Gruppo Mossi & Ghisolfi, the Italian firm that has just bought out Shell Chemical Co.'s worldwide PET and polyethylene naphthalate resin interests, plans to invest about $30 million to upgrade its PET plant in Point Pleasant, W.Va.
M&G is a family-owned company based in Tortona, Italy. The firm concluded its purchase of the Shell PET plants in Italy, Mexico, Britain and the United States early in June.
The 630 million-pound-per-year Point Pleasant plant was built in 1958 by Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., which sold it to Shell in 1992. The plant still runs some older batch operating units, although Shell has installed three continuous units in recent years, according to M&G's global marketing manager David Swift.
He said there is still a need to introduce new technology and replace remaining batch units dedicated to small-volume product areas.
M&G expects to take a final decision on the detailed plan for Point Pleasant in the "next few weeks," said Swift, formerly a London-based development manager for Shell.
"There is no specific plan for staffing. We expect to improve costs at the plant but this will not necessarily lead to a reduction in labor. It is early days yet but there may be some [layoffs] down the road," he said.
The plant now employs about 300.
Asked about M&G's plans for the other PET plants acquired from Shell, Swift said the 419 million-pound-per-year facility at Frosinone, Italy, is already a world-class site, while the 232 million-pound PET unit at Altamira, Mexico, is virtually new.
The Italian company is also taking over Shell's 66 million-pound PET resin plant in Scunthorpe, England.
With its existing PET resin operations in Italy including a 25 percent share in Italpet Preforme SpA of Verbania, Italy — a joint venture with Japanese and Indian firms — it now has taken third place in world PET capacity.
Another M&G subsidiary, Cobarr SpA of Anagni, Italy, near Rome, produces up to 154 million pounds per year of PET resin with 750 million preforms annually. The plant last year began manufacturing PET foam resin.
The combined PET and PEN of Shell and M&G gives the enlarged Italian company almost 1.5 billion pounds of capacity per year.
In addition, M&G produces sheet and film through its Nuroll SpA subsidiary in Pignataro Maggiore, Italy.
Swift said PET demand is now strong and "we expect the present surplus in capacity to disappear in the next couple of years." The market is growing at an annual rate of 15 percent, he added.