South Korea's SK Energy plans to restart its No. 1 naphtha-fed steam cracker at Ulsan on November 20 as per Platts. The steam cracker has capacity to produce 200,000 tpa of ethylene and 140,000 tpa of propylene. The cracker has been shut since November 2008 due to negative margins amid a sharp decline in petrochemical demand.
Ethylene margins in the Northeast Asian are currently negative due to the bearish ethylene market. As of early Monday, ethylene margins in NEA were pegged at minus US$179/mt compared with US$170.63/mt last Thursday, as per Platts data. Despite negative ethylene margins, SK Energy has decided to restart the No. 1 cracker, as margins for other olefins such as propylene are strong. FOB Korea propylene price benchmark was pegged at US$1211/mt early Monday, up US$50/mt from last Thursday. Propylene margins were pegged at US$161/mt on Monday compared with US$119.37/mt last Thursday.
SK Energy restarted its No. 2 steam cracker at Ulsan at 100% this week, shut due to a turnaround since October 1. The No. 2 cracker has capacity to produce 660,000 tpa of ethylene and 360,000 tpa of propylene.