Rexene Corp. of Dallas has launched an investment program to expand and modernize its Odessa, Texas, olefins manufacturing facility. The expansion will move Rexene into the production of 220 million pounds of linear low density polyethylene a year while increasing its production of ethylene to 800 million pounds from 540 million pounds a year.
Rexene put the value of its investment in the expansion and modernization at $150 million to $175 million.
Rexene now produces 420 million pounds of conventional LDPE, 180 million pounds of isotactic polypropylene, flexible polyolefins, ethylene and other petrochemical products.
Rexene will use the DSM/Stamicarbon, ``Compact'' solution process in the new LLDPE plant. The facility will go into production by the end of 1998.
The move into LLDPE production is a significant step for Rexene, which has been a determined producer and advocate of conventional LDPE.
In an interview by telephone Dec. 19 from his office in Dallas, Andrew J. Smith, chief executive officer of Rexene, said the move will give his company new product lines and access to metallocene catalyst technology, while enlarging its Odessa complex to make it a ``world-scale'' facility.
Smith said he expects Rexene to develop new niche products using its LLDPE line that will fit in specific applications, rather than a broad line of products.
Previously a skeptic about metallocene catalyst technology, Smith conceded in the Dec. 19 interview that resins made with metallocene technologies may have an impact on PE markets in his lifetime.
``We have not licensed metallocene catalyst technology, but we have the best of both worlds,'' Smith said.
``We can watch the development of metallocenes, and we will test and look at applications for products [using that technology],'' he said.