MOBIL BOOSTING CAPACITY IN EUROPE

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Mobil Chemical Co. is boosting its European oriented polypropylene film capacity while it disposes of its last polyethylene stretch film operation, which also is in Europe.

Mobil announced March 26 that it will add a new orienting machine at Kerkrade, the Netherlands, that will increase the operation's OPP film capacity by 33 million pounds per year in mid-1998. It did not disclose the cost of the program. Mobil spokesman Michael Kimmitt said Kerkrade is not adding more extrusion capacity.

The Fairfax, Va., firm also said it has begun discussions for the sale of its stretch film plant in Virton, Belgium, to an Illinois Tool Works Inc. affiliate. The stretch film plant is next to Mobil's OPP film facility in Virton but it is run separately, according to Kimmitt.

The Kerkrade project is part of Mobil's global capacity expansion announced more than a year ago. Its global programs include a new Hicor oriented high density PE film line at Virton due on stream in the second quarter of 1997 and new capacity from its TFM Packaging Films Co. Ltd. OPP joint venture in Rayong, Thailand, which is slated to start up at the end of April.

Mobil estimated in its recent announcement that it will have annual oriented film capacity of 500 million pounds worldwide by the end of 1998. Spokesman Tom Cooney said process and productivity improvements could boost that to 575 million pounds per year.

A spokeswoman with ITW Auto-Sleeve, a film producer in Twinsburg, Ohio, said ITW has a film production plant in Austria and offices in the United Kingdom.

ITW officials in Europe could not be reached by press time for comment on a possible deal with Mobil. ITW is based in Glenview, Ill.