November 26, 2003

 

 

Degussa Constructs World's Largest Methionine Plant in Antwerp, Belgium
 

"Our new methionine facility in Antwerp represents a strategic milestone for Degussa. First, with a value of around 350 million euros this investment is the most significant since the 'new' Degussa started in February 2001. And second, its capacity of 150,000 tonnes per annum makes it the biggest methionine plant in the world." These were the words of Prof. Utz-Hellmuth Felcht, CEO of Degussa AG, at the Degussa Antwerp site today. Together with Kathleen Van Brempt, State Secretary at the Belgian Ministry for Labor and Pensions, he gave the signal there for construction work to begin on the new facility, scheduled for completion in 2005.


"With this major investment we are continuing to steadily pursue our goal of becoming a purely specialty chemicals company. We are giving a powerful boost to our attractive Feed Additives core business", Felcht underlined. Methionine is an essential amino acid used for environmentally-friendly animal nutrition. Degussa is already the world leader in this area today, and the new facility further solidifies its market position.


The methionine plant in Antwerp will be Degussa's fourth, taking its place alongside the existing production facilities in Wesseling (Germany), Antwerp (Belgium) and Mobile (USA). Dr. Hubert Wennemer, Head of the Feed Additives Business Unit, commented: "The new facility will enable us to meet the growing worldwide demand for this essential animal nutrition amino acid for the long term. The growth prospects for methionine are outstanding. Over the next few years experts are anticipating growth rates well in excess of the norm."


Overall, the new methionine facility will give Degussa a capacity of almost 400,000 tonnes per annum over the next few years. Complementary to the size of the new methionine facility, the company is also establishing a production facility for the raw materials acrolein and methyl mercaptane, and expanding the hydrocyanic acid capacities. This will extend the methionine intermediates at the same time, and will ensure maximum production efficiency and security of supply. Degussa is simultaneously setting new standards in terms of installation size and degree of vertical integration.


Antwerp - a major Degussa multi-user site


The decision in favor of Antwerp as the location for the new methionine production facility is due to the city's logistic advantages as a sea port, along with its excellent road and rail infrastructure. There are approximately 130 employees working for the Feed Additives Business Unit in Antwerp, and 1,100 in total at the whole Degussa site. The new facility will probably create around 90 extra jobs on top of this figure. As Felcht explained: "Our major investment is providing important future prospects for the site, for the city and for the region. I am assuming that all the employees at the site will lend their constructive support and give their total commitment to the plant being completed on schedule."


Antwerp is one of Degussa's major multi-user sites, with twelve production plants working for seven Business Units. The site has continually expanded since its official opening in 1970. It reflects the investment that Degussa has carefully made in its growth markets over the past few decades. An example of this is the new C4 plant that was inaugurated in October 2002 - C4-based products from Antwerp are mainly used as chemical intermediates.


Degussa's Feed Additives Business Unit is the only manufacturer in the world to produce all three of the important animal feed amino acids DL-methionine, L-lysine (Biolys®) and L-threonine. The feed additives are manufactured at five locations in four countries, with sales in over 100 countries worldwide. The Business Unit generated sales of 568 million euros in 2002 with around 1,000 employees.