26 June 2006 00:00 [Source: ICB]
Phenol/acetone production at Orlen’s plant in Plock, Poland, was successfully restarted on 17 June. Output was halted at the start of the month because upstream maintenance work meant there was a lack of feedstock. The company lost 50% of its June volumes and low stock meant that it was not in a position to carry out spot business. There has been no reported change on European supply and spot prices as a result of the shutdown. Nameplate capacity at the site is 55 000 tonne/year for phenol and 36 000 tonne/year for acetone. Phenol prices in China were assessed at $1300–1320 CFR China last week. Chinese buyers feel that demand may have plateaued and were therefore hesitant to buy. Producers, however, were still relatively bullish given high benzene costs and a relatively tight market, and a major upcoming turnaround.
Plans for a hike of at least 10% in global prices for nitrotoluenes and their derivatives were announced last Wednesday by German chemicals group Lanxess. The company said the proposed increases, to take effect immediately, were due to sharp hikes in the price of raw materials and higher energy costs. Current prices of Lanxess’s nitrotoluenes were not disclosed. It was not immediately clear if the proposed increase would be accepted by Lanxess’s customers.
Shell Petrochemicals expects its fluid catalytic cracker (FCC) at Pernis, Netherlands, to be back online around 1 July, about a week later than previously expected. The cracker, which has the capacity to produce about 250 000 tonne/year of refinery grade propylene, was closed late March for a planned turnaround and its original restart date was sometime in mid-May; this was later put back to early June, and then put back again to the end of last week (23 June).
Mitsubishi Chemical, Japan’s largest olefins producer, restarted its no.1 cracker at Kashima, Ibaraki prefecture, last Wednesday after a 40-day turnaround. The 375 000 tonne/year cracker was shut on 10 May for the turnaround. The company’s 453 000 tonne/year no.2 cracker at Kashima was shut on 20 May for a maintenance and restarted on 5 June. Both crackers were shut in a complex-wide shutdown to conduct maintenance work on electrical and power systems.
South Korea’s Hanwha Chemical has restarted its 25 000 tonne/year epichlorohydrin (ECH) plant after an unplanned shutdown due to mechanical problems. Hanwha – South Korea’s second-largest ECH producer after Samsung Fine Chemicals – said it was currently running the Yeochun plant at 90% of its production capacity after the facility resumed operations on 18 June following a shutdown of five days. A company official estimated the production losses at up to 600 tonne of ECH.
Supreme Petrochemicals, India’s largest polystyrene (PS) producer, has postponed a two-week maintenance shutdown by one month to mid-July due to strong demand and rising prices. The 272 000 tonne/year plant at Ratnagiri, Maharashtra state, has three lines and the maintenance shutdown will be phased among them. The exact schedule for the shutdown of each line is not known. Prices of PS imports into India have risen by $60–70/tonne recently to $1340–1370/tonne CFR India for general purpose PS, and by $20–50/tonne to $1370–1410/tonne for high impact PS.
BASF has brought down its June gross market price (GMP) for general purpose polystyrene by €15/tonne to €1275/tonne as the initial price was considered too high by most of the market, the company said in a statement last Tuesday. The free-delivered NWE price is subject to discounts which are individually agreed between BASF and each buyer, and depend mainly on volume. The GMP was initially intended to be valid for the whole of June, but BASF said it had recently been prepared to change the price during the month, to bring it more in line with market market conditions.
The US state’s official energy forecaster has revised its annual estimate of long-term oil prices up by 35% to $57/bbl in 2030, saying it has altered its view of the willingness of oil-producing nations to lift their output to meet global demand growth. Global demand is now expcted to rise to 98m bbl/day in 2015, from 80m bbl/day in 2003, and then rise to 118m bbl/day in 2030 for an average annual gain of 1.4%, the Energy Information Administration said.
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