Czech chemical firm Chemopetrol AS is expanding its capacity in polypropylene and high density polyethylene with technology licensed from Amoco Corp. and Union Carbide Corp.
A new plant at Chemopetrol's facilities in Litvinov, Czech Republic, will use Amoco's gas-phase PP process technology. The plant will have capacity to produce 550 million pounds of PP annually.
The size of the HDPE expansion was not released, but the project will raise Chemopetrol's overall HDPE capacity to more than 700 million pounds annually.
Chemopetrol officials said the projects represent the company's first petrochemicals investment in almost 20 years and the largest investment in the Czech chemical industry in almost a decade.
The Amoco and Carbide technologies are expected to decrease Chemopetrol's unit production costs and broaden its product line, petrochemical technical director Pavel Pesta said in a news release.
The PP license is Amoco's third in less than two years. Globally, Amoco and its licensees will bring on more than 3 billion pounds of annual PP capacity between 1996 and 2002.
Amoco will market a share of the new plant's production, which will include homopolymer, random copolymer and impact copolymer grades of PP. Chemopetrol has used Amoco's PP technology since 1975.
Amoco ranks third in global PP production, with 2.6 billion pounds of capacity, 1.7 billion pounds of which is in North America. The Chicago-based firm trails only Montell NV of Hoofddorp, the Netherlands, and Targor GmbH of Ludwigshafen, Germany. In North America, Amoco trails only Montell.
Amoco also operates the world's largest single-train impact copolymer plant, in Geel, Belgium. The plant has an annual capacity of almost 620 million pounds.
Amoco is in the process of merging with British Petroleum Co. plc of London in history's largest industrial merger. Amoco officials said there is no word yet on whether the company's existing expansion plans will be affected by the pending merger.
Those expansion plans include adding 550 million pounds of PP capacity in Alvin, Texas, early next year and reviewing plans for a 595 million-pound-per-year PP plant in northwest Indiana or northeast Illinois that would open in 2002.
The new plant, which could be supported by Amoco's oil refinery in Whiting, Ind., and chemicals complex in Joliet, Ill., also would be able to produce almost 1 billion pounds of propylene and 75 million pounds of ethylene annually.
Amoco said its gas-phase PP process has become a preferred technology for large-capacity production, in part because of its horizontal reactor configuration, which provides for rapid product transitions among different grades of PP.