Manufacturing News

Chemical firms coping with lockdown

Multinational chemical manufacturers, including BASF, Clariant and DuPont, said they have resumed or been making preparations for production resumptions in China with comprehensive plans and closed-loop management in place to ensure orderly production.

As a major market player in China's chemical industry, German chemicals giant BASF said it has been actively organizing transportation arrangement with logistics service providers for an early recovery from COVID-19.

"Some production sites remained operational even at the beginning of the recent lockdown in Shanghai and we have been making every effort to overcome challenges, including raw material supply issues, logistics disruptions and labor shortages, to maintain supply and business continuity for our customers," said Jeffrey Lou, president and chairman of BASF Greater China.

According to BASF, most of its production sites in China currently remain operational. In Shanghai, where BASF Greater China is headquartered and its major production and R&D facilities are located, all the sites have been in closed-loop operation since late March and most plants are also running, although at lower levels.

BASF has worked very hard to ensure business continuity during the pandemic outbreaks over the past month. It maintains customer supply as much as the company can, especially for those raw materials needed in fighting the pandemic, it said.

AkzoNobel, a Dutch paint and coating company, said three of its sites in Shanghai have already resumed production after operations were paused for a couple of weeks, while Evonik, a world leader in specialty chemicals, said it also entered into closed-loop production in Shanghai since late March, prior to the lockdown.

Leading French environmental solutions provider Suez said its water management and hazardous waste treatment services for industrial clients and sewage sludge disposal and soil remediation work in Shanghai have been under closed-loop operations so far.

US chemical company DuPont said all of its manufacturing facilities in China continue to operate under normal conditions or closed-loop management per local government requirements.

The chemical manufacturers said while they also face challenges and uncertainties brought by the pandemic, including labor shortages, logistics disruptions and raw material shortfalls, the government has provided support to facilitate work resumption of key industries, and affected firms are also exploring every possibility to speed up work resumption, which is very important for the entire chemical value chain in China.

Swiss specialty chemical company Clariant said its site in Shanghai has received good support from local authorities during a monthlong lockdown in the city while its contingency production plans also helped it keep the impact to a minimum.

While supply chain challenges still linger, many business executives expressed their long-term confidence in China, believing the COVID-19 pandemic will not affect their commitment to long-term development in the country.

British energy giant BP said it is committed to working with China and local partners to further develop its expertise and capability in large-scale shipbuilding and complex energy infrastructure.

"The strong resilience of the Chinese economy and the government's unwavering pledge to high-level opening-up since the COVID-19 outbreak more than two years ago have boosted our confidence in China," said William Yu, president of Honeywell China.

The Ministry of Commerce and other authorities are working together to increase coordination and make full efforts to support operations and production resumption for enterprises, Gao Feng, spokesman for the ministry, said during an online news briefing on Thursday. Among the first white list of 666 enterprises to restart production released by Shanghai, 247 are foreign-funded companies, which operate in key industries such as integrated circuits, automobile manufacturing, equipment manufacturing and biomedicine, he said.

Liu Zhihua contributed to this story.

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