By George Gill
Dow Chemical plans to close its ethylene oxide and glycol
production facility at Wilton, U.K., by the end of January 2010, citing economic
impacts from the global recession. The site employs 55 people.
The company said it will determine the number of jobs affected
by the closure following an employee consultation period.
“A comprehensive review of potential options was conducted,
which included seeking a buyer for the site and engagement with industry
leaders, regional and government groups to identify alternatives to a shut
down,” said Malcolm Wilson, site leader for Dow (Wilton) Ltd. “A workable
option was not identified.”
Lee Christens, global business director for Dow EOEG, said,
“potential closure of the plant has become necessary, given the unsustainable
business conditions the facility faces.”
Several factors contributed to the decision to close the
Wilton plant. Demand and profit margins for the site’s outputs, particularly
monoethylene glycol, began to soften in early 2008, the company noted in its
July 8 announcement. MEG economics have been significantly worsened by the
global economic recession, Dow continued, further placing the Wilton site at a
disadvantage. Monoethylene glycol is used in the production of antifreezes,
coolants, aircraft anti-icer, and deicers and solvents.
Ethylene oxide is an intermediate used in production of
ethylene glycol and other oxide derivatives such as glycol ethers, polyethylene
glycol, polyether polyols, diethylene and triethylene glycols and
ethanolamines. Dow said the Wilton plant is the only chemical site in the United
Kingdom that produces ethylene oxide.
The ongoing recession is expected to prolong difficult
global ethylene oxide and glycol industry conditions for several years, Dow
said, expediting the need make a decision about the Wilton facility.
According to Dow’s web site, ICI built the ethylene
oxide/ethylene glycol plant at Wilton in 1969. ICI sold the plant to Union
Carbide Ltd. in 1995, and it became Midland, Mich.-based Dow’s plant when the
companies merged in 2001.
Since 1969, the site has undergone several expansion
projects, including construction of a new glycol production plant, uprating its
front-end capacity and installation of a distributed control system.