Covestro to Keep Tarragona MDI Unit on Stream

17.03.2017 -

Citing a “significant” increase in demand, Germany-based engineering plastics producer Covestro will keep its 200,000 t/y MDI plant at Tarragona, Spain, on stream rather than closing it at the end of this year as planned. The former Bayer MaterialScience said also that it has managed to secure access to important raw materials, in particular chlorine, for input at the site beyond the end of this year.

In December 2015, the company announced plans to close the facility, with the potential loss of 120 jobs, as it was uncompetitive, but said it would retain the downstream polyurethane processing activities at the site, where it is also building a logistics center for hydrochloric acid at a cost of around €300 million. 

Explaining the decision to phase out MDI at Tarragona,  Covestro had said its chlorine supply contract with Ercros was due to end at the end of 2017, as the Spanish supplier was forced to shutter production to comply with EU environmental legislation, and it had been unable to find a competitive alternate supplier. At the time, the former Bayer polymers arm said it would probably focus its MDI production at Brunsbüttel, Germany.

The decision to keep the Spanish MDI plant on stream is “a clear statement that we remain committed to the market,” said Markus Steilemann, head of the business unit Polyurethanes, adding that Covestro will “investigate various options for additional MDI to cover the growing demand.” The commitment to modernize MDI production at Brunsbüttel and upgrade capacity to 220,000 t/y still stands, he said.

Steilemann said the company’s aim is “to operate the most efficient facilities when compared with competitors,” adding that “continuous optimization of production worldwide” remains an important element of its strategy.