PET resin capacity keeps on flowing into North America.
This time, Eastman Chemical Co. will boost capacity by 50 percent at its 770 million-pound-capacity plant in Columbia, S.C. The plant's been open for less than a year, but Kingsport, Tenn.-based Eastman has operated various businesses in Columbia for 40 years.
The expansion will be in place by the end of 2008 and will put the plant's capacity at more than 1 billion pounds annually. It's part of a $100 million capital project that also will introduce production of Eastman's Spectar-brand copolyester resin there.
``We divested two PET sites this year in Mexico and Argentina and are focusing on sites that are most economic and efficient,'' Eastman spokeswoman CeeGee Moore said. ``With our Integrex technology, the plant in Columbia has been a real success story.''
Eastman plants in Cosoleacaque, Mexico, and in Zarate, Argentina, were sold to Mexican conglomerate Alfa SAB de CV for an undisclosed price.
Earlier this year, Tortona, Italy-based M&G Group announced plans to build a 1.8 billion pound-capacity PET resin plant an undisclosed U.S. location and Indonesian resin maker Indorama Polymers plc chose Decatur, Ala., as the site for a 950 million pound-capacity PET resin plant. The new Indorama plant should open in late 2008, while the M&G project is expected to be online in the first half of 2009.
DAK Americas LLC and Wellman Inc. also added a total of 750 million pounds of PET capacity at U.S. sites in 2006 and early 2007. North American PET demand is set to grow 6-8 percent this year.
Eastman - which ranks as North America's largest PET maker - posted sales of $3.7 million in the first half of 2007. That total was flat when compared to the first half of 2007. Its performance polymers unit - including PET - had a first-half operating loss of $29 million. Officials attributed the loss to volatile raw material and energy costs and on low operating rates in the PET market.