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Sabic Europe restructures

24 July 2008

Sabic Europe is to re-structure its Aromatics operations based in Teeside by the end of this year. The plans involve closure of the Aromatics 2 unit at the SABIC UK Petrochemicals North Tees Site near Seal Sands and the Paraxylene plant at the Wilton Site near Redcar as well as an upgrade of the remaining Aromatics 1 plant at North Tees.

The units planned for closure have become uneconomic and have forced the company to face up to this difficult decision, said a company statement. The aim of the proposed way forward is to bring the total Sabic UK Petrochemicals site operational and commercial performance to a sustainable level. The plant closures will lead to a restructuring of Sabic Europe's Aromatics product portfolio.

A spokesman suggested that Sabic UK Petrochemicals remains fully committed to Teeside with its olefins cracker operations at Wilton and cyclohexane production at North Tees. A new world scale low density polyethylene plant is currently under construction and an upgrade to the Aromatics 1 plant is still on the cards.

The closures are expected to affect approximately 200 operational and support positions. The main impact of this will be felt on Teesside but there will also be some redundancies at Sabic Europe’s support functions in The Netherlands.

The Aromatics 1 and 2 and Paraxylene units currently operated by Sabic UK Petrochemicals on Teesside supply raw materials into different product chains, known in the chemical industry as C6 and C8. Aromatics 1 is part of the C6 product chain, producing benzene and cyclohexane, which are widely used in the nylon fibre and plastics industries. Aromatics 1 is very important to Sabic’s cracker complex at Wilton, which supplies large quantities of pyrolysis gasoline feedstock to Aromatics 1. The Aromatics 2 and Paraxylene plants are part of the C8 product chain, which processes mixed xylenes for the polyester industry and it is envisaged that as a result of the review Sabic Europe will be exiting this area.

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