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Foreign PE Investments Underway in North America

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1. December 2015

Over the next two years, new back-integrated PE plants will be brought on stream by foreign companies who have sought to benefit from the U.S. shale gas economics. Included are South Africa’s Sasol Chemical and Thailand’s PTT, each of which have opted to utilize the Innovene S slurry process technology, which produces  mono and bi-modal HDPE, from Switzerland’s Ineos Technologies.

 

Meanwhile, Brazil’s Braskem is starting up production at its major PE petrochemical complex in Mexico this month, and is scheduled to bring its first North American UHMWPE plant on stream within 2016.

 

At the recent Global Plastics Summit (GPS2015), co-hosted by IHS Chemical and SPI, presentations made by key sources from Ineos, Sasol, and Braskem provided some further details on these happenings as follows:

 

Sasol Chemicals North America and Ineos Olefins & Polymers USA, both Houston-based, will see their 50/50 joint venture come to fruition within third quarter 2016. To be operated by Ineos at its Battleground Manufacturing Complex in LaPorte, Texas, the new plant will produce 940-million lb/yr of bimodal HDPE using Ineos’ Innovene S process.

 

PTTGC America LLC, a newly-formed affiliate of PTT, Thailand’s largest petrochemical and refining company, recently selected to use Ineos’ Innovene S HDPE process for a new complex near Dilles Bottom (Belmont County), Ohio. Included in this project is a 2-billion lb/yr ethylene cracker and a 1.4-billion lb/yr HDPE plant with two lines that will produce a wide range of PE grades to serve growing demand in the U.S. and export markets. Timing of startup of these units is not yet available but is likely to commence nearer to 2017.

 

Braskem is still on schedule with starting up its first North American UHMWPE plant at its LaPorte, Texas site within the second half of 2016. Although the plant’s capacity has yet to be disclosed, the company has said that it will complement its existing UTEC UHMWPE product line it has been producing at its Brazil site and which has been provided to clients in the U.S. and Europe for over 10 years.

 

Braskem-Idesa (B-I) major new petrochemical complex, which includes an ethylene cracker and three PE units, is slated for startup this month, although its impact on U.S. PE imports to Mexico will not be felt until second quarter 2016. There are two--882-million lb/yr and 772-million lb/yr—HDPE units, both of which will use Ineos’ Innovene S technology. There is also a 661-million lb/yr LDPE unit which will use LyondellBasell’s Lupotech T process, said to allow for production of a broad range of film grades--from hygienic/pharmaceutical to heavy-duty shrink and stretch construction and agricultural films. About 60% of these plants’ output is slated for the Mexican market with 40% slated for exports to the U.S., Central and South America, Europe, and Asia.

 

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