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Avoiding the shutdown of BASF's ammonia plant

Client: BASF

Location: Antwerp, Belgium

Sectors: Petrochemical and refining

The Challenge

A fast solution for a costly cooling problem

BASF is the world’s leading chemical company. In Belgium, it has seven chemical production sites – the largest is in Antwerp. Here, at the company’s ammonia installation, about €10 of revenue is generated per second from fertilizer production. A shutdown would lead to huge losses.

Yet this is what BASF faced – or thought it did. The site’s maintenance manager contacted Aggreko asking if there was any way we could provide 7.5 MW of cooling capacity at minus 18°C at short notice. We both knew this was a near-impossible task. The real question was: is there another way to fix the problem?


Plant revenue per second €10
Generators used 11 x 1,250kVA
Reduced vibration frequency 45-50 Hz

The Solution

Address the problem’s root cause: vibration

We dug a little deeper and discovered that the root cause of the problem wasn’t cooling. Instead, two compressors running at 60 Hz were vibrating too much.

We designed a power system that ran between 45 and 50 Hz, significantly reducing vibrations and making it safe to restart the installation. We initially delivered 11 x 1,250 kVA generators to start the compressor, and then scaled back to four generators running round-the-clock, with seven on standby in case another restart was needed.

“Aggreko’s power system generated huge cost savings for BASF. It shows that you should never stop searching for the right answer.”

The Impact

Shutdown and revenue loss avoided

Without our power package, BASF’s ammonia plant would have faced shutdown for up to six weeks. At €10 per second, the revenue losses would have added up fast.

Instead, Aggreko helped BASF restart the installation with a power system that solved the root cause of the problem. With our temporary power in place, BASF could keep production going until new compressors were delivered.