BASF restarts Antwerp cracker after December fire

04 January 2010 11:22  [Source: ICIS news]

BASF cracker at AntwerpLONDON (ICIS news)--BASF has restarted production at its cracker unit at Antwerp, Belgium, and has announced initial plans to restart a cracker at Ludwigshafen, Germany, a spokesman for the German chemical major said on Monday.

The restart of the Antwerp cracker began on 2 January, according to BASF spokesman Gareth Rees.

A fire at the Antwerp cracker on the morning of 20 December 2009 was caused by a rupture in a pipe that supplies naphtha to the steam cracker pipe, Rees said. He added that the pipe was outside the cracker, which was a reason why the restart happened so quickly.

The company did not declare force majeure as a result of the incident, and there were no reported injuries.

BASF had earlier said that it planned to restart the Antwerp cracker before the end of last year, with sources adding that freezing temperatures and the holidays could impede the restart process.

In addition, Rees said that the company hoped to restart the smaller of its two steam crackers at Ludwigshafen, Germany, which was also shut down due to a fire at the site on the morning of 23 December 2009, either at the end of January or in early February.

The Ludwigshafen fire was caused by a defect in a component that separates impurities from a cracked gas-petroleum mixture, which resulted in petroleum entering a wastewater duct, Rees said.

BASF’s Antwerp cracker is the largest in Europe, with the capacity to produce 1.08m tonnes/year of ethylene (C2) and 650,000 tonnes/year of propylene (C3), according to the ICIS plants and projects database.

The smaller of the two Ludwigshafen crackers has the capacity to produce 220,000 tonnes/year of C2 and 140,000 tonnes/year of C3, according to the ICIS plants and projects database.

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By: Franco Capaldo
+44 (0)20 8652 3214

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