BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA — Argentina has not been a self-sufficient resin producer, and the most recent official data available shows that the deficit between raw material consumption and local production totaled 459 million pounds in 1996.
In the commodities sector, the main production gaps are in PET, PVC and polyethylene, but some investments already are under way to correct the situation.
PET: Eastman Chemical Co. of Kingsport, Tenn., promises to launch by the second quarter a $130 million, 287 million-pound-per-year plant in Z rate, in the Buenos Aires province.
``The plant will supply the Mercosul region, with 50 percent of its output going to Brazil and the rest to Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and other neighboring countries,'' Jorge Vasiliadis, Eastman regional director for plastic containers, said in an interview at Argenpl s 98, held April 2-8 in Buenos Aires.
He said the facility will produce the general-purpose-grade Eastapak 9921W, while the Eastapak Aqua water-bottle grade will be imported. The unit will be Eastman's first facility in South America.
Polyethylene: At Argenpl s, Dow Chemical Co. highlighted the expansions it is carrying out in Argentina via its affiliate Polisur SA, based in Buenos Aires.
Polisur is investing roughly $500 million to expand its three PE units in Bahia Blanca and build, at the same site, a high density/linear low density PE facility to produce 595.3 million pounds of resin per year. This new unit will be capable of making Dowlex octene LLDPE and Elite metallocene LLDPE, and is scheduled to be in production by 2001.
The expansion projects include boosting the LDPE plant capacity from 198.4 million pounds annually to 308.6 million pounds, and duplicating the 132.2 million-pound-per-year HDPE unit by 2000.
The company also plans to debottleneck an HDPE/LLDPE gas-phase plant, which will go from 231.5 million to 352.7 million pounds per year, before 2000.
PVC: Buenos Aires-based Solvay Indupa SAIC is investing $60 million to expand its 176 million-pound-per-year PVC facility in Bahia Blanca. The plant will reach production of at least 463 million pounds per year by the second half of 1999, and may reach 529 million pounds per year.
Solvay Indupa SAIC is the Argentine subsidiary of the Brussels, Belgium, Solvay Group.
Polypropylene: Petroken Petroquimica Ensenada SA of Buenos Aires is implementing a two-phase expansion project for its Ensenada plant, said commercialization manager Carlos Bussi, during the Argenplas show.
The firm is a 50-50 joint venture between Montell Polyolefins of Hoofddorp, the Netherlands, and YPF SA of Buenos Aires.
In August, the company increased PP capacity from 220 million pounds to 286.6 million pounds, thanks to a $7 million investment. Next February, the facility will reach 374.7 million pounds per year, and the firm will launch a 26.5 million-pound PP compounding plant, Bussi said.
Bussi said this second phase of investment will cost $40 million, and that the compounding plant will make special products for molding automotive parts and other products.
Polystyrene: Buenos Aires PS maker Unistar SA is adding $20 million to increase the annual capacity of its Z rate facility, from 132.3 million pounds per year to 176.4 million pounds in 2000.
The firm also is installing a 30.8 million-pound-per-year oriented PS sheet line at the same site via a $13 million investment, said marketing and export manager Mariano Descalzi.
The company will begin providing Uniclear biaxially oriented PS sheet in November, using a Marshall & Williams extrusion machine, he said.
Unistar also is putting a new PS facility in Triunfo, Brazil. Known as Innova, the $220 million project will make 396.8 million pounds per year of styrene beginning in July 1999, and 264.5 million pounds per year of PS as of December 1999.
According to commercial manager Juli n Z rate, Innova also plans a $12 million, 30.8 million-pound-per-year BOPS plant for the year 2001.