World polypropylene leader LyondellBasell Industries AF SCA will stop PP production at its plant in Morris, Ill., later this year, ending 30 years of PP work at the site.
The plant will continue to make polyethylene, but its four PP lines, with total annual capacity of 280 million pounds, will be decommissioned, said Mark Mendelson, a spokesman with the Houston-based firm.
Production from Morris will be transferred to LyondellBasell plants in Pasadena, Texas; Lake Charles, La.; and a joint venture site in Altamíra, Mexico.
Mendelson said he is unsure how employment in Morris will be affected by the PP shutdown. The firm is reviewing that issue, he said. The Morris Daily Herald reported that the site employs 450, but Mendelson said he could not confirm that number.
PP production in Morris is not large by current industry standards.
``Economies of scale were not working in our favor,'' Mendelson said.
The site also is the company's only North American PP plant not using LyondellBasell's Spheripol-brand PP technology.
The Morris PP closing is the latest move in a string of capacity juggling acts for LyondellBasell that date back to early 2007. During 2007, the firm closed PP plants in Ontario and Quebec, totaling 825 million pounds. But LyondellBasell also is restarting a line of nearly 500 million pounds in Pasadena and is adding a new line in Altamíra to make about 800 million pounds per year.
The net change of the Morris closing and the Canadian closings vs. the Pasadena restart and Altamíra opening will be a gain of 150 million pounds of annual capacity.
U.S./Canadian PP sales grew 5 percent in 2007 — according to the American Chemistry Council in Arlington, Va. — largely because of a gain of more than 40 percent in export sales. In the first two months of 2008, regional PP sales were down almost 5 percent, with export sales taking a 10 percent dive.