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BASF commissions Stolt for chemical vessel able to operate during Rhine's low-water periods

January 22/2021

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Stolt-Nielsen subsidiary Stolt Tankers says it has been commissioned by BASF to help design and build a new inland chemicals vessel able to operate during periods of extreme low-water levels on the Rhine river to increase security of supply for BASF's chemicals site at Ludwigshafen, Germany, reported Chemweek.

The river, a key waterway for the transportation of chemicals in Europe, has been regularly impacted by low water levels during extended periods of dry weather in recent years. Existing chemical barges have been unable to fully load cargoes, increasing transport costs, and delaying products, Stolt says.

The proposed new barge will be able to pass a critical point in the river near Kaub, Germany, while carrying 650 metric tonnes of cargo in a water depth as shallow as 1.60 meters. This amount of cargo at this water depth is significantly more than any other tanker available today, it says. The vessel will have a transport capacity of about 2,500 metric tons in average water depths, approximately double that of conventional inland vessels, according to Stolt.

The tanker will be built by Mercurius Shipping Group with delivery scheduled for 2022. Stolt Tankers will operate the vessel exclusively for BASF, it says.

Following our experience with the low water levels of the Rhine in 2018 and based on our assessment that such events may occur more frequently in the future, we have taken a whole range of measures at the Ludwigshafen site to increase the security of supply for production, says Uwe Liebelt, BASFs European site/Verbund management. An important element of our considerations was to have a ship that can still reliably transport substantial quantities even at the lowest Rhine levels, he says.

The inland tanker will have 10 stainless steel storage tanks, a unique draft, and set a new mark for the transport of cargo on the River Rhine, especially when water levels are low, says Stolt Tankers president Lucas Vos.

The main objective for the vessels development was to provide a high load-bearing capacity coupled with a shallow draught and light weight, according to Stolt. The barge will be 135 meters in length and 17.5 meters wide, with a hydrodynamically optimized hull, an adapted propulsion system, and three separate loading systems. It will be powered by three electric motors, fed by latest generation diesel generators with exhaust gas after-treatment.

As MRC informed earlier, BASF says its 420,000-metric ton/year steam cracker in Ludwigshafen, Germany is continuously running and has not caused any interruption of supply to its customers. Earlier, several media outlets reported that unscheduled flaring started on 13 January at the northern part of the Ludwigshafen site and was expected to last until 17 January and that an unspecified unit was shut, which "was not the case", as per the company's letter received by MRC.

Ethylene and propylene are feedstocks for producing polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP).

According to MRC's DataScope report, PE imports to Russia decreased in January-November 2020 by 17% year on year and reached 569,900 tonnes. High density polyethylene (HDPE) accounted for the greatest reduction in imports. At the same time, PP imports into Russia increased by 21% year on year to about 202,000 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2020. Propylene homopolymer (homopolymer PP) accounted for the main increase in imports.

BASF is the leading chemical company. It produces a wide range of chemicals, for example solvents, amines, resins, glues, electronic-grade chemicals, industrial gases, basic petrochemicals and inorganic chemicals. The most important customers for this segment are the pharmaceutical, construction, textile and automotive industries.
Author:Margaret Volkova
Tags:PP, PE, homopolymer PP, propylene, HDPE, ethylene, petrochemistry, BASF, Germany, Russia.
Category:General News
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