Huntsman fire hits European white ink supplies

By Max Goldbart, Thursday 16 February 2017

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A fire at ink manufacturer Huntsman Corporation’s titanium dioxide manufacturing facility at Pori in Finland could have severe ramifications for white pigment ink supplies to Europe.


Huntsman's Pori titanium dioxide facility. Image: Creative Commons

The fire, which broke out on 30 January, has stopped production at the site until repairs can be completed. The manufacturer said emergency services had responded quickly and that and no one had been injured. 

According to Huntsman, the Pori plant has a capacity of 130,000 tonnes, representing approximately 15% of Huntsman’s total titanium dioxide capacity and 10% of total European demand. The site is insured for property damage as well as loss of earnings.

The European Printing Ink Association (EuPIA) said the fire had caused "severe and immediate" pressure on inward costs for the ink manufacturing supply chain.  

EuPIA executive manager Martin Kanert said: “Huntsman has cut down the supplies to individual suppliers. I don’t know how the current supply is limited, but certainly if [suppliers] were not able to find alternative grades it would become problematic. Titanium dioxide is used throughout the industry.”

Double-digit price increases have already been announced by certain pigment suppliers as a direct consequence of shortages in the market. 

Huntsman is yet to announce a date it will be returning to full production but has said that it is committed to repairing the site as quickly as possible. It said serious shortages in the supply of graphic arts grade pigments should be expected throughout 2017.

Suppliers have been working to find alternative grades, with China being one potential source. However, the Chinese government has recently implemented mandatory production cuts as a result of increasing pollution levels. This has affected a number of titanium dioxide production plants in China.

“In the interim, my members will try to find alternative grades from somewhere else in the world but they report that there are difficulties in doing that,” added Kanert.

With around 15,000 employees and a turnover of more than $10bn (£8bn), Huntsman manufactures chemicals for a variety of industries. 

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