Originally created 04/28/00

Area plant goes up for sale



BP Amoco's Augusta plant is on the market.

The global oil company announced Thursday it will sell the local polymer facility, and several others, as part of a plan to focus on chemical products it can produce more profitably.

The Augusta facility employs 172 full-time workers and produces high-performance plastic resins used by various companies in the manufacture of injection-molded components.

BP Amoco officials said they were confident the purchaser, whomever it may be, will operate the facility with the same personnel.

"This is an outstanding plant, and it's in a growing business," Augusta Plant Manager Scott Savage said. "A lot of the results we've achieved are because of the employees of the plant."

Other engineered polymer facilities up for sale include plants in Marietta, Ohio, and Greenville, S.C. The division's headquarters and research facilities in Alpharetta, Ga., will be divested in a separate transaction, as will the company's carbon fiber business in Chicago.

A sale is not expected to close until first quarter 2001, BP Amoco spokesman John Curry said.

The affected BP Amoco businesses manufacture products using raw materials, or "feedstock," supplied by other companies. Like other major oil companies, BP Amoco is concentrating on products it can manufacture more efficiently and economically by using its own petrochemicals.

"This has been a trend for four or five years," said Kate Warne, an energy analyst for Edward Jones in St. Louis. "They are making operations very efficient."

BP Amoco said the sales are part of the $10 billion divestiture program announced last year by Chief Executive Sir John Browne.

BP Amoco is the third-largest integrated oil company, behind Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch/Shell. The company was created in December 1998 by the merger of London-based British Petroleum Co. and Chicago-based Amoco Corp.

The Augusta polymers plant in south Richmond County was built by Dartco Manufacturing and opened in 1984. Amoco purchased it in 1988.

Local officials said Thursday they plan to work closely with the new owners.

"BP Amoco has been a great corporate citizen," said Kevin Shea, senior vice president for economic development for the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce. "We would work with the new owners to establish a good relationship with them."

Officials are optimistic a new owner could expand operations, as Amoco did shortly after acquiring the property. Last month, the facility announced the $1 million addition of a "compounding line" that makes variants of existing products.

BP Amoco would not disclose an asking price for the facilities nor if any offers were present. But Ms. Warne said the buyer will most likely be a chemical company interested in taking their feedstock to the next level -- not another large oil company.

"If the facility doesn't fit with BP Amoco's strategy, then it's not going to fit the strategy of an Exxon Mobil," she said.

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486.

BP Amoco Augusta plant

Owner: BP Amoco p.l.c.

Location: 3702 Clanton Road

Employment: 172 BP Amoco employees, 40 contract employees

Annual payroll: $11 million

Annual operating expenses: $80 million

Product: High-performance plastic resins used in the manufacture of injection-molded components, such as auto parts and cookware; brand names include Amodel, Udel and Xydar

Output: 50 million pounds of pellet-sized resins

History: Built in 1984 by Dartco Manufacturing; Purchased by Amoco in 1988became BP Amoco Polymers last year after a $48 billion merger between British Petroleum Co. and Amoco Corp.