Nova Chemicals Corp. plans to cut 50 production jobs at its expanded polystyrene plant in Monaca, Pa., by mid-2002.
The cuts are part of an ongoing restructuring, spokesman Greg Wilkinson said.
"We continue to look for ways to reduce costs in our organization," Wilkinson said. "Our site committee determined we can continue to operate in Monaca with fewer people and be more cost-competitive."
Calgary, Alberta-based Nova, which ranks as North America's largest PS and expanded PS maker, has an ongoing goal of reducing costs by 5 percent per year.
The cuts will not affect production in Monaca, which has annual capacity of 405 million pounds. Most of that output is EPS, but the site also produces smaller quantities of solid PS and specialty styrenic polymers such as Nova's Dylark- and Arcel-brand resins.
Employment in Monaca will be reduced to 350 after the cuts. Officials were unsure how much Nova will save annually from the cuts.
EPS accounts for about 20 percent of Nova's 3.8 billion-pound global PS capacity. The firm's styrenics unit earned $42 million in 2000 after losing $12 million in 1999. Sales volumes were more than 3 billion pounds in 2000, a jump of about 5 percent from the previous year.
The North American market has not been quite as healthy, with EPS sales dropping almost 2 percent through November 2000, compared with the previous year. Wilkinson confirmed Nova's EPS sales slowed in the second half of 2000 but added that those conditions "didn't play much of a role" in the firm's decision to cut jobs in Monaca.
Nova's styrenics research and development facilities in Monaca also will be unaffected by the moves. Lab facilities currently are being expanded there to further PS research. A new tandem foam line was installed last year to develop new foam applications for Nova's PS products.
The Monaca announcement comes two months after Nova announced it would be closing its 240 million-pound-per-year PS plant in Joliet, Ill., during the first quarter of 2001, eliminating 54 jobs.
Elsewhere, Nova's EPS plant in Berre, France, resumed production in early February after being down for two months because of excess inventory, Wilkinson said.
Nova also confirmed its styrene plant in Sarnia, Ontario, will not resume production until late February. The plant was taken down for repairs Jan. 9 and was to begin operating again Feb. 1, but Nova personnel discovered a crack in a heat exchanger that required immediate attention, Wilkinson said.
The firm's Bayport, Texas, styrene works will supplement Nova plants while the Sarnia plant is down, but Wilkinson said there will be "a pinch in styrene inventory" until the Sarnia plant is reactivated.