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Big Firms Invest In Europe

by Marc S. Reisch
December 7, 2009 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 87, Issue 49

Credit: BASF
BASF’s new intermediates plant uses nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas, as a raw material.
Credit: BASF
BASF’s new intermediates plant uses nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas, as a raw material.

BASF and ExxonMobil Chemical have completed large European plant expansions on which construction began two years ago during better economic times. At its headquarters site in Ludwigshafen, Germany, BASF started a cyclopentanone (CPon) and cyclododecanone (CDon) complex at a cost of $150 million. The plant has a capacity of 30,000 metric tons per year and adds 48 jobs to the site. CPon is an intermediate used to make pharmaceuticals, fragrances, and crop protection products; CDon is used for nylon 12 plastics. Starting up during difficult economic times “shows we have a long-term perspective,” says Harald Schwager, the BASF board manager responsible for integrated site management in Europe. Separately, ExxonMobil completed an expansion at its refinery and aromatics complex in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, that increases the site’s annual p-xylene capacity by 25% to 700,000 metric tons and benzene capacity by 20% to 830,000 metric tons. p-Xylene is a raw material for polyethylene terephthalate, and benzene is used in a wide array of products including nylon and polystyrene. “This expansion demonstrates ExxonMobil’s commitment to invest across the business cycle,” says T. J. Wojnar, senior vice president.


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