Belpak Mogilev, Belarus 38


Brilen Barbastro, Spain 85


Cobarr1 Agnani, Italy 150


Dow Schkopau, Germany 160


DuPontSa Adana, Turkey 85


Wilton, UK 2105


Eastman Rotterdam, 140


Chemical Netherlands


San Roque, Spain 140


Workington, UK 1303


Elana Torun, Poland 52


Hoechst Portalegre, Portugal 35


Inca Ottana, Italy 85


(80% Dow) Pisticci, Italy 55


Italpet2 Pallanza, Italy 110


KoSa Gersthoffen, Germany 55


Offenbach, Germany 1954


La Seda Prat de Llobregat, Spain 1006


Sibur Twer, Russia 527


Sipet1 Frosinone, Italy 90


Volos Indust. Zone Volos, Greece 60


Wellman Emmen, Netherlands 60


Europe


Others


Compagnie Européenne Gauchy, France 20


de Polyester (CEP)


PET Processors Dumfries, UK 20


Terom Iasi, Romania 10


Slovensky Hodvab Senica nad Myjavou, Slovakia 5


Total 2172


1 owned by Mossi & Ghisolfi2 Mossi & Ghisolfi/Marubeni jv3 includes PETG4 includes 60 000 added end 20015 includes 30 000 added end 20016 includes 30 000 added Q3 20017 start-up end 2001Source: Tecnon Orbichem





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