CHICAGO — Epsilon Products Co. is moving ahead with plans for a polypropylene plant in Garyville, La., despite concerns about excess capacity. Epsilon this week announced in Chicago that Bechtel Corp. in Kingsport, Tenn., won the contract to build the project. Epsilon is not exhibiting at NPE.
The polymer-grade propylene and polypropylene facilities will be located at Marathon Oil Co.'s refinery. Although this is not a joint venture, the project is a strategic alliance like the existing arrangement with Sun Oil Co. at Epsilon's Marcus Hook, Pa., plant.
The Garyville project is slated to produce 800 million pounds per year, which will bring Epsilon's total capacity to 1.5 billion pounds per year.
``We hope that this will help to keep PP supply and demand in balance in 1999, but regardless, our project will proceed,'' Jamie Mosberg, director of product management said at an NPE press breakfast June 17.
Groundbreaking will happen during the third quarter this year. The entire project is scheduled to be mechanically complete by the summer of 1999.
The new plant in Garyville will target customers in the U.S. Southeast, Midwest and Southwest, plus Central and South America and the Caribbean.
``A number of companies have announced projects and intentions in PP,'' said Mosberg. ``We see PP demand growing 7 percent a year domestically through the year 2000.''
He went on to add that Epsilon expects 2001 to be the worst point — when all the discussed plant capacity is on line.
``But we're confident we will sell to the market all 800 million pounds produced,'' he said.
``Our vision is to become a major petrochemical company,'' said President Philip Jardine. ``You'll notice that our name is not Epsilon Polypropylene company but Epsilon Products. We have interests in venturing into other products. We have aggressive growth plans.''
Some of those plans may include moving into metallocene resins. Epsilon has been talking with Union Carbide [Corp.] about metallocene technology, said Jardine.
``We're looking very hard at who to partner with on the technology,'' he added. ``We're not going to be left in the starting gate. It's going to happen and we're going to bring the opportunity to PP and open a new market. It's a real opportunity.''