28 March 2004 23:07 [Source: ICIS news]
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (CNI)--US-headquartered commodity chemicals group Huntsman is evaluating proposals to improve the cost-efficiency and yields from its Teesside, UK aromatics plants, vice-president for European petrochemicals Doug Culpon said here Sunday.
He said the plans involved an increase in feedstock flexibility and a small rise in the production capacity of an aromatics plant, although he declined to identify which one.
Huntsman's Teesside petrochemicals complex has nameplate capacities of 500 000 tonne for benzene, 340 000 tonne for paraxylene (PX) and 300 000 tonne for cyclohexane.
Culpon, who was speaking to CNI on the sidelines of the International Petrochemical Conference (IPC)*, declined to reveal the likely cost of the project or its precise timing. However, he indicated that it was very small when compared with the company's plans to build a low-density polyethylene (ldPE) plant at Teesside.
The approximately 400 000 tonne/year capacity polyolefins plant is expected to cost around $250m (about Euro192m) and take around two and a half to three years to build.
Culpon said the timing of the aromatics upgrade was linked to the ldPE plant schedule. Huntsman has yet to secure final local and regional government approvals for the resins project, which has been spawned by the company's desire to soak up its excess ethylene capacity on Teesside. Huntsman's Wilton, Teeeside cracker has a nameplate capacity of 865 000 tonne/year. All of the ethylene is sold to third parties, with an undisclosed amount exported. Building a PE plant at Teesside would yield higher added value for the ethylene.
Huntsman is keen to start work on the plant as soon as possible, Culpon said. "Ideally, we would have liked to have begun construction already but certainly we would want to make a start in the next two months," he said.
Talks are already underway with several contractors and technology suppliers, said Culpon, although he declined to identify them.
The project, which is expected to qualify for regional development grants, will create several hundred direct jobs as well as a significant amount of secondary employment in a region of relatively high unemployment.
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