ORANGE, Texas—Synthetic rubber manufacturer Arlanxeo Holding B.V. will close its Keltan EPDM plant in Orange in the second quarter of 2020, according to a company news release.
Arlanxeo said it was closing the Orange facility as part of a realignment of its Keltan production network to improve competitiveness and harmonize technology platforms across the Keltan portfolio.
The company said it would cooperate closely with workers, customers and suppliers to minimize the impact of the closure.
"We realize that the closure of Arlanxeo's Keltan EPDM unit will have a deep impact on our people in Orange," said Christian Widdershoven, executive vice president of high performance elastomers for Arlanxeo and a member of the company's executive leadership team. "Taking care of our employees that devoted time and efforts for the company over the last decades will be our first priority."
The Orange facility has capacity to produce about 70,000 metric tons a year of Keltan EPDM and employs about 300.
Arlanxeo did not say how many workers will be laid off because of the closure. It did say it would seek "to minimize involuntary separations and to provide alternative opportunities for those affected by the closure."
Christian Rooijakkers, Arlanxeo vice president of marketing and sales HPE, said Arlanxeo's business teams would support customers in North America and worldwide to make the transition to specifically developed Keltan grades as smooth as possible.
Arlanxeo will continue to make butadiene rubber and hydrogenated nitrile butadiene rubber at the Orange facility, its only production site in the U.S., the company said.
Arlanxeo did not give further details about the EPDM business realignment, but the company recently announced that it is steadily increasing sales of EPDM sold under Keltan KSA brand.
These grades are being produced in Saudi Arabia by Petro Rabigh, a 50-50 joint venture between Arlanxeo owner Saudi Aramco and Sumitomo Chemicals.
Arlanxeo is the sole distributor of Aramco's 50 percent share of the JV plant's EPDM output, Rooijakkers said at the recent K2019 trade fair.
Operational since 2018, the Petro Rabigh EPDM plant has a nameplate capacity of 75,000 tons a year, and Rooijakkers said it has "ramped up according to plan."
Arlanxeo also operates EPDM production facilities in Geleen, Netherlands, and Changzhou, China, each with listed annual capacity of 160,000 tons, along with a 40,000 tons a year unit in Triunfo, Brazil.
The company, then part of Lanxess, in 2016 closed down a 70,000 tons a year EPDM production facility in Marl, Germany.
European Rubber Journal contributed to this report.