More PIBs in the Pipeline


Texas Petrochemicals Inc. on Monday announced plans for an expansion that will more than double its capacity to make polyisobutylene at its plant in Houston. Officials said the project is driven primarily by increased demand for highly reactive PIBs used as dispersants in lubricants and fuel additives.

There is significant demand for highly reactive PIB for both fuel and lube additives, Vice President of Specialty Polymers and New Business Development Sandra Davis said. In addition, TPI has a strong and growing customer base in the industrial markets, which we will continue to support. We believe overall North American PIB production capacity is tight, and the market can accommodate additional capacity to serve new applications.

Earlier this year Texas Petrochemicals officials said North American output of highly reactive PIB in 2005 was 90 million pounds and capacity utilization was in the range of 90 to 95 percent.

Texas Petrochemicals, which is located in Houston, declined to specifically quantify the projected size of the plant after the expansion, but it did say the current capacity is more than 65,000 metric tons per year. The project is scheduled to be completed in mid-2008. The company likewise did not disclose the cost.

PIBs are used as base stocks in lubricants – sometimes as an alternative to bright stock – and as a component in metal forming fluids, gear oils, greases and two-cycle oils. They are also used in other applications such as caulks, sealants,adhesives and rubber. Highly reactive PIBs (with alpha-vinylidene content above 75 percent) areused as dispersants in lubes and fuels.

Texas Petrochemicals first entered the PIB market in 2000, and claims to be the only merchant producer of highly reactive PIB in North America, whereapplications in lubricants and fuel additives are generating strong demand. Chevron Oronite is the other principal North American manufacturer of highly reactive PIB.

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