On a frigid winter morning, roughly 120 miles south of Berlin by train, hard work is under way to keep one of Germany’s most vital industries running. White plumes of steam rise up from a noisy, snow-dusted wonderland of pipes, compressors, storage tanks and buildings, crisscrossed by roads and train tracks over five-square miles at the massive chemical complex in the eastern German city of Leuna.
From its beginnings in 1916, making ammonia for Germany’s war effort via chemical giant BASF
the complex now houses over 100 companies and 15,000 employees producing 12 million tons of everything from liquid gases to bulk chemicals. But times have grown increasingly tough for the country’s fourth-biggest industry as it navigates Europe’s most serious conflict since World War II that has sent prices of essential commodities on a roller-coaster ride. Natural gas is used in the production of hydrogen, a vital step in most chemical processes, explains Dr. Christof Günther, the CEO of InfraLeuna, which owns and operates the infrastructure on the Leuna Chemical Complex for companies such as Linde
and Eastman Chemicals
“So there’s basically no way to produce chemical products without natural gas,” Günther told MarketWatch in an intervi …