Asian producers are planning to implement annual turnarounds at naphtha crackers as well as styrene units from March through the second quarter of 2012, as per Chemorbis. These shutdowns are expected to restrict monomer supplies in the region, which may put upward pressure on feedstock costs in the coming term. Several producers in Japan, as well as some in South Korea and Taiwan will start to bring their crackers offline at the end of the first quarter of this year.
Among these companies, Japanese Showa Denka will shut its 695,000 tpa Oita cracker for two weeks in March. The cracker produces 425,000 tons of propylene. Asahi Kasei will bring its 470,000 tpa Mizushima cracker down for a 40 day turnaround starting from early March until April. The cracker has a propylene capacity of 300,000 tpa. Tosoh will also halt production at its 527,000 tpa cracker located at Yokkaichi by early March for a month long turnaround. The cracker produces 270,000 tpa of propylene. Mitsubishi Chemical will shut its No. 1 Kashima cracker for two months during May and June, while Maruzen Petrochemical will also bring its Chiba cracker down during the same period. The crackers produce 375,000 tpa and 550,000 tpa of ethylene and 170,000 tpa and 230,000 tpa of propylene, respectively.
South Korea’s YNCC will carry out maintenance at its No. 2 Yeosu cracker for one month between March and April. The cracker produces 857,000 tpa of ethylene and 485,000 tpa of propylene. Taiwanese Formosa Petrochemical also plans to shut its metathesis unit with 270,000 tpa of propylene capacityin April for one month.
Many styrene units will also experience turnarounds starting from February in the region, as per Chemorbis. Japanese Nippon Steel will shut its 230,000 tpa unit between February 25 and March 29. The company will also shut its 190,000 tpa styrene unit in Oita between March 31 and April 26. Grand Pacific Petrochemical Corp. will shut its 130,000 tpa No. 2 unit in Tashe, Taiwan in April for 20 days. Asahi Kasei’s 390,000 tpa unit in Mizushima will be down from March 6 until end March, while the company will keep its 320,000 tpa plant offline for one and a half months between March 1-April 15 at the same location, according to market reports. Idemitsu plans a turnaround at its 210,000 tpa Chiba unit between mid-March and mid-April, while Denki Kagaku Kogyo (Denka) will start a turnaround at its 240,000 tons/year Chiba plant in May for 40 days. Samsung Total Petrochemical’s 650,000 tpa styrene unit in South Korea will be down in April for three weeks.
Feedstock markets in Asia were mostly trading on a firm note even before the turnaround season starts next month. With respect to the levels reported at the beginning of January, spot naphtha prices climbed around $40/ton in the region. Spot ethylene values are mostly stable, while propylene and styrene prices surged by $60/ton and $30/ton, respectively.