12 April 2011 11:23 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--BASF is ramping up operating rates at its methyl di-p-phenylene isocyanate (MDI) plant at Antwerp, Belgium, following a slight delay in restarting the unit after a planned turnaround, a company spokesperson said on Tuesday.
BASF restarted the 560,000 tonne/year MDI unit on Tuesday and expects to reach full capacity by 13 April, said Stefan Quaiser.
The MDI facility was previously expected to resume operations in the first week of April, but the turnaround was extended by approximately one week because of some additional upstream maintenance requirements, Quaiser added.
“We were short before the maintenance, but now it had been extended. We are now extremely low on MDI stocks. Demand is stronger than expected and we are only covering regular contracts. No additional business is possible,” he said.
BASF shut down the MDI plant for maintenance in the second half of March, which was originally planned to last for approximately 8-10 days.
At the time, Quaiser had said the company was looking to shorten the turnaround, if possible, in order to keep pace with strong demand.
The Antwerp MDI plant is expected to undergo another turnaround at the end of the second quarter, Quaiser said. He was unable to give precise dates or durations for the maintenance, as the timing would depend on plant performance over the next few months.
The European MDI market has been balanced to tight, depending on grade. Customers have said that contractual volumes are sufficient.
However, sellers have maintained that MDI availability is restricted because of strengthening demand, particularly in the construction sector, and a spate of plant outages during the second quarter.
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