18 September 2001 14:13 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (CNI)--Polyolefins producer Basell on Tuesday reacted to overcapacity in Europe by announcing plans to close its polypropylene (PP) and compounding plants in Wilton, northeast England, and to shut two PP plants in Tarragona in Spain.
The plants will be closed in mid-2002 and approximately 160 jobs - all at Wilton - will be affected, said Basell.
At Wilton, all assets are affected. Two Novolen homopolymer lines with total capacity of 180 000 tonne/year will be mothballed and a 32 000/tonne PP compounding facility will be closed.
In Spain, a 90 000 tonne slurry plant will be closed at the Tarragona West site and a 60 000 tonne Novolen homopolymer plant at Tarragona East will be mothballed. The other PP plants in Tarragona - a second 60 000 tonne Novolen plant and a 180 000 tonne joint venture plant with Spain's Repsol - are unaffected.
Basell is building a new 225 000 tonne/year Novolen PP plant at Tarragona East that is due to be commissioned in 2002 and said, therefore, the impact of the closures on employee numbers is expected to be minimal.
Robert Genin, president of Basell Europe Polypropylene, explained: "These steps are being taken after a careful review of all assets to assess their viability."
He said: "We appreciate all the effort that has gone into trying to make the plants efficient and productive, but they have remained among our highest cost operations. By taking this action now Basell will improve its financial position and make a major contribution to reducing over-capacity in Europe."
Basell said all approximately 160 employees at Wilton will be affected, with most to be made redundant. However, Genin added: "There will be some limited opportunities for redeployment within Basell and we will provide all employees with a comprehensive support and severance package including an outplacement service."
A spokesman for Basell told CNI that the company currently employs around 550 people in the UK out of a global workforce of just under 8000. Basell has UK headquarters at Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire and production facilities at Carrington near Manchester in northwest England.
He confirmed that the Wilton and Tarragona closures had emerged from a strategic review of the company's polyolefins capacity. There were, however, no current plans to close any more plants, he added.
With worldwide PP capacity of more than 6.6m tonne - including joint ventures - Basell is the global leader in PP production. Basell is also the fifth largest supplier of polyethylene (PE) in the world.
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