Dow to close Texas chlor-alkali and styrene plants

10 December 2008 16:57  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US major Dow Chemical will close a styrene plant and speed up the closure of a chlor-alkali plant in Freeport, Texas, as part of a string of plant closures in response to the global economic crisis, the company said on Wednesday.

Dow said it would begin the permanent shutdown of the chlor-alkali facility in February 2009. The plant produces about 400,000 tonnes/year of caustic soda.

The styrene plant in Freeport has a capacity of 680,000 tonnes/year, according to global chemical market intelligence service ICIS pricing.

There are 40 full-time employees at the styrene and chlor-alkali plants, but the company will try to relocate them to other plants in Freeport, a Dow spokeswoman said.

Earlier this week, Dow announced it would close 20 plants and cut 5,000 jobs - or about 11% of its global workforce - in the face of the economic downturn.

The company said it hoped to save $700m (€539m) in operational costs by 2010, in part by closing plants in high-cost locations.

“The sudden and severe downturn in the world economy and unprecedented demand destruction for materials, including chlorine, has led Dow to some hard decisions over the past several days,” the company said in a written statement.

Dow announced in January that it would be closing the chlor-alkali plant and move production to a newer facility in Freeport.

However, Dow said that darkening economic conditions and weakening demand made it necessary to close the facility sooner than the company had originally intended.

The new chlor-alkali plant in Freeport - which uses more-energy-efficient membrane cell technology - is expected to begin production sometime in 2011.

The existing chlor-alkali plant is a diaphragm cell facility, but its production capacity is 13% more than what is planned for the new plant, Dow said.

($1 = €0.77)

Lane Kelley contributed to this article.

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By: Greg Holt
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