Three months after a fire forced a shutdown, Japan's biggest petrochemical maker- Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. has restarted operations at its' No. 2 ethylene unit at Kashima. The fire that occurred three months ago claimed four lives. Of the unit's eight furnaces, the No. 8 furnace where the fire broke out was the most severely damaged. Mitsubishi restarted its first five furnaces of the No. 2 unit earlier this week. In a few days, the plant is expected to reach 62% capacity- about 320,000 tpa of ethylene. The company has not determined when it will be able to restart the sixth, seventh and eighth furnaces.
Restart of the facility will add to the existing scenario of over supply in Asia's ethylene markets. Along with an abundance of supply, the end users have an abundant inventory pileup, softening demand in the region. To add to all the predicament, ethylene cargoes from the Middle East are expected to flow to the Asian market.