BP finds buyer for Alabama petrochemical complex

BP PLC has entered a deal with Indorama Ventures Public Co. Ltd., Bangkok, for the sale of its Decatur, Ala., petrochemicals complex as part of the company’s previously announced reorganization of its global petrochemicals business (OGJ Online, Nov. 17, 2015).

Under the agreement’s terms, Indorama Ventures will purchase the Decatur complex, including working capital and related systems, as well as assume certain contracts with suppliers and customers, BP said.

The divestment comes as part of BP’s refocused global petrochemicals strategy of pursuing a competitively advantaged portfolio through low-cost operations that use BP proprietary technology, including production of purified terephthalic acid, or PTA, a key raw material in the production of polyester, the company said.

Once completed, the Decatur sale will allow BP to focus investment on its PTA production operations in Cooper River, SC, and Texas City, Tex., said Rita Griffin, chief operating officer of BP Global Petrochemicals.

The pending deal, for which a value was not disclosed, is scheduled to close early this year.

The Decatur complex, which can produce 1 million tonnes/year of PTA and paraxylene (a raw material for PTA production) also is the world’s only commercial manufacturer of naphthalene dicarboxylate, a specialty chemical included in new-generation polyesters and resins that are used to make LCD flat-panel displays, ultrathin data storage tape, and other products.

Indorama Ventures, through its subsidiaries, currently owns five PTA plants with the following production capacities:

• Indorama Ventures Europe BV; Rotterdam, The Netherlands: 350,000 tpy.

• TPT Petrochemicals PCL; Rayong, Thailand: 602,000 tpy.

• Indorama Petrochem Ltd.; Rayong, Thailand: 771,000 tpy.

• PT Indorama Petrochemicals; Cilegon, West Java: 500,000 tpy.

• Indorama Ventures PTA Montreal; Montreal: 600,000 tpy.

Future plans

BP said it also will spend $200 million to upgrade its Cooper River and Geel, Belgium, petrochemical plants, which are the largest PTA-producing sites in the Americas and Europe, respectively.

The planned upgrades, which include a revamp of Cooper River’s PTA 1 unit to be completed by yearend, aim to reduce operating costs, improve reliability, and reduce emissions at the two plants, BP said.

The company additionally confirmed the recent startup of its new 1.25 million-tpy Zhuhai 3 PTA unit in Guangdong Province, China.

Equipped with BP’s latest proprietary technology and now the world’s largest single-train PTA production unit, Zhuhai 3 entered operation “earlier this year,” the company said.

With its $10-billion divestment program for 2014-15 now nearly completed, BP said it expects $3-5 billion of divestments in 2016, as well as ongoing divestments averaging about $2-3 billion/year thereafter.

Contact Robert Brelsford at rbrelsford@ogjonline.com.

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