German chemicals giant BASF SE has begun its phased restart of both steamcrackers at its Ludwigshafen site after consultation with safety officials.
The restart process has seen excess gases burned off through flaring. This is set to continue over the next few days.
Both steamcrackers were shut down as a result of a fire in the North Harbor on Oct. 17. The fire killed two workers, both firefighters, and injured another 30 people. It also interrupted the raw material supply to areas unaffected by the fire.
As a result, additional Verbund plants in the ethylene and propylene value chains were shut down or had production reduced. In total, 24 plants have been shut down, including both steamcrackers, due to the fire. Some of the plants were able to continue producing using existing raw material inventory.
BASF is currently preparing an alternative naphtha supply for the steamcrackers via the harbor on Friesenheim Island. This supply is decoupled from the incident area. When the steamcrackers are started up, most of the affected plants will also be gradually restarted or will increase production over the next few days.
The fire damaged various pipelines including those for externally purchased raw materials. BASF has declared Force Majeure for the purchase of naphtha, ethylene and propylene.
Currently, various measures are being evaluated to minimize the impact on customer deliveries.
The intermodal transport terminal is currently closed for safety reasons. The facility is not damaged and can be accessed after being cleared. The railway system was also not damaged by the incident. The train service on-site is available. The incoming and outgoing rail traffic is being handled via the southern exit, since the northern exit is currently closed due to safety reasons. The passenger traffic between the Ludwigshafen main station and the site is available.