MOSCOW (MRC) -- BASF is planning to restart its 300,000-metric ton/year toluene diisocyanate (TDI) plant in Ludwigshafen, Germany, by the end of October, according to sources. The company declared force majeure on 31 August after experiencing technical problems, it stated at the time, said Chemweek.
BASF has tried to restart the plant since then, but its efforts were unsuccessful. “They will make another restart attempt in two to three days,” says a market source. The company had planned three months of maintenance at the TDI plant this year, but postponed it to March 2021, citing the impact of COVID-19 as the main reason, the sources say. “The force majeure at our TDI plant in Ludwigshafen is still in place,” a BASF spokeswoman tells OPIS.
The force majeure at Ludwigshafen has exacerbated tightness in the global TDI market, according to James Elliott, principal analyst/polyurethane feedstocks at IHS Markit. This has not only been driven by supply-side issues but also demand has been particularly strong during the third quarter. Early indications for the fourth quarter are that offtake continues to strengthen, says Elliott.
BASF started operations at the Ludwigshafen TDI plant in November 2015 after investing more than €1 billion ($1.17 billion) to build it. Since then, it has not consistently operated at optimal rates at the site, encountering different production and technical issues which have caused delays and shutdowns, according to Elliott. The company stopped producing TDI at its 80,000-metric tons/year Schwarzheide facility, based in southern Germany, in April this year.
The COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns led to a collapse in TDI demand during the second quarter as consumer spending on flexible polyurethane foam goods dropped, with total European demand plunging as much as 80% in April. Flexible polyurethane foam is mainly used in mattresses and furniture in western Europe.
BASF is due to release third-quarter results on 28 October 2020 and full-year results on 26 February 2021.
As MRC reported earlier, COVID-19 occurred at an already challenging time for the petrochemical industry and has required it to take some drastic actions, said the leaders of the worldпїЅs two biggest chemical companies, BASF and Dow, on Monday at the 54th European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) annual meeting, which is taking place in a virtual format. The pandemic has also accelerated key industry trends, particularly those around sustainability and the environment, they said.
Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).
According to MRC's ScanPlast report, Russia's overall PE production totalled 1,712,400 tonnes in the first seven months of 2020, up by 58% year on year. Linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) accounted for the greatest increase in the output. At the same time, overall PP production in Russia increased in January-July 2020 by 24% year on year to 1,063,700 tonne. ZapSibNeftekhim accounted for the main increase in the output.