BEIJING, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Top Chinese refiner Sinopec Corp has completed building a 800,000 tonnes per year (tpy) ethylene plant in central China, state media reported on Saturday.
China, which imports about half its ethylene needs and is keen to reduce that amount, will likely add a total of about 7.5 million tpy of ethylene capacity between 2011 and 2015.
Ethylene is a key building block for petrochemicals from plastics to rubber to chemical fibre, and is widely used in the construction, automobile and textile industries.
The plant in the city of Wuhan on the Yangtze river, will be the first major petrochemical hub in central China. It cost 17 billion yuan ($2.7 billion) and took five years to complete, the Xinhua news agency reported.
It was not immediately clear if South Korea's SK Group is still pursuing a stake in the venture. The two firms signed a preliminary deal in December 2011 to explore joint investment in the project.
Sinopec is the industry leader and produces about two-thirds of China's ethylene.
Demand for petrochemicals in the world's second-largest economy had been increasing at a nearly double-digit pace over the past decade or so, but slowed sharply this year as the economy slowed.
In the first half of this year, Sinopec's ethylene output fell 4.1 percent versus a year earlier, compared with a 9.2-percent growth for the whole of 2011.
(Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Robert Birsel) Keywords: SINOPEC ETHYLENE/
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