NPRA '07: S Korea aromatics makers have edge

27 March 2007 00:29  [Source: ICIS news]

By Abdul Hadhi

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (ICIS news)--South Korean producers have the advantage over Middle East firms in the aromatics market in China, a senior official with Samsung Total Petrochemicals said on Monday.

“It will take time for the Middle East companies to get into China. We have sold specialty chemicals in China for a long time,” Bertrand Jausseme, Senior Vice President, Purchasing & Base Chemicals Export for the South Korean firm said in an interview.

He was attending the NPRA’s 32nd International Petrochemicals Conference.

Going further, Jausseme said “In monomers too, Korea has the advantage. Competition from the Middle East will be mostly in polyolefins.”

The impact of the expansion in capacity by Middle Eastern and Asian producers will extend beyond China and could start to hit margins as early as late this year, he said.

“Demand seems alright now but there is a big chunk coming up. That will last for a few and will depress prices.”

“It is a serious threat. Petrochemical margins can be affected and operating rates may have to be lowered by some companies as demand slows,” Jausseme said.

That threat, however, is not stopping Samsung Total from going ahead with its expansion.

It is planning to start a new 300,000 tonnes/year polypropylene (PP) line later this year, and an olefins conversion unit (OCU), or metathesis plant, in the middle of next year to convert ethylene and butane into polypropylene (PP).

Ahead of that, from around 17 April, Samsung Total plans to debottleneck its naphtha cracker at Daesan which will increase ethylene nameplate capacity by 200,000 tonnes/year to 800,000 tonnes/year.

Around the same time, it will be debottlenecking it styrene unit by 200,000 tonnes/year and increasing the capacity of its butadiene unit by 30,000 tonnes/year.

The shutdown is expected to last 50 days till early June.

By: Abdul Hadhi
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