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PET resin project proposed in South Carolina

By: Frank Esposito

March 27, 2014

More PET resin capacity might be headed to an already oversupplied North American market.

A pair of South Carolina publications have reported that an unnamed company based outside of North America plans to build a major PET plant in Charleston. That information became public when Cooper River Partners LLC — which owns the Bushy Park Industrial Complex there — filed a request with the Army Corps of Engineers to fill more than 10 acres of freshwater wetlands at the site, according to the Charleston (S.C.) Post & Courier.

The firm also wants to build a private marine terminal, install a rail spur and dredge about 93 acres to accommodate ocean-going ships, the paper said. The project is expected to create 700 new jobs and could have almost one billion pounds of annual PET capacity.

Cooper River Partners executive Marc Fetten told the paper that his firm had been working on the project for two years. “Our attitude is that we don’t file for permits unless we have a good degree of certainty these things will happen,” he said.

A story in Charleston-based business magazine SCBIZ added that the facility’s manufacturing processes will use a new technology that relies on sugarcane as the raw material rather than fossil fuel inputs.

DAK Americas LLC already makes PET in the area at its Cooper River plant. That site had made polyester fibers and added PET production in 2003.

The announcement comes as a bit of a surprise, since market watchers have estimated that the North American PET market already is oversupplied by at least 1 billion pounds. Bottles made with PET have become much thinner in recent years and consumption of carbonated soft drink has been flat to negative.

These conditions already had led market watchers to question North American PET expansions planned by Indorama Ventures Public Co. Ltd. and M&G Group. Indorama plans to build a new plant with 1.2 billion pounds of annual capacity in Decatur, Ala., with an opening date of late 2015. M&G intends to build a massive new PET plant in Corpus Christi, Texas. That plant — with 2.2 billion pounds of annual capacity — is expected to open sometime in 2016.