24 April 2013 10:54 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (ICIS)--DSM suspended its caprolactam (capro) production in Geleen, the Netherlands, on Tuesday following a fire at its 250,000 tonne/year plant, a company spokesperson said on Wednesday.
“Yesterday at 13:00 we had a small fire caused by a defect of a pump. The fire was extinguished by our own fire brigade within 20 minutes. There were no injuries and no emissions,” a DSM spokesperson said.
The plant was stopped for a few hours as a result of the fire. The cause of the blaze is being investigated, the spokesperson added.
The current production situation is unclear. According to a company source, DSM may need to declare force majeure as a result of the fire.
This could not be confirmed by the company spokesman, who was unable to comment while the cause of the fire is under investigation.
European capro demand has been weak because of poor macroeconomic conditions, which have limited consumer purchasing power in the downstream fibre and automotive markets.
Automotive demand in April 2013 has been estimated at around 10% below April 2012 levels.
Some producers and buyers said automotive demand in April is weaker than in March, which is a major concern as April typically sees the beginning of the peak-season in the automotive industry. Several buyers and sellers are predicting there will be no peak season this year because of poor general economic conditions.
In addition, Chinese demand for European material is low because players in the region have moved to the sidelines until the April contract price is finalised, European exporters said.
Unlike in Europe, where contract negotiations typically settle at the end of the month, Asian contracts are usually finalised at the beginning of the month. Asian contract talks are in deadlock because of a wide buy-sell gap.
Low overseas demand has increased European supply because material previously earmarked for export remains in the continent. According to one capro producer there is a surplus of European capacity compared with domestic European consumption of around 1m tonnes/year. Asia has traditionally been a major importer of European capro.
Capro is the feedstock for nylon 6 (or polyamide 6).
($1 = 0.77)
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