FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. - To keep pace with the burgeoning de-mand for PET spurred by the soft drink industry's growth in Latin America, Shell International Chemicals Ltd. will be a partner in a joint venture to build a plant in Argentina to produce packaging-grade PET. London-based Shell Interna-tional and Yacimientos Petroli-feros Fiscales, formerly the state-owned Argentinian oil and petrochemical firm, hope to begin construction this year, pending ap-proval by both boards of directors. Shell International spokes-man Julian Barnes said the preferred site for the plant is Ensanada, a suburb of Buenos Aires, and that the material produced there will satisfy the needs of customers in the Mercosur trade region. Mercosur is a free trade association of southern Latin American countries.
The plant is due to be operational in 1998 and will have capacity for 198 million pounds per year, Barnes said. Purified terephthalic acid will be supplied for the plant through Petrocel-Temex SA de CV in Mexico.
According to Euromonitor Con-sulting Ltd., a research organization in London, there has been a slow but dramatic increase in market share of soft drinks in Latin America in the past five years from 12.3 percent of the total world market, to about 13.6 percent. Speaking at Bev-Pak '96, Andy Carter, research manager for Euromonitor, said the Argen-tine market for soft drinks grew 168 percent between 1990-1994, from $1.7 million to $4.6 million.
Barnes said the plant is aimed at giving Shell and YPF a commanding position to take advantage of the popularity of soft drinks in Latin America.