16 August 2000 17:49 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (CNI)--Celanese is to close its acetic acid, acetic anhydride and acetaldehyde plants in Knapsack near Cologne by the end of this year, the German industrial chemicals company announced on Wednesday.
It said the planned shutdown, which will eliminate some 98 jobs, is part of its global production switch to larger, more efficient plants. Celanese is bringing onstream a new 500 000 tonne/year acetic acid plant in Singapore and reconfirmed today it is planning a new worldscale acetic acid unit in Europe over the medium term.
The Knapsack acetaldehyde plant has a capacity of 170 000 tonne/year. It provides the feedstock for the combined 100 000 to 110 000 tonne/year acetic anhydride and 70 000 tonne/year acetic acid plant.
Celanese said its European customers will receive acetic acid from plants in Clear Lake in Texas and Singapore, and acetic anhydride from Pampa in Texas and Cangrejera, Mexico. Acetaldehyde production at Knapsack was mainly for internal use, explained Celanese. It said the European market will continue to be supplied from its existing plant at Frankfurt, Germany.
Closure of the Knapsack plants will mean that by the end of this year Celanese will no longer be producing some 480 000 tonne/year of acetaldehyde-based acetic acid. It has already closed plants at Cangrejera and Celaya in Mexico, and Frankfurt.
A Celanese spokesman said the closure will incur a Euro52m ($47m) pre-tax charge which will be taken by Celanese AG in the third quarter. He said employees affected by the closure will be offered, where practicable, alternative jobs with other companies at the site and in the region. Some employees have already agreed to take early retirement. "There should be no compulsory redundancies," said the Celanese spokesman, "although we can't guarantee it."
Celanese was at pains to stress that despite closure of the Knapsack plants, which are based on old technology, it remains committed to the European market for acetyl products. It has been evaluating for several years the possibility of building a new plant in northwest Europe. The new plant is expected to have a capacity of around 500 000 - 600 000 tonne/year. Sites in Germany, France and elsewhere in northwest Europe have been evaluated for the plant which industry sources suggest might be brought onstream in about five years.
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