The parties expect the plant to be fully commissioned and in production in the first quarter of next year. The plant will have the capacity to produce approximately 30,000 metric tons/yr of ethyleneamines, including ethylenediamine (EDA), diethylenetriamine (DETA), triethylenetetramine (TETA) and higher-molecular-weight versions.
Ethyleneamines are specialty chemicals that serve as end products in the production of the growing wind blade market, agricultural applications, laundry detergents, and lube oil additives for gasoline and diesel engines.
On the flip side, Huntsman recently announced it has suspended work on design and feasibility studies for its planned investment in a new methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) plant at its site in Rozenburg, the Netherlands, because existing production capacity is adequate to meet current demand for MDI-based polyurethanes following the downturn in global economic growth.
The design and feasibility studies, which include preliminary engineering for the planned 400,000-metric-ton/yr capacity unit, will be halted at a stage to allow quick and efficient re-engagement at a future date. Until such time, all third-party work on the project will be suspended.
“We fully expect to see MDI growth return to historical levels as the global economy and consumer demand recover. However, we believe it prudent to suspend the timetable for this major investment until we have greater visibility on how long this will take. We plan to review market conditions on a regular basis, and when we do restart the project, we will likely benefit from lower engineering and construction costs, as the price of commodities such as steel and other construction materials decline,” said Polyurethanes Division President, Tony Hankins.
In addition to reviewing market conditions, Huntsman is reviewing its finances and recently announced a company-wide initiative to reduce costs across its divisions and functions. Including steps begun during the fourth quarter of 2008, the company will cut its full-time employment by approximately 1,175 positions by year-end 2009 — more than 9% of its 12,770 employees. An additional 490 cuts will come from full-time contractors. Together, these reductions will result in operating cost savings to the company of approximately $150 million.
Huntsman also announced that its Pigments Division plans to close its titanium dioxide plant located in Grimsby, U.K. That plant, the division’s oldest and least efficient manufacturing facility, has an annual production capacity of 40,000 tons of titanium dioxide.
Peter R. Huntsman, President and CEO, said, “This restructuring will allow us to improve our business where we most acutely feel the effects of the present global economic slowdown, mainly in our Pigments and Textile divisions. While we are scrutinizing each of our business divisions, we remain optimistic in our current positions in Polyurethanes, Advanced Materials and Performance Products.”
He added, “We will also reduce our 2009 capital expenditures to $230 million — a reduction of $190 million from the $420 million spent on capital projects during 2008. The steps announced should take approximately $340 million out of our cost structure in 2009. These savings, combined with the $1 billion in payments we received during December from Apollo Management, L.P. provide our company with a strong balance sheet and significant liquidity. Huntsman is well positioned to generate shareholder value and to prosper in these times of economic uncertainty.”
Huntsman Corp. is a CP 50 company.
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