08 September 2004 05:33 [Source: ICIS news]
SINGAPORE (CNI)--Sabic is expected to start exporting ethylene from its new 1m tonne/year Al-Jubail cracker only in December at the earliest, with most of the exports heading to Europe, a company official told CNI on Wednesday.
Several Asian ethylene end-users were anticipating a possible West-to-East arbitrage flow from the new cracker to alleviate the current tight Asian market and take advantage of the record-high prices, but these buyers will now have to rely more on the regional production.
Sabic is now operating the cracker at 85% of capacity during its testing phase, and the cracker will be officially started up when the operating rate hits 100%, likely in October, he said.
"As of now, Sabic is not expected to export any cargoes from the Al-Jubail cracker to Asia. The production from that cracker from now to December will be for Sabic downstream units and building our inventories," the official said.
Sabic currently exports about 8000 to 10 000 tonne/month of ethylene to Asia from the Middle East, and has kept its exports to Asia mostly unchanged over the past several months despite the high Asian prices, he said. "We've commitments to our other customers elsewhere in the world as well," he said.
However, an industry source said that Sabic may increase its ethylene exports to Asia after the operations at its Al-Jubail cracker stabilise.
The 100% Sabic-owned Al-Jubail cracker is operated by its subsidiary, Jubail United Petrochemical.
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