BP is proceeding with its project for a major increase in purified terephthalic acid (PTA) production capacity at its Geel, Belgium, plant and also announced that it has recently completed a significant increase in the plant's paraxylene (PX) production capacity.
The planned debottleneck of PTA production at Geel will increase capacity by more than 350,000 tonnes a year, making the total PTA production capacity of the Geel site some 1.4 million tonnes a year.
The increase will be achieved by retrofitting the latest generation of BP's proprietary PTA technology to Geel's two existing PTA production units.
This new process offers the lowest capital cost per tonne of PTA capacity of any current technology and also lowers variable costs significantly compared to conventional PTA technology. It is already being applied to new PTA production BP is building in Asia, such as the new 900,000 tonnes a year plant planned for Zhuhai, China.
BP has completed initial engineering design work for the Geel debottleneck and expects the expansion to be fully operational early 2008.
Laurence Mulliez, BP's vice president, PTA Europe, Middle East & Africa said: 'BP is committed to maintaining our leading position in the European PTA market and continuing to grow capacity to meet our customers' demands. Our latest PTA technology has allowed us to achieve this at a very low capital cost while actually lowering operating costs, and so reinforces Geel's leading position in the European market'.
Dave Miller, Global PTA President said, 'We are looking at all our PTA plants across the world to identify other opportunities for applying this new technology in similar debottlenecking projects, particularly in North America. We will also be considering what options this new technology will give us for future capacity increases in Europe.'
As well as expanding PTA production capacity, application of the latest advances in BP's proprietary paraxylene production technology to Geel's PX unit in 2005 has now increased capacity of the unit to 560,000 tonnes a year - over 30 per cent higher than the original design capacity of the unit, commissioned in 2000.
The use of BP's PX crystallisation technology has made the plant one of the most energy-efficient PX plants now operating.
'The material breakthroughs we have made in both PTA and paraxylene technologies have made our processes even stronger from environmental, energy efficiency and cost perspectives and demonstrate the strength of the continuing developments we are making in these areas,' added Mulliez. 'They clearly reinforce our leadership position in the polyester chain globally and, we believe, confirm us as the partner of choice for PX and PTA developments worldwide'.