BP HOPES TO ENLARGE BAREX RESINS MARKET

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BP Chemicals Inc. will invest between $2 million and $3 million to grow calendered sheet markets for its Barex barrier resins.

The company produces high-impact modified acrylonitrile Barex resins in Lima, Ohio, and the investment involves reconfigurations at that plant that will improve the consistency, processability and appearance of the product, said Joe McCaul, director of sales and licensing for Barex in Warrensville Heights, Ohio. Parent British Petroleum Co. plc is based in London.

``From a production standpoint, this is going to be a big swing for us into the calendered market,'' he said. ``Traditionally Barex has been sold into the markets that required sheet extrusion. We do offer calender grades ... but we haven't gotten into the big volumes. We're becoming physically able to deliver the quantities.''

Thermoformed food packaging is the main market for calender grades of Barex, he said.

At Pack Expo, the firm introduced its first blown-film-grade Barex, used primarily in pharmaceutical and medical packaging; and a general-purpose grade for industrial applications. About 60 percent of the Barex produced in Lima is for the U.S. and Canadian markets, McCaul said.

The London company also will spend $6.5 billion to start up an ethylene cracker in Shanghai, China, with a Chinese joint venture partner, McCaul said. That site eventually is expected to produce polyethylene.

Also exhibiting at the show was BP Chemicals PlasTec GmbH of Ditenheim, Germany, which plans to begin extruding polypropylene sheet in the United States within two years, said JÛrgen SchnÄbele, sales and marketing manager. It touts the sheet as a replacement to PVC in medical packaging. In Germany, the firm also makes PET and PP food packaging.