NEW YORK - While it continues to look for a site for an announced 300 million-pound specialty styrenics facility it said it will build in North America, BASF Corp. announced March 28 it intends to double nylon 6 resin production at Freeport, Texas. BASF Corp. also announced it will increase production capacities worldwide for styrenic polymers, nylon resins and thermoplastic polyurethanes in an aggressive move to enhance its worldwide position as a supplier of plastic resins.
As part of that, BASF AG of Leverkusen, Germany, announced March 29 it signed a letter of intent to build a $4 billion plastics manufacturing complex as a joint venture to produce feedstocks and 200 million pounds of polystyrene a year near Nanjin, along the Yangtze River in China. That facility is scheduled to be in production by 1997.
``Our plastics businesses are growing faster than the other parts of BASF,'' R. Wayne Godwin, executive vice president of BASF's Polymers Division, said at a press conference March 28 in New York.
To enhance that growth, and the company's vision for its plastics businesses, BASF has launched a multibillion dollar investment program that goes well beyond investing in buildings and facilities, J. Dieter Stein, chairman and chief executive officer of BASF Corp. of Mount Olive, N.J., said at the press conference.
The press conference focused on BASF's worldwide financial performance for 1995, a year that produced record results in sales and profit, Stein reported.
BASF Group reported after-tax profit of $1.7 billion on sales of $31 billion for 1995. For 1994, BASF reported profit of $860 million on sales of $29.3 billion.
BASF Corp., the North Amer-ican representative of the BASF Group, reported after-tax profit of $314 million on sales of $6.2 billion for 1995. For 1994, it reported a loss of $123 million on sales of $5.5 billion.
``1995 was a remarkable year for BASF. All of our numbers are the best they have ever been,'' Stein said.
He noted that North America contributes 19 percent of BASF Group's sales, and 38 percent are derived from Europe, with the majority of European sales - 27 percent of the total - coming from Germany.
However, he added, sales in the Asia/Pacific region grew sharpest in 1995, at a rate of 10 percent over the previous year. Also, he noted that sales figures are distorted somewhat because of currency relations and, especially because of the weak U.S. dollar.
Godwin said BASF intends to invest heavily in its plastics businesses - including $1 billion per year through 2000 in North America.
That investment will include the specialty styrenics facility and a doubling of nylon 6 resin capacity at its production facility in Freeport. That facility now produces 70 million pounds of nylon 6 a year.
By 1997, a 70 million pound expansion and a minor debottlenecking will be complete, giving the plant capacity to make 135 million pounds of nylon 6 a year, Godwin said.
Further, the expansions are designed so another debottlenecking could add another 70 million pounds at a later date, he added.
BASF now has worldwide capacity to make 920 million pounds of nylon 6, Godwin noted, and it is expanding its Antwerp, Belgium, facility to increase its output by 130 million pounds. The company is considering building a nylon 6 plant in Asia.
As previously reported, BASF intends to build a specialty styrenics facility in North Amer-ica to produce 300 million pounds of acrylonitrile styrene acrylonitrile, styrene acrylonitrile and ABS resins a year. Production is scheduled to start in 1998.
A site for that facility has not been chosen, but Godwin said it may be located at or near one of BASF's five styrenic polymer facilities in North America, including the 315 million-pound-per-year polystyrene facility it is building at Altam¡ra, Mexico.
With the Altamra facility, BASF will have 1.2 billion pounds of styrenic resin capacity in North America by 2000, Godwin said. That capacity includes PS and specialty styrenic resins.
Separately, BASF is increasing its production capacity for PU resins with three expansions: BASF is adding 90 million pounds of diphenylmethane-4,4'-diisocy-ante (MDI) production capacity at Geismar, La., 70 million pounds at its Antwerp facility, and 70 million pounds at its Yeochun, South Korea, facility, Godwin said. The firm recently completed expansions of toluene diisocyante (TDI) production capacity at Geismar and at Schwarzheide, Germany, he added.
MDI and TDI are key ingredients used to produce PU resins for foams, fibers and elastomer products.
Carl A. Jennings, executive vice president of BASF's Chemicals Division, said at the press conference that BASF also plans to increase production of acrylic acids at its Freeport facility 40 percent by 1997. Among other applications, acrylic acids are used to make acrylic resins.