BASF Calls Force Majeure at MA Plant


BASF on Friday declared force majeure at its 115,000 metric tons per year maleic anhydride facility in Feluy, Belgium, in response to a strike by workers protesting plans to close the plant, BASF spokesman Klaus-Peter Rieser confirmed to Lube Report.

On Thursday, BASF said it would close the plant by the end of this year. Its MA business is suffering from unsatisfactory profitability due to overcapacity and resulting low margins together with the effects of the current economic crisis, BASF stated. Optimization measures in Feluy over the past few years havent been enough to secure a sustainably competitive cost structure, the company noted.

A withdrawal from maleic anhydride production in Feluy would help us to focus on our core intermediates businesses and Verbund value chains such as butanediol and derivatives, as well as polyalcohols, said Tom Witzel, group vice president for diols and polyalcohols Europe, in BASFs intermediates division. With plants in Europe, Asia and North America, BASF is one of the worlds top manufacturers of butanediol and its derivatives, with a total annual capacity of about 535,000 mt/y. Polyalcohols are widely used in solvent-free coatings as well as in the production of polyurethanes, alkyd resins, unsaturated polyester resins and synthetic lubricants.

BASF employs 133 people at the Feluy site, which is part of BASF Antwerpen N.V. We will start negotiations with the union representatives as soon as possible to ensure socially acceptable solutions for all employees who could be affected, and to evaluate alternative employment options should the closing be effectively decided, BASF Antwerpen CEO Wouter De Geest said.

Manufacturers react maleic anhydride with polyisobutylene to make PIBSA (polyisobutylene succinic anhydride). PIBSA is a chemical intermediate that adds functionalities such as dispersion to hydrocarbon products used in applications such as additives for lubricants, biofuels, oil drilling, explosives, coatings and water treatment.

In 2005, BASF restructured its Feluy site, closing down a 20,000 mt/y NMP plant and a 70,000 mt/y butanediol derivatives plant.

Other chemical companies currently operating plants in Feluy include Ineos Oligomers, which makes PAO there, and additives maker Afton Chemical, which has a manufacturing site there.

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