Huntsman Corporation has started construction of the world’s largest Polyethylene facility at the Wilton International chemical complex near Redcar.
In a Groundbreaking ceremony performed jointly with Redcar MP Vera Baird, Mr Huntsman and Ms Baird took control of a mechanical digger to excavate the first soil at the 35-acre site.
And he heralded the formal start of building as a “profoundly significant step forward for both Huntsman and the chemical industry in the North East.”
Mr Huntsman told assembled guests and Company employees that the £200 million Polyethylene project, which attracted a Government grant of £16.5 million, was vitally important to the future of Huntsman’s operations on Teesside.
“Teesside is one of the most important of our global locations and we are delighted to enhance our presence here with this large, world class polyethylene facility, he said. “It is good news for Huntsman, for the economy of the NorthEast and for the UK as a whole. We have worked hard to make it a reality and the faith and confidence of the UK Government has been very important to the process.”
Mr Huntsman thanked the many people and agencies involved in achieving the go-ahead for the project. “I would especially like to pay personal tribute to all those who helped us to gain Government support for the project, particularly our local MPs, Vera Baird, Ashok Kumar, Dari Taylor and Frank Cook, One NorthEast, Redcar & Cleveland Council, Tees Valley Regeneration and the Trades Unions,” added Mr Huntsman.
Mr Huntsman added: “This new facility will underpin the continued operation of our major Olefins Cracker facility at Wilton well into the future, which is strategically very important to the integrated chemicals infrastructure on Teesside.”
His sentiments were echoed by Vera Baird, who commented: “It is immensely important to the country that we maintain a strong manufacturing sector and I’m sure this project will encourage others that both the Tees Valley and the UK are great places to invest for the future.
“This is a very significant project that will have a major positive impact on the chemical industry and the economy of the UK both locally and nationally,” she added.
Piling and ground preparation work will start on site shortly and construction of the 400,000 tonnes a year polyethylene facility will be spread over two years, with completion due in the fourth quarter of 2007.
The impact of the new project on jobs – both locally, regionally and nationally – will be very substantial. When operational, the new plant will employ some 120 permanent staff and will help underpin around 750 Huntsman and contractor jobs at the North Tees and Wilton complexes.
In addition, approximately 700 jobs will be created during the construction phase of the project. It is estimated this will also help to generate or underpin a further 1,000 indirect jobs in the Tees Valley and around 900 indirect jobs nationally.
It is also estimated that the ‘multiplier’ or ‘knock-on’ effect of between five and 12 local and national jobs being generated by each new permanent job could create or secure several thousand jobs throughout the UK.
Margaret Fay, Chairman of One NorthEast said: “Today’s ground breaking ceremony is not only the start of a new world scale polyethylene plant but very much symbolizes the future aspirations of the process industries in the North East.
“The chemicals and process industry sector is one of this region's most successful and important in terms of growth, investment, international trade, skilled workers and research and development. It is this well-deserved status that has helped attract such a great number of leading names like Huntsman to the North East.
“I am delighted that Huntsman is making such an important commitment to the process industry sector, to the Tees Valley and indeed to the wider region,” she added.
Polyethylene is a plastic widely used in sheet form for the protection and packaging of everyday articles and foods and is also used extensively to make bottles and containers. It is manufactured in a high pressure process, using ethylene which is the main product of Huntsman’s Cracker facility at Wilton. The product from the Polyethylene plant will be an inert, safe “chip” transported in bags and bulk.
The plant has been designed using the current best technologies to both produce LDPE and supply utilities to the plant. These technologies, along with good management, will help to ensure that the safety and environmental performance of the new plant will be exemplary.