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Air Products to scrap gasification project in UK

Air Products, a US-based chemicals and gas specialist, has announced plans to exit the energy-from-waste market (EfW) and scrap its renewable energy project based in Teeside, based in the north east of England.

The firm said it will sell both Tees Valley 1 and 2 gasification plants. It is selling the plants due to technical problems and rising cost.

The move means the US firm company would be writing-off of about £770m (€964m).

The site, at Port Clarence, near Hartlepool, still employs more than 150 office staff and contractors. According to media reports, Northern Powerhouse minister James Wharton said the firm had reassured him there would be “no immediate job losses”.

Air Products chief executive Seifi Ghasemi said the firm “pushed very hard” to make the technology work and he “certainly understood” the disappointment of staff.

In November, the company said construction had been suspended because it has identified improvements through the work at its first plant that would also apply to the second site. It said that by deferring construction “we will be able to ensure any modifications are applied in a cost-effective way when activity is resumed”. The move resulted in 700 job losses.

In response to this, in a statement, the firm said: “Consequently, the Board of Directors has decided that it is no longer in the best interest of the company and its shareholders to continue the Tees Valley projects.”

The company said it planned to seek a buyer for the part-built facility.

The plant, which would have generated energy for about 100,000 homes by using optimised plasma gasification technology to convert refuse derived fuel into synthetic gas.

The facility had originally been due to enter operations in summer 2014.

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Tom Blenkinsop, told BBC news it was “another blow for the Teesside economy”.

He said: “The news that Air Products is to write off its Teesside energy-from-waste development is the latest part of the crisis that is sweeping the UK’s industrial sector.

“I will be seeking assurances from Air Products that they are looking to find a sustainable, long-term buyer who can continue with this project and that they are not just looking to scrap the whole plant, which is nearly complete.”