Another big wave of PET resin will hit North America in 2008 when Indorama Polymers plc opens a 950 million-pound-capacity plant in Decatur, Ala.
Indorama, based in Jakarta, Indonesia, announced its selection of the Decatur site Aug. 24. Officials said the site, which will operate as AlphaPet Inc., will be North America's largest PET plant when it is complete in late 2008.
No cost estimate or employee total was provided in a company news release. Earlier this year, officials had said the firm would spend $105 million on a 650 million-pound-per-year plant.
The Decatur site allowed Indorama to ``lower the total capitalization ... to an important internal benchmark,'' Chief Executive Officer Aloke Lohia said in the release.
``AlphaPet is very timely, as we see a looming PET shortage in 2009, as each region in the world heads toward self-sufficiency,'' Lohia said.
The Decatur plant will make bottle-grade PET, as well as material for custom containers. It will be supplied with purified terephthalic acid feedstock from a nearby plant operated by British Petroleum plc.
Indorama already operates a PET plant in Asheboro, N.C., under the Starpet Inc. name. That plant, which the firm bought from Tietex International Ltd. in 2003, added more than 200 million pounds of annual PET capacity earlier this year and now has total capacity of almost 500 million pounds.
The Indorama announcement is the latest in a major wave of activity in the PET field, which is dominated by the market for carbonated soft drinks. Eastman Chemical Co. opened a 770 million-pound-capacity plant in Columbia, S.C., earlier this year. DAK Americas LLC is putting the finishing touches on a 450 million-pound expansion at a plant in Wilmington, N.C. In 2006, Wellman Inc. added 300 million pounds of PET capacity by converting part of a fibers operation in Bay St. Louis, Miss.
M&G Group also has announced plans for a massive 1.8 billion-pound-capacity plant - almost double the size of Indorama's Decatur project - at an undisclosed U.S. location. Industry sources had considered Decatur as a possible site for the M&G plant because of available PTA. Other sites mentioned by insiders were Cape Fear, N.C., and Cooper River, S.C.
North American PET operating rates currently are estimated at about 85 percent. Eastman's North American PET sales volume grew in the second quarter of 2007, even though its global PET business posted a loss of $6 million.
Indorama Polymers is part of Indorama Group, an Indonesian conglomerate owned by the Lohia family. The firm operates manufacturing sites for textiles and related industries in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey and India. Indorama Group also produces about 1.5 billion pounds of polyester annually and has annual sales of more than $500 million.