Taiwan's Formosa Chemical & Fibres (FCFC) shut its largest aromatics unit in the country today after a hydrogen leak sparked a flash fire, as per Argus.com. No injuries have been reported . It is unclear how long the Mailiao unit will be shut, pending safety checks and investigations into the fire.
The unit can produce up to 870,000 tpa of paraxylene, 150,000 tpa of orthoxylene and 470,000 tpa of benzene. It is the largest of the three aromatics plants that FCFC operates at Mailiao. There has been no immediate impact on Formosa's downstream petrochemical operations as a result of the disruption at the Mailiao aromatics plant, according to market participants, but this may change should the shutdown be extended.
If the shutdown at the No.3 unit is prolonged then Formosa may be forced to buy benzene again from the spot market, said a South Korean benzene trader. Taiwan imported about 70,000-80,000 ton of benzene every month during May-July because of the shutdown at its Mailiao-based No.2 unit in July-August. This is about 20,000-30,000 ton higher than its regular monthly volumes.
Formosa Ningbo's purified terephthalic acid (PTA) plant has yet to receive notifications that PX volumes will be reduced as a result of the disruption. Formosa operates a PTA unit in east China's Ningbo that can produce up to 1mn t/yr of PTA.
FCFC exports PX produced in Mailiao to the Ningbo PTA unit as its PX is exempt from a 2pc import tariff, giving the company a feedstock cost advantage over other China-based PTA producers.
There also has been no immediate change to the company's PTA production in Taiwan. The company is running its 550,000 tpa Mailiao No.1 PTA and 700,000 tpa Loong-der No.3 PTA units normally.
There has been no immediate impact on Formosa's styrene monomer (SM) production facilities in Taiwan. The company's No.3 600,000 tpa SM unit is operating normally following the disruption, while the No.1 and No.2 units with a combined nameplate capacity of 600,000 tpa are having scheduled maintenance.