PTT unit slates another Thai aromatics capacity expansion

By an OGJ correspondent
BANGKOK, Aug. 14 -- Aromatics (Thailand) PLC (ATC), the operator of Thailand's first aromatics complex, has decided to embark on a $25 million scheme to further expand its production capacity, by 13.27% to 1.1 million tonnes/year.

The firm,announced the decision following the recent completion of the first-phase debottlenecking that boosts its plant's output by 57.28% to 972,000 tonnes/year from 618,000 tonnes/year previously.

ATC, an affiliate of the partially privatized Thai energy concern PTT PLC, is working on the designs for the second-stage debottlenecking for the complex, which is due to come on stream in the first quarter of 2004.
As a result, ATC's production capacity of benzene will be increased to 467,000 tonnes/year from 333,000 tonnes/year, paraxylene to 495,000 tonnes/year from 394,000 tonnes/year, and orthoxylene to 78,000 tonnes/year from 44,000 tonnes/year. However, production of toluene will remain unchanged at 140,000 tonnes/year and of mixed xylenes at 61,000 tonnes/year.

Company executives said the completion of the first-stage debottlenecking, carried out by South Korea's Ssanyong Group at the cost of $12 million, reduced its unit production costs by 20%.

The second-stage debottlenecking should further improve the cost-effectiveness of the plant, which started up in late 1996 in Rayong, about 220 km southeast of Bangkok.

ATC is competing with Exxon Chemical Corp., which operates an aromatics plant in Chon Buri, about 130 km southeast of Bangkok, with production capacity of about 600,000 tonnes/year.

About 90% of ATC's feedstock is condensate produced from gas fields in the Gulf of Thailand, and 10% is reformate supplied by local oil refineries.

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