SHREWSBURY, N.J. - Flying in the face of what some in the industry predict is a building boom that will result in overcapacity, Well-man Inc. has announced it will build a $300 million PET resin and fiber plant in Mississippi. Wellman, one of the leading producers of the polyester resin and fiber, said April 18 it has selected Port Bienville, Miss., as the site for the plant, which it said will be the largest in the world.
The facility is due to be operational by 1998, and will be the cornerstone of the company's plan to double its capacity for PET packaging resin and fiber by the end of the decade.
In a prepared statement accompanying the announcement, Thomas Duff, president and chief executive officer of Shrewsbury, N.J.-based Wellman, said the plant will give his company a competitive edge.
``Wellman is committed to being the high-quality, low-cost producer in both our fibers and resins businesses,'' he said. ``Doing so assures that Wellman can successfully compete with any producer in the world and that our customers will receive the quality and the value they deserve.''
Gov. Kirk Fordice lauded the Wellman project as ``potentially the largest in state history,'' given the $300 million price tag and its potential to employ about 250.
Production capacity at the facility will be about 470 million pounds of resin and 230 million pounds of fiber per year, for both the domestic and export markets.
It is anticipated that the plant ultimately will have the capacity to prdouce nearly 2 billion pounds annually.
The plant will use a continuous polymerization process to produce resin. Construction is scheduled to begin this fall.
The announcement comes at a time when, despite a predicted 12 percent annual growth in demand for PET resin, so many resin makers are adding capacity that some chemical analysts believe overcapacity could occur.
Other suppliers, including North American leaders Eastman Chemical Co. and Shell Chemical Co., also have announced PET expansion projects.
Wellman's PermaClear-brand PET resin is used widely in packaging. The company also makes Fortrell-brand polyester fibers.