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German Firm Launches Mega Facility

BASF, a German chemical producer, launched the world's largest integrated production facility for PolyTHF at Shanghai's Caojing Chemical Industrial Park yesterday.

The PolyTHF project, a wholly-owned venture with an investment of about US$300 million, aims to produce elastic spandex fibres used for textile applications like sportswear, swimwear, and inner and outer wear.

According to Dietmar Nissen, president of BASF East Asia Regional Headquarters Ltd, the facility is designed to produce 60,000 tons of PolyTHF and 80,000 tons of THF annually when it is put into operation in the fourth quarter of next year. THF (tetrahydrofuran) is a material used for hoses, films and cable sheathing.

"China has great potential in the spandex fibre market," said Nissen. "At present, the country is heavily reliant on imports and with the improvement of people's lives, the demand will increase."

Walter Gramlich, president of Operating Division Intermediates of BASF AG, said the new facility will use butane as the key raw material. Butane is derived directly from liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

It will import about 100,000 tons of LPG annually from the Middle East to process butane. PolyTHF and THF will be mainly sold at the local markets to stimulate the local textile industry.

"The new plant in Caojing is our first investment of its kind, which demonstrates our commitment to the industrial development of China," said Gramlich.

BASF's investment in Asia is expected to reach 7 billion euros (US$7.91 billion) by 2005, with China accounting for 40 per cent.

BASF considers China its key market in Asia, with chemical sales expected to reach more than US$20 billion by 2010.

(China Daily July 24, 2003)

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