UpdateMain developments in the China earthquake

16 May 2008 17:09  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS news)--The following is a summary of the current situation following the earthquake in Sichuan province, southwest China


The earthquake

A magnitude 7.9 earthquake hit China’s southwestern province of Sichuan at 14:28 local time (06:28 GMT) on Monday 12 May. This was followed by more than 3,000 aftershocks, the most serious measuring a magnitude of 6.1 at 07.10GMT on Tuesday and one measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale on Friday.


The population

22,069 people have been confirmed dead while it is estimated 50,000 people have been killed in total, according to reports by state news agency Xinhua.


The agency is also reporting that 5 million people are homeless as a result of the quake.



Damaged transport links have hampered relief efforts but Chengdu’s international airport has resumed full operations following repairs to air traffic control facilities.


Roads into Sichuan are now being used by the military and volunteers to bring aid into the region.


Chemical shipping activities in China have not been affected by the earthquake.


Trucks carrying 200 tonnes of toluene di-isocyanates (TDI) are stranded on a major road in the northeast of Sichuan.


Stock market

Shares in only five of the original 66 companies remained suspended from trading on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges on Friday.


Chemicals – Companies

Hongda Chemical Industry said some of its coloured metal and phosphor chemical plants were damaged badly and it also confirmed 31 human casualties.


Oil and gas major PetroChina has restarted a crude distillation unit (CDU) at its Nanchong refinery and resumed a third of its production capacity at its 6m cubic metres/day gas field in this region. The company has also said it might scrap plans to build a new 800,000 tonne/year ethylene cracker in Chengdu.


Two fertilizer plants - operated by synthetic ammonia producers Ying Feng Co and Chuan Xin Yun Fang - collapsed on Monday, trapping workers and leaking 80 tonnes of ammonia.


Phosphate factories, including those of Sichuan Hongda, Ying Feng and Longmon, with a combined capacity of nearly 1m tonnes/year of phosphate fertilizers were severely damaged.


Chemicals – Prices

Zinc futures have risen 4% or CNY750/tonne ($107/tonne) on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (SFE) on an anticipated increase in demand for the commodity in line with the reconstruction of the devastated province.


Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) imports into India from China have declined by 30-40% in the past month and may fall further in the coming months on reduced Chinese production exacerbated by pre-Olympics and post-earthquake shutdowns.


Eastern China-based acetic acid producers raised ex-tank prices by yuan (CNY) 50/tonne on Tuesday, and by another CNY100/tonne on Wednesday to CNY5,550-5,650/tonne as buyers emerged to stock up on supply concerns ahead of an impending heavy plant turnaround season.


China’s eight methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) makers to raised domestic prices by CNY 300/tonne to CNY11,900/tonne ex-tank in eastern China and by the same amount to CNY12,300/tonne ex-tank in southern China.


Methanol prices in the coastal regions of Shanghai and Guangdong continued to rally upwards this week amid healthy downstream demand from gasoline blending and dimethyl ether (DME) sector and higher feedstock coal prices.


The European melamine market is likely to be significantly affected by the shutdown of plants in the Sichuan region. The US market was also expected to be hit.


($1 = CNY7.00)

By: Lucy Craymer
+44 20 8652 3214

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