An explosion at Taiwan’s Formosa Petrochemical Corp’s No. 1 ethylene plant, caused by hydrogen gas leak, has killed one person. Damage to human life was minimized because the 700,000 tpa unit has been shuttered since January on weak demand. Earlier this month, Formosa had planned to restart the No. 1 unit shortly, and in turn, shutter the No. 3 unit to repair a mechanical fault. But now the restart of the No.1 unit seems unclear because of the time needed for government safety inspection. Several days could be required to gauge the duration of the shutdown, mainly because of the fatality, though it is reported that the production facilities are almost undamaged.
The No.1 plant shutdown is unlikely to lead to any major supply constraints or price hikes in Asia, as there is still no real demand for petrochemicals. Also, for the time being, the company plans to continue operating its 1.2 mln tpa No. 3 unit, that is currently operational at 70% capacity and the No. 2 plant at 90-95%.