Already the largest producer of PVC in North America, Shintech Inc. of Houston announced Jan. 3 it intends to invest $700 million to build a PVC production complex at a new site on the Gulf Coast. Shintech said the facility will have annual capacity to produce 880 million pounds of PVC, 1.1 billion pounds of vinyl chloride monomer, 1.1 billion pounds of caustic soda and 990 million pounds of chlorine. Shintech is a unit of Shin-Etsu Chemical Ltd. of Tokyo.
The company expects production to begin by 1998.
Shintech now produces 2.8 billion pounds of PVC at its 21-year-old plant in Freeport, Texas.
Dick Mason, controller and secretary of Shintech, said in a telephone interview Jan. 10 the company's Freeport plant has been expanded seven times and debottlenecked so that it nearly has reached its optimum size of 3.2 billion pounds of production.
A second facility is essential, Mason said.
Also, Mason said the new complex will mark Shintech's first move into the production of chlor-alkali chemicals and vinyl chloride monomers.
While its parent company, Shin-Etsu, produces chlor-alkali chemicals and vinyl chloride monomers in Japan, Shintech buys those raw materials from Dow Chemical Co. in Freeport.
Shintech said it expects to continue its supply relationship with Dow even after it launches its own chlor-alkali production.
The firm said it is in the final stages of an engineering study and a site-selection process for its new manufacturing complex. Mason said he expects the firm to select a site for the complex by June.
The company said it is planning the complex so its capacity could be doubled readily in coming years - as demand requires - to produce 2.2 billion pounds of PVC a year, with corresponding increases in the production of chlor-alkali chemicals and vinyl chloride monomer.
Mason said the company will use capacity from the new complex for growing markets in Southeast Asia and for domestic markets in North America.
With 2.8 billion pounds of annual production capacity, Shintech now surpasses Geon Co. of Avon Lake, Ohio, and Formosa Plastics of Houston as the largest producer of PVC in North America. Geon produces 2.2 billion pounds of PVC, while Formosa produces 2 billion pounds.