BASF Eyes Restart of TDI Plant at Ludwigshafen, Germany
2020-10-14    [Source:Everchem]

    BASF is planning to restart its 300,000-metric tons/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. 

    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 that 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.

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