Shintech Addis PVC Plant, Louisiana, USA, United States of America
In 1998, the US subsidiary of Shin-Etsu Chemical Company, Shintech, announced its intention of building an integrated chloryl alkali raw materials plant in St. James, Louisiana. The plant would have produced all the raw materials required for a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plant.
The company tried unsuccessfully to obtain a site and environmental permit from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality in order to proceed with the PVC plant.
As it was refused, Shintech decided to relocate the PVC plant to opposite a large integrated Dow Chemicals raw materials plant on Choctaw Road between the small towns of Plaquemine and Addis, in Louisiana.
The Addis plant is located 25 miles north of Convent. In late 2001, Shintech also acquired the PVC plant of Borden Chemicals and Plastics in Addis at a cost of $38m.
PVC market growth
The move to build the Addis plant was put forward both because of the proximity of a major supplier, and in anticipation of a predicted rise in the demand for PVC. The Shintech Company wanted to capture this market as well as expand geographically and serve customers in southeast USA.
US markets consumed four million tons (mt) of plastic compounds in 1997, and these numbers rose during the forecast period of 1997-2004. The US has 17 PVC production plants with six of them located in Louisiana, two in New Jersey and four in Texas. Delaware, Mississippi, Kentucky, Illinois and Michigan also have PVC plants.
Meeting global PVC demands
The Addis plant produces 295,000t/yr. On completion of the plant, the combined PVC production capacity of Shin-Etsu Chemical Group reached 2.5mtpa, which the company estimated to meet over 10% of global demand at that time. Shintech is one of the largest PVC producing companies in the world with facilities in the world US, Japan and Europe.
Addis facility and exports
Ground was broken at the site in October 1998, with Shintech leading the construction work. The PVC plant was completed and operating in December 2000.
The $250m plant reached full capacity in November 2001. An expansion of the facility was also completed in 2001, which brought the production capacity to about 590,000t/yr.
As the Addis facility did not have a bagging facility available for its production, it had to sell its products strictly into the US domestic market.
PVC was transported via railway, for the US domestic market, and was bagged for lifting to overseas markets.
The export market was particularly important to the company as the US domestic market for PVC was somewhat subdued.
A 195,000ft2 PVC powder baggage facility was designed and constructed at the Addis campus by Gray.
It allows direct export of the PVC to overseas market from the Addis site. Construction of the facility began in December 2008 and was completed in June 2009.
The US PVC is experiencing a poor market due to decrease in demand from the construction industry. The US moved away from being a net importer of PVC to a net exporter.
Environmental restrictions in place
The original raw materials plant that was intended for establishment in St. James' Parish, Louisiana, was stopped due to protests from environmental groups and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). The complaints centred on the high levels of pollution already present at the Romeville site. The Addis site was 35 miles up river and was judged to have better air quality.