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Wellman delays PET resin expansion plans

SpecialChem / Dec 4, 2002
SHREWSBURY, NJ, Dec. 4 -- Wellman Inc. will delay plans to modify a polyester fiber line at the Pearl River plant in Bay St. Louis, MS, to produce PET resins. The project, which was expected to result in 285 million lb/yr of additional PET capacity, was originally scheduled to begin in first quarter 2004.

The company said plans have been delayed "until we are able to improve the project's economic return." In June, the company said it would modify the existing staple fiber line at Pearl River so that it could produce either solid-stated PET resin or polyester fiber.

The PET fibers line, which was constructed about two years ago, is currently idle. Shortly after being commissioned, the line was closed in fall 2000, according to Wellman spokesman Dennis Sabourin.

Wellman currently operates two PET resin lines at Pearl River and produces 500 million lb/yr, says Sabourin. In the meantime, the company is expanding PET resin capacity at its Palmetto, SC, facility through a bilateral strategic purchasing agreement with Voridian Co., Kingsport, TN.

In July, Wellman announced that it would supply amorphous PET from converted lines at Palmetto to Voridian, which would subsequently solid state the resin to boost its intrinsic viscosity and crystallinity for blow-molded bottles.

Voridian will begin production of general-purpose PET bottle resin grades from the Wellman feedstocks during first quarter 2003 at multiple North American solid-stating facilities. The agreement is expected to increase PET capacity by approximately 200 million lb in 2003 and up to 260 million lb in subsequent years. The PET products will be divided between the two companies and each will market and sell its portion independently.


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