East European petchem industry to be restructured

Sep 10, 1997 02:00 AM

A major restructuring in eastern Europe's petrochemical sector is expected in the early years of the next century, as a result of a crucial meeting in Budapest that brought together several of the region's main producers, as well as Western producers and analysts. Top of the agenda is the construction of the central European pipeline, which will provide producers in the region with a regular supply of ethylene feedstock.
Miklos Varhegyi, chairman of Hungarian producer, TVK, said: "the basic idea behind the talks was to try and smooth the ethylene supply system. An additional topic was the potential construction of an ethylene cracker alongside the pipeline."
Further discussions are set to take place in Prague this autumn. Despite the difficulties of financing, most analysts expect a number of new eastern European petrochemical projects to come onstream in the coming years.
Plans are afoot in Estonia for the Gazprom subsidiary, Nitrofert, to build a $ 200 million methanol plant. A banking consortium led by the Deutsche Bank is understood to be extending credit for the project.
A source close to the project said Gazprom will supply the natural gas feedstock from Russia and the plant will have a 65,000 tons per year capacity. The methanol will be sold locally as well as exported.
Elsewhere in the former eastern bloc, the government of Turkmenistan has signed a letter of intent with Mannesman KTI to build a petrochemical plant in the country. The new facility will produce ethylene, polyethylene, and polypropylene. The polyethylene capacity is put at 100,000 tons per year. European petrochemical industry sources say that investment costs will be around $ 100-$ 150 million.

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