By David Reed, UT EditorLudwigshafen, Germany-The BASF Petronas Sdn Bhd joint venture has temporarily cut the output of its butane diol (BDO) plant in Kuantan, Malaysia, to "less than 50%," just a few weeks after it came on stream in January. The plant's capacity is 100 kilotonnes per annum, and BASF indicated that the output restriction would remain in place for a year. The new unit was selected because it was not yet fully integrated into BASF's supply chain and logistics network, the firm said, in a 26 Feb response to questions posed by Urethanes Technology. "It would have been more complicated to take this measure with one of the existing plants that are fully integrated into our supply chain," the spokesperson explained.If demand picks up the unit could "rapidly be brought to full capacity," the spokesperson emphasised.The move, which takes place from 1 March, is in response to "unfavorable global market conditions," a 25 Feb statement from the firm said.BDO is used to make polyurethanes and PU-based elastomeric fibres, as well as engineering plastics such as polybutylene terephthalate (PBT). BASF, which claims to be global market leader in BDO, says the move will not affect customers which it can serve from its network of plants in Europe, North America, and Asia. These give the firm a total capacity of 575 ktpa of BDO equivalents, the statement said.BASF Petronas Chemicals is a 60:40 joint venture between BASF AG of Ludwigshafen, Germany, and the Malaysian state-owned company Petroliam Nasional Berhad. It operates from a 150-hectare site, which became operational in 2000 at Gebeng, where the two firms have invested about RM3400 million ($895 million) in plants for making acrylic monomers, oxo products and butanediol. * In a separate deal, BASF and Toray Industries Inc. of Tokyo, Japan, have agreed to form a 50:50 joint venture to make 60 ktpa of PBT at the Kuantan site. The newly formed company, Toray BASF PBT Resin Sdn Bhd, is expected to bring the plant on stream at the beginning of 2006."