It's not clear whether PetroChina Co. Ltd. will move forward with a planned polycarbonate plant in southern China, now that GE Plastics has pulled out of the project.
An official speaking on behalf of PetroChina said the firm is ``willing to cooperate with GE again if the project restarts,'' and GE Plastics also has implied it could revisit the plan in the future.
The PetroChina spokesman declined to comment on whether the company might build a PC plant on its own or with another partner in the interim.
PetroChina plans to open three ethylene plants in China and a polypropylene site in Guangxi Province by 2010.
Pittsfield, Mass.-based GE Plastics had confirmed the decision to pull out of the PC plant in a March 5 e-mail. Spokesman Chris Tessier said the previously announced joint venture has been suspended ``following a thorough review of the market and ongoing business climate.''
GE has left the door open to reconsidering the decision. In a statement, the company said: ``Over the past year, significant technical work has been completed that would allow a quick restart of the project as soon as/when market conditions become more favorable.''
GE Plastics and Beijing-based PetroChina had announced the project in June. PetroChina was to supply feedstocks for a phosgene-free, melt-technology-based plant. No specific site was announced for the plant, which would have served a Chinese PC market that is growing 10 percent per year.
Industry sources said plans for the possible sale of GE Plastics by its corporate parent General Electric Co. may have influenced cancellation of the venture. GE officials confirmed the possibility of a sale in January.
Sources added that potential PC overcapacity in the region also could have played a role.
Chemical industry insiders in China considered GE's move controversial. One executive for a competing resin supplier was surprised because GE Plastics does not have a resin production facility in China.
A China-based consultant said he thought GE Plastics offering the newest phosgene-free PC technology to a Chinese firm ``was a bit like selling the family jewels.''