Ulsan, South Korea -- BASF has announced plans to permanently close its 1,4-butanediol (BDO) and tetrahydrofuran (THF) plant in Ulsan, which has been temporarily shut down since August 2008.
The company will continue to supply customers for these products via its global network, while its PolyTHF plant in Ulsan will continue to operate, with feedstock also supplied from this network.
"BASF Korea will work closely with local labour representatives to minimize the impact of the shutdown," said Dr Peter Schuhmacher, BASF's executive responsible for the Asia-Pacific business of its Intermediates operating division, in a company statement. The 37 people who work at the affected plant are part of a 940-strong workforce for BASF in Korea, and the group said it has started to communicate with the local unions.
BASF stressed that it will maintain a reliable supply of BDO and THF to Ulsan from its global network, which includes a THF plant in Caojing, China, operating with a new BASF-owned technology. Schuhmacher pointed out that the move will allow BASF to supply BDO and THF to Ulsan from plants "with access to more economic feedstock sources."
The Ulsan plant, inaugurated in 1998, provides standard PolyTHF grades for high quality spandex fibres and is also a production hub for speciality PolyTHF grades for adhesives, coatings, and thermoplastic elastomers, said BASF.
As well as production in Caojing, BASF makes THF at Ludwigshafen in Germany, Geismar in the US, and at Kuantan in Malaysia. Along with BDO produced at these plants and at Chiba in Japan, BASF's global capacity for BDO equivalents is 535 kilotonnes per annum (ktpa). BASF also makes a total 185 ktpa of PolyTHF, at Ludwigshafen, Geismar, Caojing and Ulsan.