MOSCOW (MRC) -- BASF is set to begin production of hand sanitizers at its Ludwigshafen petrochemicals hub in Germany and will distribute them for free to nearby hospitals in the Rhine-Neckar region to help alleviate supply bottlenecks amid the worsening coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, said the producer.
The company has obtained quick regulatory approvals to begin the production, and several tonnes of isopropanol have already been re-allocated to enable hand sanitizer production at the site, it said in a statement on Tuesday.
So far, BASF has been producing certain raw materials that can be used to make disinfectant products, but not hand sanitizers.
The company’s move comes amid bottlenecks in the supply of hand sanitizers because of the jump in demand amid the spread of the coronavirus, which keeps worsening in Germany and elsewhere.
“We know from hospitals in the region that supplies of appropriate disinfectants are very tight,” said Uwe Liebelt, head of the Ludwigshafen site.
BASF added that its production capabilities will be “limited”, and the company will therefore be able to distribute free products only to hospitals in the region.
German chemical producers' group VCI has launched a “disinfectant products initiative" that aims at ensuring supplies of isopropanol, ethanol, and other chemicals, as well as the disinfectants made from those raw materials. Because of complex legal regulations, Germany currently has only a few specialty firms that are allowed to produce and market disinfectant products, a VCI official said in a media interview last week.
As MRC wrote earlier, BASF, the world's petrochemical major, has restarted its No. 1 steam cracker following a maintenance turnaorund. Thus, the company resumed operations at the plant on September 30, 2019. The plant was shut for maintenance in mid-August, 2019. Located at Ludwigshafen in Germany, the No. 1 cracker has an ethylene production capacity of 235,000 mt/year and a propylene production capacity of 125,000 mt/year.
Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing PE and polypropylene (PP).
According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's estimated PE consumption totalled 2,093,260 tonnes in 2019, up by 6% year on year. Shipments of all PE grades increased. PE shipments rose from both domestic producers and foreign suppliers. The estimated PP consumption in the Russian market was 1,260,400 tonnes in January-December 2019, up by 4% year on year. Supply of almost all grades of propylene polymers increased, except for statistical copolymers of propylene (PP random copolymers).
BASF is the leading chemical company. It produces a wide range of chemicals, for example solvents, amines, resins, glues, electronic-grade chemicals, industrial gases, basic petrochemicals and inorganic chemicals. The most important customers for this segment are the pharmaceutical, construction, textile and automotive industries. BASF generated sales of around EUR63 billion in 2018.