Lubrizol Reports Production Delay


Lubrizol Corp. said Monday that production of phenate detergents at its lubricant additive plant in LeHavre, France, has been temporarily halted by discovery of metal fatigue in a boiler tube. Officials said the incident will cause delays in deliveries of some additive packages but that it plans to replace the equipment and resume normal operations by mid-October.

In the overall scheme of our supply chain, this is not a terribly big disruption,Dan Sheets, vice president of sales for Lubrizol Additives, told Lube Report. We believe we will work through this issue and keep customers supplied.

Together with another facility in nearby Rouen, the LeHavre plant constitutes Lubrizols major manufacturing complex in Europe. Officials said the problem developed Sept. 15 when an employee discovered a pinhole leak in a hot oil boiler tube that is part of the phenate production line. Upon detailed inspection, it was determined that the walls of the tube were fatigued. Officials said the fatigue is premature for the boilers 10 years and was believed to be the result of flawed construction.

The Wickliffe, Ohio-based company decided to shut down the unit and replace the boiler. Officials said that should be done in time for a three-week turnaround. In the meantime, Lubrizol said it will continue meeting orders using inventory at LeHavre supplemented by materials from Lubrizol plants in Deer Park, Texas, and Mumbai, India, along with outside suppliers. Production of sulfonate detergents at LeHavre is unaffected.

Until normal operations resume, there may be delays in deliveries of some products for some customers, officials said. Additives for marine lubricants and heavy-duty engine oils are among the products most likely to be affected. Sheets said Lubrizol is working with customers to make arrangements and appreciates their cooperation.

In a separate development, Lubrizol announced two weeks ago that it has agreed to sell its Bromborough, England, factory to biodiesel supplier D1 Oils plc. In January 2005 Lubrizol disclosed plans to close the additive plant by the end of this year, and its operations have already been transferred to larger facilities in France and Texas. D1 will pay 3 million pounds (U.S. $5.7 million) for the 47-acre property.

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