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Seadrift Coke lays off 10 employees

By Kathryn Cargo
Jan. 10, 2017 at 10:48 p.m.
Updated Jan. 11, 2017 at 6 a.m.

About 10 employees of Seadrift Coke in Port Lavaca were notified Tuesday that they would be laid off because of the weakness of the global market for needle coke producers, the general manager said.

The layoff will leave about 100 employees at the plant, general manager and president Erik Wheelock said in a statement.

"These reductions have been communicated to the full-time salary and hourly employees affected by this decision," the statement read. "Our focus now is to help these individuals through the transition period with outplacement, benefit continuation and severance."

Seadrift Coke is the world's only stand-alone petroleum needle coke plant, according to the statement. Needle coke is a form of petroleum coke that is used to manufacture graphite electrodes, which are used in the steel industry.

Wheelock would not provide further information such as whether plant officials will let go more employees or when they plan to hire others.

The facility has had multiple owners in the past 15 years, according to the company website. Union Oil Co. of California bought the plant in 2003, and a private investor bought it in 2005. Ohio-based GrafTech International Holdings bought the plant in 2010 and still owns the plant.

GrafTech was bought in 2015 by an affiliate of Brookfield Asset Management for a total value of about $700 million, according to crainscleveland.com.

As of December 2015, GrafTech had about $4 million in outstanding debt, according to the company's 2015 annual report. No 2016 annual report was available on the company's website, and neither GrafTech nor Seadrift Coke officials provided a report for 2016.


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