23-Mar-2001 - Celanese GmbH

Celanese Chemicals upgrades proprietary technology at Clear Lake acetic acid plant

Compensation for losses suffered in Singapore agreed

Celanese Chemicals today announced that it has achieved a major breakthrough in its proprietary acid optimization technology for the production of acetic acid. As a result of the breakthrough, output at the company's plant in Clear Lake, Texas, has risen to record levels over the past several months. By year-end, the new technology will be fully implemented, raising capacity by 20% to an annual 1.2 million metric tons. The required capital investment will be less than $3 million.

"We are really pleased that our commitment to R&D has enabled us to develop the new AO Plus technology. It makes what we believe was already the most efficient means of producing acetic acid even more cost-effective," said John O'Dwyer, head of the Acetyl Products business segment. "Furthermore, higher production levels have provided us with additional acetic acid with which to supply our Asian customers."

As a result of the increase in production at Clear Lake, which coincides with an improvement in operating rates at the company's 500,000 metric ton acetic acid plant in Singapore, Celanese has fully resumed the supply of acetic acid and vinyl acetate to its Asian customers, as reported last week. In September, Celanese had declared force majeure due to an outside supplier's declared force majeure resulting in an inability to produce a reliable, ongoing supply of carbon monoxide (CO) to the Singapore plant. Recently, the CO supply has improved and specific plans to achieve satisfactory operating rates are expected in the third quarter.

Celanese has also reached agreement on compensation in the amount of Euro 35 million for losses suffered as a result of the operating problems at the Singapore acetic acid plant for the time up to March 31, 2001.

According to the Tecnon Consulting World Network Acetic Acid and Vinyl Acetate 1999-2009 World Survey, Celanese Chemicals is the world's leading producer of vinyl acetate monomer and acetic acid. The company's success is largely based on its highly efficient acid optimization technology, which employs the carbonylation of methanol. Research has already yielded a long history of improvements to this technology and allowed Celanese to expand the capacity of its Clear Lake plant from 590,000 metric tons in 1995 to 1 million tons in 1999 at very low cost.

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