By Liz White, UT editor
New Martinsville West Virginia-Bayer MaterialScience announced 11 Oct that it would close its MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate) facility at New Martinsville, which has capacity for 72.5 kilotonnes per annum (ktpa), on 30 June 2007. The closure will cause 230 job losses. Bayer said it would offer employment assistance to all affected employees.
"The economies of scale are changing in the MDI marketplace, and Bayer is consolidating production to several world-scale plants, including its plant in Baytown, Texas," said Jim Covington, New Martinsville's general plant manager.
According to BMS, "Changing technology capabilities and market requirements have led to new standards for world-scale facilities." Hence Bayer's MDI production has been consolidated into expanded facilities in Baytown, and further world-scale plants in Urdingen and Brunsbüttel, Germany; and Tarragona, Spain.
The group is also currently constructing the world's largest single-train MDI facility, with a capacity of 350-ktpa, in Caojing, China. This is expected to come on stream in 2008.
"By concentrating our capacities in these high-technology, high-performance facilities, we are ideally equipped for the future and will be able to react to increased global demand for MDI with cost-effective production," said Michael Koenig, senior vice president of global production and technology in isocyanates.
According to Demetri Zervoudis, senior vice president of global production and technology, polyether polyols and propylene oxide, the US closure "reflects a shift in the site's focus from commodity to specialty polymers production."
Bayer recently announced an $8-million upgrade to expand New Martinsville's speciality polyether production and said it will invest a further $23.6 million in the plant's infrastructure in the next two years.
BMS said New Martinsville will continue to be a transloading and distribution centre for MDI, TDI and HCl, for material from Baytown.
The New Martinsville facility will continue to produce other isocyanates and polyols, coatings raw materials and thermoplastic polyurethanes, Covington added.