This investment at the existing site in Baytown is the largest single investment in the company’s history. The total capacity of the new train will be 500 kilotons MDI per year.
Production is expected to start in 2024.
At the same time, an older, less efficient MDI unit of 90 kilotons production capacity will be closed. Thus, the total MDI capacities of Covestro in the NAFTA region will reach around 740 kilotons per year.
“Demand for innovative MDI materials will continue to grow for the foreseeable future and likewise promises attractive capacity utilization rates. We have already announced a significant increase in capital expenditures, now it’s time to put it into action,” CEO Dr. Markus Steilemann said.
The global MDI market is expected to grow by about five percent per year in the long-term, outgrowing the world’s global domestic product by about two percentage points.
Key MDI market drivers include the substitution of less performing and less sustainable materials as well as global megatrends such as an increasing demand for energy efficient insulation solutions. MDI is a precursor for rigid foam, which is an excellent insulation material and is used, for example, in buildings and refrigerators. The expected global MDI demand growth translates into the need for approximately one additional world-scale plant per year.
Although Covestro is already doubling its MDI production capacity in Brunsbuettel, Germany from 200 to 400 kilotons per year in the second half of 2019, the strong growth in demand creates further significant market opportunities. Therefore, the investments – which are part of the already announced investment increase of up to €1.2 billion per year for the next three years – will help Covestro to maintain and strengthen its leading position and support further profitable growth.
“Even with all capacity increase announcements considered, the projected industry supply is not sufficient to fully balance the expected demand growth,” CFO Dr. Thomas Toepfer said. “We are therefore confident that we will reach high utilization rates of our new capacities soon after the start-up, making the investment highly efficient. Building on existing infrastructure and processes, it will be a prime example of our value creating investment approach.”
With its global MDI investment program, Covestro follows a cost-effective CAPEX approach by leveraging existing infrastructure and supply networks to achieve lower specific investments and higher ROCE (Return on Capital Employed). The program also includes the continuation and expansion of Covestro’s Tarragona, Spain and Caojing, China sites as well as investments into the company’s production site in Antwerp, Belgium.
With the new plant, Covestro’s future MDI capacities in North America of 740 kilotons per year by 2024 will also catch up to the company’s future capacities in EMEA (820 kilotons per year by 2022) and APAC (670 kilotons per year by 2021).