European chemical profile: PET

08 March 2010 00:00  [Source: ICB]

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) can be made into a resin, fiber or film. The largest outlet is synthetic fibers, followed by bottle resin. PET film is used in electrical applications and packaging.

A spate of rationalization in 2008-2009 has cut the number of producers and plants in Europe, which has been losing market share to Asian and Middle Eastern imports. Europe imported around 900,000 tonnes in 2009, with volumes said to be up by 25-28% on 2008. The European Commission has opened antidumping investigations against Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, and South Korea's KP Chemical.

Spanish producer Artenius has sold its UK assets to Korea's Lotte Chemical UK, and has put four other plants up for sale. Lotte plans to restart the Wilton, UK, site in April, while Artenius will restart its idled Spanish unit in March. US-based Eastman sold its assets to Thailand's Indorama Polymers in April 2008.

Overall demand in Europe marginally rose in 2009 after a fall of up to 4% in 2008. Demand is steady in early 2010, but supply is tighter because of outages and fewer imports.

European prices have firmed in 2010 as a result of upstream cost pressure. The February reference contract price rose by €55/tonne ($75/tonne), to €1,525-1,705/tonne, FD Western Europe, pre-discounts; and suppliers were talking about potential increases of €20-30/tonne for March.

Imports had become uncompetitive in 2010 because of the strong US dollar. Offers at end February for end March/early April arrival were around €1,100/tonne FD Europe.

Purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and monoethylene glycol (MEG) are reacted to make a basic ester, which is polymerized in a melt phase polycondensation finishing reactor. The molten polymer is processed either into fibers/filaments or sent to the solid state polycondensation (SSP) unit to make bottle-grade chips.

Research has focused on removing the SSP stage. Eastman commercialized its integrated paraxylene (PX) to PET route, IntegRex, in 2007, which claims to have three times the capacity with half the footprint of conventional technology.

Eastman is suing Indorama Polymers and US-based Dak Americas for patent infringement.

The trend to lighter-weight bottles, which has reduced demand in Europe, is virtually over. But, recycled PET will continue taking share from virgin PET, which is expected to grow at 2%/year in Europe. Recycling association Petcore says that 1.26m tonnes of PET was collected (after sorting) in Europe in 2008, resulting in 803,000 tonnes net recyclable material.

Demand in the EU-27 of 3m tonnes in 2007 is forecast to reach 4m tonnes in 2015, primarily driven by growth in the traditional soft drinks and water market. PET is not expected to penetrate the beer or milk markets to any large extent.

Company Location Capacity
Artenius Adana, Turkey 140
San Roque, Spain 190
Portalegre, Portugal 75
Prat de Llobregat, Spain 170
San Giorgiodi Nogaro, Italy 200
Volos, Greece 80
Belpak Mogilev, Belarus 115
Equipolymers Ottana, Italy 160
Schkopau, Germany 335
Europlast Solnechnogorsk, Russia 105
Indorama Polymers Rotterdam, the Netherlands 200
Workington, UK 155
INVISTA Gersthofen, Germany 55
Italpet Preform Pallanza, Italy 110
Lotte Chemical UK Wilton, UK 150
M&G Polimeri Patrica, Italy 210
Neo Group Klaipeda, Lithuania 310
Novapet Barbastro, Spain 250
Orion Global PET* Klaipeda, Lithuania 200
PET Processors (UK) Dumfries, UK 20
Sibur-PETF Tver, Russia 55
SK Eurochem Sloclawek, Poland 120
Sun European Partners Emmen, the Netherlands 60
* part of Indorama Group

Profile last published April 23, 2007

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