Huntsman to Build Maleic Anhydride Plant


Relief is coming for users of maleic anhydride, but it will be a while before it arrives.

Chemical manufacturer Huntsman Corp. said last week that it plans to build a maleic anhydride plant in Geismar, La., with capacity to make 100 million pounds per year. The company said it is trying to move quickly to accommodate growing demand, butthe plant will not open until the third quarter of 2008. Maleic anhydride is used in a number of industries, including lubricant additives where it serves as a primary component in dispersants.

Supply of maleic anhydride has become very tight over the past two years, with factories running at close to capacity, and demand from the biggest end-user markets – construction, automobiles and marine products – growing at rapid rates.

Huntsman, which is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, is one of the worlds largest producers of the compound, with approximately 300 million pounds in combined annual capacity between a wholly owned plant in Pensacola, Fla., and its interest in a 50-50 joint venture in Moers, Germany. The company had said previously that it planned to build another plant, but did not disclose the location until last week. Huntsman said it chose a fast-track implementation model that enabled a start-up date in the third quarter of 2008.

We want to move as quickly as possible to respond to our customers growing requirements and to help ensure the long-term supply of maleic anhydride in North America, Vice President Tom Fisher said. We are confident that the Geismar site will provide the most attractive economics for the plant due to the feedstock availability and the ability to leverage off existing Huntsman infrastructure currently located at the Geismar site.

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