Steel prices, which have almost doubled since Petron Corp made its investment estimates, are exerting pressure on Petron to decelerate its investment program. Despite having a new investor willing to infuse more funds, Petron still need US$1.5 billion to bankroll the second phase of its Refinery Master Plan, which involves the construction of a second Petro Fluidized Catalytic Cracker (PetroFCC) unit. This phase was originally estimated to come onstream by 2014.
Earlier this year, Petron started producing propylene at its Bataan refinery with the start of operations of its Propylene Recovery Unit (PRU), following the commissioning of its PetroFCC in mid-February. From the PetroFCC, the propylene stream is purified in the PRU to produce petrochemical-grade propylene. The PetroFCC will not only produce 140,000 tons of propylene, but also allow Petron to convert more industrial fuel oil, into higher-value white products such as liquefied petroleum gas, gasoline, diesel and kerosene.