Alpek, partners may resume construction on Texas PET plant in '22

Author: Luly Stephens

2021/04/21

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Alpek and its partners in a joint venture may resume construction at their polyethylene terephthalate (PET) project in Texas in 2022, the CEO of the Mexican polyester producer said on Wednesday.

Production could begin two years later, which would place start-up in early 2024, said Jose de Jesus Valdez, Alpek CEO. He made his comments during an earnings conference call.

The project is in Corpus Christi, and Alpek is developing it under a joint venture with Indorama Ventures and Far Eastern New Century. All three hold equal stakes in the joint venture, called Corpus Christi Polymers (CCP).

The project will produce PET and purified terephthalic acid (PTA).

Valdez said Alpek is assessing the reduction of investment and expects to arrive at a cost estimate next year.

The company “is focused on growth and potential chain-integration” to improve margins and, therefore, is looking at alternatives, such as the incorporation of production of raw materials the company uses, such as ethylene or propylene, he said.

Any additional capacity would be welcomed in North America as demand in the region has increased since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with no significant changes between the traditional low and peak demand seasons.

The US has relied on large volumes of imported PET to supply the domestic market adequately, but rising freight costs since early Q4 2020 have made Asian resin expensive.

Alpek expects virgin PET demand growth of about 1% per year and recycled PET demand growth of about 10% per year. As a result, Valdez said, any “new facility needs to be a competitive investment” that will reduce imports of resin independently of ocean freight costs.

PET resins can be broadly classified into bottle, fibre  or film grade, named according to the downstream applications. Bottle-grade resin is the most commonly traded form of PET resin and it is used in bottle and container packaging through blow moulding and thermoforming. Fibre-grade resin goes into making polyester fibre, while film-grade resin is used in electrical and flexible packaging applications.

PET can be compounded with glass fibres to make engineering plastics.

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Thumbnail image shows a PET bottle. Photo by Photoalto/REX/Shutterstock