BSL Böhlen, Germany


Buna Sow Leuna Olefinverbund GmbH (BSL) is the name of the company that owns the new chemicals complex. BSL has been wholly owned by the Dow Chemical Company since June 1st, 2000. Dow buys around half the production for its downstream derivatives operations. These include superabsorbents and emulsion polymers.

ACRYLIC ACID AND BUTYL ACRYLATE PRODUCTION

The project consists of three chemical plants which make crude acrylic acid, pure acrylic acid and butyl acrylate. Since they came on stream in 2000 at the BSL Böhlen chemical facility near Leipzig in Eastern Germany, the plant's capacity has been about 80,000t/yr.

Construction of the new chemicals plants began in the first half of 1998. Production started in the first quarter of 2000. Dow's investment in the new plants will be about $200 million. Acrylic acids and acrylates are attractive to Celanese due to their stable and relatively high growth rates. The Leipzig plant is also an important part of Celanese's European expansion. The German company already has 400,000t/yr capacity in its plants in the Americas, but has not hitherto had a production site in Europe. The transport costs it has had to bear due to the lack of a European base have proved a disadvantage. Nevertheless, Celanese is the world's third largest acrylate and acrylic acid producer. The new Leipzig plant will increase the company's global capacity to almost half a million tonnes per year.

SUPERABSORBANTS IN DEMAND

Half the extra output is expected to be used for superabsorbents and acrylic latex. The global superabsorbents market is growing by about seven percent per year; the business is largely independent of economic ups and downs. The main problem for producers is that competition is also growing quickly. Even in Germany, a joint venture between Rohm & Haas and Stockhausen, called StoHaas Monomer, is significantly expanding its German capacity.

CELANESE AG'S INVOLVEMENT

BSL is working in co-operation with Celanese AG. Celanese provides processing technology, which was originally developed at the company's acrylate and acrylic acid plant in Clear Lake, Texas in the USA. As well as providing processing technology, Celanese operates the new plant and markets its produce to external customers.

Celanese AG is a member of the Hoechst group, which is based in Frankfurt in Germany. The Celanese range has five main businesses: acetyl products, acetate products, chemical intermediates, technical polymers and performance products. It has around 12,000 employees and sales of about $5 billion with 34 production plants and five research centres in nine countries. It is listed in both the Frankfurt and New York stock exchanges.

INVESTING IN PRODUCTION

Dow is a science and technology company that provides innovative chemical, plastic and agricultural products and services to many essential consumer markets. Dow has annual sales of $30 billion, and serves customers in more than 170 countries and a wide range of markets that are vital to human progress, including food, transportation, health and medicine, personal and home care, and building and construction, among others. Dow employs approximately 50,000 people worldwide.