HOUSTON — Exxon Chemical Co. is close to ending force majeure on its Exceed-brand metallocene polyethylenes thanks to technology springing from its Univation joint venture with Union Carbide Corp.
Exceed product manager Joseph DeVet declined to give a date when the five-month-long shortage would end, but he said July and August were the company's top performance months since it began commercially producing Exceed at Exxon's Mont Belvieu, Texas, linear low density PE plant in September 1995.
Annual production now stands at 200 million pounds.
``We've made a great deal of progress in getting our production capacity back,'' DeVet said in an Oct. 18 interview in his Houston office. ``We've been able to satisfy our customers' orders with the exception of one grade.''
Union Carbide's processing experience and knowledge of ``the nuts and bolts of a scale-up'' are playing a sizable role in solving the problem, according to Univation President and Chief Executive Officer Greg McPike.
DeVet cited ``unknown technical issues'' not related to the material itself for causing the force majeure, which has prevented Exxon from taking advance orders on Exceed.
Exceed's applications in food packaging have exceeded the company's expectations, according to DeVet. Those applications now make up about a third of overall Exceed sales. DeVet credited Exceed's tear strength and sealing characteristics with establishing the product in the food packaging market.
Exceed's prices also are moving closer to standard LLDPE, while most processability concerns have been dealt with, DeVet said.