CARVILLE, LA. - Fina Oil & Chemical Co. boosted its polystyrene production capacity to 1.03 billion pounds at its Carville plant this month when it began operating a new, 250 million-pound line. Fina, based in Dallas, claims the Carville facility now is the largest PS production plant in the world. Fina also claims to be the second-largest PS producer in the United States.
The new line is the fourth and largest production line at the Carville site, according to H. Patrick Jack, vice president for chemicals. Jack spoke at a Sept. 20 open house at the facility.
The line is designed to produce all of Fina's crystal PS resins, Jack said. It was built to support the company's marketing effort in durable and disposable goods markets, and for applications in toys, games, cassettes, appliances, packaging and single-serve drink cups and lids.
Jack expects the facility to ease the PS industry's high capacity utilization rate.
``Demand for PS has exceeded industry expectations for the past several years, resulting in a 91 percent capacity utilization rate in 1994,'' he said.
That rate since has slipped to 88-89 percent, but PS demand continues to outpace the North American economy, he said.
The operating rate dropped slightly because of incremental increases in production capacities, and because of the general economic slowdown in 1995, according to Scot R. Mitchell, Fina's PS product manager.
Mitchell noted that operating rates above 90 percent indicate markets for PS are tight and, he added, operating rates in the 88-89 percent range indicate a brisk market.
Fina invested $39 million in its new production line.
The line's reactors are four times larger than those of any of Fina's competitors, Jack said, and twice as large as the existing reactors at the Carville site.
Jack said the company has proprietary operating technology that permits it to operate reactors that size.