Fibrant to shutter U.S. caprolactam unit | July 11, 2016 Issue - Vol. 94 Issue 28 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 94 Issue 28 | p. 11 | News of The Week
Issue Date: July 11, 2016 | Web Date: July 7, 2016

Fibrant to shutter U.S. caprolactam unit

Global oversupply and low margins contribute to the decision
Department: Business
News Channels: Materials SCENE
Keywords: petrochemicals, job losses, nylon, caprolactam, plant shutdown

Fibrant, a producer of the nylon feedstock caprolactam, plans to shut down its Augusta, Ga., plant over the next 16 months, eliminating about 600 jobs. The firm attributes the decision to a protracted global oversupply of—and scant profits for—the commodity chemical.

Formed in late 2015 out of DSM’s caprolactam operations, Fibrant is owned 65% by the private equity firm CVC Capital Partners and 35% by DSM.

The price of caprolactam “has dropped substantially below the product cost, and prospects for recovery are poor,” says Pol De Turck, Fibrant’s CEO. The decision to close down “was the only viable course of action,” he says. The firm also produces by-product ammonium sulfate, which is sold as a fertilizer.

Shutting down the Augusta operation, which dates back to 1966, will eliminate about 230,000 metric tons of annual caprolactam production capacity. DSM and others use the monomer to make nylon 6 engineering resins, fibers, and packaging materials. Fibrant continues to operate caprolactam units in the Netherlands and China with an annual capacity exceeding 670,000 metric tons.

The Fibrant shutdown should brighten prospects for the two remaining U.S. caprolactam producers: BASF and Honeywell. In May, Honeywell revealed plans to spin off its caprolactam and nylon operations into a new company to be called AdvanSix. Plans are to complete the $1.3 billion separation early next year.

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