PetroChina Co. Ltd. is set to become the world's fifth-largest producer of polyolefins by 2010, with annual output of 4.4 billion pounds of polypropylene and 7.7 billion pounds of polyethylene.
China remains the world's largest PP consumer, with an estimated 15.4 million pounds a year of demand. PetroChina is taking the lead in the still-growing market, said Yi Jianjun, polymer project manager and senior engineer at PetroChina's refining and chemical research and development center in Beijing.
PetroChina's new PP capacity will account for most of the combined 9.7 billion-pound-per-year-lines either being built or planned during the next five years in the country, he said.
The aim is to more than double local production to about 19 billion pounds by 2010, from 9.3 billion pounds in 2004, he said.
Some 51.5 percent of the PP demand comes from woven products, such as bags. Injection molded applications account for 17.3 percent, and other leading markets include biaxially oriented films at 13 percent, and fiber at 9.1 percent.
Beijing-based Sinopec Corp. and PetroChina produced 87 percent of the total 9.3 billion pounds of PP made in China in 2004. Sinopec accounted for 63.1 percent of the total, according to Yi. But most of the new PP capacity during the next five years will come from Beijing-based PetroChina, he said.
Given strong domestic demand for finished plastics products, Yi believes the local capacity being built will just about cope with rising domestic demand. As such, China still will have to import PP - he estimates that imports will cover about 30 percent of demand in coming years, down from 40 percent in 2004.
Yi, in an interview with Plastics News at Flexpo 2006, held March 15-17 in Singapore, ruled out any plans for PetroChina to invest in petrochemicals overseas.
Yi gave a report on PetroChina's expansion in China:
* It completed a 661.4 million-pound-per-year PP line using Spheripol-II technology at Daqing, in northern China, in July.
* Another 661.4 million-pound-per-year Spheripol-II technology PP line and a 440.9 million-pound-per-year Spheripol-II PP line were scheduled to begin operating this year at sites in Lanzhou in central China and in Dalian in the northeast, respectively.
* Also to be started up this year is a 264.6 million-pound-per-year PP line at Jinxi in the northeast, and a 176.4 million-pound-per-year PP line at Huhehaote in north-central China. Yi did not disclose the technology those plants will use.
* According to Yi, a much larger, 1.1 billion to 1.3 billion- pound-per-year PP line at Dushanzi in the west and a 661.4 million-pound-per-year PP line at its Fushun site in the northeast will be up and running by 2008.
PetroChina also said it is adding 10 PE lines at its major petrochemical complexes, having last year brought into production a 440.9-million-pound-per-year Lupotech-T low density PE line at Daqing.
For this year, the company will start a Hostalen-technology HDPE line, also with capacity of 440.9 million pounds per year, in Jilin Province in the northeast; as well as a 440.9 million-pound-per-year Lupotech-TM and a 661.4 million-pound-per-year Unipol-based HDPE/linear LDPE line, both in Lanzhou.
In 2008, PetroChina will start up a 661.4 million-pound-per-year HDPE line and a 1.3 billion- pound-per-year HDPE/LLDPE line at Dushanzi; plus a 771.6 million- pound-per-year HDPE line and a 992 million-pound-per-year LLDPE line at Fushun.
Completing its five-year capacity building plans in 2009-10 will be a 661.4 million-pound-per-year HDPE and a 661.4 million-pound-per-year HDPE/LLDPE line at its Chengdu ethylene complex. PetroChina intends to start a 1.76 billion-pound-per-year ethylene plant in Chengdu by 2010, in addition to a 2.2 billion pound-per-year ethylene plant at Dushanzi and 1.76 billion-pound-capacity plant at Fushun.
A 661.4 million-pound-per-year ABS project is also planned at the Jilin complex, according to Yi.