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BASF closing Belgium maleic anhydride plant

By Anthony Clark
Posted 22 October 2009
BASF is closing its 115,000 tpa maleic anhydride (MA) production facility at the Feluy site in Belgium. One hundred and thirty three staff will be affected by the decision.

“Information and consultation procedures have been initiated today with the works council,” said Wouter De Geest, ceo of BASF Antwerp. “We will start negotiations with the union representatives as soon as possible to ensure socially acceptable solutions for all employees who could be affected and to evaluate alternative employment options should the closing be effectively decided.”

BASF’s MA business is suffering from overcapacity, resulting low margins. Ongoing market conditions have exacerbated this problem, said the chemicals giant. Optimisation measures implemented at Feluy during the past years have not been sufficient to secure a sustainably competitive cost structure, it added.

“A withdrawal from maleic anhydride production in Feluy would help us to focus on our core intermediates businesses and [linked] value chains such as butanediol and derivatives, as well as polyalcohols,” said Dr Tom Witzel, group vice-president diols and polyalcohols Europe of BASF’s intermediates division.

MA serves mainly as a building block to produce unsaturated polyester resins. These resins are widely used as composite materials, particularly in shipbuilding, construction and automobile industries.

MA is also used for many other applications, such as water-soluble polymers and lubricants.

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