Plastics sector in bold move to end reliance on imports

18:03 | 03/11/2003
A $40-MILLION polystyrene plastics plant tipped for Ho Chi Minh City looks set to end the country’s reliance on imports.A source from the Vietnam Saigon Plastics Association (VSPA) said a feasibility study for a 40,000-tonne capacity plant was underway.
The source, however, refused to reveal the name of the investors or details of the agreement to build the country’s first polystyrene plastic (PS) plant.
Plans for the plant follow VSPA’s recent agreement with several US plastics companies that were in Ho Chi Minh City last month on a fact-finding tour.
“The plant will be able to produce around 40,000 tonnes per year. A feasibility study is underway and we want to complete it as soon as possible,” the source said.
Industry experts said Vietnam now needs to import 50,000 tonnes of PS per year to satisfy domestic demand. They predicted demand would reach at least 100,000 tonnes by 2010.
The state-owned oil and gas conglomerate PetroVietnam has proposed another 50,000-tonne PS plant.
It has devised plans for the plant to be built in Nghi Son Oil Refinery No2, in the central Thanh Hoa province. PetroVietnam wants to complete the first phase of the $2.5 billion petrochemical complex by 2008.
If the two plants become a reality, Vietnam would need to rely less on the import of plastic raw materials including PS, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP). Demand for these plastics is expected to reach one million tonnes a year.
To meet that demand, the experts estimated the country would need millions of dollars to build new plastic making plants.
In the middle of this year, VSPA and the US plastics giant Louisiana Polymers Incorp (LPI) agreed in principle to build a $50-million plant for high-tech plastic resin used in the production of CDs, VCDs and DVDs, and other sophisticated plastic products. That plant would also be built in Ho Chi Minh City.
Under the agreement, LPI would provide petro-chemical technology and funds.
According to the VSPA, Vietnam imports more than 100,000 tonnes of high-tech plastic resin each year.
Yet another project in the pipeline is VSPA’s $250-million, 350,000-tonne capacity, gas-based PE-PP plant in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau.
Vietnam now has three plastic-making plants: TPC Vina Plastic & Chemical Co and Phu My Plastic Company, which together produce 200,000 tonnes of PVC annually, and the LG Vina Chemical Plant, which produces 30,000 tonnes of diocthyphthalate annually.

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