BASF Halts TDI Plant due to Shipping Woes

29.11.2018 -

Due to low water levels on the Rhine River, BASF has been faced with restrictions on shipping, and this week was forced to shutter its mammoth TDI plant at Ludwigshafen due to a shortage of raw materials.

The German group, which said it would restart the plant when conditions permitted, has not declared force majeur on supplies from the 300,000 t/y facility, however.

Built at a cost of €1 billion, the Ludwigshafen plant – which is part of an integrated production complex – has been beset by numerous problems, even before its commissioning in November 2015. Construction was delayed initially by the find of a World War 2 legacy bomb at the site.

In 2016, major technical glitches led to delays in reaching full capacity for the polyurethane feedstock. After a long hiatus due to contamination of PU foam with dichlorobenzene, the facility was only re-started in the second half of October 2018.  At that time, a new reactor was installed.

With the ongoing drought leading to historically low water levels along Europe’s most important waterway, BASF and other chemical producers have had to move goods via pipeline, road and rail; this not been sufficient to take up the slack, however.

German engineering plastics producer Covestro recently revised its financial outlook for the year downward, citing drought-related problems in shipping.