Air Products & Chemicals has shut down a hydrogen gas complex near New Orleans, limiting the supply of an obscure but important component in semiconductor wafer production.
AP&C shut down the plant on August 31 following Hurricane Katrinas landfall near New Orleans. The plant manufactures hydrogen, used to create epitaxial films on silicon wafers. The company had also scheduled a second plant to be shut down for maintenance near Ontario, Canada.
Analyst firm iSuppli had already warned Thursday that higher oil prices would curb semiconductor growth, the lowest in the current boom/bust cycle of semiconductor production. On Friday, the firm said that the combination of the shutdowns would have an "unknown" impact on chip manufacturing, but that AP&C was considered to be a major supplier of hydrogen to the chip industry.
Representatives at Air Products & Chemicals were unavailable for comment at press time. "In these extraordinary circumstances, Air Products is actively working to assist customers with their supply needs, including obtaining product from other sources and geographies. Communications with all customers are underway," the firm said in a statement on Aug. 31.
iSuppli predicted Thursday that global semiconductor sales will rise to $232.7 billion in 2005, up 2.4 percent from $227.2 billion in 2004. The firms previous forecast called for a 5.9 percent worldwide semiconductor increase in 2005. Worldwide chip sales growth will accelerate in 2006, with revenue rising to $242.8 billion, up 4.3 percent from 2005, the firm said.
After a marginal rise in 2006, chip sales are expected to rise by double-digit percentages in 2007, 2008 and 2009, iSuppli said.
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