BASF delays Antwerp styrene restart until end-Feb

Source: ICIS News

2008/01/22

LONDON (ICIS news)--BASF has been forced to delay the restart of its styrene monomer unit at Antwerp in Belgium until the end of February at least, a company source confirmed on Tuesday.

“We have decided to delay the restart of the plant and it will not run before the end of February. We have had some problems getting some parts, it is a timing issue,” the company source said.

The source added that BASF would need to purchase more material in February to cover the extended outage. He expected the market to remain tight in what he saw as an already strong market.

“Styrene has its own life and will remain strong because of shutdowns coming up in March and April in Europe and the US,” he commented.

BASF confirmed that it will still be going ahead with its scheduled maintenance programme at Antwerp in April but did not specify the exact details of the turnaround.

The styrene outage was first reported on 17 December with BASF citing “unavoidable technical problems”.

BASF originally hoped to bring the line back on stream before the end of December but had to reschedule the start-up until the end of January. The outage accounts for as much as 50% of styrene production capacity at Antwerp.

BASF produces a total of 500,000/tonnes/year of styrene at its Antwerp site, with downstream production including 220,000 tonnes/year of polystyrene, 20,000 tonnes/year of acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and 89,000 tonnes/year of ethylbenzene, according to ICIS plants and projects.

In Europe, LyondellBasell is expected to turn around its 640,000 tonne/year styrene monomer plant in Maasvlakte in the Netherlands in March.

In the US, Westlake, Shell and INEOS Nova all have reported shutdowns planned in the coming months, the details of which are unknown.

Spot Europe styrene was unchanged at $1,340-1,350/tonne (€925-931/tonne) free on board (FOB) Rotterdam for January and $1,350-1,360/tonne February.

It was established that deals were done on Monday at $1,360/tonne and $1,365/tonne for February according to global market intelligence service ICIS pricing.

($1 = €0.69)