Total Petrochemicals (Paris) has reconfigured its styrene unit, refocusing the business around a revamped site in Gonfreville-l’Orcher, France that boosted its capacity by 210,000 tonnes/yr, lifting total operation capacity to 600,000 tonnes/yr. As part of the plan, it shut down its Carling styrene unit in France, which had 120,000 tonnes/yr of capacity. Indicative of the longer-term struggles of styrene, the company began work on the restructuring in the spring of 2007, spending €320 million of capital expenditures, including €20 million to adapt the site infrastructure and improve safety and environmental standards. Total says that investment will result in a 30% increase in energy efficiency and a 30% cut in carbon emissions.
Overcapacity and volatility in key feedstock benzene have negatively impacted the global styrene industry, which The Styrene Forum calls a $60 billion/yr market, which creates 20 million tons of styrenic resins. Of that, 50% goes into polystyrene, followed by styrene butadiene rubber (15%), styrene butadiene latex (12%), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (11%), unsaturated polyester resins (11%), and styrene acrylonitrile (1%).—[email protected]