HOUSTON — Equistar Chemicals LP, not content with its massive polyethylene holdings, is looking to grow its polypropylene business as well.
``In the long-term, just maintaining our polypropylene business is not a good option,'' Equistar's W. Norman Phillips said in a Sept. 17 interview in Houston. ``We need to have scope and breadth and we've got some work to do.''
Phillips is Equistar's senior vice president of polymers.
Equistar's current polypropylene capacity of about 700 million pounds per year ranks it ninth in North America, trailing market leaders such as Montell Polyolefins and Amoco Polymers by a large margin.
But Equistar is drawn to the double-digit growth PP has enjoyed in recent years, as well as the strength of many end markets for the plastic. The company's strong monomer position in propylene also is a plus.
Phillips said the Lyondell/Millennium merger that created Equistar brought different strengths to the PP business. Lyondell's PP work had focused on the fibers and injection molding markets while Millennium's PP strengths were in thermoplastic olefin-type materials.
Market watchers shouldn't expect Equistar to grow its PP business by putting shovels in the ground.
``I don't see us doing grass-roots building because the industry doesn't need more capacity,'' Phillips said.
``We're sorting through a number of options.''
Phillips declined to say if he thought Huntsman Corp.'s PP business would be a good acquisition for Equistar.
Huntsman, which ranks fifth in the North American PP market with about 1.4 billion pounds of annual capacity, announced last year it was looking to move out of commodities and into less-cyclical markets.
Huntsman sold its styrenics business, including its polystyrene holdings, to Nova Chemicals Inc. earlier this year.