Air Products Closing Wilkes-Barre LNG Manufacturing Plant

Air Products owns a manufacturing plant located on the outskirts of Wilkes-Barre, PA. If you’ve ever heard of the Air Products business, you may conjure up an image of small cylinder tanks of helium or other “rare” gases sitting inside a chain fence. Yes, Air Products sells gases by the tank, but they also manufacture the mother of all gas tanks in their Wilkes-Barre facility–huge rocket-looking “production trains” or “heat exchangers,” which are pieces of equipment that turn natural gas into liquefied natural gas, or LNG. The heat exchangers manufactured by Air Products in Wilkes-Barre are two-thirds of a football field long (180 feet), used by plants all over the world to condense natural gas into a liquid. We’ve written about Air Products a few times, theorizing some of the heat exchangers they manufacture are being used by plants to liquefy Marcellus/Utica gas (see our Air Products stories here). Sadly, Air Products has just met with its employees at the Wilkes-Barre plant to let them know the plant close on August 1st, resulting in a layoff of 75 employees. Air Products is not getting out of the heat exchanger manufacturing business. They own a second plant in Port Manatee, Florida. The Wilkes-Barre plant is limited in the size of the exchangers it makes, while the Florida facility is not. Demand for shorter exchangers is down, meaning no work for the plant. Also, the Wilkes-Barre facility must ship the huge exchangers they manufacture via railroad to Philadelphia–a process that takes five days. The Florida facility is located at port where the exchangers are loaded directly onto ships heading to other countries, where much of the product is destined. It seems in the end, geography is what defeated Air Products’ Wilkes-Barre operation…

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