MOSCOW (MRC) -- Synthetic rubber manufacturer Arlanxeo Holding B.V. will close its Keltan EPDM plant in Orange in the second quarter of 2020, reported RubbeNews with reference to the company's press release.
Arlanxeo said it was closing the Orange facility as part of a realignment of its Keltan production network to improve competitiveness and harmonize technology platforms across the Keltan portfolio.
The company said it would cooperate closely with workers, customers and suppliers to minimize the impact of the closure.
"We realize that the closure of Arlanxeo's Keltan EPDM unit will have a deep impact on our people in Orange," said Christian Widdershoven, executive vice president of high performance elastomers for Arlanxeo and a member of the company's executive leadership team. "Taking care of our employees that devoted time and efforts for the company over the last decades will be our first priority."
The Orange facility has capacity to produce about 70,000 metric tons a year of Keltan EPDM and employs about 300.
Arlanxeo did not say how many workers will be laid off because of the closure. It did say it would seek "to minimize involuntary separations and to provide alternative opportunities for those affected by the closure."
Christian Rooijakkers, Arlanxeo vice president of marketing and sales HPE, said Arlanxeo's business teams would support customers in North America and worldwide to make the transition to specifically developed Keltan grades as smooth as possible.
Arlanxeo will continue to make butadiene rubber and hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber at the Orange facility, its only production site in the US, the company said.
Arlanxeo did not give further details about the EPDM business realignment, but the company recently announced that it is steadily increasing sales of EPDM sold under Keltan KSA brand.
These grades are being produced in Saudi Arabia by Petro Rabigh, a 50-50 joint venture between Arlanxeo owner Saudi Aramco and Sumitomo Chemicals.
Arlanxeo is the sole distributor of Aramco's 50 percent share of the JV plant's EPDM output, Rooijakkers said at the recent K2019 trade fair.
Operational since 2018, the Petro Rabigh EPDM plant has a nameplate capacity of 75,000 tons a year, and Rooijakkers said it has "ramped up according to plan."
Arlanxeo also operates EPDM production facilities in Geleen, Netherlands, and Changzhou, China, each with listed annual capacity of 160,000 tons, along with a 40,000 tons a year unit in Triunfo, Brazil.
The company, then part of Lanxess, in 2016 closed down a 70,000 tons a year EPDM production facility in Marl, Germany.
As MRC wrote before, Arlanxeo is strengthening its market position by investing in its high-performance elastomer products CR (chloroprene rubber) and NBR (nitrile butadiene rubber), laying the foundation for the further increase of production capacity in order to meet the increasing global demand of these polymers. The turnaround of Arlanxeo's CR plant in Dormagen, Germany, announced in the beginning of 2018, was successfully completed in October 2019, allowing for a production of up to 70,000 metric tons of CR per year. The multiple million Euro investment to upgrade and modernize the plant is a strong signal of Arlanxeo’s long-term commitment to the CR business, leading to an increased flexibility and capability of the plant to produce specialty products.
EPDM products are used in applications like automotive, building & construction, plastics modification, consumer goods, cable & wire, and tubes and for the production of high impact polypropylene (PP).
According to MRC's ScanPlast report, the estimated PP consumption in the Russian market was 976,790 tonnes in January-September 2019, up by 4% year on year. Shipments of PP block copolymer and homopolymer PP increased.
Arlanxeo was established in April 2016 as a joint venture of Lanxess - a world-leading specialty chemicals company based in Cologne, Germany - and Saudi Aramco - a major global energy and chemicals enterprise headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The two partners each hold a 50-percent interest in the joint venture. The business operations of Arlanxeo are assigned to the High Performance Elastomers and Tire & Specialty Rubbers business units.