Global MDI production is running at about 90 percent of nameplate capacity, and looks likely to stay there for a while, Huntsman Corp. CEO Peter Huntsman told analysts at a recent meeting.
His company, based in The Woodlands, Texas, is planning to turn around its 500,000 metric ton-per-year plant in Rosenberg, Netherlands in the first half of 2021, and its Geismar, Texas, facility in the first quarter.
The company pushed scheduled work at Geismar back from the final quarter of 2020 into the first quarter of 2021 because U.S. demand was so strong, Peter Huntsman said.
"Our biggest challenge [for 2021] in the first quarter is not going to be around demand and pricing. I feel pretty optimistic on those things," he said. "It's going to be around the timing of the turnaround we have in Geismar. We have a single line and we pushed production into Rosenberg. The issue we have in Rosenberg is that it is a cluster turnaround. We can only operate those turnarounds as fast as the slowest person can come up to speed."
Although the effects of the work will be about $30 million in the first quarter, and $15 million in the second, he added that earnings before interest, taxes, deprecision and amortization would be a little more than double what it was a year ago.
Beyond supply and demand issues, Huntsman was optimistic that President Joe Biden's administration will push for more building insulation standards, and that will help the business.
Tony Hankins, president of polyurethanes, said that Huntsman's spray foam business is growing at around about 25 percent per year.
"We're making major inroads into Asia with the growth of spray foam Terol in Taiwan," he said.
The Terol business involves polyols with 60 percent recycled PET bottles, Peter Huntsman added.
"In 2019, we had zero international EBITDA in that business," he said. "In 2020, even with coronavirus, we made $8 million EBITDA. This year, we are looking at probably doubling that number on the international markets for that insulation."