BP chemicals: improving quality of life

BP employs more than 1,000 people in our petrochemicals businesses. Our three manufacturing facilities in Decatur, Ala.; Cooper River, S.C.; and Texas City, Texas, produce nearly 5 million tons of petrochemicals a year.  

The petrochemicals business team located in Naperville, Ill., includes sales, marketing, supply, operations, logistics, finance and human resources and is responsible for the optimization and financial health of the business. Naperville is also home to one of our petrochemicals research and technology center, where scientists and engineers work on developing more efficient ways of producing petrochemicals.

Best-in-class technology

BP petrochemicals are used in many aspects of day-to-day life from pharmaceuticals and lightweight automotive components to plastic beverage bottles, safety belts and high-tech sportswear. Our businesses range from best-in-class proprietary technology for acetyls — a critical building block for a wealth of consumer products including adhesives and cosmetics — to aromatics, including those found in one out of every three polyester shirts and blouses. 

BP holds world-leading positions in three key product areas — acetyls, paraxylene and purified terephthalic acid (PTA). At BP, we are focused on continuous improvement in all that we do. Our petrochemicals business has grown in large part from our willingness and ability to identify our customers’ changing needs as they meet consumer requirements and environmental standards.


Today, BP is a leading market supplier of acetyls. These products are used largely in everyday consumer goods and as chemical intermediates to produce derivative products. 
  • BP has developed best-in-class proprietary technologies for the production of acetyls, including the Cativa® catalyst process, the most significant development in acetic acid technology in more than 25 years.
  • Acetic acid, one of the world's most important chemicals, is used in a variety of products from textiles to pharmaceuticals. Major applications are in the manufacturing of vinyl acetate used in paints, adhesives and coatings.
  • Other applications include the manufacturing of ethyl acetate, which is used mainly as a solvent ranging from printing inks to pharmaceuticals.


BP is one of the world's largest producers of paraxylene (PX) and metaxylene (MX), the feedstocks for the production of purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and purified isophthalic acid (PIA), respectively. As a global leader in the aromatics business, we maintain a high level of customer satisfaction and hold leadership positions in cost and technology. 


BP invented purified terephthalic acid (PTA), which is used in both clothes and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles for water, soft drinks and many other food and non-food packaging products.


BP also is the exclusive producer of naphthalene dicarboxylate (NDC).
  • NDC is an advanced monomer that serves as the foundation for a new generation of versatile, high-performance specialty polyesters.
  • NDC expands the thermal, barrier, mechanical and optical property ranges of typical polyesters.
  • These naphthalate polyesters increasing are used to extend polyester's reach into such diverse applications as optical films for LCD flat panel displays, ultra-thin data storage tape, high strength tire cord and specialty plastic beverage bottles.

Focus on the environment

BP remains committed to the communities where we do business. Our Cooper River chemical plant is situated on a 6,000-acre forest/wetlands site, nearly 75 percent of which we maintain as a Certified Wildlife Habitat. As part of the plant’s community outreach initiatives, BP Cooper River provides biodiversity and wildlife outreach education through local schools. Our Decatur chemical site also maintains an award-winning Certified Wildlife Habitat site, which includes the Wetlands Edge Environmental Center. Through a partnership with Decatur City Schools, Wetlands Edge provides hands-on environmental education programs for students of all ages and wildlife tours for the public.