Huntsman plans expansion, upgrade for MDI plants in Louisiana, Netherlands

Huntsman is investing $135 million to expand and upgrade two of its world-scale methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) manufacturing facilities, the company said on Friday.

The plan involves increasing capacity at the Geismar site in Louisiana and upgrading the downstream specialties production capability at the Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

The Geismar capacity will be increased to 500,000 tpy, up from 450,000 tpy, through improved process technology developed by Huntsman, the company said.

The expansion will enable Huntsman to support the growth of its key customers and leverages the significant advantages of the Geismar site, with its access to US shale gas, strong logistics base and excellent integration, according to Huntsman officials. 

The new capacity is expected to come on-stream in 2014 and will further consolidate Huntsman's position as the leading MDI producer in the Americas region, the company said.

At its Rotterdam facility, Huntsman is commissioning a new state-of-the-art MDI splitter and downstream specialties manufacturing unit, which the company says will better enable it to serve customers with a full range of next-generation, differentiated polyurethane products for automotive, adhesives, coatings and other applications.

The unit is designed to handle globally sourced MDI precursor and will be operational by the end of March.

"The Geismar investment enables us to strengthen our upstream cost leadership position, while the Rotterdam investment gives us greater flexibility to provide downstream, customized products," said Anthony P. Hankins, president of Huntsman Polyurethanes.

"The benefits of US shale gas have significantly improved the economics of investing in US facilities, and Huntsman has a number of other investments planned which will take advantage of lower cost natural gas."

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