OKLAHOMA CITY - Kerr-McGee Chemical L.L.C. said process modifications in the company's titanium dioxide (TiO2) operations will boost production capacity at two U.S. chloride-process TiO2 manufacturing plants.

The company, in a report on its capital-expenditure program for 2003, said changes in oxidation technology will result in a 25,000 metric-ton per-year capacity increase at a TiO2 plant in Hamilton, MS, by the end of this year, bringing total capacity there to 225,000 mt/year. At Savannah, GA, production capacity will increase from 85,000 mt/year to 110,000 mt/year, the company said.

The upgrades are part of a program announced last year to improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of Kerr-McGee's global pigment business, said Luke R. Corbett, chairman and CEO.

Kerr-McGee also announced plans to close a synthetic rutile production plant in Mobile, AL, by the end of this year. The plant supplies a portion of the rutile feedstock for the company's U.S. TiO2 pigment plants. Kerr-McGee said its ongoing supply-chain initiatives led to a determination that the company can purchase the rutile feedstock more economically than producing it at the Mobile plant.