Ex-rival to lead Formosa Chemical Corp.

The China Post news staff

The China Post news staff–The Formosa Petrochemical Corporation (FPCC), which has been undergoing a management change following a series of fires at one of its plants, will appoint a former executive from its state-run competitor CPC Taiwan as its president.

Wang Jui-hua, vice president from the parent Formosa Plastics Group (FPG), said FPCC will soon confirm the appointment of Tsao Ming, a former vice president of CPC Taiwan, as its new president. FPCC Chairman Chen Pao-lang, who is also from CPC Taiwan, added that his company’s board of directors will hold a meeting to approve Tsao’s appointment as early as Nov. 7. The FPG is hoping that experience from the former CPC Taiwan executives can help FPCC tackle the problems plaguing its naphtha cracker plant in Mailiao, Yunlin County, which has been the scene of seven fires since July last year. The FPG’s late patriarch, Wang Yung-ching, earned the nickname of “God of Management” for founding one of the biggest business groups in Taiwan. Group companies’ management had mostly relied on family members until Chen’s appointment. Chen, who became the FPCC chairman on Sept. 15, said he has had no problems adapting to the “FPG culture.”

The FPG vice president, Wang, also said that Chen has had no problem working in the group. She said Chen worked his way up to the CPC Taiwan management from the grassroots levels and everyone at FPG is pragmatic.

Asked to comment on the problems with the Mailiao plant, Chen said the company has identified them. Situated in an area near the coast, plant facilities have been exposed to winds carrying salt-containing sands, which have often accelerated corrosion of the facilities, he said. Many petrochemical plants in the United States and Japan are also located in coastal areas, but they are not exposed to the same weather conditions as that seen in the Mailiao, Chen said. He explained that the area was rather dry in winter and the sands are easily blown to the plant. The design of the plant did not take the winter weather into consideration and therefore did not choose “upgraded” materials for its facilities, Chen said. Now FPCC has decided to replace the plant’s pipelines using better anti-corrosive materials, Chen said, adding the budget for the replacements is estimated at NT$12 billion. Leakage from old and corroded pipelines has been blamed for the fires.

The government has ordered FPCC to schedule a suspension of the naphtha cracker plant for a thorough check of its facilities.