BP this week announced a phased exit from its DF2 and DF3 acids and acetone manufacturing operations at Saltend, Hull, and with it a withdrawal from its formic acid, propionic acid and acetone businesses, leading to a reduction in its European acetic acid production capacity.
Production on the DF3 unit will cease at the end of April 2005 and on the DF2 unit late 2006 and early 2007. A total of approximately 190 job losses are expected as a result of this announcement though the company said in a statement that it hopes that the majority will be through voluntary redundancy and redeployment.
BP added that the closure of the DF plants will improve the overall competitiveness of the Hull site, which will remain the second largest acetyls manufacturing site in the world and the largest in Europe.
Making the announcement, Hull’s Works General Manager, Gareth James, said, “A review of our business has made it clear that it is not viable to continue to operate these assets. Unfortunately, this will mean that the number of BP jobs at Hull will be reduced but we will seek to limit the effects of this through voluntary early retirement and redeployment throughout the rest of the BP Group.
“For those who need to seek work outside BP, we will be providing a comprehensive career guidance facility and providing help to retrain and re-skill each individual. BP will also be contributing £500,000 to the Sirius Enterprise Agency to support the creation of new businesses and jobs in the local area.”
Murli Nathan, Performance Unit Leader for the European Acetyls business, confirmed that the decision to close is due to an increasing lack of competitiveness. He added, “high feedstock prices, which are linked to the oil price, coupled with the conversion costs on these assets mean that they are no longer economically viable to operate”.
Gareth James continued “The DF plants have been an important part of the Hull site for more than 30 years. However, they utilise a previous generation process technology which cannot compete against latest generation methanol carbonylation acetic acid production technology. BP will continue to produce acetic acid, acetic anhydride, vinyl acetate and ethyl acetate at its Hull site.”