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Eastman shuts PET plant for repairs

November 05/2009
Nov. 5 (Reuters) -- Eastman Chemical plans to shut for repair in coming weeks its Integrex-based polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plant in South Carolina to resolve operational problems.

CEO Jim Rogers tells analysts in a conference call that "continuing operational challenges" at the plant impacted third quarter results in Eastman"s performance polymers business.

Additional improvements also are required to get the plant operating at optimum levels, according to "We will have a shutdown in the fourth quarter to make additional improvements that we expect will get this asset operating like we know it can," Rogers tells Wall Street analysts.

Eastman opened the Columbia plant in 2006. It was the first major plant to use the firm"s Integrex-brand technology, which has lower energy inputs than standard PET production methods. The plant has 1.2 million lb of annual capacity but corporate reports note that capacity utilization was 1.05 million lb last year.

A company spokeswoman says Eastman customers will be supplied with PET from other Eastman plant locations and "shouldn"t be affected much" by the Columbia shutdown.


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