US Westlake Chemical to continue to de-bottleneck PVC capacities

Source: ICIS News

2019/02/19

HOUSTON (ICIS)--US Westlake Chemical executives on Tuesday said the company will continue to use de-bottlenecking and other operation efficiencies to expand production capacity for its vinyls segment.

Photo by Hans Lippert/imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock

In comments made during the company’s earnings call with equities analysts, Chairman Albert Chao said the company will keep all options open, but will likely expand by gleaning operations efficiencies.

“We continue to explore expansion opportunities,” Chao said.

One year ago, Westlake announced that it would expand polyvinyl chloride (PVC) capacity by 340,000 tonnes/year globally at its Geismar, Louisiana, and Burghausen, Germany plants. The company is also adding 25,000 tonnes/year of chlorine capacity at its Gendorf, Germany, plant.

The projects will increase Westlake’s capacity by 750m lb/year of PVC and 200m lb/year of vinyl chloride monomer (VCM).

Plans are to complete the expansions this year.

The call was held after an earnings report earlier Tuesday that showed Westlake’s Q4 profit down, with the company’s olefins and vinyls segments both reporting declines, the US-based chemicals company said on Tuesday. Higher ethane costs and lower prices for its primary commodities were cited for the declines, among other factors.

The company also predicted stronger prices for PVC and caustic soda this year, with PVC expected to firm in March, April and May and caustic soda to firm on global factors during the second half of the year after weakening during the fourth quarter.

Major US PVC  producers include Occidental Chemical, Westlake Chemical, Shintech and Formosa Plastics.