Wilton rescue a step closer, Dow plant probably still to close

At last it seems like the folks in charge at Wilton and those in high places at a national level may have generated a rescue plan with some teeth. But is it too little, too late, for the Dow ethylene oxide (EO), ethylene glycol (EG) plant up there?

Individual segments of a ten point plane have been assigned to industry champions (see below). The Dow plant is scheduled for closure in January and this plan is still light on specifics about alternative uses for this plant.

The problem is that there must be a private sector solution for this Dow plant. As a government advisor told me at the recent Chemical Industries Association (CIA) annual dinner in London, the state cannot keep this plant alive. No private sector company has offered a viable solution to date, he added.

Stan Higgins at NEPIC was very pessimistic about the future of this plant a few weeks ago and I have seen no statement from him to contradict that.

The 10 point plan seems more like long term goals than short term solutions. Let’s hope the plan comes to fruition prtetty quickly.

Here are the 10 points:

• Innovation – Developing new technologies and innovative capacity in areas vital to the future of the process industries, particularly low carbon as well as energy and feedstock from waste, industrial symbiosis, resource efficiency and recyclable materials. (Industry champion: Steve Bagshaw, Avecia)

• Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) – Vital to the future sustainability and competitiveness of the process industries. A commitment sought with Government to develop, design, engineer and build a world first CCS system encompassing power generation and industrial emissions for Tees Valley, to help sustain existing businesses and attract new investment. (Industry champion: Phil Bailey, Lucite)

• Future of Ethylene Oxide/ Ethylene Glycol Plant – Build on current work to develop a viable, market-based solution for the future sustainability of this facility. Such a solution is possible but may take several months to complete and Government is asked to assist in ensuring these facilities remain available to a potential investor. (Industry champion: Stan Higgins, NEPIC)

• Energy Efficiency – Develop innovative solutions to reduce the current energy use of industry in Tees Valley, including schemes to share energy generation and use. (Industry champion: John Shipman, Huntsman)

• Training – Securing high grade skills through the current downturn is vital for the long-term success of the process industries. Work with Government to widen a fund to ensure that engineering apprentices can be supported until the end of 2011 to meet industry needs. (Industry champions: George Ritchie, Sembcorp and Robin Davison, Wolviston Management)

• Supply Chain Development – Work with the supply chain to assist them to develop new capabilities for diversified applications. Request that Government encourage business support organisations to recognise the strengths and opportunities facing the supply chain, and help in its development. (Industry champion: James Robson, Exwold)

• Feedstocks – New, lower carbon feedstock is vital for the long term success of the process industries. Take forward projects which examine new feedstocks, and, where appropriate, bring them to industrial application. (Industry champions: Mike Buchan and Andrew Teague, Sabic)

• Teesside Infrastructure for New Investment – In support of the findings of the North and South Tees Study, industry will review in detail the key infrastructure requirements and work with the public sector to deliver these actions. (Industry champion: Paul Gavens, Sembcorp)

• Marketing Tees Valley for Future Investment. Industry will champion and continue to market Tees Valley as a global chemical and process industry hub. (Industry champion: Paul Booth, Sabic)

• Improved Partnership Working – Improve links between Government and industry. Jointly establish a task group, to examine new opportunities for the industry. (Industry champion: Mike Huggan, BOC-Linde)

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