BASF has declared force majeure on ethylene oxide (EO) and its derivative monoethylene glycol (MEG) in Europe due to technical problems at its two production facilities.

The chemical company produces EO at two sites in Europe: Ludwigshafen in Germany and Antwerp in Belgium.

Details of the technical problems were not disclosed, but a spokesman told Platts that the company had temporarily shut down the Ludwigshafen plant. "To remedy the situation we were forced to keep the plant down and start with the necessary repair work immediately. For the Antwerp, Belgium, EO plant the production rate had to be reduced," the spokesman explained.

The Ludwigshafen plant is not expected to resume operations before the beginning of June, a spokesman said in a separate statement to Plasteurope.com.

BASF said that as a result of the EO shortage it was forced to declare force majeure for EO-based products produced in Europe in the portfolio of Home Care and Industrial & Institutional Cleaning, Formulation Technologies, AgChem Additives and certain EO-based products in the portfolio of Personal Care.

The company is currently evaluating the knock-on effects of the force majeure for customers, but said that it expects the supply of effected products to improve "towards end of June".

Ethylene oxide and its derivatives are used to produce a wide range of products, including plastics, household cleaners, polyurethanes and ointments. EO is also used in the sterilization of medical supplies and devices, according to the American Chemistry Council.