BASF Suffers Explosion at Site in Ludwigshafen, Germany

BASF experienced an explosion at its site in Ludwigshafen, Germany, on Monday October 17, 2016. The site is one of the largest chemical complexes globally. 

The cause of the explosion is being investigated and has resulting in at least two fatalities, according to published reports. It is believed that it occurred near the plant’s harbor on the pipelines that connect storage tanks where crude oil distillates are offloaded from tankers to steam crackers.

In a press statement issued October 19, 2016, BASF acknowledged the explosion and said BASF’s two steamcrackers in Ludwigshafen will gradually resume operation in the coming days. It noted that during the start-up process, excess gases are burned by torches that will probably lead to torch activity and noise development in the morning hours of October 20, 2016 as well as in the following days in the northern work area.

BASF said both steam crackers were driven down as a result of the fire in the port of Nord on October 17, 2016 and interrupting the supply of raw materials. As a result, further composite plants of the ethylene and propylene value-added chains were turned off or reduced to partial loads. As a result of the fire, a total of 24 turbines have been completely shut down, including the two steamcrackers. Some customers were able to maintain their operations by using inventories.

BASF is currently producing an alternative naphtha supply for steamcrackers across the port on the Friesenheimer Island. This supply is decoupled from the damage center. As a result of the re-start of the crackers, the other affected plants will also start up again in the coming days or increase capacity utilization. Various pipes for purchased raw materials were also damaged during the fire. Therefore, BASF has issued Majeure Declarations for the decrease of naphtha, ethylene, and propylene.

The company said that various measures are currently being examined to minimize the impact on customer deliveries. BASF said it is in close contact with its customers to inform them about the current availability of products.

Source: BASF (in German)

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