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October 26, 2009

BASF To Shut Down Maleic Anhydride Plant

Overcapacity and low profits blamed for closing in Feluy, Belgium, by end of 2009

Marc Reisch

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BASF plans to shut down a 115,000-metric-ton-per-year maleic anhydride facility in Feluy, Belgium, at the end of 2009. About 133 jobs will be affected.

The facility closure will effectively mark the end of all BASF activities in Feluy. About four years ago, the firm ended production of phthalic anhydride, plasticizers, fumaric acid, and butanediol at the Feluy site that it had purchased in 2001 from the bankrupt Italian firm SISAS (C&EN, June 20, 2005, page 19).

The maleic anhydride facility survived the 2005 cutbacks. But now, because of industry overcapacity, profit margins for maleic anhydride, a building block for unsaturated polyester resins, are unacceptably low, BASF says. Efforts to make the plant more efficient haven't succeeded in making the plant sustainably cost competitive, the firm adds.

Tom Witzel, BASF group vice president of European diols and polyalcohols, says, "A withdrawal from maleic anhydride production in Feluy would help us to focus on our core intermediates business," in vertically integrated value chains such as butanediol and its derivatives, and polyalcohols.

BASF says it will work with union representatives to find "socially acceptable solutions" for employees affected by the plant shutdown.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
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