23 February 2010 20:37 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US polymer producer Invista will close within 30 days its Wilmington purified terephthalic acid (PTA) plant in North Carolina, because the plastic feedstock is cheaper to buy than to produce, a spokesperson said on Tuesday.
Invista will discontinue PTA production by mid-March, and then plans to scale back its dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) production to match internal and external sales needs, said Invista public affairs officer Jodie Stutzman.
Permanent industry demand loss for DMT and weak recovery in PTA prompted the rate reductions, which will result in approximately 50 jobs lost, Invista said in a press release.
“We made the difficult decision to discontinue manufacturing certain polyester intermediates that can be purchased more economically in the market,” said Invista’s Wilmington site manager Bill King.
Sourcing PTA from the merchant market offers Invista a better competitive position for its plants in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Wilmington, North Carolina, said King.
Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce communications director Scott Czechlewski said despite the unfortunate job losses, Wilmington’s unemployment rate as of December 2009 was 9.7%, below the state average at 10.9%.
The job losses indicated a permanent PTA shutdown, but Invista said it has no plans to dismantle or remove the PTA assets at Wilmington.
Invista declined to identify Wilmington plant capacities or its new supplier of PTA.
According to ICIS plants and projects, Invista’s Wilmington site has 180,000 tonnes/year of PTA capacity and 545,000 tonnes/year of DMT capacity.
An industry insider said BP had agreed to expand its existing supply relationship with Invista, serving all of Invista’s PTA demand going forward. BP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
PTA and DMT are feedstocks in the production of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and other polymers from which polyester fibres and resins are made.
The remainder of Invista’s reduced DMT production will supply contractual obligations and the company’s own polyol production at the Wilmington site.
Economic turmoil has prompted Invista to cut deep in recent years, eliminating nylon at Maitland in Ontario, Wilton in the UK and Waynesboro in North Carolina. The company also cut PET production at Millhaven, Ontario, and Offenbach, Germany, and terminated operating agreements on third-party owned PET capacity at Greer, South Carolina.
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