BP chemicals: improving quality of life

BP’s three petrochemical facilities produce a range of materials — including BP-invented purified terephthalic acid, paraxylene and naphthalene dicarboxylate — necessary to make products, such as clothes, flat-screen televisions, safety belts and plastic beverage bottles. About 1,000 employees in Alabama, South Carolina and Texas combined help BP produce 5 million tons of petrochemicals each year, accounting for roughly 27 percent of the company’s global petrochemicals capacity.

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. BP's 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). BP is focused on continuous improvement in all that the company does. BP's petrochemicals business has grown in large part from its willingness and ability to identify its 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, BP maintains 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 BP's do business. BP's Cooper River chemical plant is situated on a 6,000-acre forest/wetlands site, nearly 75 percent of which BP maintains 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. BP's 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.