‘No shortage of orders’ for Orlen's new PTA plant

12 October 2011 16:30  [Source: ICIS news]

Gdansk (ICIS)--PKN Orlen is counting on European demand for purified terephthalic acid (PTA) growing by at least 3-5% annually in the years up to 2016, with growth in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle production largely driving the trend, the Polish group’s executive director for investment said on Wednesday.

In a presentation to the World Refining Association’s (WRA’s) Central & Eastern European Refining and Petrochemicals 14th Annual Meeting, in Sopot near Gdansk, Poland, Zbigniew Pawlucki, said Poland-based Orlen’s recent diversification into PTA production was timely.

“This product chain extension at Orlen increases our value added in a radical way by enabling us to target the dynamically rising market for granulate PET,” Pawlucki said, reminding delegates that Orlen was also examining the option of constructing its own PET plant.

Not one batch of product from Orlen’s 600,000 tonne/year PTA plant in Wloclawek, northern Poland, had been returned by a customer since its launch – along with a 400,000 tonne/year paraxylene (PX) feedstock plant – in June, Pawlucki said.

Costing around €1bn ($1.4bn), the PTA and PX plants made up the second biggest capital expenditure project in Poland during 2000 to 2010.

The launch was long-awaited by PET producers who were suffering from a tight PTA market.

Global Service International’s ninth annual PET Day in Artimino, Italy, last week heard that tight PX and PTA supplies were still a major concern.

“Our PTA plant, backed by the PX, is the most efficient, most modern in Europe and the first in the CEE [central and eastern Europe] region, and Orlen can now say it is the [joint] third largest PTA producer in Europe, with a 15% share of European capacities,” Pawlucki added, noting one PTA customer was able to receive direct deliveries by pneumatic pipeline.

“The project has also improved our petchem production of aromatic compounds – naphtha, toluene, C9, xylene – and has thus improved the overall efficiency of the Plock refinery,” he said.

The biggest European producer of PTA remains BP Chembel in Belgium with 1.33m tonnes/year, while number two is Artlant PTA in Portugal with 700,000 tonnes/year. Orlen is tied in third place with Russia’s Polief.

PET bottle production accounted for 82% of purchased PTA in Europe in 2010, compared with only 44% worldwide, Pawlucki noted.

In Asia, meanwhile, 42% of PTA went into PET fibres and epoxides, compared with only 14% in Europe, he added.

Global PTA consumption stands at 38m tonnes/year compared with global production capacity of 43m tonnes/year, according to Orlen.

The figures for PX were 30m tonnes/year and 32m tonnes/year, respectively, it added.

Looking a few years ahead, Orlen sees global consumption of PTA increasing at 5-6% a year and global consumption of PX rising at 6-7% a year.

($1 = €0.73)

For more on PX and PTA visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: Will Conroy
+44 20 8652 3214

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