Two steam crackers at the world's largest chemical complex in Ludwigshafen, Germany, have been restarted following a fatal explosion and blaze at the plant that claimed the lives of four employees last month.


Owner, BASF SE (Ludwigshafen, Germany), confirmed that both crackers are back online, almost three weeks after an explosion occurred during work on a supply pipeline that delivered flammable liquids and liquefied gas to a tank at the harbor. The crackers have a combined capacity for about 620,000 metric tons per year of ethylene. For additional information, see October 18, 2016, article-- BASF Expects Major Outages After Fatal Explosion at German Chemical Plant.


"Due to the fire, the raw material supply of the steam crackers was halted," BASF stated. "Other Verbund plants, especially in the ethylene and propylene value chains, were idled or had production reduced. Some of the plants were able to continue producing using existing raw material inventory. Meanwhile several plants, like the steam crackers, have restarted production. In the coming weeks, the remaining plants will be gradually restarted. BASF is evaluating various measures to minimize the impact on customer deliveries. BASF immediately informed the affected customers and is in close contact with them to keep them informed about the current availability of products."

BASF added that the North Harbor is currently not operational, while the riverside harbor, the harbor on Friesenheim Island and the tank farms are functional. "Due to safety measures the access at gate 15 is not possible. Access via Gate 15 will likely be possible for trucks in the upcoming week."


The Ludwigshafen site employs 39,000 people and produces around 8,500 sales products with a total volume of 8 million metric tonnes per year. The massive site is home to more than 200 production plants that are connected to each other by more than 2,000 kilometers (km) of pipelines and over than 200 km of rail track. Ludwigshafen is the research and development headquarters of BASF worldwide. Products produced include a wide variety of chemicals and plastics, functional solutions like catalysts, construction chemicals and coatings, performance products including dispersions and pigments and paper chemicals, as well as agricultural products.


Industrial Info's Chemical Processing Industry Platform contains consistently updated information on approximately 15,800 active capital and maintenance projects with a combined value of $921.32 billion and more than 19,300 operational and pre-commissioned plants. In addition, the platform includes information on thousands of canceled or on-hold projects and inactive or decommissioned plants.

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