Sector News

Ineos plans to close permanently UK acrylonitrile plant

October 4, 2019
Chemical Value Chain

Ineos today announced its intention to consult with employees on the proposed closure of the company’s Seal Sands acrylonitrile (ACN) manufacturing plant at Teesside, UK. Ineos acquired the site, which currently employs 224 people, from BASF in 2008. Ineos says that in the event the plant closes, not all these positions will be at risk of redundancy due to the continuation of other activities at Seal Sands. The plant has the capacity to produce 300,000 metric tons/year of acrylo, according to IHS Markit data. It is the only plant in the UK producing ACN.

Ineos has invested almost €200 million ($219 million) in the site over the past 10 years to try to counter decades of significant underinvestment. The company says it would need to invest another €200 million just to meet Ineos’s standards and environmental regulations. Ineos intends to consult on any viable alternatives to closure.

The acrylo production process needs careful management and involves handling significant quantities of hazardous material, and the company says it would not be able to guarantee the long-term safety of its employees or the residents nearby and has “reluctantly” concluded that it should consider the option to close.

The ACN plant is currently under turnaround and maintenance, and repair work will continue through the consultation process. At this stage, there is no restart date and the announcement today could mean that the plant does not restart operation. IHS Markit numbers suggest that the plant has, on average, produced 200,000–250,000 metric tons/year of ACN in recent years. “Should the plant close permanently, Ineos Nitriles is expected to redirect some material presently moving to Asia into Europe to cover where and when possible,” says Simon Garmston, global director/acrylonitrile at IHS Markit.

Ineos operates two ACN plants in the US and one in Germany, and it has a project in Saudi Arabia due onstream in 2025.

By Natasha Alperowicz

Source: Chemical Week

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